A. Catherine Noon here, wishing you continued festivities for St. Patrick’s Day from a suddenly snow-blanketed Chicago. Yesterday it was sunny but a bit chilly. Today, there are more than three inches of snow on the ground.
Go home, weather. You’re drunk.
But I digress.
As I was putting together my list for my posts this week, I wanted to focus on Ireland – history, culture, cuisine (which makes comic Denis Leary laugh, but we’ll see if it’s laughable or not), art, and more. I’ve been fascinated by Ireland since I was a kid, because my father’s family is from Ireland. As I put together posts, I wanted to include mention of a book whose title still gets me, How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland’s Heroic Role From the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe (The Hinges of History)*, by Thomas Cahill. The story fascinates me – how Irish monks, solitary and probably lonely in their cliff-top abbeys, writing – and reading – at all hours. The most famous of these is Skellig, which is little more than a rock above pounding surf off a rocky cliff. How could this be?
But then in the past couple weeks, the tragedy at Tuam reared its ugly head. (Here is an attribution, but it’s not a pleasant story.) How we can go to such extremes – enlightenment on one hand and the desire to save the whole of human knowledge, contrasted with the worst sort of sadistic cruelty imaginable – is something I’m at a loss to explain. I felt disingenuous mentioning Mr. Cahill’s book without acknowledging the recent events around Tuam and the renewed calls for investigations to throw a light on the past and truly heal.
I think, in some ways, that’s why we read romance novels: precisely because there is much of evil in the world, and knowing there’s a place, however imaginary, where beloved characters can live happily ever after can be a balm to troubled minds and hearts. That there is a paradox at the heart of humanity does not lessen what those lonely monks did all those centuries ago, and Mr. Cahill’s book is a fun read if you like history.
Never apologize for liking what you like. Entertainment is not something of which to be ashamed. At its best, it uplifts us and reminds us that we are all one, and that the heart breaks or finds love in the most unexpected ways.
– E.E. Cummings
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