Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Michael JF McCarthy (1864–1928)

Having mentioned Cormac Mac Cárthaigh in yesterday's post, I was reminded of Cork-born TCD graduate Michael JF McCarthy who I touched on in this post from last year.

Here's a magnificent cover of one of his popular paperbacks. A visually superb illustration, conveying the might and wealth of the church that McCarthy saw as dominating the people. It's a graphic version of a primitive, but quite convincing, cut-and-paste using actual photographs which appeared in his 1902 hardback edition. In the author's note he explains the choice of imagery –

"... the frontispiece is an ideal picture ... the church is a real church, expensive and ostentatious ... the village is a real one not many miles away from the church ... but a reluctance to hurt the feelings of the inhabitants of any stated locality induced me to adopt the idea..."

In his 1905 Catholic Ireland and Protestant Scotland - A Contrast he observed that –

... Ireland and Scotland are in come respects like Siamese twins. Scotland overlaps into Ireland, and Ireland overlaps into Scotland. There is a Scotch settlement in Ireland and there is an Irish settlement in Scotland. Ireland is more than leavened with Scotchmen; and its most prosperous province, Ulster, is ruled by men who are proud to own their consanguinity with the Scot ... yes Ireland and Scotland are sisters ...
100+ years on, religion is diminished. In today's largely secular Ireland, you might have expected the old tribalisms to have receded. But sometimes cracks appear in the veneer. Various stories on the news cycle on this island over the past while, and of course various social media furores, might suggest that tribalism is still very much with us. It now wears less-religious clothes.

McCarthy's final chapter in Priests and People in Ireland is entitled 'Is Christ Responsible?'.
You don't need religion to have tribes.