Correspondence from Ciaron
Ciaron and Dan at grave of James Joyce
N16 08 – Approx 50 folks gathered at Dublin’s Teachers Club for a Sunday evening of reflection on the Catholic Worker movement. The audience was primarily made up of folks who had accompanied the Pitstop Ploughshares through their actions and three trials, as well as some folks with experience of the movement in the U.S. CA contribution from peace studies academic Ian Atack reflected on the Catholic Workers ploughshares action at Shannon Airport in 03 http://www.peaceontrial.com and its contribution and relation to the broader anti-war movement in Ireland.
Ciaron O’Reilly shared reflections on the Catholic Worker movement in England and Ireland over the past decade. The Liverpool Catholic Worker that sprung up in the wake of organising work around the 1996 Seeds of Hope Ploughsares (£2.5 million damage to a British Aerospace Hawk fighter bound for Indonesia’s war on East Timor) trial and had a focus on long term hospitality to East Timorese refugees, a short term hospitality to families of Irish prisoners incarcerated in HMP Walton Liverpool and surrounding jails. The Liverpool CW community kept a steady rhythm of resistance to British Aerospace and its arms exports to Indonesia and solidarity with the occupied people of East Timor. BAe hit back with high court injunctions and the community was infiltrated by BAe agents. The Liverpool CW concluded around the time the Indonesian military left East Timor.
The Oxford Catholic Worker initially came out of Clive’s experience volunteering with the CW in New York City and shifted its outreach from street homeless to facilitating asylum seekers release form nearby Camsfield Detention Centre by providing a bail address. Sr. Susan Clarkson is now based at the Oxford house after living and working for several years with CW communities in the U.S.
A Catholic Worker support/reflection/action group that formed around the Jubilee Ploughshares 2000 action gave rise to CW communities in Oxford, Hackney and a Catholic Worker farm north of Watford. Maria from the CW farm community was at Sunday’s meeting in Dublin. Like other Catholic Worker communities in Europe (Amsterdam, Hamburg, Gents) the hospitality is focused primarily refugees with a strong anti-war resistance focus. The Hackney community also runs a cheap cafe three days a week for marginalised folks and a free soup kitchen http://www.londoncatholicworker.org
The Catholic Worker in Dublin is not robust. It came together in 02 in response to Irish involvement in the war and closed its house following the acquittal and dispersal of the Pitstop Ploughshares http://www.peaceontrial.com Catholic Workers maintain a weekly anti-war vigil at the GPO and the past year has been mostly focused around events archiving the ploughshares action. There have been several unsuccessful attempts to get a rhythm of liturgy and reflection going, but activity remains sporadic. Participants are involved in homeless shelter, child rearin’, teaching, peace and justice work etc
The Catholic Worker is a radical tradition that may be unearthed and explored by anybody at anytime.
The Catholic Worker is a movement of radcial discipleship open to all regardless of faith or non faith backgrounds attempting to practice the acts of mercy, nonviolent resistance & solidarity and realise/build community. One can undertake these activities wherever one finds oneself located (suburbia, prison, campus, etc.)
The Catholic Worker is also specific projects often quite tentative experiments in truth…hospitality houses, soup runs, resistance communities etc. Check the community directory section of http://www.catholicworker.org
Martha spoke movingly about her grandmother Dorothy Day, her mother Tamar who passed away this year and the legacy of the Catholic Worker these women left. Here is some film footage of Martha opening the 75th. Anniversary of the Catholic Worker Conference in Worcester, USA this year…..
Well Dan O’Neill’s visit began with a hurry up & wait dash to Dublin airport, with “Hammered
Civil Liberties Rally 1967 in King George Square
by the Irish ” author Harry Browne, Dan being stalled at passport control for over an hour after a delayed departure from Glasgow. The five day visit concluded with Dan and I traversing some pretty rough areas of Dublin on Sunday night trying to locate the knocked down unmarked house of James Joyce in Eccles St.
Dan And Ciaron at James Joyce's plaque in Dublin
At one point, when local yoof’s were threatening me in a darkened sidestreet and a rapid deployment of fit looking Garda screamed by, I thought it’s one thing having my epitaph “killed while breaking into a military base” but quite another “taken from us on a badly timed Joyce/Ullyses treasure hunt through the former brothel area of Dublin”. The “Legion of Mary” did a thorough job there, little sign left of the Monto brothel area of Bloom’s day that serviced the British legions (little sign of them too, thanx be to God!)
On Sunday night Dan was oblivious to cops and yoof, he was on a lifetime’s quest to retrace the steps of Joyce’s Bloom. Time was short, Dan was departing the next day. Continue reading