Ireland’s eye: Happenings around the Auld Sod


Priest girlfriend not pregnant

Father Sean McKenna, who earlier this month announced his decision to leave the priesthood after 24 years, broke his silence say that the woman he is in a relationship with is not pregnant.

In what he says will be his only interview with the media, McKenna told the Derry Journal that the "rumors" about his relationship with separated mother-of-two Elaine Curran are "completely untrue" and have caused "great distress.”

"It is for this reason that I now find it a painful necessity to state the following points regarding that relationship," he said.

"She and I have been friends for many years. However, our relationship began a long time after the break-up of her marriage. At no time did I counsel her.

“She is not pregnant. There have also been rumors that she does not have custody of her children. This, too, is untrue.

"I also gather that there is still much further speculation going on about matters which are very personal and which relate to that relationship. It was never my intention to comment on such private, personal matters. However, it seems likely that there will be further invasive treatment of these subjects in the press.”

McKenna received a standing ovation from his Holy Family congregation when he spoke honestly about his reasons to leave the priesthood.

"When I announced my decision to leave the priesthood, I did so because I wanted to honestly inform the people and in fulfillment of my responsibility as a priest in a very wonderful parish," he said.

"On that occasion I received overwhelming and generous support, understanding and good wishes from the people present and from many others throughout the city and beyond. I greatly appreciate this.

"Since that time, there has been extensive media interest and this has taken place with an intensity that I never expected and has continued for much longer than anticipated. The nature of some of the detailed written material about this has caused great distress."

McKenna said he gratefully acknowledged the many expressions of kindness, help and concern which he has received throughout the week both privately and through radio, television and the written word.

"Much of the reaction was handled with great care and sensitivity," he said. "For this, I am very thankful.

"This will be the last statement I will be making on these issues. I regret the painful intrusion this has caused in people's lives and I would hope they would understand and accept that this was the last thing I would have wanted."

McKenna appealed to be "allowed to live his life in privacy and peace."

Derry Journal


Bangladeshi promotes Irish

A Bangladeshi man arrived in County Carlow last week to try to inspire students at IT Carlow to speak their own language.

Raj Khan, who has lived in Ireland for seven years, has been adopted by the Irish-speaking community, and his stop in Carlow is one of many he will make on his cycling trip around Ireland trip to promote our native tongue.

“I’ve lived in Ireland for seven years now and I’m constantly taken aback at how few people speak Irish on a daily basis,” said Khan.

“I’m trying to encourage Irish people to use their ‘cúpla focal’ whenever they get the chance. Language is central to our identity and fundamental to our uniqueness,” he added.

After backpacking through Asia, Khan arrived in Ireland in 2002. It was only when he witnessed a protest on the streets of Dublin campaigning for Irish to be accepted as a working language in the EU that he realized that Irish existed.

Then later, while working as a cycle courier, a delivery brought him to Foras na Gaeilge’s offices in Dublin and he realized that there was a national organization dedicated to promoting the Irish language. Foras na Gaeilge encouraged him to learn Irish, and Khan has been involved with the Irish language ever since.

Carlow Nationalist


Jarveys suspend protest

Jarveys at Muckross in Killarney responded positively to pleas from the tourist industry in Killarney to suspend their protest outside the gates of Killarney National Park.

The jarveys have been protesting outside the entrance to Muckross House since mid-October when they were locked out of the park in an ongoing dispute regarding dung collection devices.

But they moved last week to suspend their action for a visit by up to 800 influential travel agents from Germany and Austria.

Killarney Chamber of Tourism and Commerce and Kerry branch of the Irish Hotels Federation issued a statement welcoming the decision by the jarveys to suspend the protest when Muckross House and the Killarney National Park played host to the travel agents from Germany’s leading travel company.

The move followed pleas from tourism interests in the town and Soroptimists International Killarney, which had been seeking a suspension of the protest for the duration of the pivotal Dertour conference which will be based in the town over the coming week.