Seamus Mallon awes his Clifden Audience


Words: Jeananne Crowley.
You couldn’t have bought the quality of silence accorded to Seamus Mallon yesterday.
It was sobering to be in the presence of living History. His event was relocated to St Joseph’s due to huge demand, and as the Parish Priest remarked wryly, wasn’t it very gratifying to see such a full house at 11am on a Saturday? I never heard Brendan Flynn speak as passionately as when introducing Mallon, and suddenly there he was on the altar: white-haired, slightly stooped but strong of voice and intellect. He didn’t mention his succinct remark regarding the Good Friday Agreement being “Sunningdale for slow learners” but he did say firmly how disappointed he was, and continues to be, in Sinn Féin.
Telling of the very moment he chose to keep forever to the peaceful path, despite provocation described in agonizing detail, all felt the power of the man’s humanity. He talked of John Hume and himself being in the equivalent of a long, committed ‘marriage’, with all the drama that entails, causing a slow ripple of laughter. One thing that may cheer the perplexed is that when someone asked what he thought would happen now regarding ongoing Brexit confusion, after a very long pause, he said simply and strongly: “I don’t know.”
Quite particular too he was about why he’d insisted entitling his memoir  “A Shared Home Place”  but we all well understood, in the end, what he meant.
The last question Tommie Gorman put was about his Faith (given the battering Catholicism has taken).
“Well, in the end,” Mallon said softly “I wonder if Faith isn’t more about Hope.”
What a privilege to have had him in Clifden.