I have just spent a most incredible evening in St Stephen's Church off Merrion Square ( better known as the Pepper Canister).
The occasion was a cultural evening - an evening of readings and music to honour those in this benighted isle of ours who have experienced sexual violence. To try to empathise with these victims and to show them that we take a collective cultural responsibility towards them and endeavour to help ease their healing through the disciplines of words and music.
The line up was superb. Theo Dorgan m.c'd, RTE radio were recording it for future broadcast, Christy Moore, Don Baker, Eleanor McEvoy, Shaz Oye and Karan Casey provided the musical end of the night. Dearbhaile Crottry performed an extract from Bailegangaire by Tom Murphy and Joe O'Connor, Roddy Doyle, Nuala Ni Domhnaill andLia Mills all read from their work and Margaret Kelleher read two poems by Seamus Heaney which the great man had selected for the evening.
Each performer outdid the one before, each made the other's performance shine, enhanced it almost until at the end of the night we the audience were left in no doubt but that we had been part of a very, very special evening.
I know it's a cliche - but sometimes cliches are the only words that will aptly describe something. When Karan Casey wound up what had on occasions been a very, very intense and disturbing night with Nina Simone's anthem of hope 'New Dawn, New Day' the hairs on the back of my neck stood up and my skin prickled. For you know, I do think there is hope for our little republic yet. We are in the process of tearing down all our old sacred cows, Church, State, Banks and big business. What we will be left with remains to be seen.
But once we are peopled by those like the courageous survivors of horrific acts, people brave enough to stand up and come forward, who may perhaps feel they are reliving (often over and over and over) the whole sordid sorry horror again. Once we are peopled also by artistes like those in the Pepper Canister tonight - people willing to observe, analyse and show us our sins and our ability to heal from those sins. With people like these among us then yes, yes, Ireland of the future may well be a very, very fine place to live.