I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

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Lost Connections

Maurice Earls
Books and journals referred to in this essay include: From Easter Week to Flanders Field, The Diaries and Letters of John Delaney 1916-1919, by Thomas J Morrissey SJ, Messenger Publications, 150 pp, €12.99, ISBN: 978 1910248119 Studies, An Irish Quarterly Review, various issues John Delaney SJ, the son of a Dublin coachman, was born in 1883. The family lived on Charleville Mall just off the North Strand and overlooking the Royal Canal. It was a working class area and perhaps not quite the typical background for an Irish Jesuit. The area remains a working class one, if a little altered from Delaney’s time owing to a ninety-minute visit from German bombers on the night of May 30th, 1943. It is clear from his diaries that Delaney knew the city well and felt at home on its streets, side streets and throughout its suburbs. Later, when serving as a military chaplain in Flanders, he wrote fondly of “dear old Dublin”. In addition to serving as a chaplain from 1917 to 1919, Delaney spent two periods as a missionary in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and also worked in Ireland at different times. He died in Dublin on August 8th, 1956. Those who wrote his obituaries, probably members of his order, thought it prudent to omit mention of his time as military chaplain. As a scholastic preparing for ordination, Delaney studied at the Jesuit College in Milltown and was living there during Easter week 1916. The college was then less multinational than it had been a few years previously. With the outbreak of war German Jesuits based in Milltown were called home to act as military chaplains and the French ones were called up for armed service. Republican France did not recognise the Society of Jesus. Delaney spent Easter week walking around the city in his black clerical garb and high Roman collar observing events and discussing them with people he met. In the evenings he wrote up a record of what he witnessed in a private diary which has just been published by Messenger Publications and which is incorporated in a wider biography, largely based on Delaney’s own writings. The editor/author, Thomas J Morrissey SJ, remarks that the diaries do not contain material which adds to the understanding of the Rising in political or military terms. This is possibly true but the journal is interesting in its own way. From the unguarded writings of the…

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