The Decree of Ne Temerre

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“Under the stone eyes of Mary*”. foto©robcullen110321

“The Decree of Ne Temerre.*”

Rob CullenMar 12 · 2 min read

There is a photograph taken at People’s Park,

my mother, father and sister,

standing in front of the open gates,

I am a child in my mother’s arms.

An uncle had died of TB,

a particularly virulent strain,

his brother he’d infected was in Dublin,

in a TB ward never to return.

His brother had come home,

when the war was done,

his lungs carried the strain,

one brother infected by his brother.

There was no freedom here,

a grandmother of one faith,

married to a grandfather,

of the state recognised religion.

But the freedom was of love,

the way they joshed and laughed,

cocking a snook at cruelties conventions,

in dangerous times for either.

Their love persevered,

in spite of the disconnection,

families estranged, rejection,

and so a lesson was learned.

The love of a church to murder children,

with its smiles, those killing smiles,

the freedom of a church to traffic children,

with closed eyes and the endless miles of lies,

the love of a church to brutalise,

young, single mothers, with nowhere to turn.

The freedom of a church to hide,

its crimes and the deaths of small children.

And in their black clothed piety,

set themselves above all others,

absolve themselves of guilt,

set themselves above Christs teachings.

There was no freedom here,

we watched with open eyes.

©robcullen110321

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“Under the stone eyes of Mary*”. foto©robcullen110321
  • Enunciated in 1907, Ne Temere requires that all children of a mixed marriage be brought up as Catholics. Before 1907 the tradition was that the boys in such a marriage would be brought up in the father’s faith and the girls in that of their mother.
  • Ne Temerre resulted in couples of both faiths being rejected by their families, particularly farming families, where the oldest boys who married a catholic would result in the Catholic children of that family inheriting the land. But the impact of Ne Temerre had much, much wider repercussions than this and its a subject that requires greater study. I would recommend “Different and the same” by Deirdre Nuttall.
  • Ne Temerre to all intents and purposes was a cleansing of Protestants from the Republic of Ireland.
  • “Under the stone eyes of Mary” is the title of a novel I am currently editing.
  • Being second generation Irish was confusing on many levels, returning “Home” raised further confusions.
  • Having a Catholic grandfather excluded by his farming family, and a Protestant grandmother excluded by her family provided a minefield when returning “Home”.

©robcullen110321Resistance Poetry

Verse as Commentary

WRITTEN BY

Rob Cullen

Rob Cullen artist, writer, poet. Rob runs “Voices on the Bridge” a poetry initiative in Wales. Walks hills and mountains daily with a sheep dog at his side.

In a time of contagion

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foto©robcullen012016

You cannot call my name.

We will remember for all time the summer of this year

when last Spring, woodlands and forests had a quietness

almost an expectation

as if the trees knew and were waiting.

I would not describe it as tenseness,

the quiet wasn’t peaceful either.

It was what I would describe as resignation

if I were to attach it to a humans form.

After the heavy rains of winter,

people described them as exceptional,

rains the like of which no one could remember.

No one had seen such rain who was still living.

Out on the openness of the mountains plateau.

It was different.

On the hill above the village,

water took the shape of fear.

Carried on the edge of the wind,

its swiftness gave no cause for concern,

gave no cause for the alarm to be raised,

or bells to be rung on the church belfries and spires.

The smell of death spread thinner than wisps

of smoke, through hard weather whitened grassland,

barely visible,

beyond the horizon, its source unseen, at first,

but what did that matter in any case,

it was what it did when it arrived,

for all to see,

that was what mattered.

Death came anyway.

It used a cipher to hide behind, another’s form,

another’s name, to confuse, to distract.

Tell me your name. It is useless to ask.

I have no name

I am nameless

I am as old as time.

©robcullen31122020

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“The hill of sorrow.” foto©robcullen31122020

Death comes easily. It is always there — always near, always close by waiting. In March 2020, I suffered heart failure and came close to death. I didn’t survive because of luck — although I was lucky. I lived because of the professionalism of medical staff in our local hospital’s Accident & Emergency Unit. I was discharged five days later after two operations and a defibrillator pacemaker. That wasn’t luck. I know that if I lived in another country without a National Health Service I would be dead — death would have had its way.

I listen to the news casts each day, hear the latest covid stats — the number of new cases and the number of dead. Occasionally I see photos of crowds of people celebrating, ignoring the risks and the consequences, and the following week the spike in the stats that follows as sure as night follows day. I muse on whether people place so little value on their lives that they are willing to place themselves at such great risk. It suggests to me a mass Russian roulette.

I avoid crowds or social events in which there will be a large gathering. I am an artist, writer, poet who enjoys my own company and isolation doesn’t weigh heavily on me. More importantly it gives me time. Time to write, time to read, time to play with pen and wash. And there is so much to see, feel, smell and breathe in. Every walk offers a richness of opportunity. I do not live in a town or a city but on the outskirts of a town in wooded countryside. On the last day of the year 2021 I think I am lucky.

©robcullen31122020

WRITTEN BY

Rob Cullen

Rob Cullen artist, writer, poet. Rob runs “Voices on the Bridge” a poetry initiative in Wales. Walks hills and mountains daily with a sheep dog at his side.

Resistance Poetry

Resistance Poetry

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