Father James McDyer

A different sort of post here.  In Ireland we traveled to a small village in County Donegal, Glen Columchille, in a shallow valley by the north Atlantic that has been populated by humans over 5000 years.  And then St. Columba’s ( the latin for Columchille in Gaelic) clan lived there in 4-500 C.E.  We visited a folk village there with different cottages from several centuries (16th, 17th, 18th and 19th) set up to illustrate life there then.  They also had an exhibit about the man responsible for the folk village museum, Father James McDyer.  He seemed to have pursued a career in the church as a way of working for social change and justice.  Beginning in his youth he took exception to how rural people were devalued and treated as ignorant and without a valid point of view, and so worked many years to change that.  With his advocacy the village got electricity (in 1951 now) and telephones, developed a plan for developing their tourist trade (and they built this museum and several vacation lodges to let) and improved their schools.  They worked hard to keep their youth from the diaspora.  Evidently Ireland did not provide free public high school education until well after WWII.  He was a social organizer par excellence.  He said it was useless to preach on Sunday if you did not act on the needs Monday.  He was something of a cut-up all his life, even stating that every official meeting he had in Dublin to advocate for his people, he went with mischief in his mind.  I have been critical of the Catholic church in Ireland (see my St. Patrick’s Day posts) but I must respect Father McDyer and those like him who worked for those devalued by official society.  Learning about him was a highlight of the trip.  Where did he preach on Sunday? If you read the last post, you already know the answer.  I took this photo by chance when we stopped to change drivers on the way back to our BnB.


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