31 March 2024


Well; youve guessed. My own personal, private Maria Consolata devotion this Easter Evening will be the section of the Exsultet about the Bee  ... the section which is missed out of the current formula. Followed by the Regina Caeli.

And my mind goes back to happy years, spending summers in the Diocese of Ardfert. We used to travel through County Cork, and, before leaving the Cork Gaeltacht, we always visited the shrine of S Gobnait in Ballyvourney. She was the Patron Saint of Bee-keepers; she set her swarms to work putting some robbers to flight. I suspect she might have been a Producer of Paschal Candles ... perhaps even of Lucernaria Requisites in general. There is a fantastically splendid window honouring her, by Harry Clarke, in the splendidly magnificent Honan Chapel of Cork University. It shows the Saint with some five magnificently huge bees, and some terrified would-be fantastically-tiny robbers. 

We used to perform what we could of the Exercises in Ballyvourney before admiring the dippers under the bridge in the River Sullane and then carrying on to Knightstown, domain of the Hereditary Knights of Kerry.

The imminent coins for 'Charles III' have a couple of bees ... very anaemic bees, if bees have blood anyway ... on the One Pound coins. I don't seem to be able to discover the identity of the designers of this sad new set of flora'n'fauna coins. If I were among the guilty, I would keep jolly quiet about it, too. 

This idea is not new; in 1928, a new set of coin designs started appearing in the Twenty Six Counties, featuring their fauna. The only overlap I have noticed is the leaping Salmon, common to  both sets of coins.

An Advisory Committee including W B Yeats had commissioned the Irish coins from Percy Metcalfe, and they are extremely fine.

The earlier ones are inscribed SAORSTAT EIREANN; after Brexit, I did wonder if, after Brexit, we should have responded with SAORSTAT BHREATAIN on our coinage. 

The great Irish glass-maker, Harry Clark, was born on S Patrick's Day, 135 years ago this year. 


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