Monday, 20 March 2017

A Saint by any other name


                                Confirmation: The one time children get to choose their own name.


WHAT'S in a name?

What about Ignatious or Gertrude, Scholastica or Hubert? Strange? Old-fashioned? Slightly religious sounding? Check.

All saints' names: none of them commonly used. Yet still chosen by Catholics for one of the defining days in their young lives: Confirmation. 

This is the season for it: a time when the majority of children aged 11 or 12, in their final year of primary school, receive the Catholic sacrament.

Earlier this month, a friend's 12 year old daughter chose the name Agnes.


It is - in this country at least - considered a very old-fashioned name. In the last 50 years, you won't find it in the top 10 baby names for girls.

But despite the fact that the average 12 year old has strong views about everything from outfits for the day, to how they'd like to celebrate this milestone, their chosen names are sweetly out of touch with modern times.

By May, lots of our boys will boast the name Francis

Popes' names tend to be popular for boys. A few years ago, there was a fair smattering of Benedicts. By May - the end of Confirmation season - lots of our young boys will boast the name Francis.


Traditionally, devotion to saints was as important in Ireland as devotion to God. Or Guinness. Our national saint, Patrick, is celebrated on March 17th, all around the world. Apparently he married a woman called Sheelagh. Another saint's name, as it happens. 

Most of the...schools are still under the influence of the religious orders

Of course, in past generations, everyone had their own special saint. If you were worried about anything, it was straight to the church to light a candle.

St Anthony: the patron saint of lost things. I have a feeling that he's a massively busy saint. St Jude: the patron saint of lost causes. Ditto, St Jude! St Gerard Majella: the patron saint of pregnant women. Far as I know, there's a patron saint for just about everything.

Devotions always seemed to matter more to women. Likely because in a society run by men, particularly by men in the Catholic Church, they probably figured they had a better chance of sorting their problems with a bit of divine intervention. 


And in 2017, the reason so many Irish children are confirmed, may have less to do with faith and devotion, and more to do with the fact that most of the secondary schools are still under the influence of the religious orders.

Whilst we have some of the most highly educated youngsters in the world, many of our schools require children to have been baptised and confirmed before admission. 


Part of the celebration is money

The right or wrong of this is a debate for another day. And don't get me wrong: we have choices. More multi-denominational and secular schools means increasing freedom for families.


Yet Confirmation continues to be hugely important in the lives of young Irish people. Not least because it's considered a day of celebration.

And there's money involved. Most children who make their Confirmation, also make a few hundred euros, thanks to godparents, grandparents and various generous well-wishers.

That saint's name is rarely used in ordinary life after that. A birth cert or a passport will have a first and middle name. Nobody will ever know the person's own chosen name, unless they are told.

The Dad delights in telling people his Confirmation name: Tarsisious. But he put a huge amount of thought into his choice.

As did the child who chose Agnes. The early Roman is the patron saint of amongst other things, chastity, girls, engaged couples and rape survivors. The 12 year old who took her name, is well read and highly articulate. She describes herself as a feminist.

Whatever your beliefs, in a world where pre-teens are under increasing social, economic and peer pressures, the act of choosing a saint's name is, if nothing else, a perfect excuse for self-reflection.


                                                                               *

Dear reader,

Big welcome from Dublin, and thanks a million for popping by.
Please SHARE this column via the sharing buttons below.

Why not become a FOLLOWER of this blog? When I get 50 followers, I'll draw out all the names from a hat, and gift an e-copy of my book, through Amazon, to 3 winners. If you've already read it, you can nominate a friend to receive it instead.  


If you'd like to get THIS FUNNY IRISH LIFE FREE via email every fortnight, go to the Follow by Email box at the top right of the page.

   1. NEVER MISS my fun, fortnightly personal column + updates/guest author posts!
   2. Your email address will NEVER be shared or misused.
No spamming - I promise.

Meanwhile, if you're looking for a different read this week, why not try a witty, Irish romantic comedy? Check sample chapters/buy links @ Tirgearr Publishing

Have a lovely week, 
Hugs & xx
Sharon.

Monday, 6 March 2017

BED-IN WITH A NEW WORKPLACE PRACTICE




                             Work breaks: whatever happened to coffee?



THE SWEDES have done it again.

The Swedish people, that is. Not the rather underrated vegetable: that is a column for another day.


In a bid to keep their workers happy and productive, they recently proposed that all gainfully employed adults should take an hour during the working day to, ahem...get together with their spouse or partner.


I remember a time when the height of indulgence was an office kettle.

It's all very scientific, of course. Isn't everything? Studies have shown that a good um, relationship with one's partner is vital for one's health and well-being, and the longevity of said relationship. And happier people make happier workers.

Let's face it, it doesn't take science to convince us of that. But I'm not convinced the middle of the working day is the right time.

Don't get me wrong. I remember a time in Ireland when it was perfectly acceptable to smoke in the workplace, and the height of indulgence was an office kettle.  

But whatever about Sweden (where much is done differently), I can't really see the whole idea catching on here.

To begin with, it all seems rather unmanageable. I know people who commute two hours a day for work. No calculator needed for that maths.

I could imagine a lot of people pretending to be single.

Not to mention the fact that it's a bit unfair to anyone who's not in a relationship. Although presumably they would still get the hour off to do whatever they want.

Like go for a walk. Or a run. Maybe do a bit of shopping, or meet a friend for coffee. Given those arguably civilised alternatives, I could imagine a lot of people who might pretend to be single.

And then there's the other problem. We Irish generally don't discuss that aspect of our lives. Not with our parents or our children. Usually not even with our doctor. And certainly not with people at work.

It's not that we have any hang ups. The only reason I'm dancing around the subject here, is because this is a family friendly column. Ahem. 

But no self-respecting Irish person wants to arrive back to work for the afternoon, knowing that everyone else knows about their shenanigans during the previous hour. And knowing that their colleagues were up to the same shenanigans.

No matter that it might make everyone happier and kinder and more relaxed. Which is the thinking behind this Swedish idea.

Skiving off for a bit of personal relations is a sticky wicket.

We'd prefer our boss to see us standing on a table, screeching tunelessly at the Christmas party, thanks to seven glasses of spiked punch, than suffer the mortification of him/her knowing that we have an er, active love life.

Besides, there's far cooler workplace initiatives that we could embrace: better biscuits, hand lotion in the loos, lots of plants...we could lose the run of ourselves!

But skiving off for a bit of personal relations is a sticky wicket.
The next thing we'd know, we'd all be expecting flexi-time for young parents, or bring-your-child-to-work days.

Or bring-your-pet-to-work days, for that matter.

There's no need for any of it. Here in Ireland, we excel at drinking away our tensions and work anxieties in the pub every weekend. With the bonus of a weekend that can begin any day of the week.

Why we'd ever need to swap this, for improving our personal relationship with our life partner, is a complete mystery.

                                                       *


Dear reader,
Big welcome from Dublin, and thanks a million for popping by.
Please SHARE this column via the sharing buttons below.

Why not become a FOLLOWER of this blog? When I get 50 followers, I'll draw out all the names from a hat, and gift an e-copy of my book, through Amazon, to 3 winners. If you've already read it, you can nominate a friend to receive it instead.  


To celebrate my Tirgearr Publishing's 5th Anniversary, their SALE and GIVEAWAY runs through March 8th. My Irish romantic comedy, GOING AGAINST TYPE is one of the many fabulous books reduced at Tirgearr Publishing.

Amazon USA
 99cAmazon UK   99p


***For your chance to win a #KindleFire and lots of other prizes and bargains, join in the fun at #TirgearrPublishing's Birthday Bash: www.tirpub.com/birthday.***


If you'd like to get THIS FUNNY IRISH LIFE FREE via email every fortnight, go to the Follow by Email box at the top right of the page.

   1. NEVER MISS my fun, fortnightly personal column + updates/guest author posts!
   2. Your email address will NEVER be shared or misused.
No spamming - I promise.

Have a lovely week, 
Hugs & xx
Sharon.