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Tuesday 5 December 2023 Dublin: 5°C
Andy Butterton/PA Archive/Press Association Images Morrissey: This week he has mostly been inflaming debate in (Not) Cardinal Brady's household...

Column Cardinal Rules – On defending Morrissey

This week, the (not) Primate of All Ireland has to play peacekeeper in the terrible row over Morrissey: “an undisputed genius” or “a big mountain of stupid”?

IT’S BEEN ANOTHER testing week in the parochial house for (Not) Cardinal Brady and his clerics. They are deeply divided over the controversial comments of one man: crooner Morrissey.


It is a lovely morning as the priests and I sit down to breakfast in the dining room. There is lots of chuckling and kindly banter around the table.

Everything is going swimmingly, that is until Fr O’ Leary’s sneer filled voice cuts through the amiable chatter.

“I hear Morrissey said something stupid again,” he says. Fr O’Leary peeks slyly over his newspaper at Fr Deegan. Fr Deegan does not look up, his eyes are fixed firmly on his cornflakes.

“Morrissey never says anything stupid,” says Fr Deegan while moving his cornflakes around the bowl with his spoon. “Morrissey is an undisputed genius, and a lyricist and performer of the highest calibre.”

Fr O’Leary flicks his newspaper delicately and pretends to read it. He clears his throat. “Well then, if you say so,” he replies. He starts humming Girlfriend in a Coma – badly. The air is thick with tension.

Fr Deegan mumbles something about needing to go to his room, and he excuses himself from the table. Fr O’Leary smirks.


In the common room, Fr Deegan is playing ping pong with Fr Lawlor. Fr Lynch is reading Jeffrey Archer’s prison diaries, and Fr Ryan and Fr Moore are going through a catalogue of this season’s rosary beads.

Fr O’Leary arrives and nonchalantly leans against the door jamb. “So, about that stupid thing Morrissey said…” Fr Deegan takes a wild swing with his ping pong bat and misses the ball. Fr Lawlor punches the air “Game, set, and match,” he shouts.

“Take that back,” fumes Fr Deegan.

“I will not,” says Fr O’ Leary casually, while looking at his finger nails. “I heard it was really stupid,” says Fr O’ Leary. “If the stupid thing Morrissey said was a mountain it would be a big mountain of stupid. It would be the biggest mountain ever, bigger than Everest. A big mountain of stupid bigger than Everest, and bigger even than that mountain on Mars which is bigger than any other mountain known to man. That’s how stupid the stupid thing Morrissey said was.”

Fr Deegan storms out. Everyone looks at Fr O’ Leary. He just shrugs. “What?” he says.


In an effort to ease tensions I go and talk to Fr Deegan in his room. “I know you like Morrissey,” I say. While I am talking to him I spy his Morrissey sock which he purchased on eBay, and a photo-shopped picture of Morrissey and himself as young clerics, both laughing gaily.

“I just want to calm things down before they get out of hand,” I tell him. He promises me that from now on he will restrain himself and ignore Fr O’Leary’s jibes. “I see what you mean. It’s not worth getting hot under the collar about,” he says and smiles.

That afternoon I find the priests gathered around the house computer. They are looking at a “Leave Morrissey alone!” video which Fr Deegan has uploaded to YouTube. An icy chill grips me. I fear now that this whole sorry episode may not end well. Meanwhile, Fr Ryan is particularly miffed because Fr Deegan has used his Spiderman bedsheet “without even asking my permission.”

Fr O’ Leary sniggers in a corner.


The torment for Fr Deegan continues at breakfast. Fr O’Leary’s taunts are becoming more pointed and difficult to argue with. He even brings up the whole Johnny Marr versus Morrissey argument which everybody knows is completely incontestable. At this point Fr Deegan is a broken man.

Then Fr O’Leary says the fateful words: “And besides, everybody knows Your Arsenal is a far superior album than The Queen is Dead.”

There are shocked gasps, followed by a stunned silence. The room goes cold. I can hardly look at Fr Deegan, so I look at the table instead. With barely restrained fury I say “Get. Out.”

Later, we watch from the window as Fr O’Leary walks down the driveway with his suitcase. Each of us knowing that some things are so sacred that they can never be profaned.


Fr Deegan actually reads what Morrissey said. It is decided that what Morrissey said was more stupid than the most stupid thing he has said up to that point.

Later that day Fr Deegan donates his Morrissey sock to St Vincent De Paul, and replaces his photo-shopped picture of Morrissey with an actual photo of himself and David Bowie at Butlins.

(Not) Cardinal Sean Brady
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