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Column Cardinal rules - A day in the life...

This week, the (not) Primate of All Ireland talks us through his typical day – it’s not all smiling at old ladies and driving around in the mini, you know.

SOME OF YOU probably think that a typical day for me is filled with brilliant things like mass, nodding and smiling at old ladies, and driving around in my mini looking all “cool” and hierarchical. Well, in those presumptions you would be wrong. Today let me take some time out to share with you a typical day in my life.

Woken by my radio alarm clock to the strains of a lovely choral piece on Lyric FM. I say my prayers, and I thank God for Marty Whelan and his ability to straddle that fine line between suave charm and unctuousness.

From down the hall comes the sound of Fr Lawlor’s own rather loud alarm call.

Have a quiet, contemplative breakfast of boiled egg and soldiers with the priests. Silence broken only by the sound of Fr Byrne’s pencil as he does the crossword, and Fr Collins, as usual, sobbing quietly about his sins.

After breakfast I have a quiet word with Fr Lawlor about him playing “The Ace of Spades” as his alarm call.

Transfer Priest A in parish B to parish C over some silly indiscretion which no one really needs to know about. Then transfer priest D out of parish E and into parish B. Sit back and sip tea, and congratulate self on a job well done.

Realise I had already transferred priest D out of parish B. Start getting a headache. Decide to leave priest D in parish E and hope nobody notices. As the saying goes “If it isn’t broken…”

A phone call from Vatican Communications Liaison, Fr Rossi. He tells me that since Enda Kenny’s infamous Dáil speech that the Vatican is working on a respectful and direct response to any subsequent media queries. These responses will consist of saying “talk to the hand” and quoting random lyrics from Broadway shows.

Lunch. Crackers and cheese. Contemplative silence broken only by Fr Collins quiet sobbing, and Fr Lawlor humming “Killed by Death.”

I take some “me” time and I log on to I bookmark some of the more hilarious pictures for later.

I receive a phone call from a journalist. He asks me for a quick quote on the Church hierarchy’s alleged inability to give an unequivocal and honest response to reasonable questions. I decide to clear the air and I say “Of course, I understand, and can I just say without any equivocation – Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain, and the wavin’ wheat can sure smell sweet, when the wind comes right behind the rain.”

There is silence at the other end of the line followed by a stunned “What?” Then just like they do in the films I say “And you quote me on that!” and I hang up.

There is great excitement as I receive an official email from the Vatican. I gather the priests together to read out the email. The email states that from now on, all official Vatican responses to criticism from the Irish government and media will simply consist of the phrase “Your ma.”

There is applause. Fr Roche shouts “Yeah!” and does a fist roll.

We take time out to relax in the common room by listening to The Priests’ latest album. Fr Lawlor is particularly taken with a bass line on one track which he says is “Phat.”

Phone call from journalist asking intrusive questions about priest F who was in parish G. I deal with the questions in a typically direct manner by hissing into the ear piece and saying “You’re breaking up…kkkkkzzzzz….the coverage is very bad where I am….kzzzzz.” The journalist sighs “I rang you on your landline.” For a moment I go blank, then I remember my training and shout “Your ma!” into the phone and I hang up.

We watch some television. Everyone complains about the lack of priests in Fair City, Coronation Street, and Eastenders. Ashley in Emmerdale doesn’t count.

As a means of “winding down” we all log on to only to find that the website is experiencing technical difficulties. Instead we log on to which isn’t nearly half as amusing.

Time for bed. I remind everyone to brush their teeth and say their prayers. Everybody is late going to bed, because Fr Collins is sobbing in the bathroom for ages.

After a quick read of the Bible and a quiet pray, I settle into bed.

Later that night I have that brilliant dream where Marty Whelan is a priest and we become the best of friends.

(Not) Cardinal Sean Brady
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