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Column: Cardinal Rules - Keep your Oxegen, we have Priestopalooza...

The (not) Primate of All-Ireland has no intention of heading to Punchestown this weekend – he’s still recovering from a Declan Nerney-inspired stampede at the ‘Weekend for Jesus’ music and prayer festival…

(Not) Cardinal Sean Brady

LAST WEEKEND, THE priests and I attended the annual “Weekend for Jesus” music and prayer festival which is spread across two fields in Cavan.

Some of the more snide commentators in the media refer to it as “Priestopalooza” but I say they can name call all they want, we had an only brilliant time.

Sort of.



The priests and I arrive in our mini bus. Fr Byrne hasn’t stopped talking about Gina, Dale Haze and the Champions’ headlining performance in 1981 since we left the house. “A full two hours they played,” he keeps saying “a full two hours. Would you believe it? I couldn’t.”

Fr O’ Neill then casually tells him he once saw the Indians play a three-hour set in the Hazel Hotel “back in the heady summer of ’75.” Fr Byrne says nothing, but I can tell he is annoyed.


We find the camp site and decide to set up our tent.


We are still setting up the tent when we hear the first strains of what sounds like Declan Nerney “kicking off” what will no doubt be a typically “blistering” set. Everyone runs to the main stage. I can’t help but notice that there are a lot of nuns in the pit in front of the stage.


It wasn’t Declan Nerney at all. We trudge back to the camp site to set up the tent.


The tent is nearly set up. Time for crisps and lemonade. “Three encores they did,” says Fr Byrne. “Who?” says Fr Deegan. “Gina, Dale Haze and the Champions in 1981.”

Fr Byrne pipes up: “The Indians did four in the Hazel in ’75. And they scalped their drummer.”

Fr Deegan sulks.


Big Tom is only brilliant on the main stage. He even brings up a nun to dance with him. “Eat you heart out Bruce Springsteen and that girl who went on to be in Friends,” says Fr Lawlor beside me.


Time for bed. We all sleep in the mini bus because the tent hasn’t been set up yet.



The sun is splitting the rocks. It is a real socks and sandals day.


We are nearly finished setting up the tent when we hear what sounds like Declan Nerney doing his sound check. Another stampede to the main stage.


It wasn’t Declan Nerney at all. And an ambulance has to be called for Fr O’ Brien because a rather large nun has fallen on him.


After a day of great music and relaxing in the prayer tent our own tent is almost there, but we stop and sleep in the mini bus again because it starts to rain.

As everyone settles down to go to sleep Fr O’ Neill makes soft whooping sounds like a Red Indian in an old cowboy film. Fr Byrne doesn’t respond, but I am almost certain I can hear teeth grinding.



We hear music wafting from the main stage. It sounds like Declan Nerney, but we’re not so stupid that we’ll make the same mistake again. Besides the tent is just about finished.


The tent is finally up! Jubilation all round.


Apparently it WAS Declan Nerney, and his set has just finished!


Fr O’ Neill makes a casual comment about how “Declan Nerney couldn’t possibly match the Indians for energy and artistic brilliance anyway.”


We spend ten minutes disentangling Fr O’ Neill from what remains of the tent. Meanwhile, Fr Ryan and Fr O’ Rourke have the unenviable task of restraining Fr Byrne.


Fr Byrne finally stops shouting. Some nuns are giving us funny looks. I decide the only thing for it is for us to leave.


Home. We missed Johnny McEvoy and Brendan Shine. But I console everybody with the thought that it could have been worse.


Driving back to Cavan. Somebody forgot to put the tent in the boot. Livid.

About the author:

(Not) Cardinal Sean Brady

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