The 'Strict Irish Catholic Upbringing'

Pete Doherty, whose father is of Irish descent, apparently had a 'strict Catholic upbringing'. The troubled singer who has more Rosary beads than a pilgrim shop in Lourdes continues to battle against his addiction to heroin. He strikes me as being one who is always exorcising his ghosts from his past. The love that Our Lord and Our Blessed Lady have for God's children was impressed so much upon him during his 'strict Catholic upbringing' that more recently he's been getting into Scientology. The singer Morrissey, also of Irish Catholic descent clearly had such a gentle introduction to the Irish Catholic's 'How to Love God' course during his upbringing that he recently penned a piece entitled, 'I Have Forgiven Jesus', the end verse of which goes...

'Jesus - Do you hate me?/Why did you stick me in/Self-deprecating bones and skin/Do you hate me?/Do you hate me?/Do you hate me?/Do you hate me?/Do you hate me?'

Of course, Our Lord doesn't hate him, but hey, that's how it feels to be an Irish Catholic.

I remember from a trip to Dublin, going to the Dublin Writers Museum and reading the biographies of the famous Irish writers like Shaw, Yeats and Pearse and learning of how there was a giant streak of suspicion of the Church and anti-Catholicism running through their lives and their works. I don't think that it is wrong to say that more modern accounts of Irish life like 'Angela's Ashes' by Frank McCourt showed a rather grim portrait of Irish Catholicism, not because he was author was anti-Catholic, but because he was depicting it as it was.

Joyce's 'Dubliners' etched out that coldness of Irish religion also, as well as the political undercurrent of anti-colonial hatred. There seems to be a brutalism, a dehumanising force, a depiction of God so paralysing, running through Irish Catholicism's blood, that it leaves the children of the Church not so much with vestiges of 'Catholic guilt', as Catholic fear, terror and panic attacks which eventually put them off God for life.


Patricius said…
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Patricius said…
You mention "a giant streak of suspicion of the Church and anti-Catholicism running through (the) lives and... works" of Shaw, Yeats and Pearse. Shaw and Yeats were both Protestants. Pearse was a nationalist and I seem to recall that the Church did not support rebellion.
I have heard plenty of people, including Irish, English and Polish" grumbling about their "strict Catholic Upbringing" over the years and when they don't realise they are addressing a Catholic they will detail the miseries: "Do you know, we had to go to Mass EVERY Sunday!"
I suspect the Catholicism was merely ethnic.
I'm sorry, Patricius.

I have an Irish Catholic friend in London. After she became pregnant at 16, coming out of an abusive care system her family in Ireland rejected her because she had fallen into sin. She has 4 children, the man ran away, lives in poverty on the breadline while her 'good Irish Catholic' family back in Ireland, who have a lot more money have abandoned her as a 'fallen woman'.

I have another friend who was raised by nuns in Ireland who was beaten, neglected and abused and humiliated. She became a self-harmer and then when she self-harmed the nuns just abused her more. She is now in her 40s having been in mental institutions much of her adult life.

I have another friend who had a 'strict Catholic upbringing' who is anorexic and unable to engage in a relationships with a man.

It is very naive to think that Catholic parents who offer children the 'strict Catholic upbringing' which makes their children convinced their going to burn in Hell whatever they do, do not injure their children's faith and hopes for the future.

There is a streak of cruelty running through the Irish catholicism in particular, though I am sure there are many good Irish Catholic parents and religious.

Thanks for your corrections on Irish authors, but there don't seem to have been many who actually loved the Catholic Faith.

There are plenty of people who raise their children in the Faith without injuring their child's psychology near irreparably. These should be commended and those who do injure the child should be informed of their error.
Shepherd said…
Yes, the Irish do have a hard history of Catholic grimness but it is odd that they are also credited with humanising North America in the 19th century and saving it from the total Protestant work ethic.
Perhaps they need a leavening influence (although several hundred years of semi annihilation at the hands of Cromwell et al did not leaven them any).

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