It was the centenary of the Irish writer Patrick Kavanagh on 21st October. Kavanagh’s writing is wonderfully evocative of Ireland in a bygone age. Seamus Heaney, who is a Nobel prize winner, wrote a warm and touching tribute in the ‘Irish Times’ in memory of Kavanagh who died in 1967.
Yet even in such seemingly uncontroversial circumstances, there always seem to be people who want to spoil the moment; people who seem to dislike the idea that a life could be celebrated and that memories could dwell on thoughts of beauty. RTE Radio carried an interview with Kavanagh’s niece; there had been a row at a gathering designed to commemorate the writer’s life. It was sad that there had been a row, it was sadder that RTE chose to compound the unpleasantness by reporting the disagreements.
We seem to be a world beset by begrudgery. No-one can be allowed any special moment whatsoever without someone digging around for some story or shred of information that they feel will cast a bad light. Often the stuff dug up is the most irrelevant information imaginable, but nothing seems too irrelevant for some people in the media. The story of the row didn’t touch on Patrick Kavanagh’s life, it was concerned with his estate, why run it at all?
What is the agenda? Why is there a constant desire to look for bad stuff? Doesn’t it come down to the most basic of human instincts, envy and jealousy? We are thrown back to the story of Cain and Abel, where Cain kills his brother because he is jealous. We have moved on from killing people; now we just scramble around for stories that will bring a taint of nastiness.
Begrudgers are sad people at heart; unhappy themselves, they strive to share their unhappiness. A world filled with begrudgers would be a world full of an obsession with petty details, a world without vision and without beauty. Saint Paul had no time for the begrudgers, he writes, ‘whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things’. Patrick Kavanagh, a devout Catholic, would undoubtedly have agreed.