Patrick Mark Hederman [OSB]

Life
?1947- [M. P. Hederman; Fr Mark Hederman, OSB]; ed. Glenstal Abbey School, Murroe; UCD,and Sorbonne; became Benedictine monk at Glenstal Abbey and ultimately abbot; editor The Crane Bag (1977-85), with Richard Kearney; issued Kissing the Dark: Connecting with the Unconscious (1999); Walkabout (2005), lives of Benedictines; elected Abbot, and ordained for that purpose; made the subject of RTE programme (Feb. 2009).

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Works
Ed. [with Richard Kearney,] Crane Bag Book of Irish Studies [1977-1981] (Dublin: Blackwater Press 1982), 929pp.; Do., Vol. 1 [1982-1985] (Dublin: [Crane Bag] 1987); Kissing the Dark: Connecting with the Unconscious (Dublin. Veritas. 1999), 173pp.; Walkabout: Life as Holy Spirit (Dublin: Columba Press 2005), 352pp. [Benedictine biographies].

Miscellaneous incls. foreword to If Maps Could Speak, by Richard Kirwan (Dublin: Londubh Books 2010), 192pp., ill. [8pp. of pls., maps.].

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Quotations
Crane Bag, First Issue Editorial (Vol. 1, Iss. 1): ‘Modern Ireland is made up of four provinces. And yet, the Irish word for province is cóiced, which means a “fifth” […] there us disagreement about the identity of the fifth. There are two traditions […] both divide Ireland into four quarters and a “middle”, even though they disagree about the location of the middle or “fifth” province […] it was a non-political centre.’ (p.4.)

Gulliver in Lilliput’, review of Richard Kearney, Navigations: Collected Irish Essays, 1976-1996, in The Irish Book Review Summer (2006), p.13-15. This is a curious review, ostensibly a homage to the intellectual courage of a former ‘friend and colleague’, but increasingly ironic as the recounting of Kearney’s position advances. He begins by quoting Kearney’s view (itself based on a passage quoted from George “AE” Russell in his Preface): ‘there is no single Master Narrative of Irish culture, but a plurality of transitions between different perspectives. Moreover, this very plurality is perhaps our greatest asset; something to be celebrated rather than censored’ (Navigations, xviii). Hederman - with diminished approbation - next writes of Kearney that ‘[h]e and his cohort of chosen mercenaries want to bludgeon the rest of the country into cultural diversity: “a radically polyphonous culture” (Navigations, p.399)’ and that ‘[t]hey want us to abandon, again quoting AE, “the infantile simplicity of a single idea”, so that we can embrace the imcomprehensible complexity of their newfangled ideas “encouraging us to reinvent the past as a living transmision of meaning rather than revere it as a deposit of unchangeable truth” (idem.)’

He continues: ‘So Kearney calls for a “commitment to a transitional model of open-endedness” where he can “ see no good reason why the critical methods of contemporary European thought - hermeneutics, existentialism, structuralism, psychoanalysis, dialectics or deconstruction - cannot be usefully employed in the interpretation of the texts of Irish culture”.’ ([idem.]; here p.14.) Hederman quotes some generalisations reflecting Kearney’s signature antipathy to the “Faith and Fatherland” idea of Irish [Catholic] religious identity, viz., ‘any Christian Church [sic] that lays claim to hegemonic status ceases to be Christian’. At this point it begins to emerge that Hederman has parted company with Kearney at least as regards the religious question and possibly as regards his intellectual project as a whole: ‘Too vast an area, too large a population, too varied a spectrum are encompassed in this ambitious plan.’ (p.15.)

The unstable irony of the piece is best exemplified by a sentence dealing with the tradition of the founders of the Irish state as set out in the essay “The Triumph of Failure” (pp.48-59), and another called “Myths” (pp.32-47) where Kearney tackles the question of blood-sacrifice and martyrdom with reference to the etymology of ‘cult’ (from Latin to cut [cultare] - since blood-letting is involved). Curiously, Hederman slips into the first-person plural to challenge Kearney’s ‘interpretation of our view - those of us, that is, who fought and died for Ireland’. Beyond this point, it his conception of Kearney as the target of nationalist animosity seems less ironic than at first: ‘He, and his chosen exemplars are here to teach us that “out national heritage ... is soemthing that has always to be rewritten” - and guess who is best capable of doing that?’ Hederman ends on a jejune note in quoting the advice of a certain Lisa Sisk of “This is Knit” [website] and transmitting to Kearney the ‘important information’ that she communicated to him with the recommendation that he ‘go down a needle size for his next thirty years of advising the nation.’ The passage that Hederman quotes from Sisk’s communication to him is considerably longer than any passage quoted from Kearney in the course of the review. (See also under Richard Kearney, infra.)

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Notes
Kith & Kin: Miriam Hederman has translated Emile Maurice Guerry (Archbishop of Cambrai), The Social Teaching of the Church [La Doctrine sociale de l’eglise] (St. Paul Publications: London [1961]), 225pp., and other works, incl. The road to Europe: Irish attitudes 1948-61 (Dublin: IPA 1983), viii, 172pp.; ed. [with others,] The Clash of Ideas: Essays in Honour of Patrick Lynch (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1988), and other works. William Hederman is author of An Historical Trail around Upper Leeson St. (1988), 24pp.

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