I was born in Rathfarnham in Dublin, between a synagogue and a laundry and opposite a cinema. But I moved around a lot in my childhood and early adult years, including west Waterford, school near Drogheda, important years in Lichfield, and then Wexford. I first trained as a surveyor, but spent over 30 years of my working life as a journalist, first with the Lichfield Mercury, then the Wexford People and The Irish Times. I was Foreign Desk Editor of The Irish Times for my last eight years there, and I have been a lecturer at the Church of Ireland Theological Institute for 15 years. I moved to the Rathkeale Group of Parishes in January 2017. Barbara and I married in 1974, and we have two adult sons. I have studied theology at Trinity College Dublin, the Irish School of Ecumenics, Maynooth, and in Cambridge.
What are you good at? I often find I am good at the things I enjoy, without ever being competent let alone proficient. I love poetry without writing it, love music without being able to read or play it, and enjoy rugby, cricket and rowing despite my age and my lifelong lack sporting prowess.
What would you like to be better at? I could say driving, but not being able to drive, I can hardly be better – or worse – at it. Perhaps I should answer instead by saying singing … or being more conversant in Greek, Italian and perhaps French.
Who should play you in a film of your life? Me, of course. If they ever got around to making a film of my life, I’d like to still be alive then.
If you weren’t clergy, what job would you have? What job would you like to have had? An architect. My careers teacher advised me strongly not to consider it … I’m almost innumerate. I’m still a frustrated architect, and enjoy architectural photography as a hobby.
Bentley or Harley-Davidson? Walking. I love walks on a beach, by a river bank, or along a lake shore.
Grand Opera or Country & Western?
I enjoy opera … Verdi, Puccini, Mozart … in Wexford, Verona, Vienna and even in Bucharest. But instead, perhaps you could ask, Bach and Mozart? I have very wide tastes, particularly from Vaughan Williams and Mikis Theodorakis to Steeleye Span. I regret never learning to play a musical instrument, even though my school offered any musical education I wanted.
Favourite book (not including the Bible or Shakespeare) The poetry of TS Eliot when I am thoughtful, the poems of John Betjeman when I am being humorous; poetry first, then history.
Craziest thing you have ever done As a journalist, leaving Israel and the West Bank on a flight for Dublin, not knowing the Intifada was about to break out that day, or leaving South Africa on a flight for Frankfurt just days before Nelson Mandela was freed from jail. Others got the stories and the bylines, I just got to edit the pages.
One thing that makes your blood boil? Only one? Racism, prejudice, the way we treat refugees and asylum seekers, especially children, direct provision, sexism, nuclear weapons, war, indiscriminate violence and terrorism … but then all violence and terrorism is indiscriminate. Would you like me to go on, because I can go on and on.
Other than Jesus, which Biblical character would you like to have dinner with? You mean I am not invited to the Supper! Saint John the Evangelist. I can read the Johannine literature at any time, and constantly find them inspiring and challenging. And if we’re having dinner, it would be in a good taverna in Patmos, where he wrote … or on any other Greek island.