22 August 2018, The Tablet

Digging deep in sacred caverns

John Moriarty

Digging deep in sacred caverns

John Moriarty pictured at his home in Coolies, Muckross, Killarney


He curled himself up, egg-shaped, so that he could lay in a swan’s nest longing for his own re-hatching; he faced the pure white-out of a Manitoba blizzard like a buffalo in order to survive; he spent his life trying to recover from the calamity of falling out of the Christian story. John Moriarty was, in the words of philosopher Brendan O’Donoghue (quoting his doctoral supervisor), “like Dostoevsky, in that he was not only not understood in his lifetime, he was not even misunderstood”.

Given his eccentric behaviour, hermitic life, and disregard for celebrity, it is not all that surprising that he remains even now – more than a decade since his death in June 2007 – a darling for his cult following, an amusement for the curious, a distraction for the serious intellectual, a Celtic epiphenomenon, and one of the treasures of the RTE archives.

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