February 2016 e-Newsletter

e-Newsletter February 2016


In this issue:

First Sunday Meeting: Altruism in Action –  Organ Donation  


Speaker Colin White, National Projects Manager, Irish Kidney Association

Reason and Compassion are two key ideas of great importance to humanists, and altruism embodies both in the highest degree. Organ donation is a practical expression of altruism. The Irish Kidney Association supports patients and their families affected by end-stage kidney disease being treated by dialysis or have a working kidney transplant. As the only organisation representing the views of Irish kidney patients, the Irish Kidney Association continually lobbies on their behalf. By joining with other organisations, the Irish Kidney Association helps in furthering the aims of all patients with chronic illness and improving their quality of life.


Colin White has been National Projects Manager for over 10 years and will briefly look at altruism and what it means. The core of the talk will cover the following points:

  • Organ failure and how it impacts on the life of the individual, their significant others and society at large;
  • How organ donation (deceased and living) works in Ireland and comparisons with practices in other countries
  • ‘Opt-in’ vs ‘Opt out’ :  the presumed consent debate
  • Transplantation and how it impacts on the individual, their significant others and society at large
  • Organ donation – the ultimate legacy


Further Information Alan Tuffery Mobile 086 162 6988 Email [email protected]

Darwin Day 12 February 2016


Please join us for the Darwin Day lecture which will be given by  Fraser Mitchell,  Associate Professor in Botany and Head of School of Natural Sciences, Trinity College, Dublin in the Synge Theatre, Arts Block, Trinity College Dublin at 7.30 pm. on 12 February.


Darwin was a keen botanist, and relied heavily on botany to develop his ideas.  This talk will explore how plants and people influenced him and the relevance of some of his musings to present day issues such as biodiversity loss and agricultural production.  Special attention will also be paid to specimens which were collected by Darwin on the Beagle voyage and are held in the Trinity Herbarium.

Darwin was a keen botanist, and relied heavily on botany to develop his ideas. This talk will explore how plants and people influenced him and the relevance of some of his musings to present day issues such as biodiversity loss and agricultural production. Special attention will also be paid to specimens which were collected by Darwin on the Beagle voyage and are held in the Trinity Herbarium. – See more at: http://humanism.ie/events/darwin-day/#sthash.o1dBJJ5N.dpuf

Darwin was a keen botanist, and relied heavily on botany to develop his ideas. This talk will explore how plants and people influenced him and the relevance of some of his musings to present day issues such as biodiversity loss and agricultural production. Special attention will also be paid to specimens which were collected by Darwin on the Beagle voyage and are held in the Trinity Herbarium.

All welcome.

– See more at: http://humanism.ie/events/darwin-day/#sthash.o1dBJJ5N.dpuf

A Time to Remember – Report of First Sunday Meeting 3 January

The First Sunday Meeting in January was set aside as a time for commemoration and reflection ‘so that good friends and loved ones are not forgotten.’ There were songs and poetry and deeply personal accounts of bereavement which used the theme of the death of loved ones as a way to celebrate their lives.


Willie Collins and Maura Keenan chaired the meeting and Willie in his opening address urged us ‘not to pretend that death is less than it is’ for the attendance of 40 people included those for whom the pain of loss was still very recent, ‘nor to pretend that it is more than it is’ because as he said ‘death is not an end to love’.


After that Maura lit a candle of memory and Rebecca Halliday played an evocative melody on the clarinet. Maura read the poem ‘Remember’ by Christina Rosetti; Mark McInerney accompanied Sharon Gaynor on keyboards as she sang ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon, which may be as close to an anthem as Humanism gets.


Terry Saunders introduced a recording of the poem ‘Beannacht’ by poet and philosopher John O’Donohue, which he had set to music with the help of a Russian musician. Terry recalled having met John Lennon’s sister and introduced her to this poem and she had welcomed it and talked of how important the connection to Ireland had been for her brother.


Eithne Dempsey spoke of her experience as a celebrant and welcomed those families of the bereaved at whose funerals she had officiated who had accepted her invitation to attend this meeting, including Carrol Daultrey, widow of Stuart, as well as the widow and daughter of Captain Gabriel Doyle. Others she commemorated included Pat Callaghan, who died while out walking , Mauro from Sardinia, who had only been 45, the courageous Karen Kenny, Dennis Quinn, who had suffered from bipolar syndrome and Mick Mulhern. This was followed by a reading of the ‘Lake Isle of Innisfree’.


Carol Daultrey read from a beautiful poem she had written for her husband forty years before his death and this was followed by a personal contribution from Chairperson and celebrant Siobhan Walls. She read from letters she had written to her own mother after her death. She read the first and last letters from a series she had written every week for nine months to help in her own healing process, and which had helped her to discover humanism.


Willie Collins remembered others who had been privately lamented: naming Tomás O’Culleachain, Paddy Meagher, Laura Anne Brady, Aideen Cassidy, Edel and Lynn Cassidy and Deirdre Whelan. Also recalled were people in the public eye who held a humanist view of life right up to their deaths in 2015: Paolo Tullio, Terry Pratchett and Leonard Nimoy.


Willie also spoke of his father and mother and a sister who had died tragically young and then told us that ‘our own recovery begins when we start to remember the good days and the good things we’d shared with those we have lost’.

Sharon Gaynor then sang ‘What a Wonderful World’ by Bob Thiele and George David Weiss. The meeting closed with private conversations over tea and coffee. It was generally agreed that the event had been a very positive experience and an essential part of the process of building a tradition of public and personal support for the humanist community in Ireland. Willie closed the meeting by thanking Mairéad Doyle and the team for all their hard work in planning the meeting.


– Arthur Deeny

HAI Strategic Plan 2016-2020

The HAI Strategic Plan is very close to completion. A final budget meeting was held during the last week in January with the current Chair, next Chair, Finance Director and Quality Matters. The Board meeting on February 1st is due to sign off on the final draft.


The document will then be proof-read, a cover designed, a limited number printed  and a pdf made available on the HAI website.

An official launch by HAI Honorary President, David McConnell will be part of the First Sunday Meeting in the Ashling Hotel on March 6th.

HAI Stand at the GPO 

The next outing of the new HAI stand at the GPO will take place on Saturday, 20 February from 12 pm to 2 pm. All members who would like to lend their support would be most welcome!


News Bytes

Irish Times

Rule 68 is abolished!


School principals support less religious teaching


Archbishop Martin says baptism to gain school entry is wrong


Irish Independent

I am a religious believer and I support removing Rule 68 from Irish schools


Independent (UK)

Britain’s first humanist hospital chaplain takes up her post

Election 2016 and Education

Education will be a big issue in the forthcoming election. To further the aims of an equality based Education system there are a number of campaigning and advocacy groups who have launched resources to help you highlight education issues to candidates and canvassers education issues relevant to Humanists .

The three groups that work closely with the HAI are as follows with a link to their relevant election pages below.

Education Equality





Equality in Education Alliance



Election 2016 – Questions to Ask Candidates


We need your support to raise humanist issues with canvassers and candidates.  You can get a suggested list of questions on our website here which you can print and share with family and friends.  You can also check out our Facebook page.


Chaplaincy News

Members of the HAI chaplaincy committee have been working with John Halligan, the independent Waterford TD, to support his work on assisted dying. His Dying with Dignity Bill 2015 has now been introduced to Leinster House, with HAI members Maeve Cooling and Mairead Doyle in attendance, and the Bill will be debated in the Dáil later in 2016.
A proposal to develop a Chaplaincy Volunteer Service is being considered by the Board of the HAI.  It is hoped that a training programme, spearheaded by chaplaincy-associated Board members Willie Collins and Robert Sullivan, will be built from the training materials used by the British Humanist Association (BHA) and will use trainers from the BHA who developed links with the HAI at the Utrecht Chaplaincy Conference in November 2015. This volunteer programme will be the first step in building a recognised, national chaplaincy service that will allow future HAI chaplains to be accepted as part of the HSE chaplaincy team.


Current HAI chaplains have been engaged with healthcare services in Ireland, with celebrant and chaplain Joe Armstrong representing the non-religious at a commemoration event at Connolly Hospital, Blanchardstown, on 30 November 2015. Chaplain Norma McElligott has also been invited to give a presentation on the topic of Humanism and Its Approach to Death and Dying, addressing the Palliative Care Team in Marymount Hospice on 26th of January.


– Oisín Carey

Ceremonies News

Happy Couple Derek and Joanie, with HAI Celebrant, Joe Armstrong

The demand for Humanist wedding ceremonies continues to be very strong. We are doing everything we can to cope with this, and hope to accredit six additional celebrants in the coming months. In 2015 we conducted 1461 ceremonies (1280 weddings, 97 funerals, 84 naming ceremonies).

The role of celebrant is an important one and we need more of them, especially in the west and north-west of the country. Details on becoming a celebrant are on the website and if you feel you would be suitable and are interested in pursuing this, please make yourself known.

It should be noted that the contributions to the HAI from celebrants, for ceremonies conducted, totalled €68,025 in 2015. This is by far the largest source of income for the Association. Another interesting statistic is that approximately 200,000 people attended a Humanist ceremony last year, exposing them in many cases for the first time to Humanism.

Brian Whiteside

Local Humanist Groups

South Dublin Humanist Community

A Secular Ireland – when? was the topic we discussed with our guest Ruairi Quinn at our January meeting. It was a stimulating and lively evening attended by 75 people.

Our February meeting (Monday 15th February) will discuss Community without Religion and our guest will be Joe Humphreys of the Irish Times.  Joe recently wrote on this topic and attracted some controversy which we will discuss with him.  We invite people to come to the Royal Marine Hotel, Dun Laoghaire at 7.30 for an 8.00pm start.  A contribution of €5 is requested on the night to cover the cost of the room.  Please email or text Brian Whiteside if you plan to attend as he needs to manage numbers. Contact:  [email protected] 086-384 8940.



Monthly meetings are held on the third Wednesday of every month in the Reference Room, Waterford City Library, Lady lane at 6.00 p.m.  Contact Teresa Graham on [email protected] for details of further meetings.


West Cork

West Cork Humanists will be holding their next meeting in Rosscarbery on Sunday 7th February at 3.30 pm. We will discuss the newly released film ‘Room’, so please make sure to see it if you want to participate in the discussion. For venue details and to register your attendance please email [email protected]



Monthly meetings are held in the Cobbler’s Bar of the Wyatt Hotel at the Octagon in Westport at 12 o’clock on the second Sunday of every month.  The group has a facebook page. Contact Séamus O’Connell on 087 245 35 36 or email [email protected] for further details.


North-West Humanists have changed their meeting place to Café Paradiso @Carrick Cineplex (behind Supermac’s), Sligo Road,Carrick on Shannon,Co. Roscommon.

The meeting time has been slightly extended, now 2.30pm to 5pm, still on the third Sunday of every month. The new venue is comfortable and quiet, with quality tea, coffee, snacks (including popcorn!) and a selection of wines. It is closer to the train station than the town-centre. For more information, directions and enquiries, please e-mail [email protected], text or phone 086 8820445.


Members from Laois, Offaly, Carlow, Kilkenny and Kildare meet on the second Friday of the month at 8.00 p.m. in the Kilford Arms, John Street, Kilkenny.  Contact Fachtna Roe on [email protected] for further details.  Please note change of location!

Details of Cork Humanists’ meetings are on http://corkhumanists.weebly.com/ or you can contact Geraldine O’Neill on 086 812 8892.

North Coast Humanists meet every second Tuesday of the month at 6. 30 pm in the foyer of Lodge Hotel, Coleraine. New faces are welcome. For more information, contact: [email protected]  or 07818036404.


The Mid-West Humanists group includes people from Limerick, Clare, and Tipperary who meet on the third Wednesday of each month at 20:00 in Limerick – the Absolute Hotel, Sir Harry’s Mall, Limerick. Meeting notice at www.midwesthumanists.com. For more information contact Peter O’Hara on 086 8155102 or email [email protected].

Serving Humanists in Galway and surrounding areas, Humanists West meet in Galway city on the last Sunday of each month. Please note the change of venue: we are now meeting in the Anno Santo Hotel, Threadneedle Road, Salthill, Galway.  The meetings start at 12 noon. For more information contact Garry O’Lochlainn on [email protected] or 087 2222726.

Contributions from Members

If you have constructive comments or feedback on this e-Newsletter, Board meetings, the organisation in general, and/or are able to contribute to the goals of the HAI in any way, please let us know.

And if you have news items or links you would like to share with other HAI members, please send them for possible inclusion in the e-Newsletter by the 27th of the month.

We would very much welcome your contributions!

The email address is [email protected]

Living Wills

Advanced Healthcare Directive


Advance directives are written legal documents by which patients express their wishes about the kind of health care they want to receive in the event they become unable to make their own treatment decisions. This usually means if he or she is physically or mentally incapacitated or otherwise unable to makes these desires known. They are designed to allow competent patients the opportunity to guide future health care decisions. Advance directives include living wills and medical powers of attorney, sometimes called durable powers of attorney. It takes the decision away from family members, thus reducing their stress at a vulnerable time.


More information is available from http://www.worldrtd.net/organization/living-wills-trust-lwt or contact Daphne Wynne, 01 2802879, for further information