By 9.00am on Saturday 11 March a group of about 110 men filled Bull McCabes (Pub and Restaurant) on Airport Hill near Cork, for a special parish breakfast. In recent years, this event has become a popular part of the Lent programme in Douglas Union of Parishes. Previous speakers have been the Revd Michael Cavanagh, who spoke about the Men’s Shed project in Kenmare, and rugby pundit George Hook. Often it is good to note several generations of the same family meeting to enjoy food and conversation and this year was no exception.
The guest speaker on Saturday morning this year was Professor Desmond MacHale, retired professor of mathematics at UCC. He is also the author of the highly-acclaimed biography of George Boole, who developed what became known as Boolean Algebra and was one of the first professors at Queen’s College Cork. However, on this occasion Professor MacHale was not giving a history or maths lecture, but speaking about one of his other great passions, humour. Over the years, he has collected jokes and has published over thirty books on the subject.
The title this year was ‘God and Humour’. In the introduction to one of his joke books, Desmond writes ‘I have been, as long as I can remember, a practising Catholic and I take my religion very seriously. I firmly believe that Jesus Christ was true man and true God and the He died to save me…Jesus was a joyful person and must have laughed a great deal. Christians, unlike some other religions, have a long and healthy tradition of laughing at themselves. I firmly believe that not only are humour and religious belief not incompatible, but they can actually improve and complement one another.’ Those who attended this event enjoyed some of Desmond’s favourite religious jokes and his reflections on the important contribution humour can make both in life and in the church.
Concluding the morning, the rector Archdeacon Adrian Wilkinson thanked Professor MacHale for accepting his invitation to speak this year. He also thanked Howard and Derek Dunne and their staff at Bull McCabes, who opened up early for this event and served a delicious cooked breakfast.