We think of the local priest as a man of great power in local villages, in rural Ireland and elsewhere. But as Charlie Hopkins from Arigna pointed out in a 2010 radio documentary, local congregations could vote against their priests as well. Workers in the Arigna mines had gone on strike for a five-day week, and the parish priest opposed the decision:
“An old priest in Arigna went against the strike and held what was termed at the time a housewives ballot, preached from the altar what was called a ‘housewives’ ballot,’ that if the men didn’t go back to work the women shouldn’t cook their dinner. So the ballot was issued to the women of the church and it was returned to him, and after he counted the results the ballot was burned, and never called out, so we guess it must have gone the other way.”
“That was the end for that priest, because when next he tried to raise money for the church, he got no response, and the bishop moved him on.”
Photo: A priest blessing a garda, or policeman.