In the interview with Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, which I have linked to below, the one thing he said that surprised me most was when he was asked what surprised him the most when he came back to Dublin from Rome.
His answer: the level of violence in modern Irish society, especially in Dublin city.
Less than a fortnight ago, which was after that interview was broadcast, there was a man shot dead on a street within about 500 metres of the Archbishop's residence.
Nowadays in the Republic of Ireland there are about one or two murders per week. I don't have the exact statistics here, but in the early fifties, a murder was something which would have shocked the nation so much because they were so rare.
Now, I've just been watching Fr Benedict Groeschel on Fr Mitch Pacwa's programme on EWTN, and he said that his order, Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, are shortly to start operations in Limerick.
Fr. Benedict used the phrase "Stab City" to describe Limerick, a phrase which, to be honest, won't win him any friends in a city which is trying to shake off that unfortunate moniker - but trying without much success. My own gut feeling is that Limerick has "rough" areas and "nice" areas, just like virtually any other city, including Dublin. But you won't see headlines in the paper such as: "Man Walks Down Street And Arrives Home Safely".
For example, Detroit used to have a bad reputation, and earlier this year I spent three very enjoyable, and safe, days in Motor City.
The act of violence against a priest in rural Kerry is described here: but this has been "pushed off" the front pages by something even worse - the shooting dead of a mother of two young children, in what looks like a contract killing, in the large town of Swords, north of Dublin. Go to RTE's Homepage if you wish to read more.