This year provides the Irish—and not only the Irish—with the opportunity to reassess, or perhaps to assess for the first time, the marvel-inducing legacy of John Moriarty. This year marks the 10th anniversary of his death.
Moriarty was a gardener, an erstwhile professor, a public broadcaster with a large following, a prolific writer and a spiritual figure without equal in the last century of Irish life.
His eco-spirituality and empathetic identity with nature anticipated Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment and creation, Laudato Si. And his recovery of the antique voices of suppressed, if not extirpated, peoples and their myths, along with his comprehensive grasp of diverse religious traditions and their commonalities, all speak to his expansive ecumenicity and to a quality of mind and heart that scores of people now embrace as a way forward to universal harmony.
Moriarty was an epic visionary—part pioneer, part preserver and part renegade. He rethought sacred truths, reframed conventional beliefs and reimagined ancient rituals for a new and impoverished time.
His own narrative structured his philosophical ruminations. This theology was both orthodox and heterodox; he bled his psyche onto the pages he wrote, not as therapy or authorial contrivance, but as his way of discovering himself in his anguished and yet often joyous quest for personal integration and human unity.
This Kerry visionary, although Hibernian to his core, is really universal property. His sometimes disturbing spirituality is a summons to a greater appropriation of faith, his intellectual extraterritoriality a call to shatter the narrow boundaries of parochial thinking, his largeness of heart an invitation to love creation more deeply.