Aiken sought McQuaid's assent to attend Protestant service

Sat, Nov 24, 2012, 00:00

The minister for external affairs in 1965, Frank Aiken, sought permission of then Catholic archbishop of Dublin John Charles McQuaid to attend a Protestant service.

Aiken, excommunicated by the Catholic bishops in 1923 for his part in the Civil War, wrote to McQuaid on March 19th, 1965, “anticipating” an invitation from the Swedish ambassador. It was to attend a memorial service for Queen Louise of Sweden at the Lutheran Church in Dublin.

In a same-day reply to Aiken, McQuaid said: “In view of your position as Minister for External Affairs, I should not object to your attending passively at a Lutheran Service”.

The correspondence is published in the book His Grace is Displeased, edited by Clare Cullen and Margaret Ó hÓgartaigh.

In a letter to then RTÉ director general Kevin McCourt in February 1966, McQuaid said: “I have just seen the Late Late Show. I am afraid that it was, in part, really unworthy . . . And I think that Gay Byrne need not, for a second week, return to the Bunnies.”

He was referring to Victor Lownes of the Playboy clubs who visited Dublin in February 1966 to recruit 50 Irish women for London’s first Playboy club.

McCourt thanked the archbishop for “the generosity and kindness of your letter”.

He “knew of that ‘bunny’ man and thus had his intended appearance cancelled immediately”.