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Object of the Year

Tuesday, 22 December, 2015

It’s a lapel pin. But it’s a unique lapel pen because my mother wore it on her favourite suit the last time I saw her on this Earth. We swapped lapel pins that night in September and I got the “better bargain”, as she’d say herself. Therefore, our Object of the Year award goes to my mother’s Pioneer pin.

Pioneer Pin

The Pioneer pin has its origins in a temperance movement that began in Cork City in 1838. At the time, Father Theobald Mathew was alarmed at the widespread alcoholism among Irish Catholics and he campaigned for what become known as “The Pledge, which was a solemn promise to avoid alcohol and stay sober for life. As a result, expressions such as “take the pledge” and “keep the pledge” became part of popular speech. My mother was a member of the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association, which grew out of Father Mathew’s crusade. The association does not advocate prohibition, but it does require complete abstinence from alcohol of its members and it also encourages devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The importance of revered objects was emphasized on Friday when the Director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor, revealed his final acquisition before stepping down from his job. It’s a cross made from the wreckage of a boat carrying refugees from Eritrea and Somalia that sank in the Mediterranean in 2013 with the loss of 350 lives. The Lampedusa Cross was made by Francesco Tuccio, a carpenter who lives on the Italian island. MacGregor said: “This simple yet moving object is a poignant gift to the collection.”

There’s a clear link between the Lampedusa Cross and the Rainy Object of the Year in that both are linked by a humble, impressive and enduring faith.


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  1. The Irish coffee | Eamonn Fitzgerald's Rainy Day | Thursday, 24 December, 2015