Definition of A Runner by Dave Lordan
Do you know what A Runner is in Ireland, where I’m from,
in the year that I was born?
A Runner is what the other children call a child, a boy or a girl,
who keeps trying to run away
from the institution where they are being held prisoner
by priests or by nuns or by ‘brothers’.
I found out what A Runner was at a gathering of artists and
surviving survivors of clerical child abuse in our
National College of Art and Design last year.
We were all there at the invitation of the poet and performance artist
Lisa Marie Johnson to talk to each other about art and survival,
art and memory, art and redemption.
About a lot of stuff I don’t really honestly believe in.
During our conversation I asked the table’s length of surviving survivors
some questions that have perplexed me for a very long time:
Why has nobody taken revenge? Why is it none of you have ever barehandedly
slaughtered a priest or a nun or a brother? Or even arsoned a
convent or church?
That more clerics have not been torn to pieces by the adults of the children
they abused is,
for me, the great conundrum of modern Irish history, of modern Irish
modern Irish philosophy, of modern Irish culture and identity. Of modern