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Over the past century, "parochial" has soured as a word. The adjectival form of "parish", it has come to connote sectarianism, in-sularity, boundedness. A mind or a community turned inward upon itself. A pejorative finitude. It has not always been this way. Patrick Kavanagh (1904-67), the great poet of the Irish mundane, was in no doubt as to the importance of the parish. For Kavanagh, the parish was not a perimeter, but an aperture: a space through which the world could be seen. "Parochialism is universal," he wrote. "It deals with the fundamentals."
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