Reflecting on events from at home and abroad

Since France, US and UK have joined forces to bomb the deadly chemical facilities in Syria.

That happened last week and now the trio are contemplating continuing the bombing. It is so sobering and we simply do not know what way it is all going to turn out. We await to see and yet, it appears, that diplomacy has no role in this very heightened state of tension.

Personally, I have some very sad new to tell. Readers will remember that some weeks ago I spoke about Johnny Dunwoody, the father of Aengus’s wife Lisa. That is Councillor Aengus O’Rourke in Athlone.

His wife is Lisa Dunwoody, a lovely young woman from Dublin and they have four children. I know I have repeated this but for some, maybe new, readers I have to go back over it again. Lisa is from Dundrum where her mam and dad live and recently her father was diagnosed with a brain tumor at stage 4. He then went into a coma which lasted for over five weeks and last weekend he died – God rest his soul.

We had the removal on Monday evening and the Mass on Tuesday morning. Naturally Lisa and all her family, her two brothers and sister and Mrs Dunwoody, are devastated by the loss. He was a really healthy outdoor man, walking and swimming in any weather, so his loss is very unexpected and so sad.

Both Johnny and I stood for little Scott, who is the last of Aengus’s and Lisa’s four children. We are his Godfather and Godmother. Scott is due to make his Holy Communion in May and recently he said to his mam, when his grandad was in the coma “will Johnny wake up for my Holy Communion?” Such a question from such a young child. So, it only adds to the general feeling of sadness in the O’Rourke/Dunwoody families.

To a bit of brighter news, The Primary Care Centre in Athlone has been adjudged to be the best Primary Care Centre in Ireland. I think it is a wonderful thing and I am not at all surprised. Recently, the X-ray Department in that Care Centre got their own specialist award and now the whole centre has been adjudged, as I said, to be the best.

It is terrifically and professionally run. The care and the service, given by all who work in it to the benefit of those who have to call on them, is truly enormous. Well done to the Primary Care Centre in Athlone.

Now we know what to call Athlone. Bord Fáilte, during last week, gave the new name to Athlone and other areas surrounding it, mostly on the River Shannon. It is to be called ‘Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands’, which I think is very appropriate.

It was debated whether it would be called ‘Shannon’s Way’ or ‘Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands’, but I think the name that has been chosen is very appropriate. We will be as good as the Wild Atlantic Way and the Ancient East, or whatever you are having yourself, but what it will really mean is that more tourists will come and visit the areas around Ireland’s Heartlands. So, we look forward to that.

More positive news, Robbie Henshaw, who has been off for the past two months with a shoulder injury, is to re-join the Leinster team for next weekend’s semi-final match when Leinster is to play Scarlets. Leinster had a defeat last Saturday against Benetton. The full match was relayed on TG4, so I had a great viewing. Leinster played woefully badly and I thought the result would even be worse.

I hope that the entry back into Leinster by Henshaw and, hopefully, Sean O’Brien back in form again for next weekend will make a difference to the Leinster team. At the moment, Leinster are head of their league, with Scarlets coming next, but the defeat on Saturday last was a very sore one and, with a bit of more clever play, it could have been avoided.

Next Saturday I am off to Ballybunion – no not for my holidays, but to participate in an event called ‘Women in the Media’. A panel has been formed of Dr Rhona Mahony, master of the maternity hospital in Holles Street, Nell McCafferty, Senator Alice Mary Higgins, and Mary Minihan of the Irish Times.

That is the panel and we are each given 10 to 15 minutes to talk about what steps forward women have made since the vote was achieved by a hundred years ago.

It should be a very interesting debate and I am looking forward to it. We are on at 12 noon and then, in the afternoon, there are several other panels containing Miriam O’Callaghan, Fiona Looney, Kathrine Lynch, Dr Mary Aiken, Catriona Perry and many, many others. So, we will all have a good feminist, womanly gathering and, no doubt, we will have as well some good banter and sisterly comradeship between us all.

I am looking forward very much to meeting Nell again. It is quite a few years since she and I met, and I have always admired her integrity and her outspoken views on matters.

Vodafone Ireland are sponsoring the whole event and the CEO, Anne O’Leary, is kicking off proceedings, so I hope it will turn out as good as anticipated.

That is my lot for now.

Hope to talk with you all next week.

In the meantime, go safely.

Slán go Fóill,

Mary O’Rourke

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