I hope all the readers of the Advertiser newspapers are enjoying this amazing weather even though complaints are coming in from farmers and other people who stand to be disadvantaged because of no grass growth which is understandable.
But all we can see around about us are happy smiling faces, young children racing around, getting ready for picnics, for swimming, for games and for the ending of primary schools which will be on this Friday when all of the primary schools all over Ireland will close.
I hope the weather continues a bit more so that the children just finished will have continuing good fun as they enjoy their freedom. I repeat the warnings which have been so strongly set out by people involved in life-saving. Never swim alone.
Always swim in line with the shore, not out into the water. Never swim after a meal and, if possible, make sure you learn to swim before you entrust yourself to the open lake, river or sea.
There is no excuse now for young people. Every swimming pool has instructors and it is a wonderful feat to be able to swim – to be able to dive into the waters, surface up and strike out.
We had such a wonderful weekend of sport. I suppose the best thing is to begin with Saturday 11.00am when Ireland, in Sydney, took on the Wallabies for the third match in the Australian test series. As I told readers last week, I went out to my son to see it and aw, It was just so wonderful.
The Irish team had a huge job to do because the Australians were determined that they would win it.
After all, they were on home turf, with thousands of their supporters cheering for them, so it was a matter of deep pride that they win. They kept attacking and they were good at that, passing the ball perfectly to one another, gaining ground all the time as they tore up the field. So, the Irish team had to be on full defensive mode all the time.
I was afraid that the constant barrage would wear our guys down, but it didn’t. We stuck to it and we kept up our vim and our vigour.
It was truly a match of pure enjoyment. I was delighted to see so many green sweaters and green scarves in the watching audience. That gave great heart to the Irish team.
The temperature was 12 degrees which would have suited the Irish. It was clear the ground had been wet because the ball, on both sides, was slippy when players went to lift it but at least that affected everyone.
Robbie Henshaw played really well and we gave a big cheer every time we saw him in a tackle. Of course, the hero again of the hour was Johnny Sexton. The last few minutes of this game were his to take for Ireland, and he did so.
Getting the ball, so surely, between the two poles and then we had won. Some weeks ago I likened Johnny Sexton to Sergeant Custume on the Bridge of Athlone and I echo that again. He is the man for the breach, the man for the really tough corner, the man to save the day, and again he did that last Saturday.
We had such a great sense of pride for Ireland when the game finished. I thought of how, a century and a half ago, the Irish went to Australia as convicts and felons, sent there by the British Empire. Now we went as conquerors. What a fine day and a fine time for Irish rugby.
Great GAA over the weekend. It was disappointing for Cork who were roundly beaten by Kerry. Kerry are on the move again and there is no doubt they will be a force to be reckoned with as we move towards late summer and early autumn and the semi-finals and finals approach.
Donegal are another team on the march again. They had a sure win over Fermanagh. It was lovely to see Arlene Foster, Michelle O’Neill and Heather Humphries sitting together with Joe McHugh as their “male escort” in the onlookers at the Fermanagh versus Donegal match.
Of course, she was responding to her constituents and she is a Fermanagh woman herself, but I thought well of her to turn up and to be there and to stand up for the Irish National Anthem and, it seems, she thoroughly enjoyed herself as well.
Why can’t that camaraderie transfer into the political scene? It seems to me that Arlene Foster wishes to make the move but the stubborn DUP lieutenants she has with her will not budge. Old enmities die hard but I’m glad that she had the grace and the acumen to be there in public at that match.
Both Mayo and Kildare, in different matches, were triumphant and, as I write this piece, there is huge rí rá about where the upcoming Kildare versus Mayo match will be. It should be in St Conleth’s Park in Newbridge but the GAA are insisting that it be in Croke Park.
It has all the attributes of a full-scale drama when Kildare said they will tog out in St Conleth’s and await Mayo.The GAA say Mayo will tog out in Croke Park. I hope some person with sound common sense resolves this impasse.
Then, of course, we had Jean-Claude Junker of the European Commission, over in Dublin last week to address the assembled Dáil deputies and senators.
He and Michel Barnier poured the honey words strongly over the gathered deputies and senators and of course they lapped it up. He declared it would be Ireland first with all of the nations who would be gathered together at the meeting and he kept repeating this message – we did not stand alone, we had the full force of Europe behind us, etc.
I hope readers will pardon me a little bit of scepticism when I hear the constant repetition of the honeyed words. Let’s hope they all come true and let’s hope that Brexit has an amicable ending.
I don’t know how it can be as Theresa May is surrounded by many people who are plotting against her in the British Cabinet but, again, we will have to wait and see.
I had a wonderful day last Sunday in that the Kells literary festival invited me as a special guest to speak again. I was there last year and I was so glad to go again. We had a magical day.
Kells is a lovely little town and to meet all the authors and their audiences and to engage in lively questions and answers and discussions was wonderful. I love, when you go to an event like that, to have a lively questions and answers.
You never know what’s going to come up but everything is good and leads to more questions. Bring it on I say!
That’s my lot for now. Hope to talk with you all next week. In the meantime, go safely.
Slán go Fóill