Schoolbags back in fashion as the closure of rural post offices gives cause for political thought

Hello to all the Advertiser readers!

Of course Dublin won. Even though Tyrone played a strong and vigorous match against them last Sunday in Croke Park, the result was, in fact, a foregone conclusion.

I don’t know about you, the readers, but I feel the whole area of GAA football is being spoiled by the fact that it is expected now that every year Dublin will win. Over time this will have a corrosive effect on all other county teams throughout the country.

What can be done about it? I don’t know, except the head honchos in Dublin come up with some sort of an idea which will help to offset the dominance of one county over all the other counties.

Anyway, this year hurling has been the game to watch, to reflect upon, and to surmise who might or might not win. Hurling has really emerged again to its proper place in GAA circles.

Getting back to the All-Ireland final, Tyrone did put up a good game and in the first almost 20 minutes it looked as if they could win through and the perpetual dream of Dublin would be spoiled. But after that the inevitable happened.

By the way, I note in The Irish Times sports pages that Kevin McStay, the Roscommon manager, has become a GAA analyst. He writes really well on the games to come and the games that have been played and I am so pleased to see that his undoubted energies and skills are being put to good use.

Before we consign the visit of Pope Francis to the background summer noises, I would like to put on the record that I found the speech of An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Dublin Castle on the Saturday morning inspiring and very noteworthy. He looked well, he spoke well, and his speech was well crafted. Now I read in the papers that he wrote it all himself, and maybe so, because it had a clarity and a pungency way beyond what a civil service hand could pen.

Be that as it may, if the Pope had very good English and could stand up and reply and rebut, it would be interesting to see if he would have said “I accept all you say about the abuses in the Catholic Church, but in your own country look at the abuse of 4,000 children every day, homeless; what are you going to do about that?” But of course that is all in the realm of fantasy.

I find talking to people who had watched it on TV that they enjoyed all of the spectacle and the crowds who turned out. Several of the people to whom I spoke had tickets for the Phoenix Park and did not go, because during the week previously they had been put off by the lurid headlines in most papers, most days that each person would have to walk at least 12 kilometres to get to and into the Phoenix Park. That, allied to the torrential rain on the morning, led to the much smaller crowd than was expected.

School is back, primary and second level, and all over the town here in Athlone and I’m sure in all the villages and towns of Ireland, we see the uniform-clad young boys and girls with their heavy schoolbag on their back going to and from their school, chatting and talking to one another, and the usual embryonic pairings already beginning, perhaps a girl from the Community College chatting animatedly to her friend from the Marist College.

Oh yes, school is back alright, and the next event next week will be the Junior Cert results. I have skin in that. I have two grandchildren, one in Dublin and one in Athlone, who have sat it and are not looking forward to whatever day next week the results will be out. I try to explain to each of them that Junior Cert is just merely a step along the road and as long as they can learn from whatever the results are and move forward that will be a good outcome.

All the political parties are now holding their ‘think-ins’. I can tell all of you readers that based on long experience of think-ins, to me it showed that there was very little ‘think-in’ done on such a few days away. Yes of course we got into the stream of politics again and had some good fun along the way, but thinking deeply was not part of it!!

Recently I told the readers that I was off to Connemara with my niece Anita Lenihan from Dublin. Well we’ve been and had a most wonderful four to five days there, between coming and going. It was great again to renew the old memories and to experience the wonderful hospitality of Clifden and of all the surrounding areas. We stayed in the Clifden Station House Hotel in the middle of the town, and we were made to feel most welcome. Well done to a really well-run establishment.

Every day we would go off on a driving tour of parts of Connemara which we would map out the night before, and each day was a delight both in what we saw, the people we encountered, and the wonderful company and conversation we enjoyed together. A really enjoyable, pleasant few days to be remembered with delight when the cold winds of winter come in.

Post offices have emerged again as a political flashpoint with the listing of the potential closures throughout the country. We shouldn’t attribute blame to any of the postmasters who decided to accept the redundancy and that point should be made very clear. However, I am of the opinion that the Government, in the cause of halting rural decline, should ensure by subsidy that the services of rural post offices are maintained. I await with great interest to see how this matter proceeds politically when the Dáil reconvenes. To me it is an issue worth fighting for, and I hope the Fianna Fáil party include it in their budgetary wishes to the Fine Gael party whom they are keeping in office as a government.

And so to rugby. Last weekend we had all four provinces competing in their opening match in the Guinness PRO14 championship. Wins were recorded by Leinster, Munster and Ulster. Connacht lost by one point and were unlucky to do so. So the future for Ireland rugby for the autumn/winter looks good.

That’s my lot for this week. Hope to talk with you all next week.

In the meantime go safely.

Slán go fóill.

Mary O’Rourke

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