Rio – Mayo – Tralee and more besides!

Well, where to begin under the above heading? Let’s begin with Rio where all of the excitement, not just of the Games but of all the other attendant investigations, has been going on.

The first thing I want to say is that I feel, on a personal level, that Shane Ross has been vindicated. When he went to Rio he wanted an independent person on the team of the ticket touting inquiry. On that aim he was rebuffed by Pat Hickey. Now there has been a total turnaround and we will have here in Ireland a full judge-led inquiry. Some of the media laughed at Shane Ross looking for an independent person on that team, but the laughing has stopped in view of the very serious nature of the Brazilian police complaints.

I was a cabinet member with Jim McDaid when he was Minister for Sports after 1997. I well remember the open tussles that went on then between Jim, his Department, Pat Hickey, and the Olympic Council of Ireland.

I can remember vividly the Cabinet discussions on those matters. In the end, Jim McDaid had his way and the Sports Council was set up by law. It is through this council that Lottery funding is diverted in support of the various sporting bodies.

I read over the weekend that prior to Jim McDaid, Pat Hickey had had his stand-up rows also with the then Sports Minister, Bernard Allen. The underpinning principle of justice systems in developing countries is the Presumption of Innocence, whereby a person is innocent until proven guilty, so for the moment we will leave it at that. My last word on Shane Ross is that he has turned out to be tougher than anyone in the sport groups knew him to be. It has taken this crisis to bring that out of him.

Let’s turn now to something far more wholesome - the Rose of Tralee contest on Monday and Tuesday of this week. Every year we have the moans and groans of the many who comment on it and say it is ‘out of date’ and ‘old-fashioned’, and yet each year the numbers viewing the Rose of Tralee go up and up.

So, why is that? I think it is because it represents womanhood in a good light. Those of us who view it with enthusiasm marvel at the beautiful gúnas, the hairdos, and the general graceful demeanour of all who present themselves as Roses from their respective parts of the world. It is a wonderful show and happy viewing to all.

Let’s turn now to Mayo, the winners of the All-Ireland semi-final last Sunday against Tipperary. You know how I love the matches on TV and I was glad to see Mayo triumph. But I was somewhat disappointed at the lacklustre nature of the game. It went up and down with both Mayo and Tipperary varying in intensity. It was a stark contrast to last weekend’s skill and dexterity on the hurling field, and somehow this match left a flat feeling. It is also my belief that the referee was too free in his use of the cards. However, we will all be behind Mayo though we do not know yet who their opponents will be.

Let me go back to Rio for a few minutes. I forgot in my talk of the ‘ticket cartel’ to mention my very favourite Olympic athlete, Annalise Murphy. It was truly wonderful to see her gain the silver medal. As readers may remember from weeks back, I had my eye on her as one of the few to succeed and I was surely right in that. She is so natural and ordinary. The skill of sailing is huge, as we saw on the TV. A viewer could not but be riveted by the sheer skill and bravery of each person who steered their boat. She nearly got the gold but was so happy to have achieved silver. Well done Annalise; we are proud of you; as we are of the O’Donovan brothers from Lisheen in Cork.

I will end on a cultural note. Last Friday night, I went to Dublin to see my first cousin, Ronan Wilmot, play Sean O’Casey in a one-act adaptation of Sean O’Casey’s last years in Ireland entitled Inisfallen Fare Thee Well. It was a terrific show and four of his cousins, myself included, who went along to it were so happy to see him succeed.

Back in Athlone we had a wonderful opening last Saturday of Patrick Graham’s paintings in the Luan Gallery. The Luan Gallery is a great space in Athlone where Carmel Duffy is the most competent and enthusiastic manager. Patrick Graham’s paintings are magnificent and the showing will run right throughout October. So if you can, make it your business to go along to the beautiful Luan Gallery on the banks of the River Shannon in Athlone.

We have also had the first round of CAO results out on Monday and the resultant excitement of all concerned. I wrote about education last week and I repeat it again - the CAO is not the Holy Grail. There are so many other roads to travel for young people at that age who are leaving secondary school. My strong advice is to explore every option.

So a crowded palette of delights – some good, some not so good - over the past few days, and surely too over the next few days as we gain more knowledge of events in Rio.

We will talk again next week.

Until then, go safely.

Slán go fóill,

Mary O’Rourke

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