A time to look forward, a time to look back

Well, Christmas has come with full swing hasn’t it? Shops, streets, decorations, TV, radio, everything is shouting out the same message - “Happy Christmas”.

Last Sunday, James, the third of Aengus and Lisa’s four children, came in to put up the small tree for me. I have a small tree and a big box full of baubles to hang from it. I promised him he would have time and a half for his labour as it was a Sunday, so his dad brought him in and he made a great job of the little tree and put up Santas and various other ornaments I have picked up throughout the years.

Then he brought out the cardboard box housing the full nativity scene with shepherds, angels, high kings, Joseph and Mary and the baby. He was putting it up on the hall table but suddenly ran into me and said; “Mary, there’s no baby Jesus”. We searched and searched and we could not find him. “Oh, there’s no crib James without baby Jesus”, I said. “I know that, there’s no Christmas without the baby in the manger,” he replied.

I thought, what a lovely thing he said. Well, we went back to the cupboard where everything was stored and we found the baby Jesus wrapped carefully but put into a different box, so we installed him with great ceremony on the table and everything was done. I enjoyed my hour with little James as we readied my home for Christmas.

There was an interesting House of Lords Committee Report issued this week on the Brexit matter. Now, some eight to ten weeks ago they invited John Bruton and Bertie Ahern to the House of Lords to give evidence on Brexit and on the North of Ireland situation and the Republic of Ireland. I was lucky to have chanced upon it on TV and I was fascinated by it, to see our two experienced politicians telling the Lords and Ladies of the House of Lords Committee how Brexit would have such an effect on Ireland. I thought John Bruton and Bertie Ahern acquitted themselves well.

Out of all of that has come this House of Lords Committee Report which was launched in Dublin on Monday of this week. I have read it in full as someone kindly sent it on to me, and there is no doubt it makes a lot of sense as to what the effects of Brexit will be when it comes about. You see, we are all talking about it but nobody can do anything about it until Mrs May presses the button at the end of March. In the meantime, there are the two court cases pending about the validity and structures of Brexit and we all await the result of those court cases with huge interest.

Fair dues to the Committee of the House of Lords and its members. They set to work and delivered a very fine report in which, I feel, are the seeds of the solutions for us in Ireland for dealing with the situation when the UK leave Europe.

What do you all think of the announcement that came from the Minister of State for Sport, Patrick O’Donovan, that all sports committees at local and national level should have 30 per cent female membership. If they ignore this they will lose Lottery grant money and no committee will want to lose that.

What do I think of it? I do not believe in gender quotas anyway, and I have said that long enough, often through these pages, and in the wider media in general. Yes, I know I encouraged and visited the women who ran for Fianna Fáil in the last election, many of whom where successful, but these were fine capable women most of whom came through the ordinary voting system anyway.

Who would have thought that behind Minister Patrick O’Donovan’s earnest, studious face lurked such rebellious and revolutionary ideas? Well, there it is now and we will see what transpires. For me, the person should have merit and contribute to the work of the committee, not to be plonked there just because she is a woman. I will never lose my distain for the gender quota idea.

Mixed rugby results for the weekend. Connaught were beaten even though they had a very good game and Leinster were triumphant by a huge margin. Of course, Connaught are hurting regarding the news that they will be losing Pat Lam, and I do hope they get a decent replacement. There is no doubt that, under Pat Lam, the conduct and the pace of Connaught rugby improved dramatically, and they now find themselves a team to be reckoned with wherever they play.

To some book news now. I had a great afternoon in Waterford last Saturday in The Book Centre. Waterford was looking beautiful with its on-street toy trains bringing the children from one Santa to another and its shops so highly decorated. Also, last week saw the publication of Dr Harman Murtagh’s book entitled Lough Ree: A Short Historical Tour. A friend of mine was going to the launch and I got him to purchase a copy for me and I have pored over it since.

This book is a really wonderful tour, both in a water sense and in an historical sense. It is like a history book of all the people and the houses and the events pertaining to Lough Ree, with biographical data and beautiful sketches by Anne Murtagh. All in all, it is a wonderful book and anyone interested in Lough Ree should purchase it. Harman Murtagh is punctilious in his research and presentation and this will be a very handy reference for now and for years to come. Well done Dr Murtagh!

Wednesday of this week saw the Month’s Mind for my lovely, beloved sister-in-law, Ann Lenihan. We gathered again at that nice Parish Church in Castleknock and afterwards, over our breakfast, reminisced, talked, and remembered. We have so much of happiness to remember about Ann. Her strong character, her resilience against the ills of life and the joy of friendship she shared so amply with everyone she met. Ann and her family are much in my thoughts right now.

Talk with you all next week.

In the meantime, go safely.

Slan go Foill,

Mary O’Rourke

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