As I am writing this and talking with you all, we are in the throes of the last frenzied days leading up to the festival of Christmas.
I am very well aware that there are many who are sad and lonely at this time of the year, and many who wish the few days would pass quickly so that life would come back to normal again. Of course, there is much gaiety and joy and fun and it is lovely to be with your family, but there is always sadness at Christmas. At Christmas, in particular, we think of those whom we hold dear and who have passed away from us, and who we ardently wish were back with us for the Christmas joy.
I think of Enda and how much he loved, when we and our sons were younger, the family fun at Christmas. I miss him so much during these few days. I think of young Brian Lenihan cut off in his prime of life and how he enjoyed, always, the Christmas period. I think of my lovely sister-in-law Ann, and how much I truly miss her now, these few days.
But I am fortunate to have two fine sons who each have a family. I will spend Christmas Day with my son Aengus in South Roscommon and they will have 14 in their house all day long because Lisa’s family will be coming, so that will be crowded and fun. Two days later, Feargal and Maeve and their two children from Dublin come down and that will be another two days of conversation and happiness.
I know, full well, I am fortunate to have my family and that there are many who are alone for these few days. My wish would be that they would have one person on whom they could rely and call upon if the loneliness gets too much, and that the Lord will ease their load.
I had a lovely day in Cavan last Saturday. Cavan town is a sweet place to be and John and Ann McEvoy, who run An Crannog bookshop, are a fine couple who work very hard at making their independent bookshop a success.
Niamh Smith, the new Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan, her mother and aunt and all of the members of the Bailieborough Cumman where she lives arrived into the shop to purchase, to talk, to gossip. Niamh was one of the women I visited and mentored during the run-up to the last general election, and I’m so happy to see her installed as a TD for Cavan-Monaghan. She was saying to me: imagine, in 10 months she got selected, elected, took her seat, and had a little baby girl. So, that was surely a packed and busy 2016 for her.
The politics of the last week have been very hectic. Firstly, we had Simon Coveney standing firm on his Tenancies Bill. Fair dues to him, he brought along Fianna Fáil with him and the Bill passed at 9pm last Friday night. It has yet to go back to the Seanad this week.
The whole to-ing and fro-ing between Simon Coveney and Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin proved to be very significant for Simon Coveney in that he showed himself to be a person who could stand up to real opposition when it was needed. No doubt the few days of last week and the passage of that Bill will be in his armoury when, and if ever, there is a contest for the leadership of Fine Gael.
That brings me, very neatly, to the news from last weekend. On the front pages of the Sunday Independent we read that Enda Kenny tends to stay on for the next general election. In saying so, he fairly socked it to those who were seeking to unseat him as Taoiseach.
Those who follow this column will know that I have been advocating that Enda Kenny stand firm and that he will go when it suits him, not when it suits other people. The world is in a great state of flux and, the more uneasy it appears, the better positioned Enda Kenny is to stay as Taoiseach so that people will say he will be a beacon of stability in a world of instability.
This suits Fianna Fáil too as they have an opportunity to build up around the country. I’m glad to know their yearly draw was a good financial success. Old habits die hard - I always buy my yearly tickets for that draw.
What a dreadful few days Monday and Tuesday of this week have been in Europe. We had the copycat lorry trail of destruction in Berlin and we had the killing of the Russian Ambassador in Turkey. Over it all is the dreadful tragedy that is the city of Aleppo. The efforts of women and children to get out of that city and to get away from the constant bombardment, it is surely one of the greatest tragedies of this century, the murder and mayhem in that once beautiful city.
But we’ll end on a high note. A wonderful Connacht rugby triumph against Wasps last weekend - Jack Carty truly came into his own with his wonderful play throughout the match and his final last goal. I read a fine piece by Gerry Thornley in The Irish Times on Monday in which he went through Jack’s career, and how he had personally seen off the demons that befell him earlier and was now set firm on a good rugby highway. I hope that Joe Schmidt sees the huge potential in Jack Carty and picks him at international level.
I know I told you all before, but Jack Carty is the son of Ted Carty. All the Cartys were reared on our road, four doors up from where I live, and it is great to see him succeeding at his chosen sport. Well done Jack!
I would like to wish all of the Advertiser readers peace at Christmas - peace with their families and peace in their hearts. I will join you all next week when we will have an overview of 2016 as was and a peek into the unknown that will be 2017.
In the meantime, go safely.
Talk with you all next week.
Slan go Foill,