“What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare?” - William Henry Davies
Hello to all the Advertiser readers. I decided to start my conversation this week with the above two lines, which I feel are very appropriate, particularly now. Why you ask? Well, we are in the middle of a hugely febrile and edgy time and atmosphere between Trump, Theresa May, Brexit and all of the other issues which are thrashing around us, and yet we should stop and think and stand and stare from time to time.
Despite all that is happening everywhere, I’m sure each of the readers has noted that the grass is growing and the birds are singing, even though spring has not yet sprung. I often wonder what are the birds making of it all? I wonder did many of them hibernate? I think not, because they thought we had an early spring when, in fact, what we had was no winter. And so, we’ve been hearing birds early in the morning, and looking at them, if you’re lucky to have a tree or two around your garden. So, isn’t that good? To take a minute to observe all that and to “stand and stare”.
So, where will we start on the main issues? Firstly, the issue being promoted by the media, should the Taoiseach go or should he not go to Washington on March 17. I am now going to nail my colours firmly to the mast: of course he should go! It would be quite daft not to go. I am so surprised at Catherine Martin, the Green Party Deputy, who proposed he should not go – not at all surprised at Brendan Howlin, the leader of Labour, who echoed her.
We can say what we like about Donald Trump, and many are saying it throughout the programmes on radio and TV, but we have unfettered access to the Oval Office once a year, and for Enda Kenny to not exercise that opportunity would be quite plainly silly and daft. Of course he will go and, I have no doubt, he will tell in his own language what many of the Irish people are saying about President Trump.
But the idea that we should, on a whim, just say “No we are not going to the Oval Office”? I imagine, if that was to happen, that Donald Trump would have a little notebook and in it he would write “The Irish, March 17” and put a big black mark beside it.
Whatever else we may say about Theresa May, she is an energetic Prime Minister – Washington today, Turkey tomorrow, Cardiff the next day, and Dublin the same day. We had her in Government buildings on Monday evening last. I think she is clever and highly intelligent and she is doing her best in a very difficult situation to bring about parity and good results for the North of Ireland, and for Ireland in general, out of the Brexit mess, and it is a big mess.
I consider it the correct approach that the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, stays in charge fully of Brexit. I know there is again a media cry for a Minister for Brexit, but the Taoiseach is the person who will be in Europe, who will be meeting all the heads of state, who is in a position to influence them in their thinking towards the Good Friday Agreement and the special relationship between the North of Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. All of that can be best carried by the man in charge, right now, of this country.
Theresa May is very composed, very put together. I would like to think, in the way she approaches each issue, that she is a strong force for good in a very uneasy atmosphere.
But, quite simply, with regard to her personal regard for the North of Ireland, I don’t know how she is going to combine no border barriers between north and south and yet control the immigration of people into the UK. The two points of view are quite simply not compatible. It is only one of the mysteries and complex difficulties which are facing us all. There is no point in shouting for clarity because, as yet, with the Bill being debated in the House of Commons and amendments being considered, there is no clear path of action on many of the difficult issues.
To return to one of my favourite topics: sport. There was a great result for the Marist College in Athlone last Friday when the U14 boys beat Good Counsel College of Wexford in the Leinster final. You will have to allow me a small glow of grandmotherly pride as a result of my grandson Luke being on the team. Well done to the Marist. They are great for encouraging burgeoning sports people.
The whole school, apart from Junior Cert and Leaving Cert classes, went on buses to the match to cheer on their favourites. There were 10 members of that U14 team from St Brigid’s GAA Club in Kiltoom in South Roscommon and, on Friday night, the boys paraded the cup in St Brigid’s at a special awards ceremony and were duly given their acclaim.
The future for Roscommon football looks good, if the promise exhibited on the playing field last Friday is carried through. I was sorry that Moate Community School’s senior boys were defeated in the Leinster final at the weekend. They put up, I understand, a brave fight.
Next Saturday will be a great day for Irish rugby. The first game is Ireland versus Scotland and we will see it all on TV on Saturday afternoon. From what we read in the sports pages, there is great jostling among the members of the Irish team for a position going forward to this first leg of the Six Nations Cup and, of course, it’s a good country that has an excess of such proficient players as now Ireland appears to have.
So in the week that sees Lá Fhéile Bríde and the beginning of spring, my wish for all of the Advertiser readers is that they too will take a few minutes to observe the wonders of nature and the change of seasons, and will give themselves time to “stand and stare”.
I hope to talk with you all next week.
In the meantime, go safely.
Slán go Fóill,