Gains made, games lost - and a grand weekend to boot

We will begin this week by talking about games. In particular, the GAA games last weekend.

Now, I know you will all say, “Look at what happened Westmeath”. And I agree! Look at what happened them indeed – ouch!

But one must remember, Westmeath are presently a fourth division team and they were playing against Dublin, a first division side. It was an unequal joust from the beginning, and it is unfortunate that the dice fell for those two counties to meet.

I have spoken to some people who were at the match and who were involved with the back room, and they said it was soul destroying. But, as I said, that is the way it happened. There are some good players on the Westmeath team, and I have no doubt that they will lift up their hearts and recover from last Sunday.

On another note, it is great to see all the young people out from school - Leaving and Junior Certs are finished and the primary schools are due to close this week. Talking to my little grandchild last weekend, he said: “Mary, you see, we’ll have a full day on Monday, a full day on Tuesday, and a half-day on Wednesday, and then we have the summer holidays”.

He spoke with such a tone of longing, and I thought to myself, recalling the lines ‘The thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts’, how happy and carefree they all are with the vista of summer stretching ahead.

The young people who have left secondary school with their minds full of what the autumn is going to bring to them, and then the younger children just thinking of the fun and joy they are going to have now, and the endless summer ahead.

I am sure I do not find an echo with many when I say I welcome the tension between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael which has evidenced itself during the last few weeks. Yes, of course, we all understand that Fianna Fáil are backing Fine Gael on a supply and confidence agreement, but clearly on some matters of policy there will be tension.

Let us hope the two head men in each party have the wit and the sagacity to foresee danger before it comes and to work accordingly within those parameters.

Well, Arlene Foster (DUP ) went to London and came back with her wheelbarrow full of cash for Northern Ireland. Good for her and for the DUP - they saw their opportunity. They are going to prop up Theresa May in her minority government and, for so doing, they were able to get some much-needed funds for infrastructure, health and for education in Northern Ireland.

They also insisted on having the removal of the so-called ‘dementia tax’ from the Conservative manifesto, and also the mistakes which were in the manifesto, and which were totally anathema to good governance.

Back home in Northern Ireland things are not as sunny as we saw on the steps of No 10 Downing Street. The atmosphere in Stormont is not good according to Tommie Gorman, who reports faithfully three or four times a day to us.

Of course, the Sinn Féin nose is out of joint because Arlene has brought home the goodies to Northern Ireland. But would it not be better for Sinn Féin and the DUP to get the devolved assembly back up and running and proceed together with all the other parties, to use the financial gain to ease the path of many a constituent in Northern Ireland? That should be the outcome on Thursday of this week but, somehow, the portents are not hopeful in that regard.

I want to share with you all a wonderful literary, political, and musical weekend I had recently in the town of Kells at the Hinterland Festival. The festival is an offshoot of the Hay Festival in Wales and it bore all the attributes of that fine festival. The small town of Kells is a heritage town and it was thronged from Thursday to Sunday with all sorts of people coming to talk, give lectures, provide musical interludes, and above all to have a really good time.

All around the small streets we all paraded, Joe Duffy (with his book Children of the Rising ), Ryan Tubridy (with his book Patrick and the President ), myself (with my book Letters of my Life ), and so many others. Each lecture gave the greatest of enjoyment to huge numbers of people.

My talk was in Kells Church of Ireland, a most beautiful building with wonderful frescos of the original Book of Kells, and all sorts of interesting names of burials there over the centuries. It was a wonderful place for a talk. There was a marvellous sell-out audience and some interesting, perceptive questions from those in attendance whenever there was time, and there was plenty of time. The Hinterland was a wonderland and I so enjoyed myself.

This week Cavan is hosting a liaison between Women’s Network Ireland and Enterprise Ireland for a show called ‘Fuelling Women’s Ambition’, which is all about women advancing their entrepreneurial spirit. It is laced with wonderful tales of those who have already done so. I will be called - grandly - a facilitator, so we will see how all that goes!

We did not talk about the French Assembly elections, which were an outstanding success for the President, Emmanuel Macron. His party, La République En Marche, garnered all new candidates. Now he has the Assembly behind him and is set for a good term as president. However, he will have some difficult legislation to deal with and various issues which have been let slide in France during the last couple of years. But, I have no doubt, Emmanuel is more than ready for whatever challenges France throws up for him.

The biggest election of all will be September 24 in Germany, when we will see whether Angela Merkel gets a fourth term in office for which she is already vying, on the election trail.

Lovely weather again as I write this. Let us hope it continues.

Talk with you all next week.

In the meantime, go safely.

Slán go Fóill,

Mary O’Rourke

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