Hello to all the Advertiser readers.
I am going to begin this column today by talking about the recent All Ireland Hurling Final, Galway v. Waterford.
For reasons which would be far too complicated to explain, I didn’t see that match in Athlone but in a hotel with a large public bar and an absolutely huge screen, filling half the wall. The room was packed with all sorts of people and I was with my niece Anita Lenihan as we looked at it. I never thought a game, as intricate as hurling is, could be shown to such advantage on such an enormous screen. We saw everything in huge detail and, of course, the tempo of the match was one that matched the tempo in the room as one point, one side, led to another point the other side, and so on. It was truly enthralling and the men from the west had a terrific game, as indeed had the men from Waterford.
In the end, it was Galway’s turn. Now, I know people will say Waterford were longer without winning, but somehow, since the win by Galway in the ‘80s, they have known so much emotion and ‘nearly there’ encounters, that I think so many felt it was truly their turn. And boy! Did they relish it? I can only imagine that the celebrations, visits to schools, visits to industry, visits to parishes all over the west of Ireland, are still ongoing. Abú to Galway and the men of the west. They truly deserved it.
But, let’s look again now at what happened last Sunday. Last Sunday was camogie Sunday in Croke Park and on RTE 2. We had a wonder final in which Cork triumphed against Kilkenny and there was some fine play in that. For us, in Westmeath, it was a wonderful victory in the Junior Premier Cup in camogie. As one local GAA wag said to me, it took a group of females to defeat Dublin in Croke Park! And Westmeath played so well also.
Again, camogie of course, is a game of skill like hurling and a terrific viewership game. I was really pleased to see so many in Croke Park and how gamely our President, Michael D, set about, in the driving rain, visiting the team, shaking hands with everyone and going back to his seat. He is a great exponent of GAA games and hugely to be admired for his disposition that way.
So, camogie on Sunday was a great inset into what was, otherwise, a dreary September day.
In the hope that some local readers will be reading this column in the early part of Thursday, September 14, I would like to push out the boat for the Athlone Hospice Coffee Morning. There is a very enthusiastic committee of good lively women who run this every year and ensure that, even though Hospice Day is a national event, the monies raised in Athlone go to the South Westmeath Hospice. It is definitely a go-to event. If you read it in time – 10.30 to 13.30 in the Sheraton Hotel, upstairs on floor 1 – venue kindly donated by the Sheraton. Lovely coffee/tea, homemade cakes to both eat and purchase. So, all in all, a good morning will be had. See you there!
Readers will remember that, just last week, I again referred to the fact that Leo Varadkar would do very well, for himself and for his country, if he decided to put Bertie Ahern on a tight Brexit committee. I have heard him so often, and so many people have referred to his very erudite knowledge and contributions to debates on the radio. I felt my voice was a voice in the wilderness and nobody would pick it up.
But, lo and behold! Last Saturday, in the body of her article, Miriam Lord of the Irish Times said she wondered why Leo Varadkar didn’t put Bertie Ahern and Enda Kenny on a Brexit committee and how much good it would do for the country. So, I felt glad that my idea was being taken up but is it being taken up in the right quarters? We will wait and see.
Now, I have to report on a really good local HSE story, and that is surely good both for the HSE and for Athlone. The local HSE Primary Care Centre has been short-listed for its X-ray department for a Department of the Year award. The Irish Institute of Radiography and Radiotherapy carried out inspections of this department, along with many others, in July. As a result of that the Athlone X-ray department is now rated amongst the top three departments in the running for the award. There is a public vote and a site visit vote and the winner will be announced at the Irish Institute of Radiography and Radiotherapy conference in Cork on October 7th.
As you can imagine, this is one of the smallest departments in the country and it is a really big achievement to make the short list and ensuring that high standards are maintained and patients are cared for to the best of their ability. I used that X-ray department recently, at the Primary Care Centre here, and I can surely vouch for its standards and the warmth of the personnel who run it. I do hope they win, but even to be rated among the top three, when the other two are major regional hospitals, is quite an achievement.
We had a local sports hero return last weekend. Joe Ward, the boxing supremo, who won at the AIB European World Championships in Hamburg, came home in triumph with his silver medal on top of an earlier gold medal he had won in a previous competition. Joe Ward, from Moate, is now an accomplished world boxer and we all wish him well as he progresses through his career.
But, I cannot end this piece without sending all our best wishes to the Mayomen as, this weekend, they make their way to Croke Park again. I feel strongly in my heart that they are going to win, but everybody talks about the formidable Dublin team and the skill they have. But, I strongly believe that the tradition, the strength, the record, and the faith and the hope which has propelled Mayo this far on to Croke Park, will propel them even further as they leave with the Sam Maguire Cup. There are many hearts beating strongly for them in the Midlands and already, on our road, I see two fine big Mayo flags flying from upstairs windows, and I applaud them each time as I pass. So, go to it Mayo. You can do it. And so many have faith in your abilities.
On that optimistic note, I’ll end this week. Talk with you all next week. In the meantime, go safely.
Slán go Fóill