Well, the story of the week was Ophelia. By the way, I looked up Ophelia and it comes from a Greek word meaning “help” – very appropriate, I think. Of course, it also was the name of Hamlet’s doomed lover in the play by Shakespeare.
Be that as it may, Ophelia hit us in Ireland and the big imponderable was, how would we all be impacted? Throughout Sunday our worries and apprehension grew as ex-hurricane Ophelia, by then officially called a storm, approached Ireland and hit first the southern coast of Cork and Kerry. We here in the Midlands did not know quite what to expect, but we geared ourselves for the worst and managed throughout the day.
We managed because those who work in the public sector and those who work in the political sector combined their strengths and their professionalism to ensure that everyone in Ireland was aware of the next move that Ophelia was making, where it was bound for next, and at what time during that long day of Monday.
There were so many heroes and heroines but, to me, the stand-out heroes were RTE. They kept us abreast right throughout the day of what exactly was happening. Brian Dobson at the helm was fantastic. He always gives such an aura of responsibility and air of being knowledgeable. In turn, he called in all the people in the various field, from the ESB and farmers to medical people and figures from local government, so we had the full regalia of what was happening, how it was happening, and what exact hour it would come to us. It was a wonderful service.
On Tuesday, when I went into town I had three calls to make to three separate shops, and in each of them I did my own survey of those who were behind the counter and those I met on the floor. Out of about 25 people whom I spoke to, only one person said “Oh it was much ado about nothing”, and we all jumped on her.
I, for one, felt I was very glad to be a citizen in a country which, I felt, was being monitored and looked after. As bad as it was, there was that feeling of certainty - at least we knew what was going to come. Far, far better to be prepared again and again than to be left wondering and stumbling around the place.
In Athlone, we were very fortunate. Apart from the very high winds in the early afternoon and lots of trees down, there was no rain. Hence there was no extra flooding, which is always a sign of impending danger to those of us living in and around Athlone.
The three deaths that occurred were directly related to Ophelia and, of course, they were hugely sad stories. It remains on us all now to be extra vigilant and extra careful when driving because, as they said on the TV, you never know what is around the next corner. A tree, which has become loosened, can easily come down on the roof of your car as you are driving.
Ophelia was managed, and managed well, by all who were working on our behalf, and I would like to extend a very deep thanks to all concerned in helping people last Monday, either physically or with information and with certainty – thank you all.
Last weekend, before Ophelia struck, we had the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis in Dublin. I did not go to it. After all, I felt I had spent many a weekend in the RDS on that mission, but I was well represented by my family.
From what I have heard and read and seen, it appears that, first of all, the number of delegates was good and Micheál Martin’s speech was good, even though at times it is difficult for him publicly to keep up the outrage against the Government, when Fianna Fáil, in fact, is keeping that very Government alive. However, we will continue to do that job as best we can.
As we talked about the budget last week I will not go into it again, but the mood among the delegates, I believe, was one of “where is all this going to end? Are we going to continue to support the Government to keep them in office, or will we eventually strike out on our own and call an election?” These are imponderable matters, but the fact is that whoever calls the election first will be the one to be blamed for so doing.
However, as I observed before, and as Harold MacMillan observed many years ago, “events, dear boy, events” will have a way of deciding all of that in its own good time.
I did not see Leinster take on Montpellier in the rugby on Saturday as I do not have Sky. Though it was on that night on TnaG, I of course had to switch to see Micheál Martin on RTE. But Leinster scored a great victory and no player more worthy than the young man from Athlone, Robbie Henshaw, who was made man of the match and who played magnificently. Robbie is well on the way to being one of those stalwarts for Ireland, and I wish him well in all his future endeavours.
The soccer draw was out this week too and I note that Ireland’s first match will be an away game against Denmark. It is said to be, by those who know, a good draw, in which we have a fair chance of victory. Also, Denmark is an easy place to access by air, unlike Croatia which does not have a winter aviation schedule. So, the soccer fans in Ireland will know the date it will be on in November, and they can be saving for their air fare tickets. By the way, the date of the soccer match, November 11, is also the date of the Fine Gael Ard Fheis.
I hope the Mayo readers and readers on the western seaboard have recovered from the vagaries of Ophelia and have not suffered too much in that outcome. Each county is now assessing its damages on roads, power, water and other infrastructural matters which have been affected. I am sure the bill will be quite high and, of course, there was the sadness of the loss of those three people. But, as I said above, we were well managed throughout the event, and hopefully that is the positive outcome of it all.
That is my lot for now.
Talk with you all next week.
In the meantime, go safely.
Slán go Fóill,