We avoided the worst of the weather - but the farmers still suffer

Yes, yes, I know that the snow which we had spoken about last week in this column did not come, but even if we did not have the snow we had the cold and bitter wind which blew constantly during the Easter weekend.

It would be interesting to see if snow fell anywhere. Even though the forecast kept saying it was coming, it never did. I heard the president of the IFA on the radio this morning (Tuesday ) depicting a poor outlook for farmers due to the adverse weather we have had for the last several months. Last August/September, farmers put in their cattle and they have not been able to take them out yet, and we now into the month of April. Farmers really are so dependent upon the weather, and we never really think of that.

Feargal and Maeve and their two children Jennifer and Sam were down on Sunday and it was just grand to see them and to have time for good and full conversations together. I do not see those two grandchildren as often as I see the local ones. Therefore, whenever the Dubliners come, as we call them, there is always something to look at, whether they have gotten taller or they are telling tales of school.

Both are in secondary school. Jennifer, the older of the two, is doing the Junior Cert, the same as Luke in Athlone, and Sam has first year done, so they are at a very interesting stage. Anyway, it was very good to see them, and of course to have the Easter Monday off really rounded the weekend off.

We had great GAA and rugby at the weekend. First to the GAA. Roscommon won against Cavan in Division 2 of the Allianz League. That means they will now move to the First Division. They have had a wonderful season of it, and the match last weekend was really great. Cathal Cregg, their substitute, played magnificently as did the whole team, so it is full steam ahead now for Roscommon. They have a lot of training to do, a lot of catching up to do, but they are in a good position to do so.

In the European Champions Cup, Leinster had a terrific win over Saracens, who they played in the Aviva Stadium, the final result being Leinster 30 to Saracens 19. Now, I did not get to see that because it is on Sky Sports, which I have not got, but TG4 showed edited highlights that night and it seemed to be an excellent match.

Munster, who played Toulon, again in the Aviva Stadium, came out winners with a score of 20-19. Now that appears to have been a close-fought match, but a good one. Connacht were the only ones who lost out, but they lost away to Gloucester by such a narrow margin: Connacht 28 to Gloucester 33. They played a fine valiant game and, as their trainers said afterwards, they are slowly improving. As time goes on they will become a championship team also. So, we have further rugby matches to look forward to on April 20/21.

While we are talking about football, I see that Fine Gael have had their convention in Mayo and that they have got a fine replacement to run on the ticket to replace Enda Kenny. Alan Dillon, a recently retired Mayo footballer and extremely popular in Mayo, particularly in and around Castlebar, has been picked, and I have no doubt that he will make a real go of it. I hope Enda and Fionnuala and their family are enjoying the time and peace of having Enda with them so much more in retirement. I am sure that from the sidelines he is keeping a watchful eye on Leo Varadkar!

This Easter week, Richard Bruton, Minister for Education, departs on his ‘Via Dolorosa’ around the teacher conferences. When I started my five years in the Department of Education it was called the ‘Via Dolorosa’ as the Minister was expected to go from the INTO to the ASTI to the TUI in solemn procession. I note that he has been well received and well treated, and I am pleased about that, even though there are the sporadic outbreaks of grumbling about equal pay and conditions.

I have no doubt that the emollient nature of Richard Bruton will help him on his way, as he traverses from Killarney to Cork to Wexford. He has brought out some very sensible views on a much broader type of sex education for young people, both in the leaving stages of primary school and all of secondary school. I hope that the national curriculum board will devise a really good programme. There is no doubt about it, it is very much needed, and yet I understand from parents I have spoken to that the sexual education in secondary schools is very poor in content and delivery.

For my part, when I was Minister for Education all those years ago, I loved the teacher conferences. I got two or three new outfits every year for them, and made great friends among all the teachers I met, many of whom have remained friends with me. All in all, by the end of my tenure in the Department of Education, I regarded the education conferences as something to be looked forward to, not something to be dreaded.

This coming Saturday, April 7, we will be having a very interesting historical event in Athlone. It will be run from the Luan Gallery. The municipal council is proposing that part of the Accommodation Road in Athlone will be renamed the Elliott Road. This is in memory of the Elliott sisters, Eilís and Emily, from Glasson, both of whom played a very prominent part in Cumann na mBan in 1916 in Dublin.

It is part of the council’s ambition to name and/or rename many roads in honour of the heroes of 1916. Both of the Elliott sisters were very strong women who later came back to Athlone to marry local people, and continued their strong interest in Ireland. They both took the anti-treaty side and were very active in local politics in Athlone. We are all delighted that the Elliott sisters are to be duly honoured and remembered.

That is my lot for this week.

Hope to talk with you all next week.

In the meantime go safely.

Slán go fóill,

Mary O’Rourke

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