You will remember last week I spoke about going down to Tralee for a Probus conference last Wednesday. It was a wonderful event and I so enjoyed it.
There were two main speakers on the day I was there, Dick Spring and myself, and it was great to meet up with Dick again. He told me his life is governed by three Gs: grandchildren, golf and gardening.
I could empathise with the grandchildren. In fact, I beat him 2:1 in that regard, but in golf and gardening I gave way to his superior knowledge. He was in very good form and it was so good to chat with him and to reminisce also over times gone by in Dáil Eireann.
The beautiful scenery down south was something I had completely forgotten about. Now, it was an absolutely magnificent day, with a cloudless blue sky and the mountains of Kerry coming nearer and nearer as we travelled.
We are so used to the hidden heartlands of the Midlands where there are no mountains, so it was wonderful to be in another kind of scenery. The Tipperary mountains were to the left as we travelled down, then the Kerry mountains looming up ahead of us, following the lovely day in the Mount Brandon Hotel.
Then, last Saturday, we had the Holy Communion of Scott O’Rourke, the youngest of my grandchildren. It was a lovely South Roscommon day in the Ballybay National School in Ballybay, KIltoom.
There were 14 girls and 13 boys from second class and I understood what a wonderful ceremony it was. The teachers and the local PP had schooled them so well in their singing and speaking, including in the general devotion of the young people.
Each of the 27 had something special to do, whether it was reading a lesson or singing or bringing up gifts to the altar. All in all, it was beautifully arranged. My heart was in my mouth when little Scott had to say one of the lessons, but young children nowadays have such confidence. They walk up and stand at their microphone and say their piece. The whole occasion filled me with joy and quite a lot of emotion. I would just so much have liked if Enda had been there to share it with me.
As you know, in the afternoon, there was the big Munster versus Leinster rugby match, and I had kept quiet about it, hoping I could go in home and look at it on TG4, but some of the crowd who were there for the afters of the Holy Communion demanded that Aengus turn it on. So, we all had great viewing and indeed some shouting as the game went on.
Now, Leinster were very hard put, and they only made it by a point as you know, so it was no overwhelming victory. Munster were very dogged and determined, but it just failed them. I enjoyed looking at it and enjoyed the company, and the festive glass of wine, as we watched in the post Holy Communion euphoria.
Then, on Sunday, on BBC2, I saw Ulster play Ospreys, and a very good win they had. Winning, they have secured a place in next season’s European Championship Cup.
On the GAA front, Westmeath had a really good win in the McDonagh Cup, and of course, Limerick had a very triumphant win against Tipperary in the hurling.
So, all in all, and taking everything that happened, between conversation, children, adults and matches, it was a crowded weekend.
Then, of course, we had the Meghan Markle wedding. I saw none of that on the Saturday, except when I came home at about eight o’clock, then a resumè of the whole event came on one of the TV channels. I am not at all a follower of royalty but, like most women, I wanted to see the bride and, in particular, I wanted to see her dress. It was just beautiful and the dress was magnificent in its simplicity.
I thought her mother was great to be there. A very solitary figure in the church as she sat alone. She was so dignified like her daughter and well able to carry off the event. Good luck to the young couple. I hope they stay together and live their lives to the full.
At this point in my writing for this week, I must say farewell to Robert Grace who, for the last three years has been the editor of the Athlone Advertiser newspaper. He is a fine young man who has made a thorough success of the paper, and is now going on to pastures new. Anybody who has dealt with him will vouch for his good humour, intelligence and general affability of character. I wish himself and his fianceè every good wish as they set out for new pastures together. As a weekly contributor to that paper, I will miss him for his constant availability and agreeable nature whenever I had dealings with him.
So, I have gone through all the good things that have happened lately, and now we come to dreadful news: the murders of young people in Dublin last week. Firstly, we had the murder of 14-year-old Ana Kriegel in Lucan/Leixlip and the ongoing investigation into that by the Gardaí. Then, in the last few days, we had the horrific abduction and murder of Jastine Valdez, the lovely young Filipino woman, in Wicklow/Dublin South. So much evil in the world.
While the sun shines overhead, we witness senseless murders of young people, 14 years and 24 years old, with all their lives ahead of them. Each young person murdered had a life of promise and potential before them. What a terrible loss. I spoke earlier in this column of the happy things that have been going on in the world, so it is awful to read about these two murders; so senseless, so wanton.
I have no doubt that the Gardaí are working flat out to find out exactly what lay behind those two senseless acts of evil, and I am sure they will continue their quest in those respects.
Random acts or premeditated, it does not matter which. Each murder was senseless, baseless and so distressing for the families concerned.
That’s my lot now for this week.
Talk with you all next week.
In the meantime, go safely.
Slán go Fóill,