Here we were last week, extolling the marvellous spring weather, birds singing, sun shining, everyone in good humour, and this week, as I compile this column, snow is actually falling outside. Now, of course it’s dissolving into rain as it hits the ground, but imagine, such changes in temperature. Last week one day it was 17.5 degrees when I was out in the car, and today, in the same car going to the same place, it is 4.5 degrees. If it’s variety you want in your weather, we’ve got it in here in Ireland in spades. I expect that this harsh weather will not last for long, at least I hope it won’t. But what a contrast! The old wives tale says ‘Ne’er cast a clout till May be out’, and it seems those wise saws were right.
Before the weather turned rogue, we had wonderful sports over last weekend. I am going to begin with the GAA and the wonderful win by Mayo against Kerry in the Allianz football final in Croke Park on Sunday. It was 2001 when they last won it and their first time to win a national final after nine defeats, so what a major triumph it was for them So many times they came home crestfallen from Croke Park, but this time, there was Andy Moran with his two lovely children Charlotte and Ollie on the pitch with him, and later raising the cup up high with baby Ollie.
Andy Moran had, according to an interview I read today, seriously considered throwing in the towel (he is aged 36 ) until he was telephoned by James Horan who said to him “we want you on the team.” He took a few days to consider it, because, as he said himself, life has become more complicated and now he has a young family. But he agreed, and on Sunday he came off the bench and made a huge difference in the last 15 minutes.
My son Aengus lives on the Roscommon road, and he told us that right through that morning the Mayo cars passed by in a constant procession. Now this was as we were looking at the match, so we hoped good news was coming. As James Horan says, he as trainer is on his “second coming”. Oh I so hope that the promise shown on the pitch at Croke Park last Sunday will be amplified and enhanced as the weeks and months go by, and that, come September, we will see them again in Croke Park at a dramatic final. Remember they beat Kerry, that brave young team who have earned many plaudits since the Allianz games began. So anyway, here’s hoping! I’m an optimist by nature, and my heart is lifted by the Mayo victory.
I was busy coming up to the weekend so I missed a lot of the rugby, yet I saw the most marvellous match midday Saturday between Munster and Edinburgh, on Virgin Media One. Now, this was the most fabulous rugby match I’ve looked at for quite a while (apart from the final match played by the under 20 Irish rugby team ). Edinburgh are noted for their tenacity. They played for all they were worth, and I was so afraid in the last 15 minutes that they would break down Munster. But not a bit of it; time after time Edinburgh stormed, and if they did, Munster were able for them with a huge defensive game. Well done to Munster, and they had a huge amount of supporters cheering them on. I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to say it, I am sure when players are on the pitch of whatever game, it is good to have your own cheering you to the rafters. Of course it reaches their ears and spurs them on.
Then last Sunday we had Mothers’ Day. Feargal, Maeve and family were down and of course we all had a lovely time meeting up with Aengus, Lisa and family. It is a day for mothers, and how we bask in it. I loved it all, the flowers and the cards and the fuss, and it was just really good all round. They went back to Dublin happy, and we all enjoyed meeting one another and our day together.
Before that, I had a political appointment in a place called Glynn in County Wexford. A young man called Garry Laffan was going on in the local elections for Fianna Fáil. Tony Dempsey of Wexford, who used to be in the Dáil and with whom I was always friendly, telephoned me and asked if I would go down and make a pitch for Garry at a night he was having last Friday in a pub in Glynn. Garry is a very fine young man, with a lovely wife from County Antrim and two very young children. He got an All-Ireland hurling medal for Wexford in 1996, and is very well known within his locality and within the community. I was delighted to go and speak up for him – not that I think he needs speaking up for because I think he is such a fine person and so bedded down in the community that I am sure he will do well. We had a wonderful night, and a great crowd gathered with huge spirit and determination among all. I hope it will have some effect on the final result for Garry on May 24, when the local elections take place.
Here in Athlone later this week, we are having the launch of our two local county council candidates, Cllr Aengus O’Rourke and Cllr Frankie Keena, who are both looking to retain their seats in the new altered electoral area. Fianna Fáil have invited Stephen Donnelly, our health spokesman, to the Shamrock Lodge on the same night where he will give a talk on the crisis in our health service, and the ideas that Fianna Fáil will be putting forward on this important topic for the next general election. All in all, that will be a good Party night as well.
On Monday, a day after I was in Hodson Bay for Mothers’ Day lunch, we had the Confirmation of James O’Rourke and a subsequent meal in the Hodson Bay Hotel. Ballybay would be their local church, but every two years it switches to the sister church in Curraghboy, and so it was Curraghboy where James Michael received his Confirmation name of John. We all had a great day together again, and we applauded James who has achieved his Confirmation and is set next September to go the Marist Secondary School in Athlone. Bishop Kevin Doran of Elphin was the celebrant. He gave great time to all of the children, posed for endless photographs and was really interested in each child when he was talking to them. I am glad that Confirmation remains a very important milestone in a young person’s life, as it always was. It has not lost its place or its potency as a young person grows up.
That’s my lot for this week. Hope to talk with you all next week.
In the meantime go safely.
Slán go fóill.