I’m going to begin this column with really interesting creative and exciting news. Last Friday night I was invited to launch a book called Tales from the Heart – New Creative Writing from Athlone Institute of Technology. Now, this is a compilation by Mick Donnellan of nineteen writers who attended his creative writing course for the last number of months. The course is conducted under the aegis of the Department of Lifelong Learning in Athlone IT.
I was very honoured to be invited to do the launch, and to read the advance copy which they sent me so that I was fully aware of the writing before I went out on Friday night. I can say to all the readers, it is a whole collection of imagination, of hard work and of creativity. It is quite a while since I read something so personal from so many people. The writings were composed of poetry, fiction and real life, and all 19 of the writers and many, many others were in the lecture hall in AIT to hear each of them stand up, one by one, to read their piece. It was certainly better than any theatre or any play you could go to. I could only imagine as each person spoke, men and women of all ages, how they had gained so much in their writing skills and in their imagination from the course which they did under Mick Donnellan. Sometimes you go to an event and it all passes over quickly. Not so on this occasion, because each speaker was packed with imagination and with dedication to the written word. I cannot praise enough the intensity of the feelings they engendered in all of us there on that Friday night. Each writer bared their soul to us and uplifted us.
Well done to each of them, and I am sure we will see their written work in newspapers, magazines and periodicals, and indeed in the books which they will write now that their creativity has been loosened and they know that they can write.
Well done to AIT as well, for being so forward thinking in putting on a course like this. Athlone is so well served by having the institute of technology in the town. There is no doubt that a third level college and the various courses they run give a texture to a town and its surrounding areas which is wonderful, as is the ongoing reverberations which it has with the huge number of young students and the students of all the various other courses which it has in its repertoire.
Earlier on that Friday I had been up to do the Ivan Yates show in Newstalk in Dublin. Now, they would love if I would go every Friday but we have settled on me doing one Friday a month. It’s called ‘The Final Furlong’ and it is part of The Hard Shoulder programme which Ivan Yates puts out every evening. ‘The Final Furlong’ is pre-recorded between 1-2pm on a Friday and then goes out about 6.30pm on Friday evening. I enjoy it very much because I enjoy Ivan Yates and he usually has interesting people on the programme. The dialogue is lively, sometimes caustic, always interesting, and so I am enjoying this new initiative in my life.
As I am writing this, the cold, wet weather has returned, but we are reassured by the weather forecasters that it is temporary and that come mid-week, leading on to the Easter weekend, the weather will get warmer by the day and sunnier by the day as well, so that by the time Easter weekend comes we will be basking again (I hope! ).
I am so glad, and I am sure many of the readers are too, that for the moment we have a respite from Brexit. Except that of course, on the Sunday evening news, we saw Theresa May striding purposefully into her local church for her service, followed by the faithful Philip. I always feel when I see her striding with such determination into the church that she is going to climb into the pulpit and lecture the congregation who have come for the church service. I know that is only my imagination in overdrive, but a picture conveys so much, and determination is what her stride always conveys – and as I said, the plod-plod of the ever-faithful Philip. I’m glad she has him; she will need him as she and her fellow Conservative ministers walk through their talks with the Labour hierarchy.
What was the most exciting match I saw on TV over the weekend? Without doubt, it was Connacht versus Cardiff Blues played out in the Sportsground in Galway on Saturday afternoon.
All the ingredients were there – a lovely dry afternoon, and crowds of supporters, young and old, egging on Connacht. Even Cardiff Blues had brought over a tranche of their supporters so that the match was played against the backdrop of huge approval and constant exhortations. The match itself was brilliant, and of course I have to return to Jack Carty; he and Bundee Aki were the powerhouses last Saturday. Strategy, comradeship, constant renewal – it was all there, played out before our eyes. Indeed coming towards the end, in the last 10 or 15 minutes, Cardiff Blues appeared to get a complete renewal of spirit and they fairly hammered Connacht; but if they did, Connacht withstood it with their marvellous defence. Connacht were hungry for that win, and they got it. The final score was Connacht 29 Cardiff Blues 22.
Leinster were defeated by Glasgow Warriors with a score of 39-24. Now, I didn’t see this match but just listened to it on radio, and while Leinster had Robbie Henshaw and Devin Toner back, and they played their full part, the manager kept many of their high-achieving veterans off the pitch to have them ready for Toulouse in the semi-final in the Aviva Stadium next Saturday. Leinster are well ahead in their Conference list, so whilst they would have preferred to have won, they will be correctly mastering their collective forces for the match against Toulouse.
Both Munster and Ulster had terrific wins, and we look forward to the further games which they will be playing.
I would like to wish all the Advertiser readers in Westmeath, Galway and Mayo a very happy Easter. I hope you have a good time together with your families, and that you enjoy the Easter break.
That’s my lot for now. Hope to talk with you all next week.
In the meantime go safely.
Slán go fóill.