Well, we’re well and truly into January now, almost one third of the month already gone – children back at school and every household taking down its Christmas tree, decorations, and all of the gaudy symbols that we remember from Christmas.
Yesterday, I stripped down everything and suddenly the house felt bare. I’m sure that is a feeling that was felt by everyone as they did their post-Nollaig na mBan clear-out.
Before we go on to talk about current affairs, I do want to pay tribute to Marian Finucane and Larry Gogan, both stalwarts in particular of radio, who have passed away in the last short while.
Marian, I knew over a number of years in my public life.
Indeed, I had a very good encounter with her back in September when the hospice movement in Dublin put on an event with over one hundred in the audience and a panel of about six people, all of us talking about an ‘Irish way of dying’, with Marian Finucane chairing and moderating the meeting.
She was a wonderful broadcaster, and I particularly remember her radio programme ‘Women Today’ in late 1979-80, which definitely went into hitherto forbidden and unknown territories of discussion. From then on, she never faltered in telling events as they were, and what they meant to people.
I do not have any personal remembrance of Larry Gogan, only to know from other people what a wonderful broadcaster he too was, particularly on RTÉ 2FM.
Not alone RTÉ, but the country will miss both of them, and of course I express my sympathy to their families and to all who knew and loved them dearly, particularly all of their colleagues in RTÉ. God rest their souls.
Just by chance, I recently caught on TV on TG4 a discussion of the State Papers as they have been released recently. The discussion was between the presenter and Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh, Professor Emeritus of History in NUIG. I was delighted to see Gearóid in such good form and in such good voice. I remember him particularly when I started out in national political life in the 80s. He and I had correspondence and telephone calls together about particular issues at that time. Since then, I have always followed his career, and as I say he was in such erudite form on those two programmes I caught, and I was so delighted to see him looking in such fine fettle.
I read avidly the account of the State Papers, particularly in The Irish Times. I was amazed and delighted to read how Charlie Haughey, as Taoiseach during some of those years, came so well out of the accounts of civil servants and others during that period. Everything he did and said was portrayed in a good light, and I was keen to see that – also, of course, my brother Brian Lenihan (Snr ) who was the Foreign Affairs Minister for much of the period covered. I even featured, myself, in a small interlude in one of the State Papers, and I got a great kick out of reading about that also.
We have had a lot of rugby lately, and I hate saying it, but how very badly Connacht have been playing, particularly when they met Leinster. Now, I know that was meeting giants, so to speak, but at the same time there was a notable lack of skill or spirit among the Connacht players.
I hope that Connacht doesn’t sink back into a trough of despair again about their rugby. With spring in the offing and hopefully new recruits coming in, they should look up again.
Of course at a national level, all of the talk is of when is the general election to be?
We know it will either be in February, March, April or May, and perhaps we will know the outcome when Leo Varadkar and Micheál Martin finally get to talk to one another rather than sending emails and correspondence which are of absolutely no consequence.
I, myself, am of the opinion that the sooner we hear about when the election is to be, the better it will be for the body politic.
Last Sunday, I had the first of my 2020 political outings. I had been invited by Rita McInerney, who is a Fianna Fáil candidate for that elusive upcoming general election. Rita is from Doonbeg and is a fine young woman, full of determination that she will gain a seat for the party in the upcoming election.
She put on a wonderful afternoon tea and debate among women of note in her area. I thoroughly enjoyed being back in Clare again. You see, I am half a Clare woman, in that my father was from Kilfenora and I have always felt close to the events that are going on in Clare.
Be that as it may, it was a good outing for Rita, and I wish her the best of luck whenever the event occurs.
My next outing will be to Nenagh in County Tipperary where there is a fine candidate, Sandra Farrell, who will be looking to regain an FF seat for Nenagh.
Then I am back to Clare again in mid-February for an event commemorating the War of Independence and particularly the part played by Cumann na mBan.
Meanwhile, we are having this totally unseasonable weather. As I compile this piece, the temperature is at 14 degrees. Can you imagine, there was many a June day we would have loved to have had a temperature like that.
There is no doubt whatsoever that all of this kind of weather in the month of January is proof, if proof were needed, that climate change is upon us. How we cope, personally and at a national and international level, will be one of the challenges facing us all in 2020. I opened the bedroom and living room windows today. Imagine, opening windows in the month of January!!
I think we’ve kicked off 2020 in this column, as in so many other pieces you will read throughout the various newspapers, with good spirits and with good heart.
May I wish you all again, in all of your endeavours for 2020, that you will keep intact your hopes and aspirations for the year ahead.
That’s my lot for this week. Hope to talk with you all next week.
In the meantime, go safely.
Slán go fóill.