Well, we are where we were last week, with regard to the spread of coronavirus in Ireland. We now await with bated breath each evening to get the figures, and the clear realisation has dawned that we are full-on in the middle of the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
The health committee is doing its best and constantly updating the Government, and as I write this, on Tuesday of this week, we have new arrangements which have come out from Government.
The weather continues good up to now, and that is a decided advantage as it is difficult not to feel depressed as the ravages of the pandemic continue.
Meanwhile, the readers will remember that a couple of weeks ago I forecast that Joe Biden and the Democratic Party would invite Kamala Harris to be the vice-presidential candidate, and so it has proven to be. They are a formidable duo now, and this is easily proven because President Trump has already engaged in huge anti-Kamala slogans and shouting about her. It’s unbelievable the things he is saying about her, and about Joe Biden.
This week the Democratic Party Conference was held, but of course there is no audience, just the speakers. Next week, I understand, the Republican Party will be having its convention, and Trump will be selected again, and I am sure Mike Pence will be his running-mate, as now.
A sinister little development has begun, in that every day now Trump tweets that a postal vote, or a vote by mail, will be deemed ineligible. He is already lining that up, because the postal service is sending out postal votes to almost every voter in all of the American states. President Trump has denied and refused to give the very necessary funding which will enable them to keep all their services up to date. One way or another, it really shows that Trump is deciding that he will have all his denials ready. If he loses the presidential election, he is going to say that every postal vote is a dud vote, and cannot be counted. I don’t know how far he will get with that as a tactic.
There is every chance that, despite the attractive candidates which the Democratic Party are putting forward, the voters will turn to Trump, particularly if he can point to some improvement in the coronavirus pandemic in the US.
Despite all the unsettling news in the present circumstances in Ireland, there is no denying that there was some really good news last week. I make no excuses for bringing them up again, but the miracle of Galway Bay was astounding and amazing. Ellen Glynn, aged 17, and her cousin Sara Feeney, aged 23, both set off on their paddle boards from Furbo beach and were very quickly taken miles out into Galway Bay. Huge life-saving groups were put into place to find them, and yet the two young women spent that night and quite a bit of the next day clinging together, and to their paddle boards which they had lashed together. They finally tied the boards, and themselves, to lobster pots, and despite shouting and roaring and waving at helicopters flying above and rescue boats circling them, nobody seems to have heard them until fisherman Patrick Oliver and his 18-year-old son Morgan came upon them and rescued the two women off Inis Oirr.
Apparently, what really saved them before they were rescued by the pair was that they clung together, they sat, they talked, they drifted off to sleep but woke up again, and they somehow kept faith that somebody would find them, and so they did.
That story, and another one I am going to tell now, really lifted the spirits of the nation. Equally brave was 16-year-old Callum Keane from near Navan, who was walking by the River Boyne in the evening time when he heard two young boys, 11- to 12-year-olds, screaming and asking for help. He didn’t hesitate to jump into the water and brought the two, one of whom very nearly drowned, to safety.
Callum was very modest about it when he was interviewed, but there is no doubting his bravery and his action. The miracle of Galway Bay the next day took the shine off the life-saving work he had done, but those two incidents served to show that there is no defying the power of the sea, the power of the wind and the pull of the current in the river – all of those things are killers, and we should always have new respect for the forces of nature.
I remember many years ago when we lived in Athlone in General Textiles, the river was behind the house and we had a big old rowing boat there. My father would never allow any of us, as children, on that boat until we could swim and swim well. I can still remember to this day his arm around me in the cold Shannon water showing me how to swim. The skill of swimming is well worth having when you live on an island nation. But of course there is nothing to equal the resilience and bravery which have been evident so much in the two incidents I’m speaking about in this column.
Meanwhile, of course, all the talk continues of children going back to school in two weeks’ time. Allied to that is the unholy mess that seems to have occurred in the UK, where the A-level results have been messed up and the calculated results have proven to be faulty. This is focussing our minds here on when our Leaving Certificate results will come out, even though Minister Norma Foley is adamant in saying that they will be found to be fair and equitable when they come out in Ireland.
In the meantime, every parent and teacher, board of management and children – all are united in wanting to get back into school and having the schools open with all of the arrangements in place. It remains to be seen if things can be realised, but I so hope they will be.
That’s my lot for this week. Hope to talk with you all next week.
In the meantime, keep yourself at home as much as possible, and take care of yourself.
Slán go fóill.