I am sure that many of you have heard the name of Edmund Davis. I had not heard of him until I read it somewhere last week. He was the Governor of Texas who lost the election in 1873. He refused to accept the result, and he barricaded himself in the State Capital, where he and his allies accessed entry each day by ladders. I had thought that that was the way Donald Trump was going to deal with Joe Biden.
However, as I am compiling this piece for this week’s Athlone Advertiser, I note on the airwaves that Donald Trump has begun to open up the levers of accessibility and power to Joe Biden and his team. He has continued to contest the elections as fake, and I guess this is as near as he will come to say that Joe Biden has won.
At least now Joe Biden will be able to formally appoint his team and have access to funding, to information and to offices to enable him to begin his presidency. I fear for the damage done to the electoral process in the USA if Donald Trump, to the end, continues to say all the elections were fake, and in that way actually saying that those who conducted the elections were fraudulent.
Anyway, we should be thankful for small mercies. Joe Biden is continuing now to take steps which will ensure that, come January, he will be inaugurated as US President.
A friend of mine for many years sadly passed away last week. Albert (Bart ) Flanagan died following a short illness. I must explain how our friendship went back so long. In 1974, when I was selected to run for the Athlone Urban Council, I said to Enda “Who will I get to start my canvassing with me?” He said “I’ll ring Bart Flanagan.” Now, the Flanagans were a big family in Athlone, six boys and one girl, and they had a large garage in Irishtown. Enda also lived in Irishtown, and growing up he and the Flanagan family were very close. They lived at the start of Bonavalley. And so, Albert and I started our canvassing for Irishtown, Bonavalley and the Old Dublin Road.
He was such a great companion to me in those early days, and we got on so well. Bart was married to Anne Mulvihill, and they had two daughters and now grandchildren. Over the years, we would meet casually and when we met we always referred to our early days of canvassing together.
I couldn’t go to the church or to the funeral because we are not allowed under the restrictions, so I watched the St Mary’s Mass on my tablet. His nephew, Fr Richie Flanagan, gave a most wonderful sermon. He quoted the Brendan Kennelly poem ‘The Good’ and linked the attributes of Albert to the sentiments in that poem. He ended his lovely sermon by quoting the late Irish poet Derek Mahon with his lovely lines “Everything is going to be all right”. It was a wonderful sermon and so well-deserved. I give my deep sympathy to Anne and her family, and to Albert my fond memories of long ago. May he rest in peace.
We had some wonderful games over the weekend. Firstly, last Saturday, we had Ireland playing England in rugby in Twickenham. The result was 18-5 to England; in fact, throughout the match, I was afraid that Ireland would end with no score, which would be a truly terrible result. In parts the Ireland team played well, but they seemed to lack particularly the determination and the finesse of the England team.
Saturday’s game was as nothing compared to the excitement of the GAA games on Sunday. I watched the Munster final between Tipperary and Cork, and later the Ulster final between Cavan and Donegal. They were mighty games, and of course the Tipperary match was infused with all the historical memories of what had happened the Tipperary team on Bloody Sunday in Croke Park, 100 years ago.
I thought the Cavan versus Donegal match was by far the grittier encounter. Every single pundit, prior to the match, had given the win to Donegal. And yet, when the two teams took to the pitch at Croke Park, Cavan were determined to show that they were in fighting form. They chalked up point after point, and at half time Donegal were just two points ahead of Cavan.
Of course, in the second half Cavan got a goal, which put an end to any hope of Donegal’s win. I thought how wonderful it was that we had it all displayed on RTÉ and could enjoy it so thoroughly.
Later on that evening, and again on Monday, there were so many of the rugby provinces in play, and they won all around them. I hope the skill displayed in the Ulster, Connacht, Leinster and Munster rugby teams can somehow be transferred to the national team. We will await further matches to come.
I hope I am not boring the readers too much if I refer briefly again to Brexit. I still cling to the hope that there will be a settlement with a trade deal in the next two weeks. Simon Coveney has become doubtful, and Micheál Martin is hopeful. I promise not to bring it up again until, one way or another, it is settled.
Of course, the whole talk this week is: are we going to be freed up for the Christmas season, both in shopping and in visiting with our families? The end of this week will see the Government decision on what lifting of restrictions will be made. I truly hope that we will be able, above all, to be with our families for the few days over Christmas. I so long for that, as I know so many other people do also.
The dark weather is truly here, and all of us have to pull our curtains come 4pm each day. It is amazing how quickly that came in. I hope that all of us, and of course the hospitality trade too, will have the benefit of wise medical and political decisions come the end of this week.
I have only one grandchild in full belief of Santa Claus. He has his letter written and is sure that Santa is coming, no matter what restrictions are in place. He said “Of course Santa is over all of that”, and he is eagerly awaiting his visit to him on the Roscommon Road.
The Christmas ads are lovely on TV, aren’t they? Maybe next week we will talk about them. I know I have chosen my favourite one so far.
That’s my lot for this week. Hope to talk with you all next week.
In the meantime, stay at home as often as you can, and stay safe.
Slán go fóill.