Vaccine rollout continues amid rising Covid-19 cases as Carty illuminates PRO14 contest

This is the first column of 2021 and I share all of your hopes that this year will be a better year than 2020.

As I write this column, it looks good. The vaccine is being rolled out. Of course, it is slow because every precaution must be taken, but be that as it may, in time, everybody who needs it and who wants it will get the vaccine. That is our salvation, not constant lockdowns, opening up, more lockdowns, more opening up. I myself have set the month of May, which is always a lovely, hopeful month (my birthday also!! ), as the month when we will all breathe easily again. So, let’s keep hoping.

The weather is determined to be cold and Christmas-like. So far, we have escaped even a shower of snow, but the frost is very deep at night and is taking a long while the next day to fade. I’m sure the readers have noticed how the evenings are getting brighter. I noticed it particularly on Monday night. It was well after 5pm before even the notion of dusk fell, so that’s a really good sign. The mornings remain as black as ever, but the evenings show the change. Isn’t nature wonderful after all?

Yes, we are in a bad state with regard to coronavirus. Huge numbers and a full, full lockdown, and yet as I said just earlier, hope is at hand and we will defeat this horrible, deadly Covid-19.

Now I want to get on to the rugby scene. Last Saturday saw a wonderful match between Connacht and Leinster. Now remember, Leinster were the kings and to beat them at any point would be really a highlight. The score was Leinster 24-Connacht 35. Imagine, how the mighty have fallen! The match was on TG4 but delayed and we only saw portions of it, but it doesn’t matter. I listened to it on the radio and I listened to the aftermath, and there is no doubt that Connacht behaved superbly. It was their first victory in Dublin since September of 2002, and it also ended Leinster’s unbeaten record in the Guinness PRO14.

It was a marvellous performance by our Athlone champion Jack Carty. He himself scored 25 points, which was the highest number of points scored against Leinster by any individual in the professional era. Connacht played as if on fire, and drove away all before them.

Well done to Connacht, and I couldn’t help but think back to the day so many years ago when we marched in Dublin to the IRFU headquarters to save Connacht and when the late Bobby Molloy addressed us all. It was all worth it, wasn’t it?

I saw a wonderful film on RTÉ1 last Saturday. It was a western called Shenandoah with James Stewart in the leading role. Often those old westerns are terrific and this one was marvellously directed and played and there was a great story with a good moral in it as well. If you get a chance to see it, do watch. I thoroughly enjoyed it and was entranced by it, and of course it led on then to the Connacht match as depicted above. All in all, a good Saturday afternoon.

Then I watched Marian on Monday night, as I’m sure so many of the readers did too. It was a very gripping story of Marian Finucane’s life, her abilities and her talents, as told so well by her husband John Clarke. By the time the readers read this column, we will have had Nollaig na mBan, but there was a very good programme on Wednesday of this week on TG4 called Oíche na mBan followed by an excellent documentary on Martin McGuinness. As I have said before, sometimes TG4 really excel themselves, and this was one such an evening.

I must tell you all about a great book coming out in April. It is by the Ballinasloe-based author Nuala O’Connor, whose earlier works Miss Emily and Becoming Belle were bestsellers.

In this upcoming book called Nora, Nuala goes into the love affair between Nora Barnacle and James Joyce. This should be a terrific read and I’m telling you all to watch out for it. I am so looking forward to it.

So, Brexit is done and dusted – on Christmas Eve last. Readers will remember that some time ago I said I would stop writing about it because it seemed to be going on and on forever. In the end, I always thought Boris Johnson would do a deal, and he did so – late in the day, but he did it. Now we will have some extra bureaucracy in the carrying out of Brexit, and yes it will affect our fishing ports, but in the end we have a deal. The worry everyone had was that the worst situation would arise, in that we would be left with no deal. The wily Boris Johnson did a deal because of course he realised that it would affect the UK more than any other. He pretends to his supporters that all will be well in this great, free new world which they are now going to inhabit and to triumph. The UK will be a long time waiting for that to happen. But in the end, at last, Ireland got a deal which, though it’s faulty in places, will save the tariffs on our goods leaving Ireland for the UK.

So readers, a lot to think and talk about, and more importantly, a lot now to look forward to, thank God, with the upcoming rollout of the vaccine and the opportunity it will bring us all to live our lives to the full again.

That’s my lot for this week. Hope to talk with you all next week.

In the meantime, stay at home, don’t meet anyone, and stay safe.

Slán go fóill

Mary O’Rourke


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