US inauguration affords sense of hope as Connacht succumb in PRO14 encounter

Hello to all the Advertiser readers.

Again this week, there is so much to talk about. Firstly, there is all about the inauguration of Joe Biden as the president of the US. Now, I know that was last Wednesday, but as readers will know, my copy had gone in before it happened, so I want to talk about it. It was all so wonderful.

Firstly, there was the great sense of hope and realism as the president spoke. His idea of unifying all sides – good luck with that, because that will be difficult. But there was the colour and excitement of it all, and the belief that now there was a new change of tempo in the US and that there was a chance to live and hope again.

I want to go through the very good executive decisions that Joe Biden immediately took the morning after he had been inaugurated. He firstly joined the Paris Climate Accord which Donald Trump had left. That sounds promising for the future of the US. He also then signed an executive order to re-join the World Health Organization which Donald Trump had come away from, and to walk with them. He then embarked on a very strong campaign against coronavirus. I thought it so interesting that he reinstated Dr Anthony Fauci in his correct place as head of the health service in the US and as chief advisor to the president.

Readers will remember that Donald Trump insulted Fauci on several occasions, hoping that he would take himself off, but Fauci just listened to it all, paying no heed to it, and went about his business. He is good for the US, and Joe Biden knows that.

It was good to see all the notables arriving – Barack Obama and Michelle and all the others. I particularly took note of Jill Biden’s outfit. It was a lovely sea-green and then she had her gloves with the same colour and her mask the same colour. Likewise, some of the other guests who were arriving. There were so many wonderful interludes of song and verse that it is difficult to pick one, but I particularly noticed Lady Gaga and her gigantic skirt and her most wonderful singing.

But the really stand-out turn of the show was the young poet Amanda Gorman, who really stole the show at the inauguration. She is the US Youth Poet Laureate, and some of her words were just so inspiring: “There’s always light if only we’re brave enough to see it; if only we’re brave enough to be it.” So young, so brightly dressed in a yellow jacket, and her words were so inspiring.

I was amazed to see all those who were arriving kissing and shaking hands when we are all told that’s not allowable in this time of Covid-19. However, I read later that they had all got the vaccine and had tested negative, but I still thought it would be good example if they had not been doing all the ‘Wonderful to see you’ actions. Anyway, that’s only a small thing.

I watched RTÉ in the afternoon and then that night again a wonderful concert, I turned to CNN where I watched until almost 1am.

Now of course with all that goodwill and all the wonderful pomp and fine words, we in Ireland know that Joe Biden is of Irish stock and that’s all very good. But I have read somewhere that he will be seeking to bring back to the US many of the companies which have set themselves up here in Ireland.

I hope that does not turn out to be true, because those same companies give wonderful employment here. I also hope, despite the pandemic, that Taoiseach Micheál Martin gets to go to Washington for St Patrick’s Day and re-establish a good rapport with the US and with the new president. That is important.

Life back here has been cold, very cold, but as I write this there seems to be a change in temperature; instead of the frost and snow, we have rain and more rain. But at least it is much milder. The snow didn’t last long enough for even the most avid snowman-maker to get to grips with crafting one. Perhaps it is not all over and there will be another turn of the cold cycle. I hope not.

We had great rugby over the weekend. Firstly, there was Leinster versus Munster which all the commentators had said would be easy for Leinster. It was far from so, and Leinster only just got there. TG4 had put it in as ‘Rugbaí Beo’ but we saw it three hours after the match. ‘Beo’ my eye!

However, I won’t complain because on Sunday we had Connacht versus Ospreys. Now that was ‘Rugbaí Beo’, but what a let-down for Connacht. There were on their home ground in Galway and they should have been all over Ospreys. In fact, they were at half time – it was 15-3 and I really thought that they would win it out. But after half time, Ospreys got some new elixir of life and away they went, and in the end defeated Connacht 26-20.

We have more rugby to look out for next weekend, and that will be truly ‘beo’.

Readers will remember that I had marked out for special viewing the Mary McAleese programme on Friday nights, in which she walks with somebody who has a tale to tell. They walk on a pilgrim route together and they talk together. It is a really good programme.

Next Friday night, she will be taking her pilgrim walk with An Tánaiste Leo Varadkar on a pilgrim way in Waterford. Now that will be a really interesting one, so mark it out for yourself and don’t forget to look at All Walks of Life this Friday night on RTÉ1 at 8.30pm. I bet they will have some very interesting things to say to one another.

That glimmer of hope I spoke about last week in dealing with coronavirus has got brighter and I am hopeful, despite the deaths and the hardship, that we are beginning to turn the corner of this third wave of the pandemic. But let’s wait and see; it’s better to get a good surprise than to have our hopes dashed again, isn’t it?

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

In the meantime, stay at home, do not go out, stay safe.

Slán go fóill.

Mary O’Rourke


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