Onset of Spring gives cause for optimism as Six Nations rugby fare certain to enthral

Anois teacht an Earraigh beidh an lá dul chun síneadh,

Is tar éis na Féil Bríde ardóigh mé mo sheol;

O chuir mé ‘mo cheann é ní stopfaidh me choíche

Go seasfaidh mé síos i lár Chondae Mhaigh Eo.

- Antaine Ó Reachtaire (Raifteirí an file )

Hello to all the Advertiser readers.

Yes, I have begun with that lovely poem about St Brigid’s Day and February. I have always believed that February is the beginning of spring. You will find people saying ‘Oh not at all’; however, I heard an eminent folklorist on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland on February 1 saying that yes, St Brigid’s Day is the first day of spring.

I loved the fact that our President Michael D. Higgins came out with a really good, thoughtful few words on the feast day of St Brigid. He referenced her strength and the work she did. It was so timely and so beautiful to hear it from the leader of our country.

Of course, St Brigid’s Day has always been associated with the crosses made of reeds which people made and kept in their homes for a year to bring them good luck. On Monday evening, I heard a noise in the hall and I went out, and there was a beautifully-made St Brigid’s Cross, perfectly done with the reeds inserted in all the right places, and a lovely card. It was from a friend of mine and her five-year-old son, who had gone out and gathered the reeds and made some crosses for their friends.

Oh, I was so thrilled to get it. For many years Mrs May Green on our road used to make them, and for so many years I was the lucky recipient of one of her crosses. I always proudly displayed it in my living room.

May lived on until she was in her 105th year, so one of her great good customs died with her.

By the way, before we leave the whole theme of St Brigid, it is noteworthy to observe that St Brigid was the only female Irish saint. I took her name when I was having my Confirmation, and I am always glad to have it.

So readers, we are in spring. Yes, I know the weather is truly awful with semi-gales, cold rain and even an effort to bring snow back again. But somehow I don’t care, because it is spring and I am even daring to say that the health news is better as well, now that spring has come in.

Yes, I know there will still be dark days ahead, I have no doubt whatsoever, but for now, it is spring, I have my lovely St Brigid’s cross, and I feel altogether in far better form.

I hope the readers feel the same.

Now back to everyday form and news. I was glad to see that in the recent RTÉ poll, Katie Taylor was declared to be the favourite sportsperson of the year again. It is good that so many people recognise her ability.

I am sure many of the readers will be sorry, as I was, to read and hear over last weekend of the upcoming departure of Tommie Gorman from RTÉ public life.

For so many years as the Northern Ireland editor, Tommie was a harbinger of sometimes sad news, sometimes good news, but always delivered with authenticity and authority. Somehow you always felt with Tommie you were getting the real news as it happened. He didn’t go in for superfluity, he didn’t say many words when only a few would do. But he will be sadly missed, because we all believed in what he had to say and trusted his judgement on so many matters.

We had a great rugby match last weekend, Scarlets versus Leinster, which Leinster comprehensively won: Leinster 52, Scarlets 25. It puts Leinster at the top of Conference A in the Guinness PRO14, and it showed off again the newly-reinvigorated Tadhg Furlong following his long injury.

But next weekend we are going to have a bonanza of games, and more importantly of good viewing. It will mark the beginning of the Six Nations 2021. On Saturday it will be Italy versus France and later in the afternoon, England versus Scotland. On Sunday, we have Wales versus Ireland. All these will be on Virgin Media One, so hopefully there will be good viewing for all.

On Friday next, we will have Rugbaí Beo again from TG4 and it will be Connacht versus Dragons. So, readers, you had better gird your loins for a really luxuriant weekend of viewing. I love the watching and then the phone calls I usually make afterwards with a friend of mine who is very into the games as well, and we go through the good and bad points.

I would be hopeful of Ireland in the Six Nations, as many of the players have had great experience in the last few weeks and months in the PRO14 games.

I note the shindig between Michael O’Leary of Ryanair and Dr Tony Holohan of NPHET. Well, they are well-matched and I’ve no doubt each will be declared a winner out of the current argument. In my earlier political days, I had lots of dealings with Michael O’Leary, and there is no doubt he has lots of arguments for and against his point of view. I don’t know what readers think, but I certainly wouldn’t be planning to go abroad anywhere in 2021.

As it is, I am hoping that Anita and I will get to take our few days in Connemara or in Kerry together, as we had been doing until the pandemic came.

So readers, be delighted that spring has come, but remember what I say every week now at the end of my column: do not go out, stay at home, stay safe. It is the only way we will beat this virus.

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

Slán go fóill.

Mary O’Rourke


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