Looking forward to the winter of our discontent made glorious summer

Hello to all the Advertiser readers.

Can you believe that this is Holy Week and we’re facing into Good Friday and then Easter Sunday? This has all come about so quickly. Even though we have been in this lockdown when it does seem as if the days go slowly, somehow Easter has crept up on us all and suddenly here we are facing into celebrations.

When the children were young, Enda and I always made a big fuss about Easter Sunday, and I always remember over the years going out on Easter Sunday for a family lunch. That will not be on for this Easter anyway, but following the Cabinet discussions during the week we at least know the dates ahead when we can do A, B, C, D.

There is very little of immediate comfort, but speaking for myself I am having my second and final vaccine on Thursday, and I know that I will feel better after that. It appears that if you give yourself two weeks after the final vaccine, you can then go out and about in your car. I won’t mix with anyone, but I intend to drive out to the Hodson Bay with my newspaper and my book and sit in the car, look out at the lovely water and at the children hopefully running around, and think long thoughts and look forward to when I will be able to be with my grandchildren and a better summer 2021.

Talking about vaccines: I don’t know about you, and maybe I’m speaking from a somewhat selfish point of view as I’m about to have my second vaccine, but I’m just so tired listening and looking at the various figures which the ‘experts’ roll out for us every day. We all know if we don’t have the supply of vaccines, then we cannot continue to give them out. And do you know, the future is good if we can get enough vaccines in order to give them more and more to various groups in Ireland. The rollout has not been a great success, and let’s hope now with the Johnson & Johnson vaccines coming in that there will be a better outcome from all of that.

So now, a whole lot of other very interesting things have been happening. I was delighted last week to note that the Department of Education and Minister Norma Foley had made a recommendation for Leaving Certificate that the Shakespeare question would not be mandatory, and that there would be another choice. Now, I know quite well that Shakespeare can be difficult to study. However, I was delighted to be on a Newstalk radio show The Hard Shoulder in which I was asked my opinion, and I came well-armed to the debate because the night before I had discussed the matter with my 18-year-old granddaughter in Dublin and my 18-year-old grandson in Athlone.

To my delight, they had both said they intended doing the Shakespeare question on the Leaving Cert, and the play this year is King Lear. Both individually said they liked the play and very much liked the English class where the whole drama was talked about, and that was in both an all-girls school in Dublin and an all-boys school in Athlone. So the feedback from the listenership of the Newstalks show was that it would be a shame to let the study of Shakespeare go down. But I am convinced now that there won’t be any dumbing down of Shakespeare. It is good to see that the ‘Old Bard’ still has an attractive and interesting quality for young people.

I am glad that I have a front-row seat, so to speak, on the whole rollout of the Leaving Cert, and there is no doubt that there will be constant telephone calls between Athlone-Athlone and Athlone-Dublin.

We had some great rugby, in particular the Munster versus Leinster match, in which Leinster were the winners. They really have some great players. Of course we had Robbie Henshaw at his best, and Johnny Sexton, if only for a short time before he was pulled out for a HIA. Scotland and France provided terrific rugby as well, and I know there are still some good PRO14 games ahead.

We have to mention soccer – that ‘beautiful game’. Hot on the heels of relative success in the rugby internationals, we had the two very disappointing outings by Stephen Kenny and his Irish soccer team, losing to Serbia and then in quick succession to Luxembourg. Of course it’s not Stephen Kenny’s fault; a manager can really only be as good as the players in his repertoire. But somehow the Irish soccer team has fallen on hard times in recent years.

I think this was very much brought home to us all because both Sunday night on Virgin Media and then Monday night on BBC2, we had the drama of the life of Jack Charlton, his earlier years, his time in Ireland and later, sadly, his decline from a health point of view. It was a terrific documentary, and we gloried again in the various encounters under Jack Charlton and could think back to the happy memories. I always feel watching a soccer match that it is so tame compared to the cut and thrust of a good rugby or GAA match. The toing and froing on the soccer field seems so genteel compared to the encounters in other games.

Talking of TV, I note that next Monday night there will be a new programme called Iarnród Enda. I am just going by what I saw in an ad: it appears Enda Kenny is playing a lead role in talking about the railways of Ireland. I think that’s a great idea and I am sure he will be his usual West of Ireland, natural self, and we will learn so much about the rollout of the railways from the very beginning in Ireland.

When I was last in government, I loved the whole transport area and I’m so looking forward to Enda and his role in this upcoming series.

I note the Government is unveiling a new rural strategy to bring life back to the small towns and villages in Ireland. I couldn’t help but think back to so many years ago when Charlie McCreevy was Minister for Finance and he announced in his Budget that he was planning such a rural rollout. There was pandemonium all round. So, I am inclined to think now that Charlie is noting it all with a wry grin and smile on his face.

I note that the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland has bestowed upon Dr Anthony Fauci of the US an honorary fellowship for his work on behalf of people during the pandemic. Well done to them; it is a far, far remove from when the last president of the US was trying on a daily basis to get rid of Dr Fauci.

So readers, my Easter wish to you all is to look forward, as the weeks roll out, to various times and events which you will be able to enjoy. But in the meantime, stay home and stay safe.

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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