Hello to all the Advertiser readers.
Well, we’ve had the first day of May and listening to the radio, there was a very eminent folklorist on and he was explaining all the various myths that have grown up around May Day. I was really intrigued by the one that if you went out at first dawn and washed your face in the dew on the grass, you would be lovely forever! Some hope that!
I was so pleased to hear RTÉ Radio 1 play the record of Canon Sydney McKeown, ‘Bring flowers of the fairest, bring flowers of the rarest’, which is a beautiful hymn. Fair dues to RTÉ, they never fail to have it on a programme early on May Day morning. He had a wonderful voice and away it soared, filling the room with memories of May Day processions when you were young, following the statue of Our Lady being carried along.
I am sure the readers will remember, because I know I mentioned it before, that this May Bank Holiday is a Ruairí Quinn bank holiday. When he was in opposition, he said if he ever got to government, he would make May 1 a bank holiday in memory of it being the ‘Day of the Worker’. And so he did when he got into office, and so we have May 1 as a bank holiday.
Last week we had An Taoiseach Micheál Martin giving a speech about how we were going to, in gradual stages, exit the lockdown. Chief among the measures he mentioned were, of course, the hairdressers, and oh how we long for them. I have my appointment made for 11.30am next Monday, and hopefully I will be a changed person in every sense when that exercise is concluded. When An Taoiseach is speaking he always has a few words in Irish, and so he told us: Tá an samhradh ag teacht. Yes, summer is coming. Of course we are all infected by the spirit of hope. The worry is that the measures he has announced for May will lead to more interaction and more transmission. I hope not, because he has laid out a good agenda for June and July.
We had the wonderful Katie Taylor in battle again over last weekend when she was fighting Natasha Jonas. Now the fight was very close, and it was as follows: 96-95, 96-95, 96-94 – unanimous points win. But it was a tight one. It leaves Katie Taylor again the worldwide undisputed lightweight boxer.
We had a month of almost perfect spring weather in April. Almost every day was sunny and warm, coupled with a night frost which gave a balance to the whole 24 hours. But we paid for it on Bank Holiday Monday with huge wild gales, relentless rain and in general a truly awful day. However, as the Taoiseach has said, summer is coming, and we can look forward again to more blue skies and bright sunshine.
I was on the Brendan O’Connor Show last Saturday morning with two people from Cork, the three of us talking about books we had read and books we hoped to read. I was in my element, and indeed so were the other two. Clearly, books are so important in many people’s lives. I truly think I would not have got safely through the four-month lockdown, from January 1 to the end of April, if I had not read so much and always had a book at hand, ready to start again when I had one concluded.
I had a couple of calls afterwards asking me the name again of the book of which I spoke, The Shadowy Third, and I was glad to give the name, author, etc. I note in a survey in a newspaper I read in the last few days that Irish primary pupils are further advanced in reading than any other country in Europe, including the UK. I was so glad to learn of that fact, because of course if you get the reading habits young, they will stay with you throughout life.
So, Iarnród Enda trundles on. There was a wonderful episode on Monday night, and I truly like the mix of Irish and English, and in particular the conversations with the various figures he meets, sometimes a singer, sometimes a storyteller, but each person so interesting.
The TV critics have given Iarnród Enda the thumbs up, and I can tell you that is very rare indeed. Usually, you’ll find one or other of them being disparaging, but no, all in all it seems the various critics in the various newspapers/magazines are as enthralled by Enda and his exploits as I am myself.
On Sunday last, I was out with Aengus and Lisa and their four children for lunch, and apart from the lovely lunch, we all had a wonderful conversation together. I greatly enjoyed my few words with Luke who, as readers will know, is doing his Leaving Certificate in June. We talked at length about the Leaving Cert English course, and I was delighted to know that they are studying, among other poets, Eavan Boland, Robert Frost (the American poet ) and Seamus Heaney.
Then, on Monday, I had a conversation by telephone with Jennifer in Dublin, and she told me her favourite poems and in particular those by Eavan Boland. It is great to be able to talk separately to the two of them and to garner their views and their ideas. It seems they are both working very hard, studying and doing assessment tests on an almost daily basis. I hope all of this work will pay off in August when they get the final adjudication on their Leaving Certificate. I really hope there will not be any mishap between now and June 9 when the Leaving Cert begins. All exam students have been through so much that it will, in a way, be a relief for them to have started on their written work, coupled with whatever project work they have also done.
Now I know I’m becoming boring when I say to the readers to mind yourself and stay at home as often as you can, and to proceed with outdoor socialising in as cautious a way as you can. Yes, summer is coming, but we’re not there yet, so I repeat what I say every week: stay safe, stay at home.
That’s my lot for this week. Hope to talk with you all next week.
Slán go fóill.