All-Ireland quest continues for Mayo as political parties plan for the future with ‘think in’ gatherings

Hello to all the Advertiser readers.

No one will be surprised that the first issue that we want to talk about this week is last Sunday’s All-Ireland football final between Mayo and Tyrone.

Like most of Ireland, I was in favour of Mayo who, for so many years, had seen the prize swept away from them. Firstly, I have to say that the better team won. Tyrone, on Croke Park, were a thoughtful, explorative team. They played a tight game and always took advantage of their chances as they came. Beside them, Mayo did not have the stamp of All-Ireland heroes. I don’t know how that came about, but the absolute truth with certainty is that, on the day, Tyrone were by far the better team.

Yes of course we all would have liked Mayo to win. I have been thinking about this, and do you know what struck me? It seems that, to Mayo, the ever-present enemy was always Dublin. They had to defeat Dublin. This they did this year in great style in the semi-final. Somehow it then seems that they had done their job, and they did not have the resources within them to face the final hurdle against Tyrone.

Now you may all dismiss this as nonsense talk, but it is something I believe.

Gallant and all as Mayo are, and will continue to be, it seems they will have to have a huge rethink at all levels of the game before they embark again on their endless quest. Watching the match, you had to believe that the accolade of the Sam Maguire Cup went to the best team on the day.

Last Sunday, of course, we had the All-Ireland camogie final with a great win for Galway. Somehow, I felt that the gap in Connaught had been restored by the close and tightly won victory by Galway. They swept all before them, including Cork, and are now the undisputed camogie champions. Well done, Galway.

The next big issue of course, certainly for myself and for so many other readers, was the follow-on to the Leaving Cert with the CAO first-round allocations. I have followed all the subsequent debate on radio and in print. For myself, speaking of the family, we had a fine result. Luke in Athlone got his first choice which was computer science in Trinity, and he will be starting there shortly. Jennifer in Dublin got Dublin City University with a good economics and language course. She is very happy with the course, but is looking to see if the second-round allocations next week may give her the same course in UCD. So we await that verdict with great interest.

So far, so good.

It seems the airwaves are alive with all the think-ins which are going on. Fianna Fáil were first out of the traps with their two-day think-in in County Cavan, followed this week by Fine Gael, Labour and Sinn Féin and, in between, the smaller parties with their one-day events.

So what are all these think-ins about? I remember so vividly that during my time in Dáil Éireann I always looked forward to this welcome reprieve from the staid politics, and the opportunity to meet with my colleagues in a free, informal way. That informality, coupled with usually good lecturers from various facets of life, always left one feeling refreshed and ready for the term ahead.

There was no change this year; nobody laid a glove on Micheál Martin, who sailed through the ordeal. No doubt the plotters will continue to plot and we will hear more of that anon.

Fine Gael are facing the onslaught of Simon Coveney. It is a well-merited assault, bearing in mind the free and easy way that the Minister for Foreign Affairs went about appointing an Irish envoy to the UN. This first week back will be dominated by that debate, to be led by Mary Lou McDonald and Sinn Féin.

Life goes on after think-ins, but they do provide a very welcome reprieve from the ongoing ding-dong of political life.

I want to tell the readers of a TV programme in which I am involved.

It is called Keys to my Life. This time, it is a series of 30-minute interviews on a Sunday night. We had the first one last Sunday which involved Brendan Courtney talking with Fr Brian D’Arcy, going through his whole life and the many difficulties he has encountered. I know Fr Brian very well through interaction with him at various times in my own life. I can tell the readers he is absolutely sincere in his dealings with people, and I found last Sunday night made for very thoughtful viewing.

There remain three other players for the next three weeks. The next is Liam Ó Maonlaí of the Hot House Flowers and a musical world leader. Another is Áine Lawlor, she of TV and radio fame, a fine person, again whom I’ve known very well throughout my long political life.

And finally, to round off the series, there is mise, Mary O’Rourke. My episode was done over two sessions, the first being last October. That was followed by a complete lockdown, and we returned to continue the episode just recently in the month of August this year, when the pandemic was beginning to lift. I haven’t seen any of the programmes, apart from the first episode. But I enjoyed meeting Brendan Courtney and I very much enjoyed the conversations and interaction with him.

Let’s see how it works out. I have always had a strong aversion, throughout my years in political life, to looking at or listening to myself. So, I’m between two minds as to whether I will actually view the episode. My family will certainly do so and no doubt will give an unbiased and fair report on that final 30 minutes of Keys to my Life.

Readers will have noted that the autumn and winter seasons are steadily and stealthily approaching: darker in the evenings, darker in the mornings, and most definitely, though the weather is staying kind, a chill in the air.

Keep up your usual health protocols. Yes, I think we’re on the better path, but let’s make sure that we stay there.

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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