Surprise visit from Robbie Henshaw warms the soul as TG4 programmes continue to engross

Hello to all the Advertiser readers.

We had no rugby last Saturday, but on Sunday we had a good Roscommon county final between Clann na nGael and Na Piarsaigh. It was on TV on TG4 and made for great viewing. Clann na nGael is quite near us here in Athlone and we were keen to see the game through. However, Na Piarsaigh won out with their skilful getting of goals.

In rugby this weekend we have Ireland versus Japan, and we are all looking forward to that to see if the interplay between all the provinces has borne fruit in a really top-notch Irish team.

Speaking of rugby, we had a most wonderful surprise visit on Sunday last. The Henshaw family, Tony and Audrey and of course Robbie, came to visit on Sunday afternoon. Tony had been talking to Aengus on and off and saying they would love to call to see me and that in particular Audrey would love to visit.

Audrey was one of my students in Summerhill College in fifth and sixth year. I knew her well and was very fond of her. I have talked on and off to her on the phone since Robbie went into the fray, so to speak. It was a great visit of a couple of hours. Feargal and Maeve were down as well, and of course Lisa, Aengus and their family. We had just a really good gossip and gab together. It was great to talk with and listen to Robbie close up. He’s such a grounded, all-round good guy.

The Henshaws gave me a beautiful gift – a large framed Irish national jersey with an inscription on it from Robbie. The children were delighted they got rugby balls signed by Robbie Henshaw, so they were really pleased about that.

All in all, a lovely surprise Sunday afternoon.

Last Friday, I had another lovely surprise. My niece from Dublin, Maura Walsh (daughter of my late sister Anne ) came down to visit Gráinne Lenihan (my niece here in Athlone ) and myself. We went to the Left Bank for lunch and had a lovely chatter together, three Lenihan women – imagine the talk that went on!

I want to say how careful the staff were in the Left Bank with all who came into the restaurant. Everyone was checked, both their Covid documentation and also their telephone numbers and whatever else was needed.

I was really pleased to see that because, of course, it is what should be the norm in every place now. The advice is good: if you’re not asked for your credentials, well then you should take your business elsewhere.

By the way, before I forget, I want to compliment the editor of this paper, the Athlone Advertiser, for including each week now a page of local history by Ian Kenneally, Westmeath’s Historian in Residence. It is great to read it each week and it gives a great rounded edge to the paper.

We have been neglecting the women’s sporting successes of late. Firstly, we had the women’s national soccer team who recently played against Finland in Helsinki. I watched it of course, and naturally almost all of the attendants were Finnish, cheering on their home team. A hardy few Irish went as well. The outcome was that Ireland won, and it was a terrific victory for them.

Equally, the Irish hockey team beat Wales in a World Cup qualifier recently. It was great to see that as well. Irish sportswomen are really getting into their stride.

We talked a lot last summer about Brexit. Well, Brexit is still with us and still causing huge bother. The British Prime Minister Boris Johnston does not seem in the least bit interested in trying to get a decent settlement. I know that Michel Barnier, who was a great advocate for Ireland in the earlier Brexit talks, is now going forward in the election for President of France. I think the contest for presidency is next May in France, but already there is a lot of contestants in the field, among them Michel Barnier.

Readers will know that I have always talked about TG4 and the many fine programmes which they have each week.

Last week, we had two very good ones. We had a documentary on Bloody Sunday in Croke Park, and we also had a terrific documentary about the seven signatories of the 1916 Proclamation. That was a great programme. These TG4 documentaries are so well based on facts and filled with actual depictions of people and scenes. When I’m looking at what’s going to be on the next night on TV, I always cast my eye down to TG4 and I usually come up with something that I really want to view.

The children are back at school after their midterm break. I was glad to note that Dr Tony Holohan was quite clear when he spoke over the weekend, saying that school was a safe place for children to be and that he would advise parents accordingly.

I had no trick or treat young people calling on Sunday night last. Every year, I have three or four visits but there were none this year. Perhaps it was caution at letting children out, but I certainly missed the exuberance and the good humour of the groups who used to call.

The next big event in all our lives is, of course, Christmas. Among my six grandchildren, there is no child left who is looking forward to Santa, but of course they are looking forward to Christmas and to all of the excitement which all of that will bring.

We’re having some great weather, cold but bright, which has heralded in November. I hope that will be the weather now in the lead-up to Christmas.

That’s my lot for this week. Hope to talk with you all next week. But before that, I’m going to give my little sermon again. Please observe all the good health protocols: distancing, washing of hands, staying out of big crowds. Each of us as individuals must do so.

Slán go fóill.

Mary O’Rourke


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