Christmas is essentially a time for looking back but also a time for looking forward.
For me personally it is a lonely time, because I miss Enda (my late husband ) so much coming up to and during Christmas. He always made a really big thing of Christmas, particularly when our sons were younger. He fills my mind at this time.
I will, however, have loads of company. On Christmas Day I will be with my son Aengus and my daughter-in-law Lisa and their four lovely, lively children. The next day, St Stephen’s Day, my son in Dublin, Feargal, and his wife, Maeve and their two equally lively children are coming down to me for two or three days. My grandchildren range in age from 13 down to five, so I am looking forward to our get-togethers when we exclaim each year how they have all grown and developed and increasingly have minds of their own.
That is a good trait for young people to have. It is one I encourage them to have, and to express themselves freely on many issues. So, all in all, I will be surrounded by my own. Somehow, there is nothing like your very, very own. But that is the way life is. There will be so many who will be lonely within themselves and also lonely with regard to perhaps not having kith or kin near them.
Thankfully, the floods in Athlone have abated for the moment and people are praying that they will be spared any further onslaught. Remember, the town is fully open and ready for business.
Looking back over politics for the last few months, I have visited 10 constituencies where there are either Fianna Fáil women candidates or new young candidates running. I have been amazed at the friendship, the turnout and the genuine warmth in each constituency for the particular candidate whom I was promoting. I have a few more left to do in January, two in Dublin and one in Galway East. We know the General Election date will be February 26, so the Election will be called at the very end of January or Lá Fhéile Bríde.
Fine Gael and Labour must be very happy with the weekend Red C Poll, the last for 2015. In that both parties gained substantially. Sadly for my party, we dropped some points. It seems the electorate is going to heed the wise words of the poet Hillaire Belloc, when he said in his monologue: “And always keep a-hold of nurse, For fear of finding something worse”.
The electorate seek to hold on to the nurse they have rather than go for a new combination? Time will tell. I know I have spoken about this before but I will go back to it again. I totally disagree with the Fianna Fáil mantra of ‘We won’t go in with Sinn Féin, we won’t go in with Fine Gael, we won’t go in with anyone’.
I ask you, will it not it be very difficult for anybody to vote for a party when that party will be saying to them, ‘Vote for me, I am going into opposition’. I think a real mistake has been made in the adoption of that strategy.
Within Fianna Fáil all the conventions have now been held. Roscommon was last Sunday, with Councillor Eugene Murphy selected to go forward for 2016. The Cavan-Monaghan part of the constituency of Cavan, Monaghan had already been done. However, in the Monaghan end three candidates were called up on Monday of this week for an interview with the National Constituencies Committee. Councillor Niamh Smyth called me after she had the interview. She lives in Cavan, where I had visited her to launch her Bailieborough office, but her work is in Monaghan.
I have made great friendships on my trips around Ireland, and hopefully my visits will have helped the candidates in some small way.
Looking forward to 2016, we will barely have recovered from the Christmas spirit when we will be plunged straight into a General Election. It is a tough, cold time of the year for knocking on doors, and I hope that our many readers here will bring warmth and welcome to those who call, regardless of their politics. There is so much bitterness and strife in the world, and it takes very little for any of us to extend that welcome to our aspirants when they call.
For me, I have loved writing this column since I began many months ago. The Advertiser newspaper is spread far and wide and I am glad to say that I constantly meet people or hear from people via letter, email, or phone call who have read what I have said and mostly agreed with it. But, of course, sometimes they do not, but that is the way of one’s opinion particularly when you go into print.
I would like to wish all the readers of the Advertiser newspapers in Westmeath, Galway, and Mayo the blessings of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph for this Christmas, but above all that you will have peace in your heart and your mind.
Slán go fóill,