Well, this week we will begin with a tale of woe: Ireland versus Scotland on Saturday in the Six Nations Cup.
I cannot understand what happened Ireland in the first half. They were just careless and seemed to be in a state of panic. Yes, in the second half they picked up remarkably, but it was very difficult to overcome the huge edge which Scotland had gained. In my mind, a lot of the trouble was that we went out with expectations that we were favourites. Particularly so as the evening before the women’s rugby team beat Scotland and the U20 rugby team beat Scotland. So, we started the game with that euphoria in our hearts and, very quickly, the hope was dashed.
On an equally bad note, the ASTI have voted to continue their strike action in an, as yet, undefined way against the Government. I am really sorry about this. As I told the readers before, the ASTI was my trade union when I was a teacher and I always had faith in them. On this occasion, I think they are carrying the dispute to very far lengths and I truly hope that the young students doing exams will not be affected.
This leads me on, neatly, to a lovely event I had on Thursday last when Sr Denise (former principal of Our Lady’s Bower Convent ) and myself were asked to adjudicate at a first-year debate in the Marist College. It was a fine event and we were greatly impressed by the skill, demeanour, and language used by the young students, mostly in the 12 to 13-year-old age group. Prior to the debate, we were in the teachers’ staff room for tea and coffee, and it was lovely to be back there again and to smell the vigour and lively atmosphere of such a milieu. Such a great bunch of young, engaged teachers, women and men.
Anyway, going in to the Marist, I was warned before I went not to be looking out for my grandson or to pay any heed if met him, but I didn’t have to because he was gone away to a match! We are hoping to go back again; I so enjoyed the last event that I am looking forward to the next one.
Still on matters academic, last weekend I was invited again to the memorial lecture for Brian Lenihan Jnr in the law department in Trinity College, Dublin. Each year the law students run this event with a major lecture from the judicial ranks, and a lovely dinner afterwards during which we all indulge in nostalgia and what could have been, what might have been, if Brian had lived on.
This year the esteemed judge was Justice Mary Finlay Geoghegan, who was accompanied by her 22-year-old son, James Geoghegan. I chatted with him afterwards. He is the great-grandson of James Geoghegan, who was the Fianna Fáil TD for Longford-Westmeath in the 1930s and later De Valera’s Attorney General. History has a way of catching up with you when you least expect it, and that was a very good weekend of engaging lecturing and fine talk.
What do our readers think of the admission of Stephen Donnelly, Independent TD and then Social Democrats, into the ranks of Fianna Fáil? I, for one, am glad. I don’t know him at all as I had left the Dáil before he came into it, but I do know, from listening to him, looking at him, and reading things he has written that he is able and ambitious. These are two traits which will be of great help and value to the Fianna Fáil party going forward. It was kept a very close secret and, for once, the political media were not in on even the beginnings of the courtship.
The invective that was heaped on his shoulders when he had made the transition was quite unbelievable and, in many cases, over the top. I just hope he will settle in, and I have no doubt that the Brexit debates in Ireland will be enlivened by his forthright views and presence on the political scene.
Last week, also, I went to the cinema showing here in Athlone of the film Jackie, which is eligible now for so many Oscars. It was a most interesting film and the showing on the big wide screen was quite amazing. Let’s be quite clear, this was not a film on the whole of Jackie’s time of the post-Kennedy era and of her later marriage to Aristotle Onasssis and everything like that. In fact, it was tightly compressed into about a week/10 days following the murder of her husband, whose head she cradled in her lap after he was shot in Dallas.
In a flashback, the murder scene was shown in vivid and horrendous detail. There were many flashbacks of when she was a new First Lady in the White House and she engaged in the very novel idea of making the White House open to the public and bringing people around, showing them the works of art and everything else.
The main thrust of the film centred on her talking to a LIFE magazine journalist who was going to write it all up, which he later did. Jackie Kennedy was consumed with the idea that Jack Kennedy’s reign as president of America should and would be viewed by the world as a period of Camelot, and so it was. It was she who sowed the seeds of that idea and, of course, it has lingered.
The scenes of Jackie with her two very young children were extremely poignant as also were the scenes of Fr McSorley, a priest who came to comfort her. The role was played by John Hurt with great acumen and skill. Only a cameo role, but very powerful.
I would say to all the readers, if it is coming to a cinema near you, try and see it. It is so much better on the big screen. I always think that. Of course, we will all eventually get it on TV, but that may be a long time away.
I hope to talk with you all next week.
In the meantime, go safely.
Slán go Fóill,