There are among you people who can remember exactly where you were when Kennedy was shot down in Dallas, when Diana died in that tunnel in Paris, where you heard about the horrors of 9/11, when Michael Jackson was rushed by ambulance to the hospital in Los Angeles. They were all events that marked out our lives, momentous you could call them, just as we will no doubt all remember where we were when this week we heard that Eamon O Cuiv was to make the most difficult decision of his life...and stay in Fianna Fail.
It was a decision that rocked national politics and necessitated the use of the honoured plinth outside Leinster House. No other platform would be large enough to handle the enormity of the event. Across Galway city and county, people laid down their tools, a la the Angelus, but an hour early, as they waited to hear him say those words that will no doubt shape their lives and represent a major shift in Irish politics. It was a decision that required bravery and conviction and would inspire thousands to follow in his footsteps.
And for taking that position of conviction, he is now a hunted man., Behind every bush and rock, there are lurking FF agents who aim to make sure he does not even utter the world NO for the next three weeks. When he is offered extra spuds with his middle of the day dinner in the Dail canteen, he cannot refuse. He will have to say Yes and eat what’s put in front of him...when he is offered more tay in Burkes of Clonbur, he will just have to fight back the No, nod an apologetic yes, and watch as his cup overfloweth. When he takes the call from Fidelma Healy Eames asking if he really meant what he said a few weeks back when he said she was a mighty woman altogether, he will have to resist the urge to say No, and sob out a yes. There will be no Nos at all for Eamon following his lonely stance, fighting against the forces of evil for insisting that they take away from him the one thing he holds dearest, the right to chop and change his mind to oppose whatever way the prevailing wind is going.
In those golden years of the Celtic Tiger when the average Paddy had four houses, three skiing holidays, a feck-off 4X4 and golfing trips with the lads in which he’d be seen snorting cocaine off the taut bellies of some ladies of the night in some far flung lands, it was O Cuiv who spoke out about how the party had lost its way and sold its soul to the Devil. It was O Cuiv who at the time the country was feeling its proudest ever, who stood up against the forces of happiness and suggested that we all rejoin the Commonwealth. When the roads of Kerry were overflowing with American and European tourists easily finding their way into the tourists hotspots of Dingle and Killarney, it was O Cuiv who said that this ease of navigation must be stopped and the placenames were converted into a language none of the visitors had ever seen.
Yes, if there is a tide to be seen heading towards shore, you can be sure our hero will hold up a hand, stop it and proceed to swim, in his suit, in the opposite direction.
And it is that freedom of thinking, that right to be different, that has him exalted on high this week, reserving the right to be different.