Easing of restrictions gives cause for cautious optimism as Henshaw faces Champions Cup test

Hello to all the Advertiser readers.

As I am compiling this column, the weather remains beautiful, bright and sunny with good temperatures, but I believe there is a change coming this week. Now we cannot complain; we have had over two weeks of brilliant sunny weather, when every morning saw the sun shining brightly and we knew that the day ahead would be the same.

It was a marvellous April bonus, and there is no doubt that we will be returning to more normal weather activities in the weeks ahead. Mind you, it looked absolutely beautiful, and yet on Sunday I took two cushions out to sit in the sun and I wasn’t long there when I felt the chill wind. It still is April and it’s not high summer yet.

I must tell the readers of a very good hospital experience I had recently. Let me explain. I went to Portiuncula Hospital in Ballinasloe for a consultation. I was bowled over by the courtesy and care at every level that I experienced at the appointment. These good qualities were bound up with great kindness and administrative efficiency.

I am so glad, because over the years my only visits to Portiuncula would have been to visit people who had had children there, but I had no direct experience myself of the operation of the hospital. You know, we have got so used to chasing off to the Beacon Hospital or the Mater or any of the other high citadels of medical lore. So all in all it was a good experience, and I am so glad to share it with so many who, I am sure, know all this already.

It was lovely to hear Ryan Tubridy one early morning recently talking with Tom Jones, the 80-year-old singer who looks so good and in particular whose voice has matured and seasoned, as was so wonderful to hear later that night on The Late Late Show when he sang his latest record. With his curly head of hair and his fine voice, he remains unchanged down the decades, and I’ve always been glad to hear him on any of the TV shows.

Now, the women’s Six Nations rugby last Saturday, Ireland versus Italy, was a great success. It seems to me that the members of the Irish team were imbued with a determination to show their ability after their huge defeat the week earlier. Italy was not in any way a walkover, and the game was a good tight one, but I was delighted to see that the result left Ireland in third place in the Six Nations league.

In other rugby encounters over the weekend (but not available on TV ), Connacht had a tight win over Ulster, 26-24. That was in the Rainbow Cup. There does not appear to be any great praise of the Rainbow Cup itself, but that was the result. Also in the Rainbow Cup, Leinster lost to Munster by a huge amount, 27-3. It’s difficult to see how this game had the result it had, but for once Munster had a really good enthusiastic win over their old foe, Leinster.

However, next Sunday is the real biggie in rugby terms: Leinster is away to La Rochelle in the semi-final of the Heineken Champions Cup. The big question is will Johnny Sexton be declared fit to play? It’s of course quixotic in that Ronan O’Gara, the ex-great Irish player, is now the chief manager of La Rochelle, so there will be some tight animosity between the two teams on that day. I don’t know yet if it’s going to be available on TV but I hope it will be, because I am sure it will be a closely-contested game and I hope, of course, that Leinster will be the winners.

There is a great anticipatory air in Ireland at the moment about the easing of the lockdown, in particular the opening up this week of golf and tennis and training for young people again. We are all looking forward to An Taoiseach on Thursday when he will give us advance notice of what further easing of lockdown there will be in the early days of May. For me, and I know for many others, particularly women, we are so looking forward to the opening of hairdressers again, and of course the barbers too for the men. I have my hairdressing appointment made already for the first day when they re-open, and I’m sure there will be a changed landscape in every meaning of the word when we all emerge with our shorn and newly-coloured coiffures from the ministrations of the various hairdressing establishments, as soon as they get the green light to re-open.

I know that Dr Tony Holohan is back in action after his recent bereavement. There is no doubt that we were well looked after in his absence by Dr Ronan Glynn, who was the very young replacement for Dr Holohan whilst he was away.

However, we have to be really aware that we must proceed with caution during this easing up of life. it is so easy for people to lose the run of themselves and to find, too late, that we are caught in another pandemic wave, leading to another lockdown. We are all just collectively so keen to get fully out and engaged again with all aspects of life, but it is far better, I am quite sure, to proceed with caution and then to enjoy each easing as it comes and the extra taste of life it gives everyone.

We are in the decade of centenaries now in remembering all of the things that happened 100 years ago which have such an effect on Ireland, particularly on partition. I am reading a very good book at the moment on that very theme. It is heavy-going but well worth it.

That’s my lot for this week. So again, be safe, be careful, and we’ll talk again next week.

Slán go fóill.

Mary O’Rourke


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