Saturday, May 9, 2020

Update 9th May

New Government???
I referenced this in my post two weeks ago and four weeks ago. Keep in mind that the election took place on Saturday, February 8th …now 90 days ago. I wrote then and I know I’m repeating myself with it but it is still valid; 
“I can only call the efforts to form a Government in this country as PATHETIC. There have been talks about talks, preliminary talks, kind of meaningful talks, meaningful talks, documents being drawn up, talk of a ‘government formation document’ but yet no real progress. It is a disgrace especially for the parties who are not part of the ‘Interim -Government’ as of now”.  
The Greens have agreed to join F.G and F. F. for more talks and someone has said, “The three leaders are confident that they will come to an agreement later this month or (early) next month” …or maybe after the summer recess!  

All this for a Government that will, in my view, last around eighteen months!  Unbelievable. If it was tenable the best option would be another election. John Mulligan, I see, is suggesting that the parties who enter the Government are putting themselves on the gallows with the advantage swinging to the major party in opposition i.e. Sinn Féin, in a protracted Government with the Tsunami of huge issues around the corner leading to a disaffected community. That is in the immediate future but we are living today….tomorrow is another day. 

 Centenary Commemorations;
There has been a lull in commemorations marking the various benchmarks of that major period in Irish history beginning with the 1916 Rebellion. The 1917 North Roscommon Election of Count Plunkett had a very good seminar organised by Sinn Féin in Boyle courthouse. I did not tune into the 1918 Election too much but the sitting of the First Dáil did get coverage. The thing is that a lot of the real recognition of these events takes place in Dublin and it is not that easy to be going there for all that. 
Now we are into the War of Independence period. I know that there are significant plans for the famous Bloody Sunday events in Tipperary and elsewhere from a friend involved there. 
In the last week I got a contact from Thomas Tormey of Trinity College as follows:     
“I am writing to you to highlight a historical event which I think should be commemorated or at least acknowledged by Roscommon County Council and the people of the county more broadly. 
This event was the first meeting of the Council following the local election of 1920. 
 It was at this meeting of 21 June 1920 that the council declared its allegiance to Dáil Éireann. It also removed from the minute book a motion from 1916 that condemned the Rising.

I am not sure how many other local authorities are marking their own centenaries of similar events but I note that Cork City Council did on January 30 prior to the Covid19 disaster. Local elections for urban areas were held earlier in the year in 1920.
I believe that the take-over of the council by the then Sinn Féin offers important context for the events that came later, such as the terror campaign by the RIC and British Army and the IRA's guerrilla war”.
Over the next three years, there will be a number of events from those times which are worthy of marking. The present incredible time will make the more immediate commemorations impossible to mark in the traditional manner. I wonder if there is any listing for Roscommon events that might be remembered?    
I imagine that Roscommon County Councillors and the Executive of the Council will take Mister Tormey’s call in hand and that some manner of commemoration will occur.
Of course, after the War of Independence, there is the Civil War period!  

Cocooning et al 
I have been following the rules diligently for around six weeks. With the hospitable weather and a programme of work which has been long-fingered for a considerable time, I have been fine. I continue to make progress with ‘the works’ programme. I was listening to Eamon Dunphy on T.V. last night and he too was comfortable that, his environment -as with myself- made cocooning no big issue. Of course, there are many people who are in very restricted environments and this is very different and difficult for them. 
There is a narrative regarding the emergence of a general attitude towards ‘senior’ people. I hope that when this time has abated that there will be a ‘discussion’ on that but there will be many discussions on many issues. A problem with imposing severe restrictions on a compliant section of society –which the senior segment is- is that when we see very blatant and significant breaches of generally accepted behaviour the question re-emerges, is there one rule for one section and another rule for others?
I am referring to the numbers coming and going through airports and ports. They sashay through the airport with a large number showing contempt rather than respect for the form-filling requirements of the present time. Why is there is no querying of this at passport control? Why could passports not be scanned as the basic solid information is all there? Even many of those who do fill in the forms cannot be contacted later. Contempt again. 
Why there are so many planes coming and going is also questionable.        
The experts tell us that the way forward after ‘flattening the curve’ is by ‘testing and tracing’/restricting inward travel/ social distancing and so on. 
The Northern open border is also a big issue. With the trauma of BREXIT coming down the track as Bud Abbot ‘Another fine mess’. While I should not say it I cannot see how there will not be a ‘hardish’ border reinstated.
Strawberry pickers??   
As the American philosopher Donald Rumsfeld stated: “Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say, we know there are some things we do not know”.
A lot done, more to do.

The Death of the poet Evan Boland 
Evan Boland was one of the modern group of great Irish poets and a contemporary of Longley, Kennelly, and Mahon. Her first collection of poems was titled ‘War Horse’ in 1975. A favourite Evan Boland poem for me is the poem titled ‘Love’.  It is set in the United States where and when the family lived in Iowa. 

Eavan Boland
Dark falls on this mid-western town
where we once lived when myths collided.
Dusk has hidden the bridge in the river
which slides and deepens
to become the water
the hero crossed on his way to hell.

Not far from here is our old apartment.
We had a kitchen and an Amish table.
We had a view. And we discovered there
love had the feather and muscle of wings
and had come to live with us,
a brother of fire and air.
We had two infant children one of whom
was touched by death in this town
and spared: and when the hero
was hailed by his comrades in hell
their mouths opened and their voices failed and
there is no knowing what they would have asked
about a life they had shared and lost.

I am your wife.
It was years ago.
Our child was healed. We love each other still.
Across our day-to-day and ordinary distances,
we speak plainly. We hear each other clearly.

And yet I want to return to you
on the bridge of the Iowa river as you were,
with snow on the shoulders of your coat
and a car passing with its headlights on:

I see you as a hero in text--
the image blazing and the edges gilded--
and I long to cry out the epic question
my dear companion:
Will we ever live so intensely again?
Will love come to us again and be
so formidable at rest it offered us ascension
even to look at him?

But the words are shadows and you cannot hear me.
You walk away and I cannot follow

In much poetry and fine writing, there are sentences that arrest you and six lines from the end of this poem is one which does that for me. “Will we ever live so intensely again?”. Perhaps in this time, when we are living with the handbrake on, we might reflect on times in our lives and people in our lives that reflect that idea. 

Leaving Cert Debacle
‘I used to be indecisive but now I’m not so sure’ could be the mantra for the road towards finally deciding to abandon the Leaving Cert. It has been a long and winding road and must have caused much tension and anxiety for those affected by it. While the examination was the holy grail of fairness and legitimacy the logistics and waves of health considerations have eventually drowned that ship. How the authorities deal now with the flotsam of debris in the wake of the decision is a real conundrum. I certainly would not like to be the teacher who had to submit ‘predictive’ grades for students especially those who were on my football team, near neighbours or even my own household. 
‘Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall …’ comes to mind or maybe Rumsfeld’s philosophy is valid here also.

Lest We Forget
In the period of the Irish Famine, a group of people belonging to the Choctaw and Hopi tribes of American natives (referred to as Indians by the white man) heard of this Famine in a faraway island, Ireland. They made a collection and forwarded a donation, by whatever means, of $170 as a charitable bequest to help the starving people.  
In recent weeks the descendants of those tribes have found themselves in difficult straits themselves due to the Covid19. On becoming aware of that some Irish connections in the U.S. decided to help them, remembering as they did their 1847 gesture. So up to $100,000 has found its way to that Indian Community, to their great surprise, as an Irish bequest. So the goodwill shown 173 years ago has stood the test of time and is now being reciprocated.
It is a really nice thing to see.
I’ve been aware of the original story for some time and in 2017 the beautiful memorial of the event-below- was unveiled in Middletown, County Cork. 

Just a nugget of information. The ‘Indians’ were called such because Columbus and the early explorers were searching for a way to India and the East. Thinking that they had arrived in some extension of India led to the original natives being called…Indians. 
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!    

Enough stories for today. Not one mention of Dr. Trump!
Take very good care of ourselves. Play by the rules. 
This Covid19 has gone viral and it a real x,y,z.
I’ve used this before and Leo Varadkar used a version of it in his address to the nation so here goes;
 “Now, this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning”. Winston Churchill.

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