The joys and blessings of the month of SeptemberIrish Voice

Of all the months of all my years I love September by far the most, and this one in the west has been the queen of them all.

If May is a flirty young one with a roving eye, wearing a light, bright dress and tempting lipstick, and always promising a better summer than ever arrives, then our Septembers are wisely elegant and beautiful ladies, tanned and experienced and gentle, caring and loving somehow, helping us to say farewell to the long summer times and subtly getting us ready for the darker and colder days and nights of the upcoming winters.

Yes I have always most loved September and, as I said, this one is the queen of them all.

We have had a succession of suns that she somehow thieved away from July and August and has released in succession to create a real Indian summer in both mood and moment. She banished all the rainfalls that are the bane of our lives in the west.

Most nights she hung such a plumply warm moon in the clear acres of space that you would swear that moon was too heavy to hang up there all night and would plunge to earth in a golden comet long before the next bright and lovely dawn.

And, in a nuanced sort of way too, I don't quite know how, this spiritual queen of all the Septembers warmed the souls below as well. I have many examples of that already.

Living temporarily in warmhearted Corofin in Clare -- in another thatched cottage too -- I was homing late past the roadside grotto to Our Blessed Mother on 9/11, the radio still crackling with memories and musings of that dreadful event and, mythically, inside Her protective circle of ancient Burren stones, the blue halo which She wears was definitely burning less brightly.

Her head seemed to be bent down with grief and, quite incredibly at that late hour there were two Corofin folk kneeling in midnight prayer below her feet.

I stopped the car and joined them for a moment. We did not speak to each other but somehow we were communicating deeply. It takes September to produce such occurrences.

On the wider front, political and social and economic, all the vital indices are much more hopeful and heartening than they were when May was flirting with us at the other end of the summer.

There is hard evidence we are about emerging from the trough of the recession. There is less emigration and more jobs being created at home.

The budget will not be quite as harsh as was earlier expected. We have more tourists for our main industry, and the appointment of an Irishman as the EC Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Affairs is likely to be of help to our farmers.

The construction industry shows signs of revival and the property market, at least in Dublin, is recovering. There are more announcements of job gains nationally than of job losses.

There are still problems, of course, and there will be for years to come, but it looks as if the schooner of state, damaged but not fatally holed below the waterline, has availed of a favorable September breeze to free itself from the worst of the economic and financial reefs.

If last year's edition of the month cruelly seemed to suddenly rob me of my beloved younger brother Sean, the former Agriculture Correspondent of The Irish Times, it is also true that we never met so often for clan times of joy and celebration as in the preceding weeks and months.

It is also remarkably a fact that Sean's wife Patricia found a hitherto unknown cache of Sean's poems amongst his papers after his passing. Sean was a bloody good hard news reporter, but I did not suspect he wrote poetry. He did indeed.

One beautiful short piece had him blessing himself with happiness at the April arrival of the swallows again. He hailed their beauty in flight in the next few lines, anticipated their September departure for warmer skies and, poignantly, the last line of the poem read, "Take me with you when you go!" And so they did.

With the exception of one pinch which Patricia has saved for us, Sean's ashes were scattered in his beloved Wicklow hills above Dublin this September. His surviving brothers will walk one or two miles of the celebrated Camino pilgrimage route in Spain before this year is over.

Sean had always intended to make that pilgrimage. Somewhere close to a good warm roadside inn we will release the last iotas of his gentle spirit.

Enough of that now. As I write the sunlight is sweeping the rugged flanks of Mullaghmore outside my window.

I have to meet with my old friend Paddy Hynes in Bofey Quinn's hearty pub and restaurant in the village in 30 minutes, the matchmaking season is in full boisterous swing in Lisdoonvarna 20 minutes up the road, there is surely another midweek traffic jam in incredible Doolin again, the lovely Dutch Nation has promised to take me out to dinner tonight, the dogs and cat are fed, the swallows are flying high -- always a good weather sign.

Goodbye and God Bless for now. It is not duty that calls but craic!