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Photo by: Caty Bartholomew

Good news from Ireland

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Photo by: Caty Bartholomew

When the late, gentle Erskine Childers was our president I was covering some event in Clarinbridge over which he was presiding.

It was a low key occasion with no huge crowds in the village, and it was for that reason the president was able to sit up to the bar in Paddy Burke's before the function started and quietly enjoy a gin and tonic.

I was sitting down the bar but, like everybody else bar one little boy, I left him alone with his peace. I assume his security man was not far away, but he was not in view.

Anyway, the little boy who approached the President was so young and flaxen-curled and Lord Fauntelroyish he represented no threat. He had an autograph book, and the two of them had a nice little chat before the child went away.

Minutes later the president went away. Being of my trade, I asked the little boy to show me what Erskine Childers had written in his autograph book. That is it above. 

There in a neat nutshell was a viewpoint that Childers promoted all along the twists and turns of his long public life. He was strongly in favor of an optimistic approach to all the hardships of living.

When he was a government minister he was often critical of the way in which the national media handled the stories of the day. Erskine  was of the view they should more strongly feature the half of the glass that was full rather than its empty areas.

My former distinguished editor and current colleague here, Tim Pat Coogan, would be well briefed on the Childers viewpoint on too  much bad news being harmful for the mindset of the nation.

It was before my time in the state, but I guess Childers had an input into an official news agency whose brief was to pump out good news about Ireland. I was always a believer in what one might call  the Childers' Protocol  for hard times.

In  this harsh week both nationally and internationally I propose to devote the rest of this space to nothing but good news. 

IRELAND has been bathed and laved by the most warmly enchanting April weather for 20 years. It was especially

heavenly during the day of the budget announcements.

For this reason most folk stayed outdoors, even traveling to the beaches, and did not hear the details of  cuts and increases until much later in the evening. The price of drinks remained untouched,  and the price of cigarettes, cigars and tobacco was only slightly increased.

In the end of the day, as we head into the unending cycle of the summer festivals, these are the prices that really matter.

IRELAND will be providing nearly a third of the traveling rugby Lions who will be touring South Africa in the summer taking on the Springboks. The captain of the party is the powerful Paul O'Connell of Munster, and his only rival for the post was current Irish captain Brian O'Driscoll, the first to wish him well when the announcement came.

As well as having the largest contingent in the group, the Irish players are certain to man almost all the critical play-making positions on the test sides. The entire country rejoices at the honor  even as it looks forward to the upcoming Heineken Cup clash between, yes, Munster (the champions) and challengers Leinster. Munster are overwhelming favorites to retain their title again this season. 

IRELAND'S fireball female boxer Katie Taylor again dominated all  the headlines at  a multi-nation tournament in Eastern Europe. The program for both male and female boxers featured only the best in their divisions.

Ireland's male boxers won several medals between them, but none of them could compare with world champion Katie. She won not alone the gold medal for her division, but also the gold medal for being the outstanding boxer of the tournament. That was the most outstanding of ALL, both female and male!

IRELAND's formidable cricketers win a tournament against all the odds which qualifies them to compete in the next cricket World Cup. The team had not been expected to qualify, so the news came as a pleasant surprise to their growing following. 

IRELAND is agog at the news that Roy Keane, invisible except to his dogs and family since December, has emerged to take over as manager of Ipswich Town for the next two years. The volatile Keane, who brought Sunderland from the lower Championship up to Premier League level,  announced that he will try to do it again with Ipswich in even one season. 

He says he is looking forward to the challenge and adds that his dog will be glad of the rest. Keane says that any player who turns up punctually for training and who works hard will get on well with him.  Others, he adds ominously, will find their relationship with him to be a brief one.

More and more, the coverage of his return to the scene mentions the possibility that Keane's managerial future might yet bring him back to Manchester United.

There is something about the Cork man that always galvanizes  (and divides) sporting opinion across the country. And sporting debate has a way of shifting the focus away from any topics and troubles that we don't want to even consider this week.

IRELAND learns that some new set of  euro zone statistics indicate a kind of "green shoots" story in relation to consumer confidence through Europe. The figures are called PMI's and suggest that  experts in key business  areas see signs that the recession has bottomed out.

IRELAND'S children are discovered to be among the happiest and most content in the whole of Europe. A university survey of sub teens and teenagers finds that our young are the ninth happiest on the list.

My Dutch Nation is delighted to discover that the Netherlands tops  the list, with Scandinavian siblings Norway and Sweden in second place. I am delighted furthermore to discover that English parents don't do so well as we do. They come in at No. 24.

IRELAND heaves a hearty sigh of relief when it finally discovers   that we will never have to use those dreadful impersonal electronic voting machines which you lot use over there and which tend to get blocked up with hanging chads and suchlike.

We bought about $55 million worth of them through Ministers Cullen and Dempsey nearly a decade ago, but have now decided  that we are going to get rid of them.

That's good news because we just love the old pen-and-paper mechanics of the old way of doing things. They have cost us an arm and a leg these machines, but sure never mind that.

IRELAND still  has the freshest and most succulent steak in the whole world. You could not get fresher steak than that available last Thursday in Cummins's Supervalu supermarket in Co. Mayo.  The bull charging down along the aisles was not even dead!

There were china shop consequences. And the whole country is laughing away at the pictures.

I  could go on and on all night, but I'll stop here with just the news that the forecast is very good for tomorrow, that the Irish telecoms company eircom has just announced the establishment of a Belfast  office with more than 60 new jobs.

And top Irish  driver Adam Carroll is in talks, even as I write, which could see him racing at Formula 1 level next season. 

Hope you are as fond of the Childers Protocol approach as I'm  becoming by the second.

Slainte until later! 

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