Bear with me for couple of minutes as I, strangely enough, commence this week’s yarn with memories of a thick green ointment named Zam Buk which, if you were born in Ireland anytime during the last century, was liberally smeared upon your bodily hurts by the wise mothers who were remembered and celebrated globally during Mother’s Day
The overwhelming majority of them used that suitably emerald ointment in much the same way as magicians use magic wands, certainly above in the Ulster borderlands where all the boys of my generation wore short trousers and ran too fast over gravelly rough roads. Many of you will recall the bleeding knees and palms which resulted from that.
Then you went crying loudly to Mammy in the kitchen and she instantly deployed her eternal tin of Zam Buk and a linen cloth and motherlore, and all the pain magically receded. Inside 24 hours you had a healthy scab over the wound and were being strongly warned by Mammy to leave it alone to heal and not be picking at it.
Yes, many of you remember those days very well for sure. And so do your knees and palms.
What I strongly suggest today, as a summer glow illuminates the Shannon with some of the mildest weather conditions in Europe, is that if that green ointment so dramatically cured our bodies, the equally thick green spiritual ointment represented today by the GAA, as its Championship season explodes into full action in football and hurling, has a similar impact upon our spirits and souls.
I’ve not heard anybody discussing the major political, economic, and social problems globally and nationally for the last three Shannonside days because the focus is entirely upon sporting triumphs, mainly GAA triumphs along the Wild Atlantic Way. And that is not fake news of any species at all.
Brexit and its implications cannot compete these summer days and nights with the fact that the Clare hurlers went down to Waterford and came home with a thrilling win. And neighbors Limerick had another thrilling victory in their clash.
And Tipperary went down to the lion’s den in Cork and also won a thriller. And Galway won another thriller. And hurling maestros Kilkenny were tested to the limit by Dublin.
The list on a sunny sporting weekend went on and on, including triumphs for Tyrone’s wily footballers over Derry in a tight Ulster championship battle.
None of us here on the Emerald Isle are at all troubled by North Korean missiles or a trade war between the U.S. and China or affairs like that. We are not concentrating on impending elections to the European Parliament or whether or not British Prime Minister Theresa May will still be in Downing Street in June.
The GAA’s beautiful and graceful games in both codes are welcome Zam Buk for our recently sorely tested spirits, and that is very special indeed.
It’s intriguing me also that it is our native GAA games, an amateur sport without inflated salaries, which touch us to the quick. The other sporting codes, such as soccer, rugby, and cricket, don’t come anywhere close to moving us so profoundly.
It is like the day before yesterday that we called them “foreign games,” and GAA players and supporters were banned from attending them even if they so wished. The Leinster rugby side lost a final last week to the English side Saracens, the cricketers lost an apparently vital test game against some strong visiting side or other.
Those games, especially the big soccer games across the Irish Sea in Liverpool and Manchester were thrilling sporting clashes involving footballers who earn as much in a week as most of us earn annually, but I heard more discussion altogether about how soon it will be before the great Galway hurler Joe Canning is able and fit enough to turn out again for the Tribesmen in the later Championship rounds that always end up in totally absorbing All-Ireland finals in Croke Park.
Good luck to your county side in the weeks and months to come. And they will come despite all the distant tidings and rumblings from the world of the kind of fake news we’ve been diverted from here at home by the clash of the ash!
Who'll be the All-Ireland champions this year? Let us know who you'll be rooting for this summer in the comments section below.