That is life and living and the impact of the totally artificial year measurements we insist on knocking upon the eternity of time

Happy New Year to every one of you!

We have all relished and enjoyed the Christmas season in the fashion that suits us best and now, with true Celtic resilience and hope and courage, every man and woman and child amongst our special clan is fully prepared to take on the New Year, and any challenges it poses with high hearts and minds.

We are not one bit afraid of another strongly built and challenging New Year. We will deal with it just as powerfully as we’ve dealt with all its ancestors. We are very good at that.

When it comes to dealing with New Years we have always punched well above our weight. We have always put all of them in their proper respectful place long before the end of January.

I am now delving more deeply into my seventies. My three sons, incredibly to me, are all either graying or balding in their forties and my daughter Ciara, the youngest of the family, aged only eight when her mother was snatched away to heaven, is doing whatever it is women do to ensure she shows no signs of age.

Frankly, I am amazed to see any signs of age at all on the children I inherited when their mother passed long before her time. Breast cancer struck and she was in heaven at a younger age than they have reached now.

That is life and living and the impact of the totally artificial year measurements we insist on knocking upon the eternity of time. Ye know as much about those realities as I do for sure.

As promised, I am going to advance many of you further along the celebrated Wild Atlantic Way along the rugged west coast in just a minute or two.  First, though, from a personal vantage point, can I confess I am writing this missive whilst internally fortified by the best Mountain Dew from the Galtee Mountains that I have ever tasted -- that is totally illegal poteen for those of you still innocent of Irish nuances -- and the lovely Dutch Nation is long abed because she is working in the morning.

Our small terrier Pepper is snoring loudly on the couch beside me as I write.  And lethal Belle, our cat, is out hunting mice under a slivery young Clare moon. Life and living goes on as always.

Before inching those of you who will be shortly visiting my west of Ireland, the fillet of the island, I have to register my enjoyment of Cahir O’Doherty’s piece about the enjoyment of celebrating a family Christmas in Donegal, Niall’s recent understated piece about the courageous launch of the Irish Voice 30 years ago -- a mighty and brave achievement -- and I have to confess openly that I love my Debbie McGoldrick, our editor, and Caty Bartholomew, the gifted artist whose work is always better than my words, almost as much as I love my Dutch Nation in the bedroom above.  The truth needs to be confessed now and then.

Okay. Many of you who will be making initial trips to Ireland in this incoming year will, for Famine-related reasons, have traces of the blood of the west in your veins. Can I suggest that, where possible, ye fly into Shannon or Cork rather than busy Dublin Airport and, with foreknowledge predict ye will almost certainly feel more at home immediately than if ye land in the east.

Many have informed me down the years of this reality. It strikes the heart immediately I’ve been told over and over again.

I brought ye as far as gentle Ballyvaughan in Clare before Christmas.  From there it is a short trip to Galway City and Connemara.

When ye reach Galway City, the best city in Ireland by far, scrap the schedule and be prepared to stay for at least three days and nights. Galway is the best of what we are or ever will be.

There is craic and stimulation and a special kind of Celtic excitement every day and every night. You will be lucky or strong of mind to manage to tear yourselves away in less than three days.

During those three days, if physically able, a trip out to the mythical and magical Aran Islands out on the edge of Galway Bay will be a bonus. For my money Inishere is the pick of the three islands because it is a little less touristic if ye know what I mean.

And, when in the city, before or after, enjoy the cosmopolitan but very Celtic craic in the Crane Bar on Sea Road.  It is close to the Jesuit church but very different altogether!

I will leave ye there because the hours have caught up with me. More along the Way later.

Happy New Year in the meantime!