|Illustration by Caty Bartholomew|
A truly beautiful subliminal reality in the west in summertime is the way in which we combine to create a far brighter social reality than would be seem to be dictated by the facts of life.
The state of the economy and its continued recession and related problems should impose unending periods of doom and gloom. The headline stories are all about somber matters such as the legalization of abortion legislation for the first time in the history of the state, and the quite shocking Anglo tapes revealing the real attitudes of our bankers -- well done to our Niall O'Dowd on your world scoop here with your David Drumm interview. Church and state scandals of all kinds break every week.
We should be cast down and crestfallen. The reverse is the case. Spirits are amazingly high.
Some learned academic will produce startling studies in the future about the subtle way in which Irish people cope with hard times. We have always been good at it.
Anecdotally I can report that the manner in which the current situation is being handled by us all is by adopting a turnoff strategy in relation to the dark current affairs situation largely through focusing on other areas of living such as general entertainment, music and song and dance and, especially sporting matters.
And the Irish sunshine. It’s very, very hot!
Last week nobody was talking about the abortion debate in the Dail (Irish Parliament), or indeed about the banking scandals.
All the discussion on the ground was about the startling triumph of the Dublin hurlers over perennial kingpins Kilkenny, and then victory for the Leinster Championship over Galway on Sunday, the remarkable triumph of the hardy young footballers from London over Leitrim in the GAA Connacht football championship, and Kerry’s narrow football win over Cork on Sunday in the Munster Championship in the blazing Killarney sun.
In the case of the hurling triumph by Dublin all the moulds were broken. They last defeated kingpins Kilkenny back in 1942!
London, likewise, created history by defeating Leitrim to reach the Connacht final against Mayo. That was an incredible feat, and if one of the reasons behind the success was the fact that both London and New York have benefitted hugely in recent years by the enforced emigration of young footballers and hurlers, then that is not something we are dwelling upon in the debate.
It is all a new sporting excitement, a real break in a GAA formbook which has become too predictable entirely over the last decade. Who the blazes wants to talk about heavy political stuff or disgraced bankers when you can talk instead about the intriguing twists and turns on the road to Croke Park for the All-Ireland finals next September.
Meanwhile, those who follow rugby are still awestruck by the fact that the mighty Munster captain Paul O'Connell played on for a quarter of the British and Irish Lions test against Australia with his arm broken in two places!
But his longtime Irish colleague Brian O'Driscoll was dumped from the Lions team by coach Warren Gatland, causing a bit of an uproar here. The Lions did go on to win last weekend, so all if is kind of forgotten.
Much more interesting stuff, this sporting agenda, than anything on offer on either the political or economic front.
There is no doubt, also, that The Gathering 2013 tourism initiative has been a major success on the tourist front, and, quite apart from international visitors, the fact that so many of our recent emigrants are getting back home for holidays is greatly garnishing and brightening up the social scene. No doom or gloom at all in our sunny parts!
Off my turf a few days ago I found myself spending the weekend in the Cork resort of Kinsale.
Quite frankly, not having been there for years, and despite being addicted to the west, I have to report that the lively hilltop town with its scores of restaurants and bistros and bars, and bustling bronzed beach scenes, quite blew me away. There was a cosmopolitan buzz and bustle overhung by the bright kites of the scores of windsurfers out in the lee of the Old Head. Breathtaking. Try and get there if on a visit. I swear that even Walt Disney could not have designed a more attractive set.
Back home I was at another singsong in Ennis last night, and I was so relaxed and eased by the holiday mood and that continuing sporting debate between the music and songs that, for once, I kept my throat closed and did not try to impose my poor quality vocals upon the night. And that's a first!