Wednesday 7 December 2016

Notebook: A look at the week that was

Aingeala Flannery

Published 04/09/2016 | 02:30

Genius: Thanks for the memories - and life lessons, Gene Wilder Photo: AP Photo/Steven Senne
Genius: Thanks for the memories - and life lessons, Gene Wilder Photo: AP Photo/Steven Senne

We were never ready to go back to school when I was a child. Back then, it always seemed to fall on the morning after the All-Ireland hurling final, after a black and amber retinue of near and distant relations landed on our doorstep in Clondalkin, looking for a bed for the night, with only a scattering of tickets between them. The children were assigned sleeping bags on the floor in the big room. The first day back at school for culchie kids was a blur, especially if Kilkenny won, which they usually did.

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Fifteen years ago, my mother packed her bags and returned to the banks of the Suir that flows down by Mooncoin. She still scrounges for match tickets and can't understand why working in media doesn't give me a licence to print them. On Monday, she'd some business in Dublin and while she was on the train, I was queuing to buy school shoes for her grandson. My phone pinged with a message from The Anton Savage Show: Henry Shefflin was in studio with the Liam McCarthy Cup and was happy to pose for pictures. A photo of her grandson with King Henry would please my mother greatly, but if I abandoned the queue, the child would be going to back to school barefoot. So I stayed and shelled out €70 for a pair with tractor-tyre soles.

No matter what radio station I turned on in the car, parents were giving out about back-to-school costs. The price of shoes is no small thing. In 1982, Kilkenny won the All-Ireland and the Fine Gael-Labour government collapsed after John Bruton tried to impose VAT on children's shoes. I was discussing this with my mother as I drove her to back to Heuston on Tuesday. Blueshirts, she hissed. And they'd the nerve to say that women with small feet could abuse the system. She waved her travel pass at me - at least Charlie got me this. And off she went.

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