Comment: Farmers aren't machines - it's vital to take a break
As it nears the end of its term, the Dáil is often compared to a school on the last day of class before the summer holidays. The deputies get giddy and the Ceann Comhairle is at his wits' end trying to control the unruly bunch.
I remember listening to a recording of Dáil proceedings during Charlie Haughey's days in the Taoiseach's chair.
It was the final session before the TDs and ministers vacated their Dublin flats and offices for their summer lodgings. Charlie was in a rush to get to his Blasket island, Inishvickillane - 'Inish Charlie' as the locals call it - but a certain deputy was hogging the floor: "A Cheann Comhairle, could I ask the deputy to please get to the point; the beaches of West Kerry are calling," the exasperated Taoiseach cried out.
That captured a great image contrasting the wild and wonderful beaches of West Kerry with the city-centre hothouse of the Dáil chamber. It is good to get away, to recreate, to regenerate and to revive.
In general, farmers aren't great holidaymakers: it doesn't fit in with the culture of blisters and backbreak that is often accepted by farmers as the lot of the authentic man and woman of the land.
The strongest currency in farming circles is the currency of hard work. While, traditionally, the size of the farm seemed to matter most in the rural social pecking order, it was the individual farmer's capacity for hard work that earned real kudos on the ground.
Summer is a busy time on farms, the days are long and the weather is (somewhat) better than at other times of the year, so the notion of taking time away seems ludicrous.
But every time of the year is busy and every season has its demands and, unfortunately, the needs of the human beings in this mix are often overlooked and forgotten about.