IT is probably fitting, in a pathetic way, that it all ended on a golf course. We've seen pictures of Cowen on the golf course and it's not a pretty sight: a sweaty, huffing, puffing, unhappy-looking unmade bed, bet into a belly-gripping polo shirt.
And now it seems as if one of those sweaty romps around the golf course, with Cowen accompanied on this occasion by alleged friends, could be the full stop not just to Cowen's 1,000-day career as Taoiseach and not just to the last decade or more of Fianna Fail-led Celtic Tiger and post Celtic Tiger Ireland, but the full stop to Fianna Fail itself.
Ronnie Drew used to say that only c**ts played golf. And if that is the case then we have truly become a nation of See You Next Tuesdays (for a quick nip around the back nine). Any bit of land in this country that isn't taken up by ghost estates or ghost hotels is occupied by ghost golf courses. You can't get a cup of tea or a drop of petrol for love or money when you drive from Dublin to Cork, but you could stop off for 50 games of golf. And you wouldn't have any trouble getting a tee time either.
Cowen isn't even supposed to be a particularly keen or skilled golfer. But clearly he bought into the notion that being faced with your own inadequacies with a bunch of other guys for four hours was a good way to relax.
But, as much as golf outings became central to Fianna Fail fund-raising in recent years, Fianna Fail and golf were never a good fit. It's too much of a clash of cultures. Batt O'Keeffe showed the average Fianna Failer's fundamental misunderstanding of golf on Prime Time the other night when he announced that he didn't play golf himself but someone else who did play had pointed out to him that the golf course was the last place men would discuss business.
That's right, Batt. Four men who mightn't know each other that well go out together for an afternoon, hitting the odd ball, and they discuss their feelings. Indeed, it is a little-known fact that a game of golf is the length it is because three to four hours is the optimum time to wear down a guy about anything.
So that then is how the story ends, apparently. Having survived years of smoke-filled rooms and boozy gatherings. Having survived coming on the radio apparently below par and made a laughing stock of us all over the world. Having even survived being the Taoiseach that had to hand back the keys to Europe. Having come through all that, those encounters with real men, Cowen's story -- and Fianna Fail's -- now seems to be ending with Cowen wearing some class of diamond jumper and an ill-fitting baseball cap. What would Haughey say? What would Bertie say? What would Dev say? They would possibly say that Cowen didn't pick his friends very well. And they would maybe say, God, when did Fianna Fail, and the Irish people, turn into such a shower of . . .