'Dear God, that's me," said the women in Athlone. "And me," echoed the girl in Derry City. "Me too," said the grandmother in Cahirsiveen. None of these women knew each other. All of them were of different ages and living completely different lives, but they had one thing in common. Gay Byrne gave them a voice, a platform and a means to change their world for the better.
In so many ways, Tom MacIntyre was ahead of his time. Child abuse, the domination of the Catholic Church, sexual repression, loneliness and mental illness, the fear of women that so often lies at the root of misogyny - all these topics and more were covered by him during a career that encompassed poetry, literature and theatre.
I don't think I'm alone in still thinking of the family house where I grew up as 'home'. It's the place where myself and siblings still meet, where we have extended family barbecues and parties, where we send our kids to stay when we go away for a weekend, and where, most importantly, our mother is. Or at least, that's where she is when she's not trekking round the world, or helping her kids out, or bringing her grandson to see Barcelona play Celtic (which she did last week), or doing voluntary work, or all the many things which make our lives richer.
Of course, it was never supposed to be like this. When I got married - on February 29, leap year, like a proper feminist - myself and the current Mr Hunt agreed that if we ever had children, it would be a 50-50 split. There would be none of this traditional nonsense about Mammy being the one to give up her career and financial future purely because she was the one in possession of a womb.
It was at one of the dusty stalls, at the end of our tour of the Karnak Temple in Luxor, that we got chatting to the young man with the odd tattoo on the inside of his right arm. It looked like a Celtic cross, but surely it couldn't be - not in Muslim Egypt. And it wasn't. What it was, explained our new friend, was a symbol of his religion, Coptic Christianity.
My heart is bleeding for them. All those Millennials, my own daughter included, whose lives have been destroyed by preceding generations. Generations, as they keep telling us, who are now living off the hog, with mortgages paid and lavish pensions guaranteeing us a retired life of ease and plenty.
Thankfully I didn't fall over a cliff or stumble on any dead bodies in my demented search for entities that don't materially exist. Though I did find myself coming to consciousness in the middle of a busy road when an irate motorist alerted me to the imminent danger of my being hit by his Range Rover.
It was the day after November 24, 1995, that I finally got the courage to say "I will". The divorce referendum had been passed, albeit by a very slim margin, and within months couples in Ireland would finally have a 'get-out clause' when they agreed to stay together "for better for worse, in sickness and in health" and whatever other promises they made in front of the altar.
With one minute to full-time, it looked as if France were about to suffer a humiliating draw with underdogs Romania. Then came Dimitri Payet's stunning shot, sent straight into the top corner with his left foot, leaving goalkeeper . . . Oh, excuse me - what was I thinking?
It's like a cruel version of Groundhog Day. Once again we are wondering how a young, healthy woman in early pregnancy can die in an Irish maternity hospital. Once again we are sending a husband, who has fled abroad to the comfort of his family, heartfelt condolences and promises of an investigation into the death of his young wife in an Irish maternity hospital. Once again we are sympathising with distraught parents about the death of their babies (in Cavan hospital last week), and promising to find out the truth; to do better; to try to ensure that such tragedies are averted whenever possible. Once again, Irish women have an awful, stomach-churning fear that this is no country for pregnant women.
'My name is Sandy and I am in mortgage distress," says a woman at the back of the room. She clears her throat and continues: "It was 'my little secret', because I told nobody, I was too ashamed. My friends didn't know, my family didn't know. I felt I had failed and I had made a huge mistake." She pauses, I catch her eye and then look away, embarrassed.
Last week I caught myself in the act of self-censoring. It occurred so naturally, and therefore perniciously, that I wondered how many times I had been ignorantly guilty of it in the past. I had returned from the NUI count centre in the RDS where I had chatted to fellow candidate, Senator Ronan Mullen.
It must be nice to live on another planet. One where everyone is feeling the effects of economic recovery; where homelessness is not at crisis levels; where debt isn't a constant worry and where no one suffers from mental health issues. It's a place where life is so pleasant and uncomplicated that few people suffer from anxiety or stress or depression, let alone terrible things like schizophrenia, manic depression (bipolar) or suicidation. And those few who do? Well, it's made very plain to them that they are causing the nice, contented people acute embarrassment - as well as taking money that they don't deserve - and really, they should do the decent thing and just feck off.
There's a story Graydon Carter of Vanity Fair tells of the late, great Christopher Hitchens's ability to consume alcohol and remain supremely compos mentis. He recounts an afternoon lunch in New York with the author and public intellectual, where "pre-lunch canisters of scotch were followed by a couple of glasses of wine during the meal and a similar quantity of post-meal cognac. That was just his [Hitchens] intake."
It's probably not an over-generalisation to say that half the country has an Auntie Mary somewhere in the world. Last week, the Hunt Auntie Mary arrived over from Toronto to celebrate the centenary of the Rising with her Irish family. "Do they teach you all this stuff in school?" She asked my kids as they prepared to head into the festivities. Well, yes they did. Not only that but they were delighted to tell her that "real" soldiers, with a flag and a proclamation had arrived into all Irish schools, to tell them about the history of both.
Monday: I wake up. Although, of course, I have not actually been asleep. No, no, my friend. Not in the way that other, mere mortal people sleep. Instead I have trained myself to metaphysicise; I have transmorgorified, I have metamorphisitised, I have fundamentally reimagined a way of resting my body, so that I am consciously wrestling with the inner movements of my muscles, even as my body believes it is sleeping. And while I do dat, my amigo, I am also full of the most beautiful feelings and emotions. My woman, my girl, the future first Lady of Ireland and myself, did go and promenade the town last night, with a pint of Guinness and my very good friend and training partner, Artem "The Russian Hammer" Lobov.
Did you hear what Imam Ibrahim Noonan said?" Joe Duffy asked Dr Ali Selim who had just come on air. "That there is a moral ambivalence in the Cultural Centre in Clonskeagh about what is happening?" Noonan is the Imam of the Galway Ahmadiyya mosque, a sect of Islam seen as heretical by most Sunni Muslims and which is persecuted in many Muslim states.
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