Monday 19 November 2018

A to Z look back at the year that was 2017

V is for Varadkar, our new Taoiseach
V is for Varadkar, our new Taoiseach
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

A is for Ariana Grande - A name I confess I hadn't even heard of before that fateful night in late May when the Manchester Bomb exploded killing 22 young concert goers. It was supposed to be a night full of youthful innocence and excitement at attending a concert. We have all been there, ourselves or with our sons and daughters. In the ongoing devastation of terrorism, this attack like the Nice attack or the Boston Bombing struck a chord, striking out at the everyday events that are part and parcel of family and community life in a free democracy.

B is for Brexit - What else, another word I or anyone else hadn't heard of until a couple of years ago, now it is ubiquitous. It was a difficult year as the passage of the Brexit talks between the UK Government and the EU lumbered along. We almost had a deal in early December but then the DUP pulled rank on the Prime Minister before we finally saw a conclusion to phase one of the talks allowing everyone a huge sigh of relief. Phase two of the talks however may be even more difficult.

C is for church and the ordination of Fr Barry Matthews in St Patrick's Cathedral in June. An ordination is rare anywhere these days but the Point Road native's big day made for a big celebration in the town as he was joined by his parents, Noel and Joan, four siblings, family and friends.

D is for Dundalk FC - 2017 was not the champagne football and success of 2015, 2016 or the unforgettable 2017, but it still wasn't bad. Only a EA Sports Cup to toast, but the Lilywhites pushed Cork City all the way in the League and only lost out on the FAI Cup after a penalty shoot out.

E is for elections - one that was and one that wasn't. British Prime Minister Theresa May jumped for a snap General Election in the hope of increasing her majority and boy oh boy, how that blew up in her face. Here we very nearly had what no one wanted and that was a Christmas General Election, as Fine Gael and Fianna Fail stared each other down over the Frances Fitzgerald saga. Fortunately the former Tanaiste and Minister for Justice did the country a great service and resigned just in the nick of time.

F is Ferry - the roll on roll off car ferry service started in Carlingford Lough and is a great asset to the growing tourism offering in this region. The service leaves the shores of Greenore every half hour for the short sailing across Carlingford Lough to Greencastle.

G is for Gardai - and another wretched year for the service, with the resignation of their Commissioner Noirin O Sullivan, while we had the endure the whole debacle of the fake breadth tests. Seregant Maurice McCabe was again let down by the State and this saga caused the resignation of a second Minister for Justice as Frances Fitzgerald eventually bowed to the inevitable.

H is for Hurricane Ophelia - the biggest storm to hit the country for some years arrived in October. The country was on a red weather warning and tragically three people were killed including local man Fintan Goss who was killed on his way home from work in Ravensdale.

I is for Irene White - as in early January a man was charged with the murder of the Dundalk mother.

J is for jobs - it was a good year for jobs in the town as a number of companies announced a growth in their job numbers with the arrival of firms such as Graebel with 125 and Wasdell with 300 more, while just before the end of the year National Pen celebrated their 30th anniversary with the announcement of a further 200 jobs.

K is Colin Kelly - the Louth football manager stepped down after three seasons at the helm of his native county. The Newtown Blues legend hadn't great fortune in the championship but won back to back promotions from Division Four and Three with the Wee County. He has been succeeded by former Down All Ireland winning manager, Pete McGrath.

L is for Louth County Council - the later end of the year was a challenging one for the Executive as the members of the Council rejected the first draft of the 2018 budget. It was a dramatic meeting at which members expressed their frustration over communications and co-operation with the Executive. Tweaks to the budget and a new sub-committee to improve communications resolved matters and the budget passed ten days later.

M is for Brendan McGahon - the former colourful Louth TD who passed away during the year.

N is for North Korea - which came close to our shores when Junior Minister John Halligan suggested that he and fellow independent ministers travel there to try as peace envoys and calm the troubled waters between Kim Jong-Un and Donald Trump. His offer was not accepted by anyone and did not seem to make headlines internationally and was widely ridiculed at home.

O is for Oriel Park - a lot happened at the home of football in Dundalk during the year. It started off in January when a new Astro-playing surface was laid on the pitch and now as 2018 dawns, speculation continues about a takeover deal for the club.

P is for the Paris Accord, the international agreement which is aimed a curbing global warming and which President Donald Trump dispensed with during the year in another policy which brought international scorn upon the President of the United States of America.

Q is for a questions which had to be asked after the shambles at the annual blessing of the Graves in St Patirck's Cemetery in July, which was attended by thousands of people. There was no public address system meaning very few could listen to the service, while it raised questions over public safety.

R is for Rescue 116 which was lost at sea when on a rescue mission in the Atlantic Ocean off the Mayo coast with the loss of all four lives on board the Coast Guard Helicopter. Among the crew as local man Captain Mark Duffy from Blackrock, a former student of St Mary's College. The seaside village was packed as thousands lined the streets to pay their respects to the pilot, while his wife Heromine gave a very poignant and beautiful tribute to her husband and father of their two children. The bodies of two crew members from Rescue 116 have never been recovered.

S is for Sinn Fein, as a the party prepare for a new era with the announcement that Louth TD Gerry Adams is to step down as party president after 34 years, adding that he will not seek re-election at the next General Election.

T is for a Tara Erraught, the mezzo soprano from Ravensdale, who has had an amazing year, which ended with her making her debut with the famous New York Metropolitan Opera, where she is currently appearing in Hansel and Gretal.

U is for USA President Donald Trump who completed his first year in office in the White House. His victory was still something of a shock to the world when we had to start adjusting to his presidential style, his policies and his tweets. The world is still adjusting.

V is for Varadkar, our new Taoiseach who took over from Enda Kenny in the summer after defeating Simon Conveney in a leadership election. A leader who is representative of a new Ireland, his leadership qualities where challenged by the Brexit talks and the Frances Fitzgerald saga,

W is for water charges, almost universally hated, there was some welcome for letters from Irish Water as consumers received rebates for their water charges.

X is for xmas - there is always one stubborn letter in an A to Z review of the year which trips you up. Thank goodness for Leo Varadkar as V is sorted this year.

Y is for young athletes, as Gina akpe Moses and Patience Jumbo-Gula both excelled on the track and we may yet see them both at the next Olympics.

Z is for Zoe Conway, fiddle player extraordinaire, who is currently touring China with the RTE Concert Orchestra, and will be organising the Fleadh na Tain with her husband John McIntyre on her return.

The Argus