I recently had a weird dream. Basically it went like this. Donald Trump changed his mind and at short notice decided he would visit Ireland on his way back from the World War I celebrations in Paris.
The Government was all over the place trying to put all the arrangements in place. It was decided to use the blueprint from the most recent visit of a world leader, the Pope. The Gardaí put up all the barriers to hold back the expected cheering crowds – or were they to prevent protesters getting too close?
Then came the warnings about the need for field hospitals and temporary morgues near all the sites where the president would visit. The great and the good were invited to the State reception in Dublin Castle but unlike the Pope most of them declined to come, even Mary McAleese turned down the invite.
The one element of the official welcome which the Government was worried most about was the arrival ceremony at Áras an Uachtaráin. Michael D. Higgins, triumphant after his landslide re-election, had just published an eloquent poem extolling the virtues of his fellow presidents in socialist Central and South America and has indicated he will recite it for Mr Trump during their private meeting.
And then there was Katherine Zappone. As the only member of the cabinet of US origin, she believes she should again represent the government at the Áras.
Katherine gets to work on her front door speech. Her officials begin to research issues like Mr Trump’s attitude and treatment of women, how he is dealing with immigrants and of course of particular interest to Katherine is how children have been separated from their parents near the southern borders in Texas and New Mexico.
Leo Varadkar is a little uncomfortable about the etiquette of a minister representing the Government stepping up to challenge an honoured visitor just as he enters the door of the President’s official residence. Katherine reassures Leo that because she already speaks American and because Americans like to be direct there won’t be any problem.
Besides, when she did this in August the media loved it and she had a great time next day translating what she had said to the Pope in her newly-learned Italian. Nobody had dared question her or suggest it might have been bad manners to door-step the Pope in this way. Actually she felt the journalists were really jealous of the opportunity she had.
Leo reluctantly agreed but still had niggling doubts…
The president arrived. He liked Simon Coveney and he thought his three girls greeting him in Irish, English and Spanish was cute but why Spanish? He wondered why the deputy prime minister had been sent to the airport and not the president or the Tee-Shock. His thin skin was beginning to sense a snub…
Then he goes to the Áras and suffice to say that after the poetry reading extolling Castro and Chavez, not to mention that woman with the American accent attacking him on the door step about immigrant children in camps on the Texan-Mexican border and the Access Hollywood tapes… he just said to the secret service detail: “This was a mistake…get me out of here.”
While Leo Varadkar and the gang are waiting up in the Castle, Air Force One is lifting off and home to Washington. No more bowls of shamrock clogging up The Oval Office…
Then I woke up from the dream.
Facing the music! An elderly Donegal man is stopped by Gardaí around 2am and asked where he is going at this time of night.
The man replies: “I’m on my way to a lecture about alcohol abuse and the effects it has on the human body, as well as smoking and staying out late.”
The Garda officer then asks: “Really? Who is giving that lecture at this time of night?”
The old man replies: “That would be my wife.”
Do not search for me down among the marble headstones,
where rooks on November branches make gathering cry for the dying year.
Do not look for me where summer leaves decay on waves of winter grass.
Do not imagine me as you last saw me, pale, bruised and empty of life.
I am not here.
But see the shaft of sunlight, which spots the grey dark lake of late November, on the heather hillside of Donegal.
Or listen to the thrush squeeze out the last notes of its sunny summer song.
Or hear the laughter I splashed in my sister’s face on the sun drenched beach that summer before I left you.
I go on playing not where winter withers but where spring is eternal.