At this moment I can see the sky. It is blue and it is free. Up there it looks pure and clear. No wonder when children were asked where heaven lies their teachers pointed to the sky. Hell was beneath the earth.
I look at the sky these days. Where else can I look? If I cast my eyes at the middle distance I behold politicians' visages running in a rogues gallery around the town. Yes, they hang the politicians on the poles. They look down upon us like demi-gods.
I look at the blue sky today. Tomorrow it will close up again, like a missed opportunity, and grey, in all its variants, will take over again.
At least the days are growing in length and without any official permission and European regulations the daffodils are pushing up, as are the snow drops and the croci. I never know which arrives first but they all come close together.
Has there ever been a joyous time in this country when comely maidens danced at the crossroads and burly young men recently returned from Herculean hurling games eyed them with constrained lust.
I will give the total quotations for it is not without its noble ideals although much scoffed upon now.
"The ideal Ireland that we would have, the Ireland that we dreamed of, would be the home of a people who valued material wealth only as a basis for right living, of a people who, satisfied with frugal comfort, devoted their leisure to the things of the spirit – a land whose countryside would be bright with cosy homesteads, whose fields and villages would be joyous with the sounds of industry, with the romping of sturdy children, the contest of athletic youths and the laughter of happy maidens, whose firesides would be forums for the wisdom of serene old age.
"The home, in short, of a people living the life that God desires that men should live. With the tidings that make such an Ireland possible, St. Patrick came to our ancestors 1,500 years ago promising happiness here no less than happiness hereafter. It was the pursuit of such an Ireland that later made our country worthy to be called the island of saints and scholars.
"It was the idea of such an Ireland - happy, vigorous, spiritual - that fired the imagination of our poets; that made successive generations of patriotic men give their lives to win religious and political liberty; and that will urge men in our own and future generations to die, if need be, so that these liberties may be preserved.
"One hundred years ago, the Young Irelanders, by holding up the vision of such an Ireland before the people, inspired and moved them spiritually as our people had hardly been moved since the Golden Age of Irish civilisation. Fifty years later, the founders of the Gaelic League similarly inspired and moved the people of their day.
"So, later, did the leaders of the Irish Volunteers. We of this time, if we have the will and active enthusiasm, have the opportunity to inspire and move our generation in like manner. We can do so by keeping this thought of a noble future for our country constantly before our eyes, ever seeking in action to bring that future into being, and ever remembering that it is for our nation as a whole that future must be sought."
This is the Ireland we dreamed off when we could dream. The reality is very different. I attended school when we were taught such nobility of mind and I still retain a little of it. For those who attended more recently this vision has been exchanged for a darker one.
Many young Irelanders will become the wild geese and spread their wings above gray seas. As Yeats writes:
"Was it for this the wild geese spread The gray wing upon every tide;
For this that all that blood was shed, For this. Edward Fitzgerald died,
And Robert Emmet and Wolfe Tone, All that delirium of the brave?
Romantic Ireland's dead and gone, It's with O'Leary in the grave."
It is most likely that we will have a Taoiseach from Castlebar. Despite what the Dublin Four mind might think of him, he beat off their challenge and no doubt they will flock around when the cabinet seats are being doled out. He owes them nothing.
Any leader who re-established his party from the ground up and brought them to their present position is not made of easy metal. His name is not tainted and he comes from good pedigree. A man who had spent 40 years working in the Dáil was asked who was the finest politician he ever met. He named Henry Kenny as the noblest of them all.
Enda will carry a lonely and heavy burden on his shoulders. He has to make stark decisions for this country is in a desperate state. The till has been raided and when it opens it rings to a hollow sound.
As Jackie Elliot once said of a till in Spencer Street.
"It's not playing the old tune it played when things were going well."
Such wisdom was dispensed to me when I was young. The advice from this urban philosopher still sounds in my ear.
The election is around the corner and soon we will be all turning the corner. This time there will be a high level of floating voters and they will have their say.
The old diehards whose minds have fossilised will vote the old way and march under the old shibboleths, which kept their hearts warm in the past.
There is nobility of mind out there and there are those who put the interest of the country before their own. I will end with these noble words, which moved me in my youth and still move me.
They were written by Thomas Ashe.
Let me carry your Cross for Ireland, Lord
The hour of her trial draws near,
And the pangs and the pains of the sacrifice
May be borne by comrades dear.
But, Lord, take me from the offering throng,
There are many far less prepared,
Though anxious and all as they are to die
That Ireland may be spared.
Let me carry your Cross for Ireland, Lord
My cares in this world are few.
And few are the tears will for me fall
When I go on my way to You.