We attended the Carrigaline IFA Dinner Dance in the International Airport Hotel last weekend. Many moons ago when I “thought” I had started going out with Tim (was a bit ahead of myself), he told me that he had committed to taking another girl to the Carrigaline Macra Dress Dance! Jealous doesn’t even begin to describe my feelings. I said “it was fine and that I understood!” Tim has come to know that “fine” is a red flag state of affairs. After that first hiccup, we enjoyed many years of the Carrigaline Macra event. At some point we graduated to IFA members and our friends were numerous amongst the Carrigaline members. It is an exceptional branch of IFA with a large membership and the branch meets regularly. The annual dinner dance had not been held for three years and I don’t need to outline why!

Gone but not forgotten

On the way to the event, Tim and I reminisced about the great IFA men and women that had died over the years. That’s the thing about the years passing, we are acutely aware of loss. Our friend. Pat Lehane had recruited us for the outing. We remembered the fun times we’d had with Pat and his late wife Claire. We spoke of many others too. Many had been our colleagues in the Cork Liquid Milk Producers Section of IFA. So many learned men seriously committed to agriculture and milk production.

We are very lucky to have such access to our politicians

We arrived at the appointed time of 7.30pm and as soon as we entered we were part of the crowd, chatting and enjoying the good company. There were several words that kept being repeated by various groups and seemed to bounce back and forth; calving, calves, busy, ready, not yet, one or two, grass, wet weather. There were plenty dairy farmers in the room. I moved across to join Tim and found myself face to face with the Minister for Finance, Michael McGrath TD. We are very lucky to have such access to our politicians. After dinner, the Minister made a fine speech outlining the government’s commitment to supporting farmers and food producing businesses. He spoke about his childhood days and the happy home his parents created. He entertained the crowd with his agricultural knowledge and experience of picking potatoes as a teenager on the farm of Gerard O’Connell. He complimented Jim Griffin and his wife Rose on their successful family potato business. He was fulsome in his praise for farmers and their commitment to sustainable food production. We got the feeling that he both supported and understood the challenges facing farmers. That in itself gives confidence to farmers, knowing that our senior politicians are connected and understand the issues and they are complicated and numerous. The Minister shares the constituency with Simon Coveney TD, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment who has also been a guest speaker at the event in the past. Micheál Martin TD our current Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Defence also stands in Cork South Central along with Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD. Competition is keen.

Rekindling of friendships

After dinner, I made my way to a table that had quite a few colleagues of ours. All were in good humour and enjoying themselves. Rosarie O’Leary, Evelyn Hosford, Agnes Rice and I had a good “Granny” chat. We were all on the same wavelength and so happy to be part of our grandchildren’s lives. We shared joyful stories and agreed that grand parenting is indeed a privilege and a very special relationship. Agnes enthused with delight “I have one in junior infants, one in senior infants, one in first class and two babies!” Mary Mulcahy and Mary Clarke were also part of the conversation. They haven’t reached 'Granny stage' and I’m sure they were a bit surprised at our enthusiasm. ?It was indeed a special event with lots of rekindling of friendships and acquaintances. I was stuck for names too sometimes which is so annoying. It’s probably the thing I hate most about pushing on. Names certainly don’t come as readily as they used to. I’ve no problem when somebody calls me the wrong name. I still understand that he/she knows me and all about me because I can see the familiarity and genuine interest in the person’s eyes. It’s lovely to be back enjoying meeting people. It makes life pleasant. If you need to wear a mask, don’t be afraid to do so.

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