My parents Paddy and Pauline O’Reilly from Cavan and Kildare celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary last Sunday. They were married on 26 June 1972 in Derrinturn, Carbury, Co Kildare.

There was a lovely family gathering to celebrate but stupidly I wasn’t there. I will forever regret I wasn’t.

Instead I was on a plane to Denmark for the annual congress of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists which is being held in person, like everything else for the first time since 2019.

This customary welcoming back speech after three years needs to stop. Yes, it’s great to be meeting again in person. Yes, it’s been a tough three years. Yes we are all sick of Zoom and so on and so on. It’s time to change the record.

I am the Irish delegate to the IFAJ and very humbled to have the honour to be here this week. But obviously I wasn’t using my loaf regarding the clash of dates. I’m not one for occasions.

Just think; John Delaney’s 50th birthday, then try and find the complete polar opposite person and you’ll find me. Still, it is no badge of honour when it comes to the golden wedding anniversary of our parents. God knows how many of you would wish for it.

My brother Kenneth went through an ordeal to make it from Cleveland. His original flight was cancelled on Saturday. He was put up in a hotel in Chicago for 24 hours. Then his replacement flight was delayed by eight hours. He made it in time.

In fact I was sitting on the runway in Dublin on the way out and saw his plane land before my eyes. Literally!

That should have been my cue to just turn around and go home

Three hours earlier I arrived in Dublin airport and everything was going smoothly until I discovered I couldn’t check-in my bag because I mistakenly booked my flight for Monday instead of Sunday.

That should have been my cue to just turn around and go home. Instead I coughed up the mad money to buy a new ticket. Then I queued and queued and queued and kept asking myself, why, why, why?

My luck changed momentarily in Manchester. I collected my bag, checked it in once more, and then went through the rinse and repeat security exercise again. This time, it took no time.

On to Denmark. As the aircraft dropped to land, if you didn’t know where you were, you would have guessed it was Ireland, as the quilt patchwork green and summer beige fields on approach are remarkably similar from a height.

The big difference is the clusters of woodland clumped here and there and in field corners. It’s a no brainer for land owners in Ireland to plant these little holdings if all the agencies get the finger out and work together as one.

We landed and my phone lit up with happy photos of a great family gathering back home. I’d made a really bad decision despite the gentle coaxing of my siblings Pauric and Siobhan.

Ken had flown in from the US on a three day flying visit and my two children, my cousins and aunts and uncles drove from all over the country to celebrate a party and dinner with my happy and healthy parents this once in a lifetime event.

Meanwhile I was flagging down a taxi to bring me to somewhere in the middle of nowhere thinking about where I really should be, and it is not here alone in a basic hotel room where the silence is deafening.

Mam and Dad are 50 years married but they still have a big child realising that every day is a school day.

Almost dog-like

As a wise man once said; “opposition politicians are like a dog chasing a car, what do they do when they catch up with the car”?

Read more

Damien's Diary: a Duran Duran fan

Damien's Diary: the disunited States of America