First of all, let me offer congratulations to the Kilkenny teams on winning the All Ireland minor and senior titles and, without doubt, the senior team must be one of the greatest ever to grace Croke Park. Unfortunately, the disappointment generated by the record defeat inflicted by Kilkenny on Waterford will take a long time to subside on Suirside but we have to put it behind us and move on and that is especially important for the players.

If the players read this they will probably say that it is easy for a writer to give advice when he wasn’t the one who put so much heart, soul and effort into the long campaign. Of course, they would be correct and I imagine the last thing they want this week is people feeling sorry for them.

Therefore, I won’t offer them sympathy but I do offer them our best wishes and thanks because we owe the hurlers and their management an immense debt of gratitude for the wonderful, exciting and entertaining roller-coaster they treated us to by their exploits on the field. The record books may give the harsh reality of the score-line on All Ireland day but those players will be forever cherished and their names spoken of with pride and fondness whenever hurling is discussed.

The team members must be feeling quite low this week but I would respectfully pose the following question. Would they have preferred not to have been there? Of course they wouldn’t because then they would have missed out on all the wonderful games and victories they enjoyed along the way. Certainly, Kilkenny were the better team and were always hot favourites to win but the Noreside players know better than anybody else that Waterford are much better than the score-line suggests. On the day, the hurling Muse deserted us and didn’t land on very tense Waterford shoulders.

When it rains, it pours but there is life and light after such a defeat. Just ask the Waterford players who were crushed so cruelly by Cork in the Munster finals of 1982 and 1983. Nobody has died, nobody is in hospital or in jail so let all our bad luck go with it and let us all, players and fans, stride forward with pride and honour. We are unhappy but unbowed and unbroken because The Deise will rise again.

A King who loves his Harley Davidson

When it comes to VIPs, New Ross is usually associated with the late President John F. Kennedy and members of his family but recently a huge security operation was mounted in the town centre for a present day world leader.

Two weeks ago, the Ruler of Jordan, King Abdullah II, together with a large entourage rolled into New Ross on their Harley Davidson motorbikes. The King was on a hush-hush, personal, motor-cycling holiday in this country but between Garda outriders and protection officers, his friends and his own security personnel, the entourage amounted to more than forty people.

The group parked their machines in the town’s John Street carpark and had lunch at the Portovino Hotel. The King dined outside on the balcony with eleven members of his personal party and lunch lasted about an hour and a half. A month earlier, the hotel management had been briefed that a VIP party would be visiting but they were not aware of the identities of their guests until they walked through the door.

The King and his friends had ridden to New Ross via the Wicklow Mountains and they then rode on to Tramore in County Waterford before setting out for Cork. The Department of Foreign Affairs has confirmed that the King of Jordan was in this country on a private holiday.

I’d love to know if they stopped at any place for refreshments and were told: “Sorry, love, we don’t serve bikers here.”

Dead Catholics are being baptised

A rather fascinating stand-off has evolved between the Catholic Church and the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints, also known as the Mormon Church.

The dispute relates to the practice by representatives of the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints of trawling through Irish Church records and then baptising dead Catholics into the Mormon Church because they believe, by doing so, the deceased will be united in the after-life.

Some months ago, Vatican officials alerted Bishops’ Conferences around the world to the practice and a spokesperson for the Mormons made no bones or excuses about it when he confirmed that such procedure had been common practice for more than one-hundred years and that all available records were used to carry out the posthumous baptisms.

Now, Bishop Bill Murphy of Kerry and Archbishop Dermot Clifford of Cashel and Emily have moved to protect parish records following confirmation by the Mormons that they are indeed using the data to baptise dead Catholics.

The pair have written to the National Library outlining their concern that parish records are being handed over to ‘all comers’. The National Library explained that, while some dioceses had lifted restrictions regarding access to their records, there was no access allowed by Cashel and Emily and only minor access was permitted by Cloyne and Kerry. But, pointed out a Library spokesperson, microfilms of Roman Catholic parish registers were readily available throughout the country in many local heritage centres.

New Garda Regional Support Unit

Some interesting news from Limerick where it has been revealed that the National Garda Emergency Response Unit in the city will now be backed up by a new, fully armed Regional Support Unit.

Twenty gardai and detectives from the Limerick region have been in training for the past six months to form the new Regional Support Unit that will be the first of its kind in the country. The members have received specialist training in firearms and surveillance and will operate on a 24-hour, seven-day basis.

Superintendent John Kerin said the presence of the National Emergency Response Unit would be reduced in the city but they could be called upon to return at any time. He said the new Regional Support Unit would have a high, visible presence and would be dressed in distinctive uniforms.

The Chairman of Limerick’s Joint Policing Committee, Councillor Kevin Kiely, welcomed the announcement and congratulated local gardai for having searched a large number of properties in the city in recent months leading to the seizure of €250,000 in cash plus ammunition and firearms. He said the number of Community Gardai would also be increased and the appointment of two, full-time Criminal Assets Bureau profilers to the Henry Street Garda Station was also paying dividends.

It’s sad that such a course of action is needed but it would appear to be the face of the future not only for Limerick but for cities like Waterford as well.

Super vessel arrives in Irish waters

As the protests about the Corrib Gas pipeline in Mayo continues, there is much interest in the arrival in Broadhaven Bay of the world’s largest, deep-water, pipe-laying vessel, ‘The Solitaire’.

The ship is twice the length of Croke Park and will work on the offshore gas pipeline. However, the huge ship is likely to become involved in a David and Goliath situation with at least two local fishermen.

Shell has instructed the fishermen to remove themselves and their gear from the Bay for safety reasons. However, Patrick and Jonathan O’Donnell claim they have a constitutional right to fish in Broadhaven Bay. Their Dublin-based solicitor, Simon McGarr, has now written to the company’s solicitors, McCann Fitzgerald, asking them to detail the legal basis for the company’s instruction to the fishermen. Mr. McGarr maintains that ministerial consents and Marine Notices of pipe-laying do not constitute a legal basis for the company’s instruction.

Beautiful creatures

Apparently, there have been record sightings this year of whales and dolphins off our coast and, recently, a colleague of mine was lucky enough to have a close encounter with a school of 12 dolphins who, for about 20 minutes, playfully accompanied the boat in which she and her husband were sailing.

Three species of dolphin, Bottlenoses, Common Dolphins and Atlantic White-Sided Dolphins have been recorded as have Killer Orca, Minke and Long Finned whales.

Following representations by the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, Ireland became the first country in Europe, in 1991, to declare its territorial waters to be a whale and dolphin sanctuary.