Mary died ten years ago, old and full of years. Mary would have taken delight in yesterday’s pictures from the Boyne. She would have shaken her head and asked why it took so long in coming. Why did so many have to die before the politicians from both parts of the island stood together?
Seeing the Boyne, Mary would probably have retold her favourite story, a story that summed up her attitude to politicians; my favourite story that I haven’t repeated for at least five minutes
It was the day of the 1992 General Election and I called with Mary, who was still short of being 90 at the time.
“Who do you think will win the General Election, Mr Poulton?” she asked.
“I don’t know”, I said.
“I will tell you a story”, she said.
“On the night before the Battle of the Boyne, a boatman was rowing King William across the river.
‘Do you think you will win tomorrow?’ the boatman inquired of the king.
‘Win or lose,’ replied the king, ‘you will be the boatman still’,”
“Mr Poulton, we will be the boatman still”.
On the day that Brian Cowen becomes Taoiseach and Senator Obama looks safe for the Democrat presidential nomination in the United States, it is good to remember one’s place in the world.
Being a boatman is not such a bad thing to be.