Happy New Year to you all, and sorry for being away from here so long.
So 2007 has arrived, and I have decided on my New Year's Resolutions for 2007.
Answer: none whatsoever, so I don't have to go through the demotivating experience of failure.
So what's happening in 2007? Well, in Ireland, the first main event looks like being the General Election, which will probably be in either April, May or June this year. It won't be too early in the year, because the weather won't be as good and that might cause a small turnout; and it won't be in July or August because many people go on holidays then as our schools will be closed. So my prediction is May.
What looks interesting about this year is the prospect of what the Irish Independent described last week as Ireland's "dirtiest" EVER General Election.
Fianna Fail, in their bid to stay in power, have engaged an American political consulting firm named Shrum, Devine, Donilan. And the largest opposition party, Fine Gael, have taken on board a different American firm of gurus, Greenberg, Quinlan, Rosner.
If you have an interest in psephology, I recommend visiting Elections Ireland, to which I have linked in the sidebar.
Before the General Election, in Spring, we will have the Six Nations' rugby Championships, and a good performance here by Ireland could result in much hype and expectation for the Rugby World Cup in the autumn.
In Ireland, the "ordinary" people play Gaelic football, hurling, or soccer, and spectate at horse racing. Rugby was always just behind these in popularity, but the success in the last few years, culminating in Munster's European Cup success in 2006, has been a huge boost for the sport - and thus Ireland has not been left behind following the introduction of professionalism into the game.
I remember several years ago doing some research in the National Library in Kildare Street, when I accidentally came across an article in a sporting newspaper either from 1948 or 1949; I can't remember which but I'm pretty sure it was from whatever year Ireland won the Grand Slam. There was a photograph of the 15-man team, and an article describing the players, and also comparing them with past Irish players; but what I noticed most was that this piece had no reference whatsoever to a coach, trainer, or manager.
And of course, most especially we can look forward to the Cheltenham Festival in March.