I'm not a great television watcher. I watch 'Emmerdale' occasionally, 'Casualty' on a Saturday night, and sometimes 'Holby City' on a Tuesday. I avoided all the Big Brother and Celebrity Get Me In, Out or roundabout type shows like the plague. The only draw back to this was the fact that I hadn't got the faintest idea what my fellow tea-breakers were talking about for years. But I must admit that I usually watch the X Factor if there is an Irish interest (once Casualty is over).
And by God do we have an Irish interest this year. Mary Byrne for me symbolises all that is positive, life-affirming and above all resilient about this little island of ours. That lady is giving it welly, cheered on by Louis Walsh and every man, woman and child in Ireland. Mary is single-handedly cheering us all up - it's on a par with your county team winning the All-Ireland despite being broke and bloody freezing - actually it's better than that.
I wonder do I identify with Mary because we are the same age-group and from similar backgrounds. I learned today that she too lost her mother many years ago and like me still misses her Mam. Mary only started to really flex her vocal chords in recent years (although she always sang) as I only started to find my writing voice, after years and years of voracious reading. Perhaps both of us were building up our words/songs until we felt brave enough to throw everything at it.
Son#1 sings and plays guitar and he and 'the band' are in a local competition on Thursday. I teased them that they are on their way to be Ireland's 2011 entrants for X Factor and their eyes lit-up. I see the same light in Mary's eyes - the light of self belief and drive. Maybe we could all take a leaf from our teenagers and Mary Byrne. We have today, let's get through it. And tomorrow? Well, we'll cope with that then.
Hard work, determination and above all self-belief and we can have an Ireland we can yet again be proud of.
Lecture over.Carpe Diem and........ G'wan ye gud ting, Mary.
P.S. I wonder if I e-mailed Simon Cowell would he make sure that Mary's performance next week doesn't clash with Casualty?!