I was born in the early sixties so I grew up to the drip-drip-drip of news of the Troubles in Northern Ireland and developed an unexamined assumption that, perhaps, shootings and bombings were how things had always, and would always, be.
Perhaps that is why it was such a group-hug thrill yesterday to see Shane Lowry cheered to the rafters, one of their own, as he won the Open at the Royal Portrush Golf Club. Royal Portrush is in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Antrim on one of only two counties in Ireland with a majority Protestant population. When I was a boy if you heard the word Antrim on the radio or the TV it was never, to say the least, in a heart warming context.
Shane Lowry was born in a town called Mullingar, which is just off the M5 between Dublin and Galway; a place with a back-of-the-envelope claim, to my eyes, to being the centre point of Ireland.
To see all of the Emerald Isle, united behind him lifting the Claret Jug would have astonished my twenty one year old self.