Míde, you will be undoubtedly happy to know that I made notes, rather than relying on the old faithful “Woo-hoo Míde”, although for some reason I was not on the list of invited speakers this evening. A simple logistical oversight, I’m sure.
This is not going to be one of those occasions when you shake your head from side-to-side at my conduct, or indeed at the conduct of any member of your former flock. This is simply a short speech to thank you for being you, and to remind you that even though you are going away to have new and wonderful adventures in France, you will always have a special place in our hearts.
For those of you keeping count, Míde, for all her strength, lost control of her flock at numerous times and in numerous locations in the past year. We all remember such infamous occasions as the Munich stage-storming, the Maastricht apple massacre, the siege of Doolin, and too many scandalous, humiliating and table-breaking moments in Brussels to keep track.
And through it all, Míde has been a beacon of excellence. True, there have been moments when one might have questioned her superior quality – seeing her choking on parsley in Den Haag was a sight that I, for one, will find difficult to forget. Yet those brief weaknesses are all but eliminated from thought when the vision that is Míde arrives on the scene. John Keats himself might have written the words, “Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art” about her.
We will miss you, Mide. We will miss your fast talk, be it in Irish, English or French, your creative baking and cocktail-making, your love of Belgian beer, your fights with Cuba, your enthusiasm for all things GAA-, politics-, literature- and musical-related, your ability to make one feel like they are carrying a watermelon, not to mention your hand-on-hip speech-making skills.
When you leave next week, we will struggle on without you. There may be tears, sniffs, lumps in our throats, but we will smile and wave and wish you all the luck and happiness in the world. And when you are gone, we will sigh, look around and wonder: “Was it a vision, or a waking dream? Fled is that music: Do I wake or sleep?”