Have you become accustomed to writing 2020 yet?


I usually dread January.  Once the New Year is celebrated, the sparkle of Christmas comes down, packed away for another year.  The days are short, the nights are dark and it feels soooo long!

On a purely personal level, 2019 was a hard year and I was glad to see the back of it. Then 2020 started with news of the death of an extended family member.  Dealing with the death of someone you care about is always difficult.  When it happens at the end of the old year and the start of the new, it can be hard to see any light ahead.  But Spring is only around the corner.  Along with the news of a death, came the news of an impending birth.  The circle of life continues.  So, my new year’s resolution is to hug those I love a little tighter and more often this year.

January gets its name from Janus, the God of beginnings in Roman Mythology.  New Year, New Beginning.  Janus has two faces, one to look to the future and one to look at the past.  For how do we know where we are going, if we do not know where we come from?


Think of all the new starts over the centuries, the new beginnings in the month of January.

On January 1st 1502 Portuguese explorers landed at Guanabara Bay on the coast of South America and named it Rio de Janeiro (River of January).  Five hundred years later Brazilians still speak Portuguese although Brazil was never a colony.

On January 1st 1801  The Act of Union created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.  Amended in 1920 by the Government of Ireland Act, which partitioned our country.

On January 1st 1892  Eilis Island opened in New York harbour and over 20 million people were processed through its doors until it closed in 1954, 3.5million of them were Irish.

On January 1st 1901 the Commonwealth of Australia was founded.  The British first established a penal colony at Syndey Harbour in January 1788 with the arrival of eleven ships with 788 convicts onboard.  How many of them were Irish?

On January 1st 1958 The EEC was formed by Belgium, France, West Germany, Italy, Luxemburg and Netherlands and then on January 1st 1973 Britain, Ireland and Denmark joined their ranks leading to the launch of the Euro on January 1st 1999, although Britain held onto their sterling and at the end of January 2020 will leave the Eu forever.

Where you born in January?  According to http://www.fatherly.com January babies are more likely to be famous because they are more creative and have superior problem-solving skills.  People born in January include Elvis Presley 1935, Edmund Burke 1729, Martin Luther King 1929, Benjamin Franklin 1706, Muhummad Ali 1942, Mozart 1756 and Lewis Carroll 1832.  Happy birthday to all you Capricorns and Aquarians.

Deaths in January included Queen Victoria 1909, Winston Churchill 1965 and Al Capone who bizarrely died from syphilis in Miami in 1947.

On this island, who can forget the massacre of Bloody Sunday, 30th January 1972 when fourteen innocent people were gunned down by British soldiers in Derry.  That day led to countless more years of suffering and bloodshed and will forever be a black day in our history.

On a lighter note, New Years Day is the most celebrated holiday around the world and rightly so.  On that day we have a full unblemished year ahead of us.  A blank page where anything is possible.  The first day of a new year,  and this year, of a new decade.  A day to be hopeful.  A day to dream.  A day to start again.  Let’s make those hopes and dreams and new years resolutions sustain us through the darkness of January and February until the start of Spring and new life.


Do you read your horoscope?  Do you believe that the stars dictate your personality traits?

virgo.pngDating back to the Babylonians and adapted by the Greeks, embraced by Plato and Aristotle and later by the Romans whose names for the signs of the zodiac are still used today, astrology is no longer regarded as a science while astronomy is.  The Oxford dictionary defines astrology as ‘the study of the movements and relative positions of celestial bodies interpreted as having an influence on human affairs and the natural world.’  Astronomy is defined as ‘the branch of science which deals with celestial objects, space and the physical universe as a whole.’  Both involve the study of the stars and the universe and our understanding of the world we inhabit.  Our ancient forefathers believed that the moon and the stars influenced our personalities and our moods.  Were they correct?  Are even partially correct?  Does the full moon have any effect on you or the people you know?    When you open your newspaper or magazine do you check your daily horoscope to see what the stars have in store for you?  Do you read it and forget it?  Especially if it’s bad.  Does your personality match the personality traits of your star sign?  Do you even know your star sign?  Ok, let’s be honest, is there anyone who doesn’t know their star sign?

My star sign in Virgo.  I have a birthday this weekend, not a significant one, just another one thankfully.  At over 55 every birthday is a reason for celebration.  This year I will be celebrating at a party for the significant birthday of my son’s partner, Aislinn.  We also share a birthday with Our Lady of course.  The church has always celebrated the birthday of The Blessed Virgin, Mary on the 8th September, hence my moniker Maria.  As far as I can tell, the name Aislinn is Irish and means dream or vision, but I am open to correction from the Irish language purists (including Aislinn) although I fancy the name suits this particular person.  We also share a birthday with Pink, who will be 38 on Saturday and Bernie Sanders who will be 77 and I send fondest birthday wishes to them both.  Other notables, no longer with us, include Patsy Cline, Peter Sellers and Richard the Lionheart.

virgo 2


Virgo is an earth sign.  Supposedly Virgo’s are loyal, kind and patient.  We are quick-thinking, observant, analytical and very hard working.

Useful traits, but not traits that I would have attributed to Richard the Lionheart!

But who am I to judge.


Anyway, to all those celebrating a birthday around this time, I hope you have a very happy birthday.  A quick sneaky peak into our horoscope for the year ahead is looking good!  But isn’t it always!