I REMEMBER the magic of eight years ago when a young Barack Obama ushered in the promise of hope and opportunity.
I remember sitting here in Ireland with my mother and watching history being made in the early hours. I had to be up to work a 12-hour shift the next day but I just thought, well, you can’t sleep through history.
Well here in 2016 I’ve sat up again and I have to admit that I’m rewriting this as I thought I would be writing that the world had dodged a bullet. It hasn’t.
Donald Trump, quite unbelievably, is going to be the next President of the USA. Barack Obama’s hope is to be replaced with resentment and division.
The sentence below was how I had initially started this column and I leave it in now almost as a mark of how the world has suddenly changed.
‘Hilary Clinton certainly won’t be inspiring us the way Obama did but somehow the world feels just a little safer this morning now that a reality TV star is not going to be President of the USA.’
As I watched the votes come in into the early hours I could hear outside an old-fashioned night of Irish rain and wind.
On nights like this we are a tiny, inconsequential island out in the middle of the Atlantic and the world is going on somewhere else.
There is a comfort in that, in being a small island, in being small Ireland, but we are in the world too.
We are in the world too and I can’t help thinking that upstairs, here on the south west coast of Ireland, I have two young daughters now growing up in a world where one of the main leaders of the free world is on record about how he thinks women should be treated.
I have a young son too where one of the most important men in the world is now an example of how men behave.
In the internet age the world is more with us than ever, wherever we are, and surrounded by Irish fields and Irish lanes we are surrounded by New York and Washington too.
The pundits I’m listening to on RTE, BBC and CNN are comparing this to Brexit and talking about it as a rejection of politics itself.
Donald Trump, after all, is a reality TV star not a politician. If it is a rejection of politics then that is a worry beyond the USA. That is a worry here in Ireland too.
Now one of the things about Irish politics is that, in its somewhat overwhelming mediocrity, it doesn’t produce extremes.
We have certainly never had a Barack Obama, a politician whose oratory alone rescues the democratic process, but we have never had a Donald Trump either.
On nights like this our disappointing bunch, our Bertie Aherns, our Brian Cowens and our Enda Kennys, suddenly don’t look too bad.
But the continuing disregard for politics and politicians, which is here in Ireland too and for which they are responsible, is not something to be welcomed by any of us.
We might be disillusioned with politics but democracy is all we have.
I can’t help thinking too that the Irish relationship with the USA is not something to be particularly proud of. There are real links between Ireland and the States, for sure, as most Irish families can testify.
It is not one though where we behave in any kind of dignified way.
Even in the last few decades we have had Governments who kowtowed to the US administration to such an extent that opposition to war was derided purely on the basis that the US gave us money.
When it comes to Donald Trump we’ve already made a start.
The infamous footage of the reception for Trump on the basis that he was buying a golf course is there for all to see.
The harpist, the red carpet, the singing, the Minister for Finance. What will we do now he’s President?
I’m looking out now at the dark morning and the wind and rain has dropped.
That weather has moved on, maybe back out in to the Atlantic, maybe out across the eastern counties, maybe up in to Connaught or the midlands.
It’s still out there now and November cold. I can’t help thinking though that the storm is only just beginning.