When Darren Clarke hits the British Open’s first tee shot at Royal Portrush at 6.35am tomorrow an ambition many years in the making — and many, many days of heartfelt persuasion too — will come to fruition.
That an event with such heft and tradition can be held in Northern Ireland marks a significant milestone in the normalisation of that society.
That Clark will be paired with Mallow amateur James Sugrue seems, even if unintentionally, another victory for progress.
It is all too easy to point to the embers of a dark past but it is possible to believe that the coming weekend’s celebration, one that will be watched all around the world, is far more reflective of today’s Northern Ireland, and southern Ireland too, than the bigotry so freely expressed at last week’s Twelfth bonfires. Sanity and decency prevail.
If holding the Open in Portrush is a cause for celebration it also offers a lesson that, as Brexit careers towards defining moments, it is valuable. It has taken almost 20 years since the Good Friday Peace to get to this point showing how very hard it is to restore stability, trust and confidence.