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How music and rugby have helped the ‘process of peace’

 

 

 

On the 10th of April, 1998, the Northern Irish peace agreement was signed, bringing an end to a conflict that had spanned over thirty years, and which had brought untold grief, hardship, and sheer terror to thousands of people. This agreement heralded a new beginning for the divided communities of the war-torn region.

  Twenty years later, it’s easy to forget just how horrendous the events of that period were. However, in the last week or so, I watched two completely different documentaries which shed some light on the importance of both music and rugby in helping to keep some degree of normality alive for the suffering population during those dark days.

  The first one was a documentary by Ardal O’Hanlon about the extraordinary era of the Irish showbands. The film covered a lot of the different aspects of the showband story, also showing how the massacre of the Miami Showband in 1975 as they returned from a gig in Banbridge, Co. Down, changed the social landscape in the North for ever. Up until then, the showbands were playing week in, week out in dancehalls north of the border, despite the Troubles. The prevailing feeling was that, as entertainment providers, they were pretty much guaranteed safe passage. However, in the words of our Country Queen Margo, and perhaps echoing the lyrics of Don McLean’s huge hit, ‘American Pie’ – that was the ‘day the music died’. Immediately after the terrible Miami massacre, the bands all stopped going to the north. In the act of killing three members of that showband and injuring two others, the murdering gang also killed the entire live music industry.

  Up until this, rugby clubs from the south had continued to play up north. However, this incomprehensible atrocity brought that to an end as well. Yet remarkably, to this day – as Brian O’Driscoll’s riveting documentary showed – even the most Orange of Northern people support the Irish rugby team. Brian himself struggled to understand how Orangemen – who told him they were British citizens – could also say they would love Ireland to beat England, but that’s the way it is.

  Rugby alone (of all the major sports) seems to bridge the six-county divide. I suppose it’s because there is only the one team on the entire island, while soccer has both a Northern and Southern team, and of course Gaelic games are seen as a nationalist sport.

  Anyway, it all brought me back to my playing days in the late 1960s and early ‘70s when I was lining out with Dundalk. At least half our fixtures were up north, with a good lot in Belfast, and some in Portadown – the latter at that time was regarded as possibly the most anti-Irish place in the whole province.

  However, while they were aware that we were mostly from the south, the welcome we would receive in those clubs was unbelievable. You would never be allowed to put your hand in your pocket; food and drink was all on the house – which, for a young lad in his 20s, was very much appreciated. For at least a few hours every Saturday, sectarian hatred was put to one side, and peace reigned in those highly-charged areas.

  Sometimes when we played in Belfast, and had to go through known loyalist areas, a fleet of cars would pick us up from the train and we would be told to lie down on the back seat, covered with coats and blankets, so that nobody could see us. Looking back on it now, it should have been scary enough. I suppose we were young and carefree, and all we thought about was playing rugby, and eating and drinking as much as we could for free before ducking back in under the blankets and hoping for no drama on the way back to the train.

  I have to say that both programmes were absolutely riveting, and, while Ardal’s end product was much more fact-based, I found it no less interesting. Brian made a serious effort at trying to understand rugby’s place in Northern Ireland society, a difficult job indeed. If and when they are both shown again, try to have a look and I promise you will find both of them to be compulsive viewing. 

 

 Wimbledon wonders!

On Sunday, while there was an absolute bumper GAA programme in both hurling and football, it was the epic, amazing men’s singles final in the tennis at Wimbledon that provided drama the likes of which we are privileged to see only very few times in a lifetime.

  For more than five hours, two of the greatest players we have ever seen went head to head in this enthralling final, and at the end of it, Novak Djokovic had pipped 37-year-old Roger Federer to the title. In truth, both of them contributed equally to one of, if not the, greatest tennis matches of all time.

  As someone who was physically and emotionally drained after spending most of those five hours on the couch, hopping on the remote from one station to another, it is just mind-boggling to contemplate the physical and mental conditioning of those two warriors. I can only take off my hat to both of them – especially Federer, who, as he approaches 38 years of age, still remains at the top of his sport, and is an example and inspiration to so many. There is no doubt he will take a while to recover from Sunday’s massive disappointment, but he will be back, and as an avid sports lover (except maybe cricket), I look forward to more epic matches between the best players in the world.

  Rafa Nadal is the third member of the Super 3, who between them have claimed 51 of the last 59 Grand Slam titles. As of now, there seems to be no-one else about to challenge their dominance.

  Anyway, it was sport at its absolute best, and a pleasure to watch. I have no doubt that Sunday’s final will be talked about for many years to come.

 

Pride update!

Back home to our local village, Creggs, and as I told you last week, we are full steam ahead for the Pride of Place competition. Nothing I have ever seen before has sparked such a response from the local community, and if nothing else comes of it, the improvement in the village and its immediate surrounds is just remarkable.

  Last Wednesday night and the previous one, there were upwards of 60 locals out doing their bit to clean and tidy up the place, and if you had left Creggs on Wednesday morning and didn’t get back ‘till Thursday you would think you were in a different village, such was the transformation!

  It will be all over in a couple of weeks, but at a time when we are told rural Ireland is dying on its feet, the people of Creggs are showing that with the right leadership and community spirit, anything is possible. Creggs is certainly not showing any sign of a visit to the mortuary. 

And finally…

Finally for this week, just a reminder that the 25th Annual Donamon Open Day takes place on Sunday, July 28th, with Mass at 12 midday followed by an entertainment line-up that would do justice to a major festival.

  My good friends Annette Griffin and John Staunton are performing at the festival Mass, and I don’t have to tell you how talented they are. Among the impressive line-up of musical entertainers you have Jake Carter and his band, Mick Flavin, Carmel McLoughlin, the Ryan Turner Band, along with a number of top local talents.

  All the usual attractions will be there, including the bouncy castle, pony rides, book stall, the big raffle for great cash prizes, an auction, craft village and much, much more. It will all take place under the watchful eye of your MC, the one and only Danny Burke.

  All will be revealed in next week’s Roscommon People, but for now just pencil it into your diary, if you have one, and be in Donamon (where there’s also free parking!) on Sunday, July 28th for a wonderful day’s fun!

 

Till next week, Bye for now!

 

 

Nothing like a broken foot to keep you grounded

 

 

It was 6 am. I’d showered, and, as the sun was shining, I’d dressed in a pair of skinny jeans and a t-shirt. Then, putting on more make-up than would be required by the entire cast of Ru Paul’s colourful drag queen contestant line-up, I headed downstairs. As my nose followed the aroma of freshly-brewed coffee, compliments of he-who-is-manacled-to-me, I was in great form at the prospect of the pair of us enjoying breakfast with our fur babies before I’d head off to work. That’s when the unthinkable happened. Five steps from the bottom of the stairs, my left foot suddenly slipped over the edge…and bam! I heard two things. The first was a loud crack. The second was the ear-splitting sound of my own voice screaming louder than a Tony award winner!

  However, thanks to he-who-picked-me-up-as-if-I-were-a-feather, in no time I was being rushed to our family doctor in Boyle. Once there, lovely receptionist Nicky got me into surgery and Dr. Kamal, upon examining me, gave me a shot of painkiller, before sending me, (and a letter) to Roscommon hospital’s injury unit for treatment, where I received wonderful care.

  Following a series of x-rays and CT scans, it was thought I’d broken my talus, which is a small foot bone that works as a hinge between the tibia and the fibula. Or something like that. I was finding it difficult to concentrate through the excruciating pain barrier, wishing some kind soul would dispense a bit of morphine in my direction. By lunchtime, I was on my way home, my left foot fitted with a support boot, a pair of crutches and an appointment to see a fracture specialist the following morning at Merlin Park Hospital in Galway. Before I go any further, I need to thank the porter Paul Lally, an absolute gent who came out to the car with a wheelchair to whisk me to reception. Thanks also to the receptionist, whose name I didn’t get, but who’ll remember me as the white-as-a-sheet aul wan, whom, upon being asked her age, replied…“I’m a 22-year-old supermodel masquerading as a menopausal harpy”. You were both a pleasure to deal with. I’d also like to thank the advanced registered practitioner Maggie Mew, who was exceptionally nice and super-efficient.  And also the delightful radiographer Emer, who I’m sure, delayed having her lunch in order to carry out my CT scan. Congratulations on your forthcoming marriage Emer; you’ll be a beautiful bride.

  The following morning, upon arrival at Mr. Shannon’s clinic in Merlin Park, the fantastic team discovered yet another fracture. Hearing this news has greatly upset me, especially as the second one affected my calcaneus, (heel bone), which, according to the specialist, can be a pretty disabling injury. In addition, due to an autoimmune condition, they are unable to operate. Nor can I take anti-inflammatories. However, I refuse to let this beat me and, following a visit to the physiotherapist, I’m determined to do all in my power to get back on both feet again.

   I’m in a lot of pain. My foot resembles a piece of bruised and blackened flesh, as opposed to a body part, (probably because my tendons and ligaments are bunched too). I’m extremely upset and mad at myself for ‘allowing’ this to happen, but through it all, I’ve been taking the past two weeks to reflect on my life. 

Here’s what I’ve discovered:

  I had an accident because I wasn’t paying attention to what I was doing. It’s that simple. I’m not religious, but I’m thanking my angels my momentary lack of attention only caused physical hurt to me, and nobody else.

  I need to be more patient with myself. This is something I’ve learned as I haul my ass up and down the stairs, carry out my exercises and take three times longer to do simple things like going to the toilet, or taking a shower. This patience thing also needs to extend to others around me; especially those looking after me when I ask them to do something and they do it their way, and not the OCD Miriam way. Sorry darling!

  It’s going to take time for my foot to heal; during which I can’t go for my daily walks, and having already missed them for two weeks, I’ve gone from always moving at warp speed to a lunatic who is now literally crawling the walls. However, big picture…in the context of the rest of my life, those healing weeks will prove to be relatively short and I need to slow down, cut myself a bit of slack and allow myself to heal both emotionally and physically. I need to stop being the worrier who carries the weight of the world on her shoulders, and all her ‘just-in-case’ c**p in her handbag. The reason I’m doing this is because I know that being patient and being calm in the coming weeks, and in accepting help when it’s offered, will result in a more positive outcome for both me and my injury. A massive thanks goes to the man who is my minder, chauffeur, coffee and sympathy dispenser, helper, and laid-back smart-ass who commented that maybe now I’ll learn to live life at a more reasonable pace…my wonderful hubby Simon.

 

Did angry feminists kill chivalry?

 

Last week, broadcaster Laura Whitmore’s tweet regarding how she’d ‘struggled to carry a massive case up 3 flights of stairs at train station. Well abled group of men behind me watched and didn’t offer to help,’ (Sic), got me asking two questions:  One, is chivalry dead? Two, did angry feminists kill it?

  Now, I empathise with Laura, but, as an independent woman myself, (crutches aside), I’d wonder why she singled out the ‘well abled group of men’ not coming to her aid, and didn’t take umbrage with any possible ‘well abled’ women standing by? I consider myself to be a feminist, but for me, feminism is all about equality. It’s not about man-bashing. Hence my curiosity regarding why unhelpful males and not unhelpful females appear to have raised Laura’s ire.

  You see readers, it’s my fear that, sometimes, in this politically correct world, instead of us feminists using our skills to educate others about equality and good manners through a logical and balanced approach, some – we’ll call them revolutionary renegades, (okay, nut jobs) – are burning their colourless bras, throwing their childish tantrums and hopping on bandwagons just so they can spread hate and utter confusion. This has led to the majority of men now being scared of how their good manners in offering help to a lady will be interpreted. And, dare I suggest that in Laura’s situation, it’s highly likely one or more of those ‘well abled men’ wanted to offer her their assistance, but were actually scared stiff, that if they stepped up, they’d be accused of treating her as a weak and feeble female. Remember, chivalry does not equal sexism, folks; rather it equals good manners and respect for all.

 

A weekend on Aran Islands

 

 

 

Friday

The ferry trip to the Aran Islands took about 45 minutes. Our destination was the biggest of the islands, Inis Mór, and yes, I was well aware that we were sailing further and further away from Hyde Park and Saturday’s big Super 8s match. They would have Sky Sports on the island, wouldn’t they?

  We didn’t really know what to expect – Fiona and I had never actually been to the Aran Islands. We disembarked at shortly after 7 pm and met up with the group of friends who we were spending the weekend with.

  Our bed & breakfast was ‘old style’ and quaint. The woman of the house did the cooking and the man of the house served breakfast, throwing in the odd wry comment and folksy banter. That’s the way it was. He was a perfectly nice man, embedded in island life, island ways.

  After checking in, we checked out the village (Kilronan). It’s a beautiful central hub, overlooking Galway Bay, offering beautiful scenery, with quaint stone walls, narrow roads and the promise of glorious walks, not to mention many places of historical interest.

  From a commercial/facilities point of view, there’s a large shop, a tiny bank, a few pubs and restaurants, a hotel, and souvenir shops too. Aran sweaters, caps and scarves entice the browsing visitor.

  First call was to Joe Watty’s bar and restaurant, a fine, thriving, friendly establishment with a great atmosphere. After a lovely dinner there, I briefly took a stool at the counter to do the ‘strangers and locals’ thing.

  Sure enough, after sussing me out for a few minutes with sideways glances, the two men at the counter decided to strike.

  “Where are you from?”

  On hearing Roscommon, they chuckled and asked what our prospects were in the Super 8s game the following day.

  “We’re up against it, but you never know…where are you from?” I replied.

  “Tyrone” the first man said, and it was actually only then that I realised he had a ‘Red Hand’ top on!

  So, it had turned out that the very first person outside of our group that I had spoken to in the restaurant/bar was a Tyrone man! I will call him ‘Tyrone Joe’ – not his real name (well, it might be, but I never asked).

  We proceeded to have a good chat. Tyrone Joe was in his late 60s. He had played for Tyrone at minor level, before moving to live and work in England for a quarter of a century or more. Now he’s back, living in Galway with his wife, and is a regular visitor to the islands.

  I complimented Peter Canavan (Tyrone legend). Tyrone Joe complimented Dermot Earley. I showed my age by complimenting Frank McGuigan (Tyrone legend). Tyrone Joe complimented Jigger O’Connor. Then he asked about Jimmy Murray and Knockcroghery, and my heart soared a little.

 

Saturday

 

 

As Inis Mór first-timers, nothing could really have prepared us for the sights early on Saturday morning. There were several hundred tourists milling around the island, hundreds of whom were on bikes. This is rural Atlantic-kissed Ireland at its most stunning…winding roads, ancient sites, stone walls, evidence of remarkable craftsmanship from centuries ago, spectacular scenery, a beautiful beach, donkeys, horses, sheep…locals living life at their own pace, warmly welcoming about-to-be-smitten visitors. It was incredibly busy, with tourists from all over the world.

  We took a bus tour of the island, being dropped off at the foot of the cliff-top fort, Dún Aonghasa. Here, in glorious sunshine, we joined hundreds of other tourists on the long but beautiful rising walk to the fort. Again, spectacular scenery from that cliff-top, savoured on this, the hottest day of the year. Easy to be proud to be Irish. Halfway up that long walk to the cliff-top fort there was a small boy, perched on a rock, busking away, on his tin whistle. Ah!

  Next, we visited the medieval Christian ruins of the Seven Churches, and also Kilmurvey Beach – known for its birdlife – and a nearby seal colony.

  Our bus driver was a character. I thought he’d have us back at base by 4 pm or so, but he decided to bring us to his very own Goats’ Cheese making factory. This was indeed very interesting – and the goats themselves were charming – but very few of the bus passengers and none of the goats had the Super 8s on their mind.

  Thankfully, the friendly bus driver got us back to the village by 4.20 pm or so. We watched Roscommon v Tyrone in Joe Mac’s, a great old-style bar perched up high and overlooking Galway Bay. The first man I saw when we went in was Tyrone Joe, my friend from the previous night. Damn it, he was smiling already. Thankfully, four or five more Rossies came in – you can meet anyone anywhere – and soon the pub was half-full. A stranger from Galway and a stranger from Kildare joined us, and soon we weren’t strangers.

  Most of the customers were cheering for Roscommon. It was a very exciting first half – Roscommon matching Tyrone, but denied two goals by their ‘keeper. We were quite optimistic at half-time, but unfortunately Tyrone prevailed by four. Still, it was a very good Roscommon performance. I shook hands with Tyrone Joe before returning to the glorious sunshine outdoors.

  As an aside, observing the dynamic between drivers, pedestrians and cyclists on the Aran Islands is intriguing. The bus drivers weave with expertise around tight corners, cyclists and walkers usually only a couple of inches away. At times on Saturday it was chaotic, such were the crowds. But it was all good fun!

  On Saturday evening we had a beautiful meal in the Bayview Restaurant. One of our party had to wait a few minutes for her duck main course, affording me the opportunity to quote Basil from Fawlty Towers (“Duck’s off, sorry!”). The duck wasn’t off in the Bayview, it arrived, and to an excellent review. Later, we joined a large number of revellers in Joe Watty’s. No sign of Tyrone Joe, but there were lots of locals, numerous tourists and a lively Hen Party group. The live music came from none other than the Mulkerrin brothers, winners of the first series of The All Ireland Talent Show in 2009 and regular performers in Watty’s. The three lads were brilliant, really getting the crowd going. A memorable night. 

 

Sunday

 

 

On Sunday, there was time for more walks, a visit to the beach, an eye on the hurling, a bite to eat and a few more hours of ‘holiday mode’ as hundreds of tourists again mingled around the island in sensational weather.

  It was a wonderful weekend. We had stepped back in time and we had seen for ourselves the beauty of the Aran Islands. The boat sailed off and we left Inis Mór behind, with its beautiful stone walls, its easy beauty and charm, its tourists and locals, and smiling Tyrone Joe, with his two Super 8s’ points in his back pocket. We’ll be back.

Progress on and off the field

I wasn’t at the Roscommon/Tyrone game (see article alongside) and I hear it was a great occasion in town. Of course we were watching closely on TV.

  Roscommon were extremely competitive and very well placed at half-time. This weekend we travel to Croke Park to take on the mighty Dubs. This very promising Roscommon team are still very much in the championship and should go all out for victory!

  Think positive…we are still masters of our own destiny.

  Meanwhile, relief all around as we note that Roscommon County Board have submitted a planning application for improvements at Dr. Hyde Park.

  The application was submitted a week ago and the project include an extension to dressing rooms beside the main pitch, an extension to existing toilet blocks and the construction of new toilet blocks by the main stand.

  It will also see the construction of 39 turnstiles and entrance gates on the Athlone Road and Golf Links Road as well as the partial demolition of existing turnstiles on Golf Links Road. Security fencing will also be erected to separate players and officials from public areas.

 The sooner the works proceed, the better. We need the outstanding issues at our stadium sorted.

 

Goodbye to Ireland’s comedy king

 

The late Brendan Grace had a huge following in Roscommon – but then he had a huge following all over the country.

  At his peak, he was brilliant. He was also a great singer, and came across as a lovely man. He was one of those comedians who seemed to absolutely love what he did – particularly performing live. He relished having an audience, getting laughs.

  I saw him live a few times – many years ago – and always enjoyed him. In latter years, he wasn’t perhaps as ‘relevant’ as in the past; comedy had changed, and Grace’s stage show was at least a touch dated. But since his sad and untimely death, many of us who grew up with Brendan as the dominant comedy presence in Ireland have felt great nostalgia for his innocent, funny humour, his brilliant delivery and sheer likeability. Now that he’s gone, we are transported back to his heyday, we pause and laugh again with fondness at this giant of Irish comedy.  

  It’s fitting that Brendan Grace is being mourned, remembered and celebrated with such emotion, sadness and joy. He was a one-off, a comic master, a part of our youth. Mention of his name will always bring smiles and happiness. 

 

 

 

It’s time for a cohesive and properly funded Primary Care plan

 

 

 

 

 

Ever since the establishment of the HSE, the health service in this country has become more chaotic with every passing year. A posse of well-meaning ministers from different parties have come in and vowed to change things. They have all failed miserably – and that includes the current incumbent, Simon Harris.

  Now the plan is to return the running of the HSE to six regional areas, an approach which sounds very much like it’s back to the days of the old health boards. I would not criticise this latest plan before it has a chance, but if the powers that be thought that the old system didn’t work, then why are we now going back to what is essentially what we had in the past?

  I have had personal experience of having to deal with the health service in recent times. When you actually get into the system, the staff are caring and professional, top class in every way. But trying to get into the system is the big problem. There seems to be absolutely no joined up thinking and, even more crucially, no accountability. There are layers and layers of bureaucracy in the HSE. When things go wrong you can never find anyone willing to accept responsibility. 

  My experience is that the only truly dependable medical service comes from our overworked GPs. Instead of paying lip service to Primary Care, the Government must formulate a cohesive and properly funded plan for Primary Care throughout the country. The chaos, despair and misery that exists in A&E units throughout the country on a daily basis must be halted. I have seen it first-hand and it is a thoroughly depressing experience. Nobody should have to put up with it.

   The problem with running our health service is that ministers go into the job with clear ideas of what they want to do to straighten things out, but they get bogged down almost immediately. I somehow doubt if there is a single politician in Dáil Éireann who is prepared to go in and make the very difficult decisions that are needed to sort this out once and for all. There would have to be job losses in certain areas of administration, and there would also have to be restructuring of the entire organisation to make it one where the patient is at the centre of everything it does. And patient-centred is not how it is at the moment.

  There are hundreds of vacant consultant posts and there is hardly a word about that at all. These are the people who make the crucial decisions as to what treatment people need. I am convinced that people have died or are dying as a result of not being able to access treatment. If that is the case, we should be ashamed. There are 560,000 people waiting for a hospital appointment and tens of thousands more waiting for essential surgery.

  My experience is that the people on the front-line of our health services – the doctors and nurses and support staff – are fantastic individuals, but they are working under increasing pressure with every passing day, month and year.

  We need an overall plan to get us out of the mess we are in. Bring in the GPs, support Primary Care properly in order to ease the burden on hospitals, appoint the consultants that are needed, and make people in the HSE accountable.

  It’s a massive job for whoever has the courage to take it on. However, I would not be holding my breath because – as we all know – when politics intervenes, a lot of the best-laid plans go out the window.

 

  We can only live in hope. We have to keep trying until we get it right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

         

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

        

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Leo goes and spoils it all by saying something stupid…

 

 

 

Last month marked the two-year anniversary of the date Leo Varadkar, right, was elected to high office, becoming the fourteenth Taoiseach of Ireland. And, even though the elevation to power of a young, openly gay, son of an immigrant hailed a new and tolerant era for a country which has, thankfully, grown tired of its one-time discriminatory, old-fashioned ways of the past, part of me remains concerned about his appointment. You see, I’m not sure if it’s down to the humidity or just plain stupidity, but it appears our Leo never ceases to miss a good opportunity to say something daft.

  Now, don’t get me wrong, none of us are perfect. And I’ll be first to admit, I’ve said some pretty stupid things. However, one of the greatest attributes of getting oneself elected to public high office is having the gift of the gab. Indeed, choosing one’s words carefully, and speaking with knowledge, passion and compassion are all part and parcel of being a first-class world leader. In fact, you could say, given the ridiculous things some of our former Taoisigh have uttered, when it comes to the art of communications, the bar is really not set that high for our Leo. And yet, strangely, almost as if it were a force of habit, instead of raising it, he just limbos right underneath it.

  Look, we all remember Bertie and laughed at the way in which he managed to mangle the English language, especially when he once described a gangland incident as a “fly-past shooting”. Bertie’s also on record as saying he wasn’t going to be “upsetting the apple tart” and he advised people to “stop throwing white elephants and red herrings at each other”. Now, while all of these little Bertie bloopers proved to be a highly amusing set of malapropisms, I have to say Leo’s gaffes are more cringeworthy, than they are funny. Take his latest clanger for example where, the day before he was scheduled to meet up with church leaders, the Fine Gael leader crassly compared Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin to a “secretly sinning priest”.

  Now let me say that I am not a practising Catholic, rather I choose to engage in the parts of my religion that best suit me. Therefore, I’ve taken absolutely no offence whatsoever regarding Leo’s remarks. And, while I believe that from the point of view of a positive spin, Leo’s comments were enormously inappropriate, unlike Independent TD Mattie McGrath, I am far from being “horrified”. Yes, Leo wounded and offended a lot of people, but he didn’t really mean to launch an attack on the country’s main religion. Nor did his words, as Mattie so dramatically decried, hail the onset of an “open season on the Catholic Church” policy. Honestly Mattie love, do get a grip snowflake. Sure it’s as if you’re tripping over yourself to become offended these days. However, I would definitely agree with Independent Roscommon-Galway TD Michael Fitzmaurice’s more balanced views where he’s quoted as saying that “If this (Leo’s remark), was said about any other church or group in society, there would be uproar”. And he’s right. There would be, pardon the pun, hell to pay for the simple reason there are many religions that would go ballistic and probably declare war on anyone who so mercilessly ridiculed their clerical representatives.

  So, while I believe Leo’s comments were unfortunate, poorly timed and highly inappropriate, I also believe they were delivered in the heat of the moment by an over-excited individual who really should know better. That said though, I do feel our leader’s disparaging comments were, on a personal level, highly unfair to Catholic priests. I do know there are many wonderful priests, especially those living among us in rural communities, who go way above and beyond their duties in an effort to serve their flocks. And, while certain scandalous acts perpetrated by some men-of-the-cloth in the past have been well documented, Leo’s stigmatising denouncement of all priests as a group, is not only cutting as it is immature, but dare I suggest it, his statement last week could also be construed as being highly defamatory.

 

Gender neutral uniforms offer kids more choice

I’d imagine parents everywhere are bracing themselves for the long queues to buy the kids’ back-to-school stuff. However, I wonder, when kitting the kids out for their uniforms, how many Roscommon parents think that purchasing skirts for the boys and trousers for the girls is a good idea? I only ask given St. Brigid’s National School in Greystones, County Wicklow’s recent announcement regarding their all-inclusive initiative to introduce a gender neutral school uniform policy.

  Look, as far as I’m concerned, school should be a place where kids feel happy and comfortable, where they can be themselves without fear of being bullied or being treated as an outcast. And, if that means that some children feel their identities are better expressed by wearing certain items of clothing, albeit ones that are in line with the school’s policy, then sure where’s the harm in that? I mean, it’s not really that radical a move, now is it; rather it’s about offering students more choice and not pigeonholing those kids who may feel confused about who they are, into specific gender stereotypes.

  No child is born homophobic. No child is born with a discriminatory bone in their body. However, as they grow and develop, it is my belief that they do form and adopt certain hostile attitudes, (which can often prove to be prejudicial), from other influences such as us, their parents, their peers and from society as a whole. Therefore, through exposing our children to a less restricting and more tolerant and humane perspective, we, as parents and educators are not opening them up to hate and homophobia, instead we are helping them to create a culture of acceptance, and that has got to be good for everyone, now hasn’t it?

 

Alleged thermal pollution at Lough Ree is worrying

 

I don’t know about you readers, but news that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is investigating what I’d deem to be a serious issue at the Lough Ree power plant, leading to a suspension of operations, has got me concerned about our wildlife and our marine life. I’m no expert but it doesn’t take one to know that the effects of thermal discharges on freshwater fish and our wildlife can greatly affect their reproductive cycles, wreaking havoc on their very survival. Let’s hope the situation is brought under control as a matter of urgency. Water is our most precious asset, and we must reduce the risk of it being polluted…for all our sakes!

 

 

Pride of Place very evident in Creggs

 

 

 

It’s a swelteringly hot Monday afternoon, and out here in our little village it’s all systems go as we put the finishing touches to our efforts to win a most prestigious award – the Co. Galway Pride of Place.

  In the entire county of Galway there are only two places nominated – Creggs and Moycullen – and the challenge for our community is to showcase our area to the best of our ability and highlight the many positives there are in living and working here. For the last number of weeks, loads of local volunteers have been gathering information on everything good that is happening in the locality.

  Everything that is considered relevant will be put into both a booklet and video, and on Tuesday, 23rd of July, the judges will come to Creggs at 2.30 pm and take a walk around the village. The judges will have a look at the fantastic work that is going on at the rugby and GAA pitches and other areas, and be treated to a video presentation in another of our unbelievable assets – the local national school.

  Our many local organisations will have the opportunity to showcase all their various exceptional talents and achievements on that day in the school. After that it’s over to the judges – and maybe a few novenas and a prayer or two. The results will be announced at a big do in Lyrath House, in Kilkenny, sometime in November. Win or lose, everyone out here who has got involved will agree that it has been a most worthwhile and fulfilling journey.

  As someone who has really only been on the periphery of the huge community effort, the process has really opened my eyes to the amazing number of people who are involved in so many different organisations. All of these people do this work on a voluntary basis, often unheard of and unsung, but all contributing in so many ways to making Creggs a fantastic place to live in. This competition has brought out people of all ages, shapes and sizes – all anxious to help in any way they can. All I can say, having lived around here nearly all my life, is it really is great to see such an effort being made – and please God it will all be rewarded in November. However, even if the good people of Moycullen were to pip us, it will still have been a great experience, and one a lot of our friends and neighbours will never forget. Up Creggs every time!

 

Meanwhile, in Donamon…

By now you will know that one of my favourite places anywhere is Donamon Castle, which is only about five minutes down the road. Last Sunday week I went to Mass there, and was pleasantly surprised to find that, among the ten or so celebrants, were two very recently ordained priests: one from Germany, and one from China. In an era of so few vocations, it was nice to see two newly-ordained priests.

  Now I don’t think China in particular would be a Catholic country, but the Chinese priest’s parents had travelled all the way to be there for the occasion, and I can only imagine how proud they must have been of their son. Everyone was invited in for tea and buns and stuff, and to meet the new priests, but I had to go and didn’t get to talk to them – it was, however, really nice to have been there at one of their first Masses, and I just want to wish them the very best on their new road of life.

  Still in Donamon, and on Sunday July 28th, they are once again hosting the Annual family day, or the 25th year. Another great day’s entertainment is lined up for all. I will fill you in on everything next week, but just to whet your appetite I can tell you that amongst others, the great Mick Flavin, Carmel McLoughlin, and Jake Carter are definitely appearing. So don’t forget that on the 28th of July, Donamon Castle is the place to be.

 

St Stephen’s Day Walk

 

Back to Creggs, and Mikeen O’Roarke asks me to remind anyone who has money for the St. Stephen’s Day Walk to drop it into him as quickly as they can as it’s time to distribute the funds. So get cracking and bring all you have to Roarke’s.

 

Off the Laois…

 

Finally for this week, what about the amazing performance from the Laois hurlers! On Sunday last, they dumped the highly fancied Dubs out of this year’s championship – a Dublin team that had beaten our own Galway side in the last round, and who were rightly regarded as a team who could have a big say in the destination of the McCarthy Cup.

  The previous Sunday, the Laois lads had won the Joe McDonagh Cup by beating Westmeath in the final, and it’s no secret that they had celebrated flat out for a few days. As someone who can see no logic in the alcohol bans that most managers impose on their players (sometimes even at club level), I was thrilled to see that Laois produced such a performance after their few days’ break.

  As their manager Eddie Brennan said, they went back training on Wednesday night, and by Friday night he could tell they were all fully tuned in, and ready for whatever the Dubs threw at them.

  Some bookies gave them so little chance in the game that they were quoting Dublin at 3/1 for the next match against Tipperary, thereby writing Laois totally out of the script – such a lack of respect was surely a motivating factor for the Midlanders, and regardless of what happens next Sunday against the Premier county, the hurlers of Laois have torn up the form book and been the story of the GAA summer, at least so far, and given hope and inspiration to every underdog everywhere. Will the Rossies follow suit against Tyrone on Saturday evening? Don’t rule it out!

Till next week, Bye for now!

A back seat for Brexit and Love Island…all eyes on the Hyde!

 

 

 

 

Brexit, Love Island, insurance costs, the Mercosur Beef deal and all the other big news stories of the day will be set aside in Roscommon this Saturday as our senior footballers go into battle against Tyrone in the first round of the Super 8s at Dr. Hyde Park.

  The GAA is a massive part of the lives of the majority of Roscommon people and that’s the way it always has been. I have often wondered why there is so much passion for football in Roscommon. I guess it has to be traced back to the mighty men of the 1940s who not alone won two All-Irelands but who dominated the game in Connacht for almost a decade. From the time I was able to comprehend it all, my late father regaled us with stories of the likes of Brendan Lynch, Jamesie Murray, Donal Keenan, Owensie Hoare and the rest of that great team. It was incredible to witness the affection that those men were held in. They were heroes.

  Their legacy has been carried on over the years, and while we haven’t won a senior All-Ireland since the 1940s, men like Gerry O’Malley, Aidan Brady, Dermot Earley, Tony McManus and many more gave us fantastic days out in Connacht and further afield in more recent times. There are plenty of modern-day heroes too like Fergal O’Donnell, Frankie Dolan, Gerry Lohan, Francie Grehan and Paul Earley who helped to keep the primrose and blue flag flying.

  Now in 2019 our young people have new heroes to follow like Conor Cox, Diarmuid Murtagh, Niall Daly and Enda Smith, to name just a few. For a small county, Roscommon footballers have a huge and passionate following and we will see that again this Saturday in Dr. Hyde Park.

  Not only will there be a big and enthusiastic Roscommon following at the match, I also know of arrangements being made by Rossies all over the world to be in front of a TV on Saturday to cheer on Anthony Cunningham’s men.

  I remember many moons ago travelling to Roscommon matches all over the country with my late father, the primrose and blue flags out the window of the car as we journeyed, always in hope and with huge excitement. On many occasions we returned home beaten and disappointed. But come the next league campaign and the next Connacht Championship game, all that disappointment was forgotten about.

  In Roscommon we have a great county with mighty people. However, we have little industry and a small rural population. The majority of our young people have had to seek employment elsewhere, either within Ireland or further afield. But one thing that has always brought the entire county together has been the GAA, and our senior football team in particular.

  At 5 pm on Saturday evening everything else will stop as the ball is thrown in at Dr. Hyde Park. A win would put Roscommon within touching distance of an All-Ireland semi-final. A win would lift the hearts of Roscommon people not only within the county, but all around the world.

  I read this quote recently: “The GAA is the glue that keeps Rural Ireland together” – and who could argue with that? It certainly applies to this county. Yes, the GAA has many faults –and will continue to make mistakes in the years ahead – but in a world that has changed so much in recent decades the Gaelic Athletic Association has remained as popular as ever. It makes a massive contribution to all our lives. The gives our people a sense of identity of which we are very proud.

  This Saturday people will wear their primrose and blue shirts with pride in New York, San Francisco, Toronto, Vancouver, Sydney, Melbourne and further afield too.

  The match is previewed in detail in the centre of this week’s edition. This Saturday will be a huge day for Roscommon people everywhere. The best of luck to all concerned.

 

Musings on a night at the races

 

 

 

All human life – well, almost all – is visible at the races.

  There was a lovely race day buzz in town all day. Mind you, there is literally a buzz (from drilling) in Abbey Street, where the Roscommon People office is, as Irish Water workers are toiling all week.

  I was walking into the Church grounds when I met two tourists. An Australian couple, they asked if I’d take a photograph of them in front of the Church Grotto. I’m not sure what they made of me when I told them we have a great town and that the races were on in the evening!

  They were from Queensland, and were visiting Roscommon because the woman’s grandfather had been born here a long time ago. I gave them a brief summary of our great town and county before moving on.

  By 6.30 pm or so a group of us had joined the large crowd at Lenabane. What a wonderful sporting theatre, social hub and economic impetus these regular race meetings are.

  On this sunny summer evening, the Roscommon Racecourse was a lovely place to be. All human life, almost. As we made our way in, dignitaries were gathered for the official opening of the new facilities at the course (recently featured in a special Roscommon People report). Politicians, national horseracing administrators, jockeys, owners and trainers mingled with our great local races’ personnel to conduct the formalities for posterity.

  The bookies were in full flow, a chorus of temptations, odds somersaulting. It’s all very Irish, very traditional, a marvellous slice of our culture. I watched the bookies – young, old, male, female – with their flicking fingers, their speedy calculating, their cash-filled bags, their quick eye for the approaching would-be punter. They are businesslike – but friendly, up for banter – and skilled in their own way as exponents of this craft. Money in, money out, calculating odds, speedy counting of notes, an eye to the list of horses to check numbers, a quip here, a quip there, and always the eyes scanning the landscape – or, more specifically, the small world of commercial potential within five or ten feet of their workplace.

  The thing about the races is that you can be public or private…you can chat to people and spend time in the bar or you can just wander around on your own, savouring the whole experience. On Monday, we took the social option, and it was a great evening. All human life. Some people I hadn’t seen in years. Some people I had seen hours earlier (around town). It was cosmopolitan too. Australian visitors. American visitors. English visitors. Familiar faces from Rooskey. People from different walks of life now sharing the same passion for a day at the races. Every now and again the zig-zag foray into the bookies’ area is briefly halted by a trail of ladies in extravagant hats. It’s Ladies Day. We had bet after bet, and after a slow start, began to pick some winners. Happy days. Cheering your horse to victory from the stand is a great feeling, the adrenaline pumping. The torn and discarded betting slips will always outnumber the tightly gripped winning slips, making the latter all the more cherished.

  Mostly it is good fun, unless you are on a losing streak or the weather is miserable. Monday was terrific. The first bar was packed, with a great atmosphere all evening. We popped in once or twice, but mostly hovered around the bookies, chatting and having the craic, placing bets, then moving to the stand to watch the action. Everybody was in good humour, it was a lovely evening weather-wise, and you couldn’t but glow with pride at how magnificent this asset is, how beneficial it is to our county town.

  I thought of my father, now seven months gone. As people who have lost loved ones will know, memories – and emotions – can be triggered at any time, often by places, faces, dates, events…reminders of what once was. And all evening I could see my father, in whose footsteps I now followed. He attended hundreds of race meetings in Roscommon and the West. On Monday evening I could picture him, from just a couple of years ago, stood like many more wily elderly men in the midst of the punters, eyes on the bookies’ odds, cigarette and race card in hand, happy to be in the middle of this vibrant social gathering.

  I notice the old men, because there are a lot of old men at the races, and they are particularly obsessed, certainly intrigued, about it all. They study form, they weigh up the odds, they listen out for information, tips, changes in the betting. They have experience, knowledge, shrewdness. They seem to have all the time in the world, standing there between races, card in hand, eyes trained on the odds.

  I looked at this scene, with these great happy crowds, and I marvelled at what we have…this great tradition. I thought of the passing years, of my father, and of all his evenings at Roscommon Races, from the 1970s through to a year or two ago. And I looked at men who look like him, these men who were still here, like me, in the footsteps of him and others who have gone. These men who looked like him, with their similar gait, their cigarette, their mischief and humour and ready greetings, race card in hand, happy as any man or woman anywhere at this moment, stuck in the middle of Roscommon Races. Little wonder that so many people can relate to the lines from Patrick Kavanagh’s poem.

 

Every old man I see
In October-coloured weather
Seems to say to me
“I was once your father”

 

Life moves on. And you will see all human life at the races. Mind you, I didn’t see the Dublin ladies selling their cut-price mars bars at the exit. Perhaps they were gone by the time we got there. And have the three-card trick men stopped coming? (My father could do that too!). As we left, the various service providers were packing their stuff away, the bookies were driving off. Henry & The Usual Suspects were playing their music in the bar below, which was still buzzing. Where would you get it?

 

Why are Brits obsessed with blustering Boris?

 

 

 

As the blustering, bumbling blond bombshell Boris Johnson measures up the windows for curtains and the floors for carpets at 10 Downing Street, I have to wonder if, like the US, ego-led politics has also become  the order of the day in the UK. I only ask because it appears that Britain, having been led, (kinda) by what appears to have been a steady and desperate-to-please  Theresa May, is now worryingly on course to elect the man who was once dumped from his job as a journalist with The Times newspaper for allegedly ‘fabricating quotes’. Now, given his colourful domestic life, (and bearing in mind he represents a party that continuously toots its family values horn), I’ve no doubt Boris will provide us columnists with plenty of attention-grabbing headlines. Meaning, while his tenure won’t be dull, it may certainly prove dangerous for those of us living on this side of the water. Then again, the philanderer-in-chief could unexpectedly prove to be our new BFF!

  Estranged from wifey number two, the man with more bounce than Zebedee (for younger readers, he’s the Jack in the box from The Magic Roundabout), has, as we know, recently become embroiled in a public domestic with his girlfriend. This incident has rendered the face of Brexit’s ‘leave’ campaign to become the subject of headlines after nosey curtain twitchers, sorry, concerned neighbours, upon hearing raised voices, had the presence of mind to record the row through their adjoining wall. They then dialled 999! For the record, nothing was found to be amiss. However, since the incident, the loved-up pair have spent every waking moment publicly pledging their love and devotion to each other. Pass the puke bucket please.

  So, due to all of the above, Ireland, indeed, the rest of Europe, has now become preoccupied with Boris and his domestic situation; much in the same way we’ve all  been caught up with Trump and his dalliances. Indeed, there’s not a day goes by that some social commentator is not moaning about self-serving opportunist Boris, his messy private life, and his unsuitability for the big job in the big house. And yet, despite all of the kerfuffle and the, let’s say, impropriety, with old BJ being alleged to have fathered a child, (possibly more), outside of marriage, with him both writing and saying some gravely offensive things about minorities, the man continues to remain strangely popular. In fact, only last week, even as it was reported that the Foreign Office managed to persuade the BBC to edit out a comment from a documentary where BJ, (come on, it’s short for Boris Johnson…keep up), allegedly dubbed the French as being “turds,” – très embarrassant – fans, who seem to eat up his tasteless tirades, were still supporting this tactless old Etonian toff. I must say that when pressed over his alleged vulgar remark, the PM-in-waiting did say he had “no recollection” of the comment. Comme c’est pratique! Then again, I’ll bet he won’t remember that, upon leaving his alma mater, when asked to document their aspirations in life, as some of Boris’ fellow students quoted poetry, the over-excited enfant terrible allegedly wrote that his dream was…wait for it…‘To secure more notches on my phallocratic phallus’.

  Mind you, word is that car maker Vauxhall, who has a French owner, and who gives employment to approximately one thousand Brits, are delaying a decision on building the new Astra until they see how Brexit is going. Clearly they’re not fans of blustering Boris. Now, as the situation is looking extremely serious with a no-deal scenario seeming likely, if I were BJ’s PR guru girlfriend, (in his dreams), and wanted to grace the halls of Downing Street, instead of smashing the crockery, (allegedly), I’d be advising him to stop sounding like he’s reading from a Father Ted script. I’d warn him to stop being a tabloid sensation, and urge him to get something for what could prove be a highly fatal case of foot-in-mouth disease. 

 

Vive la rainbow revolution…but let’s not ignore our most vulnerable and our voiceless!

 

Our country played host to its biggest and most colourful Pride parade last Saturday, the theme of which was Rainbow Revolution. I was delighted to see   members of An Garda Síochàna, Macra na Feirme and the GAA, as well as many senior politicians, making their debut appearances, as they stood loud, proud and in solidarity with their friends and families.

  The entire event instilled me with a wonderful noble and pure, live-and-let-live vibe; showcasing the bright and the beautiful side of our country.

  However, on the other side of the city, indeed, across the entire country, peaceful protests, attended by passionate and humane animal welfare advocates, were taking place in order to highlight the darker side of our society. I’m talking about the scandal that is our unscrupulous and cruel greyhound racing and coursing industry.

  Look, I’m not going to use my column as a soapbox to preach; regular readers know how much I adore and advocate for all animals and their welfare. However, I will say that, following RTE’s ground-breaking and heartbreaking documentary ‘Running for their Lives’ I’ve been approached by a great number of you caring Rossies, (including those admitting to enjoying the  ‘odd flutter on the dogs’) expressing their utter outrage and horror, telling me they were totally ignorant to the plight of some of our greyhounds.

  Now, scandalous and eye-opening though this expose was, sadly its content was not news to me. But this week, I have to do something I don’t often do, and that is congratulate RTE on a difficult but balanced job well done. In making this documentary, RTE has exposed the extensive and systemic brutality inflicted on these gentle creatures on a daily, often hourly basis. Indeed folks, the torture begins for these puppies the very second they’re born, with an astonishing 6,000 greyhounds inhumanely slaughtered annually for committing the simple crime of being too slow, with certain Irish, let’s call them, ‘enterprises,’ despicably terminating their lives for just €10 a dog.

  So, while The Good Country Index has ranked Ireland as being ‘among the most humane countries in the world,’ I’d have to wonder if they looked at the barbaric way in which we treat our vulnerable and our voiceless animals. When it comes to Irish greyhounds, it appears that despite the fact that the Greyhound Racing Act 2019, (signed into law last month) gives the Irish Greyhound Board, (IGB) greater powers to make regulations for the traceability of greyhounds, I fear that Ireland’s concept on animal welfare will forever remain pathetically poor. Putting in place any animal welfare act and not enforcing it and then acting shocked and outraged in public when cruelty is exposed, yet still supporting it and providing it with €16.8 million in taxpayers’ money, (this year alone), doesn’t showcase concern, rather it smacks of hypocrisy and culpability.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chilling cruelty in our greyhound industry exposed

 

I have to say that generally I am not a man who watches television programmes that expose different types of abuses and wrongdoings, although I am aware that over the years RTE’s investigative reporters have exposed all types of corruption…involving everything from dishonest politicians to unregulated ESB environmental damage, to health care standards, to the misuse of steroids, to the over-prescription of tablets and so on.

  However, the other night I had the misfortune to tune into a programme investigating the treatment of underperforming greyhounds, and I can honestly tell you I have seldom been as disturbed as I was by what that hour of television revealed. Up to 6,000 greyhounds are killed each year in Ireland, just because they are of no further use, racing-wise.

  Footage of a knackery in Co. Wexford where a poor dog was shot in the head, and could be seen writhing on the ground for a few seconds after the barbaric act, chilled me to the bone.

  That was bad enough, but later we saw a greyhound thrown into a barrel of boiling water in China and being boiled alive. Whether or not that particular poor creature came from Ireland I don’t know, but the programme alleged that Irish greyhounds are ending up in China, a country we are not allowed to send our animals to, and where there is apparently absolutely no consideration shown to the animals, and where unspeakable cruelty seems to be the norm.

  Now I am well aware that we have loads of perfectly genuine greyhound trainers and owners out there who care properly for the animals’ welfare, but there are also unscrupulous people involved in the industry (as in everything) who just couldn’t care less.

  For me, as I’m sure for lots of viewers, this programme was highly disturbing. It was one that I didn’t really want to watch, yet I just couldn’t stop doing so. It truly proved that when it comes to barbaric and inhuman acts, the human population is hard to beat.

There’s almost a sting in this tale…

It’s summertime and in my opinion one of the nicest things about this time of year is the great stretch in the evenings. For huge numbers of people, it’s an opportunity to spend some quality time in the garden, and at least for a while we become experts on flowers, plants, greenfly, slugs, moss, and compost, and all kinds of things that make up a gardener’s life.

  Everything is vibrant. The roses and shrubs are in full bloom, and the hedge needs to be trimmed to keep it (sort of) tidy. The birds are singing, and, as they say, everything in the garden is rosy, and life couldn’t be better.

  And so it was on Wednesday of last week, when I was slaving (a definite lie) away at work, that my good wife Carol decided to trim the aforementioned hedge, got to work on it, and inadvertently disturbed a wasps’ nest. She was immediately surrounded by (according to her) hundreds of angry hornets, but thankfully she took off like a scalded cat and managed to make the safety of the house without receiving any stings. She also got our little miniature Jack Russell safely inside.

  Now there can scarcely be anything more terrifying than being attacked by a swarm of angry wasps, so when things settled down, we decided to have a look, and lo and behold, we discovered another nest just a bit further down the hedge. By now alarm bells were ringing, and we decided it was time to call in the experts, so I rang former St. Joseph’s footballer (don’t hold that against him) Alan O’Keeffe, proprietor of AOK Pest Control, and asked him to sort out the wasps for us.

  It is now Friday morning, I am once again slaving at work (another lie), and the good news is that Alan came, saw, and conquered, and we are now a wasp-free zone again. I can’t thank him enough for getting rid of those dangerous visitors, and Carol can now finish trimming the hedge.

  Now it’s easy to trivialise these things, but even though these nests were the size of an average bird’s one, we hadn’t noticed either of them. Alan told us one of them was there for quite some time, and had a huge amount of eggs, and he reckoned by September we would have been completely overrun – not a nice thought.

  All I can say is, keep your eyes open – obviously hedges are places of interest to these little pests.  Above all, remember they are extremely dangerous and will attack in numbers, so take no chances, call in the experts and get rid of them once and for all –and enjoy your garden for the rest of what will hopefully be a long, hot (not too hot) summer.

 

Centenary celebrations as legend Eddie
Kehir to guest

 

It’s hard to believe it now – when teams like Clann na nGael, St. Brigid’s and others dominate the club football scene in County Roscommon – but give or take a century ago, down the road in Donamon we had a team that won the County Senior Championship in 1918/19/20 and ’25.

  Oran’s Mikey Monaghan tells me they are having a Centenary Celebration this weekend for the team that achieved all those wonderful victories.

  In 1925, Donamon defeated Boyle Army Barracks – which was called the 3rd Infantry Battalion. A Battalion that still exists, it’s based in Kilkenny City, and accordingly Oran are playing the 3rd Infantry Battalion football team in Rockfield on Sunday next, 7th July at 1.30 pm.

  Now Mikey sent me loads of stuff about Donamon and Oran, material which would nearly take up a full book (now there’s a thought for you, Mikey). There were loads of names involved with those Donamon teams that kept cropping up with Oran teams through the years. Among the players that played back then were Stephen Keher, father of the legendary Kilkenny hurler, Eddie, and Stephen’s brother Bertie. Stephen was subsequently transferred to Kilkenny, where his son made such a name for himself, and is still regarded as one of the all-time greats of hurling. The good news is that Eddie Keher will be the Guest of Honour at Sunday’s proceedings. I wonder if Stephen had stayed in this area would Eddie have had the hurling career that he had? I suppose we’ll never know.

  Admission on Sunday is free, but a commemorative match programme will be on sale for only €5. After the game everyone is invited for a cup of tea and a chat, and from there on to Kenny’s in Rockfield, where a relation of my own, DJ Cush, will be providing the entertainment. Knowing some of the older Oran lads like I do, I can guarantee the craic will be ninety, so don’t forget, 1.30 pm on Sunday in Rockfield  – and I hope to see you all there.

Till next week, Bye for now!

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