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Is Leo’s bare-bones LDA plan boldly going nowhere?



Last week, leaping about as if they were auditioning for the lead in Riverdance, Leo and Eoghan, displaying their best posh boy grins, left the luxurious environs of Leinster House to launch their latest quango; sorry Land Development Agency!

  Touted as being the Holy Grail to end our boom-and-bust cycle, the impeccably turned out Umbilical Brothers, who’ve been pretending to look after the country’s welfare for so long now –I’d half expected to see them wearing white coats and brandishing clipboards – pledged to unlock sites ‘such as hospital lands, barracks, or depots for development with private builders’. Positive move, or too little, too late?

  Well, as I’m someone who makes it a rule never to believe a handsome man who looks like he could lick his own eyebrows, I’m sceptical. In addition, as I tend to analyse every syllable you say to me, as well as inspecting your body language and your use of terminology as you speak, (ask hubby, he’ll confirm I’m a human lie detector), let me explain why I’m in the too little, too late camp!

  You see, this new Land Development Agency (LDA), which Leo, (nearly breaking into PowerPoint presentation mode), has likened to the founding of the ESB, was clearly designed to tease and tantalise us with the notion there’ll be ten thousand houses built by 2020. However, in actual fact folks, the State only has enough land freed up for three thousand units, and we can only hope the various agencies involved in holding the rest of the land will be willing to discuss releasing it so we can get on with building the further seven thousand pledged. Now, I do hope you’ll forgive my (now) familiar frostiness regarding this quango, but I fear this launch is just another case of more bulls**t packaged up as a say-lots-deliver-nothing-manifesto; and, if I’d been one of the journos at the photocall, I’d have asked for much more than a bare-bones, skeletal outline of a plan that appears to be boldly going nowhere!

  And don’t get me started on the travesty that is our hospital waiting lists! I mean, how can a country with one of the best funded health services in Europe, (possibly the world, with twenty five per cent of the gross government spend going into this facility), have 718,000 patients desperate to either enter a hospital for treatment or see a consultant? Now again, I hate to seem like I’m always complaining, but in a country with less than five million citizens, from my perspective this is absolutely scandalous; yet we constantly swallow the government’s gaggle of contradictory spin! Then again, I suppose we’ve heard so much persuasive, pre-election propaganda lately, our brains are flip-flopping like dying fish desperate for survival. 

  Oh, by the way, don’t think we’ll be rewarded for our devotion in the next Budget! Nay, I’d say the fabulous people of Roscommon have more chance of getting a direct hit from an asteroid than they’ll have of seeing more cash in their pockets! Personally folks, given I can detect the pong of Eau-de-Extortion from here, I’m gonna sign up to join Poor, Sad, Middle-Aged Anonymous because what we once thought was real leadership from Leo has turned out to be possibly nothing more than a mirage.

Who’s in charge of our law enforcement? Men in balaclavasor An Garda Síochána?


Regular readers will know I have enormous respect for members of An Garda Síochána and believe they’re doing a fantastic job; and, hand on heart, I personally have never met a member of the force who was disrespectful or who acted in an unprofessional manner. However, the use of hooded Gardaí during what was essentially a peaceful protest in Dublin, where ‘a network of 18 grassroots activist groups’ were taking ‘direct action against Ireland’s housing crisis,’ was an absolute disgrace. And, even though our new Garda Commissioner Drew Harris addressed the issue, admitting the use of hoods by members of the public order unit “was not correct,” I have to ask, why then, as the boss, didn’t he put more thought into the whole operation before an order was issued?

  I mean, I imagine these officers didn’t just take it upon themselves to pop on a hood; some higher ranking member must have instructed them to do so. Now while I’m sure Mr. Harris will make for an excellent Commissioner, he needs to be reminded that while he does have an impressive CV, his 35 years of experience should have given him some small clue that what was happening in our capital city last week was merely a peaceful protest and should have been dealt with accordingly.

  Instead, it appears, a sanction commensurate with a covert intelligence operation the like of which one would expect to see used to deal with dissident terrorists sprang into action, and that’s just plain overkill!

  Let me stress, I’m not one to engage in public protests, (never have been), but I do believe Irish citizens have a constitutional right to hold a peaceful rally, (emphasis being on peaceful), should they so choose, however, the rule of the law must be upheld at all times and High Court orders must be obeyed and, unfortunately, in last week’s incident, it appears the compliance of a High Court order was being blatantly ignored, meaning Garda action was deemed necessary. I understand, and I fully respect that. However, was it necessary to order our force to back-up a group of balaclava-wearing individuals who looked more like ‘heavies’ than private security personnel? The optics weren’t good Commissioner, so perhaps you’d like to outline for us, the citizens of this country, which agency is across law enforcement…is it An Garda Síochána or is it private security firms, who rock up in what reports say was a ‘UK-registered van which did not have a number plate on the front and had no tax or insurance’. Just so we know. Cheers.


After seven-year itch, Creggs return to rugby top flight



It’s a lovely Sunday afternoon, and out here in Creggs we can sense something different in the air. It’s all because, after an absence of seven years, our rugby team are back in the top flight of Connacht Junior rugby, and we are about to have our first league game, against a Westport side that has been ever-present in the top division, and who finished in third place in last year’s league.

  2.30 pm arrives, and having been there with a bit of time in hand, I check out the situation with the new Four G pitch, and while it’s a bit behind, the feeling is that it will be up and running in a few weeks’ time. I can see where the new floodlights are being readied, and in truth, it’s almost impossible to grasp the massive development that is taking place in our little village.

  I know I’ve mentioned it before, but when all the work is finished, a small village on the Roscommon/Galway border with a population of about one hundred people will have a sporting complex second to none in the whole country. It’s come a long way in forty years.

  However, my day-dreaming time was soon ended, and as the teams took to the field, it was great to see a good-sized crowd had gathered to watch a game that turned out to be as exciting and as good as any I have seen in many a year.

  The difference in standards in terms of speed, accuracy, and physicality, between Division One B last year and this year’s higher division was amazing, and the quality of the fare that both teams served up was just fantastic. The result, a win for our lads by 25-12, was a deserved and very welcome start to the new campaign.

  I know there will be a full report (or there had better be), in the sport pages, so I won’t spoil it for you, but if Sunday’s match was anything to go by, we can look forward to a season full of free-flowing exciting rugby, and I for one can’t wait.

  It’s taken seven years to get back to the top table, but it seems to me that our young, exciting team are fully ready for the higher tier of Connacht rugby, and all I can say is, if you have any interest in rugby at all, get to Creggs as often as you can in the coming months and you will not be disappointed.


Fundraising dance


Amongst the large attendance at The Green, although in a working capacity, was Galway man and renowned photographer, Gerry O’Loughlin. I jokingly asked him had he moved out to the Creggs area, as the previous night he was snapping away (along with Mick McCormack) at our big fundraising dance in Dowd’s in Glinsk.

  And that brings me nicely to the dance, which turned out to be a wonderful success, with a large crowd, all of whom enjoyed the beautiful music of Jimmy Kearney and John Carlos, collectively known as The Lancers.

  Once again we are bowled over by the generosity of the people of the parish – and beyond. We were also treated to a song or two by the living legend – and one of Roscommon’s best-known and most popular figures – the great Danny Burke. As I’ve said before, he has a wonderful voice and could certainly have made a living as a singer. As usual, he brought the house down.

  We still have a few bob to come in, but we are fully confident that for the second year in a row the magical figure/target of €5,000 will be reached.

  We will be presenting the cheques shortly to the representatives of Cancer Care West and the Lourdes Invalid Fund, and will reveal the exact figure, but it certainly is more than we had hoped for. Also, on the night, thanks to so many kind sponsors, we had 19 superb prizes for the raffle, and the big door prize (donated by the Abbey Hotel) which was a dinner for two to the value of €100. It was won by Rosaleen Timothy.

  All told it was a marvellous night, and the good news is that we are running again in 2019, again in Dowd’s, and with The Lancers back in action. Please God we will all still be around, but in the meantime, thanks to everyone who helped to make Saturday’s fundraiser such a great success. You have a full year’s peace before we start annoying you again!


Roll up, roll up…for Big Tom Tribute Night


As I told you last week, there is a big tribute night to the late great Big Tom coming up on Friday, 28th of September in Mannion’s in Glenamaddy.

  I’m told a great night’s entertainment is promised, with a host of top artists featuring. The show will start at 9 pm sharp. 

  Among those confirmed so far are Philomena and Michael O’Brien, Mick Mulhern, Kevin Prendergast, PJ Murrihy, Tommy Burke and Rachel, a new young singer Aoife Leonard from Gort, and our own ‘Big Tom’…the one and only Mattie Clarke.

  Julie Healy, a lovely singer in her own right and the chief organiser of the event, is launching her new CD on the night, with the song ‘My Lovely Glenamaddy’ having being written by Seamus Fitzsimmons, a singer-songwriter from Stoke in England. Seamus will also be performing on what is his first ever visit to Ireland.

  Julie is donating a marble seat with all the information about Big Tom, which is being made by Glen man, Paul Murphy, and it will be situated in the Square in Glenamaddy. Michael Fitzmaurice, our local TD, is doing the unveiling on the Friday afternoon.

  Julie tells me there will be any amount of spot prizes and an auction and raffle on the night. Among the items to be auctioned are two portraits of Big Tom by the renowned artist, Matt Doyle.

  There will be loads of food, and I’m sure a good supply of drink, and all the signs are that it will be one of the great nights, so don’t miss out…get to Mannion’s on the 28th of September and make it a tribute night worthy of the big man.

  I’m told there may be more major announcements regarding the appearance of other major artists, so watch this space. I will confirm all in next week’s edition (by the way, the whole show is free).


A welcome win for decency over thuggery





When ‘Traditional old salt-of-the-earth decency’ met ‘Young, spoilt, pathetic thieving thugs’ in Cork on Saturday, the odds favoured the latter.

  I was delighted therefore to see the former beat the odds – and the thugs – in this unscheduled showdown in a bookmakers.

  When three masked and armed raiders charged into the Glanmire bookmakers shop, they met more than they had bargained for.

  Wielding hammers and “what appeared to be a shotgun”, the thugs ran into the premises on Saturday night, demanding cash.

  However, they were confronted by the manager of the premises, who was joined in the resistance by 84-year-old great-granddad, Denis O’Connor. Indeed, speaking on RTE Radio on Monday, the manager generously conceded that he only challenged the raiders after the brave octogenarian did!

  While challenging raiders is probably not recommended, every decent person in the country will be hailing Mr. O’Connor’s bravery and heroicism.  

  The 84-year-old challenged one of the hammer-wielding raiders, and the manager of the premises joined in. All three raiders fled.

  Described by locals as “an absolute gentleman”, Mr. O’Connor strikes me as being typical of the type of elderly men and women you see in a bookies’; salt-of-the-earth folk who have led good, honest lives and for whom an afternoon in the bookmakers is an enjoyable indulging of a hobby, not to mention a social interaction.

  The thugs, on the other hand, are cowardly layabouts who should be locked up until they learn some manners and decide to contribute positively to society!

  So well done to Denis O’Connor, who bravely ensured that this ill-fated ‘treble’ backed a loser last Saturday.


Harrington heroics

On he goes…away now from the spotlight, but still displaying glimpses of his greatness.

  I suspect some people can’t quite put him in at no. 1 when those ‘Who is Ireland’s greatest ever sports person?’ debates are in full flow. And that’s fine. Because as the years go by and we travel further from Padraig Harrington’s great peak, it is understandable that appreciation of the enormity of his golfing achievements might diminish a little. Also, people can make very legitimate claims for other contenders for the ‘Best ever’ status, such as, for example, the great Brian O’Driscoll.

  For me, it’s always been Harrington, his three majors (won in the 2007-2008 period) sealing the deal. Of course it’s a silly enough exercise, this ‘Who is the greatest?’ speculation. Because you probably can’t really compare a man sinking a pressure putt to beat the world’s elite to a rugby superstar, or indeed to the great middle-distance runner, Sonia O’Sullivan. Can’t we celebrate them all with equal pride?

  What’s great about Harrington is that he keeps plodding away with varying degrees of success, some years on now from the glory days. Two weeks ago, he finished second in Prague, on 20 under par. Last Sunday, he finished fifth in the KLM Open in Holland, on 13 under.

  That’s 33 under for his last eight rounds – life in the ‘old dog’ yet, 22 years after his first professional win. And he’s a gentleman too!


‘Beyonce’s not answering…call Marty and Aine’


There was an unexpected boost for Ireland’s struggling pubs last Saturday night when RTE experimented with a new reality show which is sure to leave living rooms abandoned and pubs with fresh hope…

  Or perhaps I was dreaming…anyways, channel-hopping, I arrived at the Ray D’Arcy Show on RTE 1 on Saturday night.

  In what appears to be a daring new experiment, the show featured a breathlessly giggly duo…a GAA commentator and a current affairs broadcaster…who spoke at length about how they will patronise thousands of welly-wearing people in a field in Co. Offaly this week, where they will offset any sagging in the silly chat with outbreaks of mad dancing.

  The dancing dimension to the Ploughing presentation by Marty Morrissey and Aine Lawlor has been introduced because a bizarre persona has been created for Marty whereby he will forever more be labelled a ‘mighty dancer and party animal’, just because he was a sporting, if leaden-footed participant in a tedious reality dance show. Aine is gamely playing along.

  In case anyone in the open-mouthed audience did not quite get the concept, host Ray D’Arcy invited Marty to remind the captives in studio and the watching nation of just how good his moves are.

  As anguished viewers desperately searched under cushions for the damn remote, a woman was ushered from the audience to have her Marty moment. She was a big fan of Marty’s, but an even bigger fan of Nathan Carter’s. Fortuitously, the producers had Nathan’s ‘Wagon Wheel’ lined up. Cue Marty and Woman from Audience jiving (sort of) while Ray clapped along in the background, possibly wondering if his €400,000 salary needs an upward review at this point.

  Now I know it’s all harmless fun, but for nostalgic fans of the great chat show era, it’s traumatic stuff! Two nice RTE ‘old hands’ are presenting the ploughing; why are they prime time guests on a Saturday night chat show? Beyonce and Madonna not answering?

  As I desperately tried to banish visions of Miriam O’Callaghan and Bernard O’Shea doing a rock and roll routine next week, I (again) fantasised about a time when interesting celebrity guests talked about their interesting celebrity lives on chat shows.

  I dreamt of Muhammad Ali and Bob Hope and Billy Connolly and Bette Davis and Joan Rivers on Parkinson, of Hollywood A-listers on Graham Norton, and of John Cleese, Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers and Tony Curtis on the Late Late Show.

  Alas, all’s changed – utterly. Over on Virgin Media, the most obnoxiously vain and self-centred and idiotic wannabees are taking part in Big Brother; the X Factor is now so staged as to be more or less completely devoid of whatever credibility it once had.

  Back in RTE chat show land, your best chance of getting on ‘the telly’ is if you are an actual RTE presenter who has an RTE show coming up.

  Hence, the painfully dull succession of familiar faces coming on to Ryan and Ray’s couches/chairs to talk about their exciting new series’. Both programmes have their good moments, but the general trend is not great. 

  Meanwhile, Wednesday’s storm-related cancellation notwithstanding, the actual welly-fest itself is dominating the media this week, which is fine I guess. It’s a great event. I didn’t go, for fear of bumping into a cliché-sporting presidential candidate with a fixed smile, an outstretched hand and a vision of Ireland for everyone in the audience.

Is Leo backing himself into a corner with that letter?


There’s nothing like a big family row to let the neighbours know you’re back from your holliers! And, that confidence and supply request letter from Leo to Micheál, which, in what I’d consider to be a highly provocative move, was published on social media, told us two things; one, Leo’s back from his trip down Self-Satisfied Lane, and two, Micheál, with true Fianna Fáil melancholic acerbity, told him to sling his hook! 

  Soooo, what’s da story folks, will we be going to the polls in the next few weeks or was Leo just trying to yank Micheál’s panic chain and test the waters?

  You see, as Leo’s ahead in the polls, he may be thinking Fine Gael is election-ready, what with their strategy, a list of willing, photo-op eager candidates and a manifesto (refer to eleven-page tweeted letter), longer than Tolstoy’s War and Peace. But let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of an early general election, and examine whether Leo’s backing himself into a corner, or indeed, if he’s just being very clever.

  Now, I’m no political reporter, and I’ve never pretended to be, but I believe if we have a general election early in the winter of 2019, (and January is always a bleak month), it’s likely Leo’s popularity points would plummet, given the annual hospital trolley waiting lists which are bound to soar, not to mention the homeless figures that are rising by the day, and sure throw March and Brexit into the mix and you’ve got Leo and the troops spiralling downwards into an acutely awkward situation – and you know what, I for one will have no sympathy for him; and this is why…

  Last week, proving you’re never too handsome to do something stupid, our leader, in typical ‘kick the can’ strategy, told us his carefully thought-out effort, nay cunning plan, to win over voters is to establish a new body called the Land Development Agency whose function it will be to build new homes, thus tackling the shameful housing crisis. So, on the basis of his previous performances, including this, more-plans-no-action manifesto, it’s clear our limelight-grabber and Taoiseach career-juggler leader, is, disappointingly, still dropping everything!

  Then again, some mistakes are just too much fun to make only the once, and, as we’ve had these failed quangos, oops, sorry agencies before, allowing past governments to hoodwink us by employing the typical Irish method of throwing money at a useless body in the hope it’ll deflect their stupidity, it’s up to us, the voters, not to fall into that trap again. We must insist our government issues a clear directive to local authorities to get out and build homes on the thousands of acres of vacant land, which we, the taxpayers already own. I mean, it’s probably the only solution to put an end to our chronic housing crisis!

  Oh and while you’re at it folks, when those TDs knock on your door, maybe you could ask them about their great rapid build blueprint of 2016? Or do you even remember that great housing hub solution? It was going to take two years to complete. Well apparently it’ll be 2020 before we see a completed house!  Look folks, hand on heart, I know sometimes I may seem as daft as a box of hair, but even I could knock up a quick build in less than four years!


Well done to all at Athleague National School…proud of you!


Last week’s edition featured the adorable pupils from Athleague National School who were showing their support for the campaign to keep Athleague Post Office open, and I’d like to say a massive well done to principal Avril Egan and her caring staff for taking the initiative to ask the children to compose individual letters to Communications Minister Denis Naughten in a bid to highlight why our rural post offices are so important to us all as a community. 

  One of those letters was written by the charming Mr. Patrick Ely, (10), and I have it on reliable terms, (lovely aunty Lucy), that young Patrick’s darling 91-year-old grandmother uses the threatened services of Athleague Post Office to collect her pension and pay her bills! Now, despite the fact that, due to their young age, Patrick and his peers are clearly emotionally unprepared to truly understand the hardships resulting from the closure of his local post office, nevertheless, his heartfelt letter is living proof that he’s a caring, articulate adult in the making; well done to his parents for doing such a great job!

  You see, refusing to allow a mandate from a powerful Minister to hold them back, Patrick and his pals from Athleague National School, asked our lovely Mr. Naughten to explain to them why this vital service must be axed, with this young man going so far as to try to invent solutions for a government who continuously insist there aren’t any. He does this by cleverly drawing attention to the other vital services in Athleague which he rightly believes will surely become negatively affected by the inevitable loss of footfall created by the post office’s closure.

  Well Patrick Ely, if you ever decide to run as a local independent candidate for public office, I’ll launch your campaign for you young man! And may I add, nicely done kids, you’re all a credit to your parents, your families and to your school.


Happy memories: Why I’m singing the praises of the singing pubs




So I’m flat out killing myself at work, (that’s a big fat lie), when Joe, a regular caller for the chat (although I don’t know his surname) brings me in a box full of old tapes. As I go through them, I find myself back in the great days of the late 1970s and early ‘80s, when the ‘singing pub’ craze was at its peak, and when Bradley’s in Creggs, Dowd’s of Glinsk and Mrs Quinn’s in Glenamaddy were just three of the local ‘must go to’ places every weekend.

  As I rummaged through Joe’s discarded and unwanted tapes, I came across a couple of long-forgotten names…Two’s Company and Anna McGoldrick. They may not be known any more, but they, amongst many others, brought absolutely massive crowds to Bradley’s when they appeared there in the golden era of the singing pub, creating a level of excitement we can hardly imagine today.

  It was in 1977 when the singing pub arrived in Creggs. When Kevin Bradley opened his doors, we had never seen anything like it. Having bought Mrs. Tommy’s a little while earlier, he proceeded to build a state-of-the-art pub, capable of holding three or four hundred people. When Sonny Knowles performed on the opening night, it was the start of a few never to be forgotten years.

  Joe Cuddy, Mattie Fox and Misty, and the legend that was and is Brendan Grace – all of whom were among the top cabaret acts in the country at the time – all took to the stage in Bradley’s. For a period during those years it was not uncommon to have to park hundreds of yards outside the village, so big were the crowds that used to come to see the headline acts.

  A few miles down the road, Dowd’s was packing them in every weekend in Glinsk, and later we also had a slightly smaller but very busy singing lounge in Creggs, Seamus Keane’s. Further afield, Keane’s in Cloonfad, the Four Ps near Boyle, Bernie Mac’s in Ballygar and the Blu Kuku, near Kiltevna, were other singing lounges of great renown.

  Exactly when the craze of the singing pubs began to fade I’m not sure but, as with the carnivals, it’s an era that we will never forget. I know a lot of people will not believe it now, but on a summer’s evening it was not uncommon to have up to ten or twelve bar staff flat out in Bradley’s, making sure the large crowds were fully looked after. It has often been said that the other five pubs at the time in Creggs were all full as well. It certainly was a wonderful time for entertainment, and in fairness we enjoyed it to the full.

  I’m now full of nostalgia, so whether they like it or not, the next people into the shop will be listening to Two’s Company, Anna McGoldrick and Sonny Knowles – and I’ve just found a Brendan Grace tape, so they will have to listen to him as well.


Tribute Night for the late great Big Tom


Well-known radio presenter Julie Healy tells me of a big tribute night to the late great King of Irish country music, Big Tom, which is taking place in Mannion’s Bar, Glenamaddy on Friday, 28th of September.

  There is a huge night’s music and craic planned. This is just a sort of preliminary notice. I will fill you in on all the details over the next two weeks, but make sure you put it in your diary, and wherever you are you can take the four roads to Glenamaddy and pay tribute to the great man.

  Our own local Big Tom soundalike Mattie Clarke will, I’m sure, be practising over the next week or so, and getting ready to perform on the night, and you can look forward to hearing him and many more musicians and singers in action.


A story that reflects poorly on our society


A story in today’s (Monday) papers about an experience the Mayor of Galway had is unsettling. The Mayor came to the assistance of a young girl who was being assaulted by a man, who claimed to have a knife. The Mayor got a punch in the jaw for his trouble, but got no help from several onlookers. The episode asks serious questions about the type of society we now live in.

  According to Niall McNelis, there were many people in the immediate area, including a number of men, but instead of trying to help, they took out their mobile phones and started to film the incident. Only one woman made any intervention, by ringing the Gardai, who were on the scene within a few minutes. A man was later arrested.

  I know the general advice is not to get involved in any nasty altercation, but surely when there was only one attacker some of the men should have come to the assistance of the good Samaritan, and, instead of filming the incident, actually done something about it.

  The truth is that the men who did nothing, particularly if they were young and healthy, should be ashamed of themselves. As I say, it asks serious questions about the sort of society we have become.


And finally…


Finally for this week, we are almost finished with our door to door ticket selling for this Saturday night’s dance in Dowd’s in Glinsk, and as I reflect on almost three weeks on the road, two things stand out. Firstly, the wonderful welcome we all received on every doorstep and the support so willingly given by the people of the parish, for which we are all so grateful, and secondly, the number of people who either directly or indirectly have been helped by one or the other of the two chosen charities.

  Cancer Care West is there to help cancer patients and their families, and to provide every possible type of support including residential care in Inis Aoibhinn, its residential facility, in the grounds of University Hospital, Galway, and it’s amazing how many of our own neighbours and friends have availed of its services.

  The same applies to the Lourdes Invalid Fund which, every August, brings a number of pilgrims to the French Marian Shrine. For all those people, flights and accommodation are all paid for by the monies raised through such fundraising efforts as our annual dance.

  As I told you last week, Jimmy Kearney and The Lancers are rearing to go, we have a load of prizes for the raffle, and we have a very generous door prize – a dinner voucher for two to the value of €100, courtesy of the Abbey Hotel. So all we need now is for you all to come along, have a few trots around the floor, and make it a night to remember. Looking forward to seeing you there.


Till next week, Bye for now!


Councillors get their man...




Inspired by boredom or some grim fascination, I watched the recent presentations of the would-be presidents on the Roscommon County Council website.   

  Sean Gallagher made the most polished speech, but his contribution was a bit too slick for my liking.

  Tulsk man John Groarke was quickly labelled a ‘joke figure’ when he appeared on the national scene over recent weeks. I found his contribution sincere, interesting and relevant. I was also impressed with Senator Joan Freeman, probably the best speaker on the day.

  One by one they came to the podium, nine candidates in search of a nomination by Roscommon councillors (a person going the ‘local authority route’ needs the support of four councils to gain a nomination to contest October’s Presidential election).

  Most of them probably knew they had little chance – but they soldiered on.

  On Monday last, five days after the wannabees had their say, Roscommon councillors gave their verdict. Of fifteen votes cast, three went for Senator Freeman; two for the outspoken journalist Gemma O’Doherty, and ten for the nearly man of 2011, Sean Gallagher.

  And so, partly because of a good leg-up from Roscommon councillors, Sean Gallagher officially became a Presidential candidate (again) this week.

  I don’t consider myself to be a great fan of Mr. Gallagher’s, but he and Senator Freeman and probably Gavin Duffy are likely to put it up to President Higgins over the coming weeks, even if the incumbent remains a safe bet – at this juncture at least – to be returned.

  And, a question: Why do we invest this power in councillors (and Oireachtas members)? Surely anyone who wants to get on a ballot paper should have that option?


Identity crisis


Anyone can make a mistake (see ‘Trump, the American voters’, etc.,) but really, these emails that whizz into our office from ‘PR types’ who clearly know nothing about Roscommon…

  I’ve written before in this column about the cheery PR person who rings the People office and says stuff like: “Hi, our client is launching a wonderful product in Monaghan…er…is that near you?”

  Fast-forward to this week…and I’d advise readers who are involved in promoting tourism in Roscommon to look away now!

  We received a press release from a PR company informing us that Minister Griffin has launched the Irish Tourism Industry Awards…

  …and, the email/press release breathlessly informed us, “submissions for Galway are now open on www.irishtourismindustryawards.ie”.  


You can’t fool me…There ain’t no Setanta Clause!


This is anything but funny. I spent twenty years stubbornly refusing to get Sky Sports, then when I did, well…

  First, I discovered Sky Sports wasn’t showing the golf major that was underway when I signed up (the PGA). Then I discovered just how many soccer games channels like Setanta have. I am not a subscriber (yet) to Setanta Sports. You could say that I was unaware of the existence of the Setanta Claus. 

  A pun which gives me a great opportunity to remind readers of the enduring brilliance of the Marx Brothers.

  In ‘A Night at the Opera’, Groucho (as Driftwood) is going through a legal document with Chico (as Fiorello).

Fiorello: Hey, wait, wait. What does this say here, this thing here?

Driftwood: Oh, that? Oh, that’s the usual clause that’s in every contract. That just says, uh, it says, uh, if any of the parties participating in this contract are shown not to be in their right mind, the entire agreement is automatically nullified.

Fiorello: Well, I don’t know...

Driftwood: It’s all right. That’s, that’s in every contract. That’s, that’s what they call a sanity clause.

Fiorello: Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! You can’t fool me. There ain’t no Sanity Clause!


Fake TV


PH with a wry take on tv…

The Apprentice (American version, repeats late at night)

Channel-hopping before calling it a night – unable to take any more of Terry Prone on the Tonight Show – I was suddenly faced with an old episode of the American version of ‘The Apprentice’.

  Watching it now is slightly fascinating, given what became of the arrogant ‘star’. (Readers may be aware that Donald Trump, host of The Apprentice, has gone on to become a low-key President of the United States).

  I could only watch five minutes of it, part-fascinated, part-shaking head in ongoing bemusement.

  One of Mr. Trump’s key advisors was the comedian Joan Rivers, now deceased. Quite what she would have said if she’d known her colleague would go on to occupy the White House is anyone’s guess.

  On this old episode, Trump actually appeared to listen more than he does now, though the pleas of both non-performing would-be apprentices ultimately fell on deaf ears, as he fired both of them. 

  “You wrote the jingle…you’re fired!”

  “You were project leader…you’re fired!”

  I am aware that we have three ‘stars’ of Dragons’ Den currently bidding to be President of Ireland, but it was still a novelty to watch old footage of a reality show host knowing (as we do now) that he would one day go on to rule the world.

  It’s just made me a little uneasy about the next time I see Nicky Byrne hosting ‘Dancing with the Stars’…

Ireland’s Fittest Family (Thursdays, RTE 1, 7.25 pm)

Obsessed families annoy their relations and friends by getting to appear on an utterly pointless programme, with a national audience expected to take/feign an interest.

  Each team has a celebrity leader who tries to give the impression that they care about the outcome, that a win here would somehow satisfy their sporting hunger. Yeah, like Davy Fitzgerald twists and turns in bed at night over this…

  If we, the viewers, had any energy left after our daily grind, most of us would reach for the remote control…

  (I don’t watch it).

Don’t tell the Bride (Wednesdays, E4) 

The episode we always see: Bride forfeits control of upcoming wedding in return for some short-term tv fame. Groom, careful to appear gormless/funny, appears to be making a complete hash of planning the wedding, ably assisted by ‘hilarious’ friends.

  Cut to scenes of chaos, chirpily explained by annoying Voiceover Lady. Groom and friends decide to host wedding reception in barn/hayshed/on a boat/, with bride collected on a tractor/motorbike and all guests turning up dressed as cowboys. Bride pretends to be shocked, then says “it’s different, but I actually love it”. Bride’s mother (privately mortified) says she never thought the groom had it in him.  

  The episode we’d all like to see: Bride tells groom he’s a pure eejit and storms off, leaving camera crew and producers open-mouthed and Voiceover Lady lost for words…

  (I don’t watch it).



Teach Aisling report shows we’re still failing on mental health provision



I want to raise a very important story, something which, in the hype surrounding Pope-mania, got conveniently buried last week.

  Now I’m sure the failure to notice this news item wasn’t intentional, but you see, not too far away from Knock, in Castlebar to be precise, a report concerning Teach Aisling, a HSE-run mental health facility, revealed ‘the nurses’ station had closed blinds and there was no other way patients who were desperate for water could get their attention,’ with a ‘water ban being imposed as a “punishment” for challenging behaviour regarding one resident’.

  This tells me that some of those in key roles are still outrageously abusing and neglecting our most vulnerable.

  I find it highly alarming that there are citizens of this country who are living in such dire situations where they are not just at risk of being abused and neglected, but who are, due to their illnesses and their emotional fragility, easy prey.

  I also find it alarming that it’s happening on our very doorstep and that it occurred down the road, if you like, from where Pope Francis led the Angelus prayer at the Marian Shrine in Knock.

  In addition, I assume (but I’m not certain and have absolutely no proof), that some of this contemptible abuse possibly falls just short of what the law would deem to be criminal behaviour, meaning the perpetrators may never be prosecuted by a court of law because, quite simply, their appalling actions will be characterised as being cases of gross misconduct.

  Now while I would stress that such serious incidents would remain rare across these HSE-run facilities, (which are, by and large of a high standard), nevertheless this latest report regarding Teach Aisling should raise many questions and, at the very least, reinforce the reality that a serious overhaul of our mental health care provisions needs to be established as a matter of urgency.


The joyless doom-merchants are targeting our tipple!


Well ladies, apparently we’re a load of boozy lushes! Yep, last week, a global study carried out by researchers at the University of Washington was published in the Lancet Medical Journal and shows that, when it comes to alcohol consumption, Irish women can drink men under the table. And, while this is not really something to be proud of, personally speaking, (and I’m no expert at drinking alcohol, nor am I medically trained), I think it’s a whole load of hype!

  You see, there’ll always be a few doom-merchants desperate to spread pessimism among us and I’d be of the opinion, that, as someone who tries to follow a healthy eating plan, who tries to walk regularly and who has never had a cigarette or any other substance pass my lips, enjoying a bottle of wine while relaxing at home with the hubby and the fur babies at the weekend will do me more good than it’ll ever do me harm.

  Sure I nearly choked on my G&T when I read the study’s joyless and uncompromising recommendations that ‘the safest level of drinking is none’. Ah now here! Look, I don’t know about you ladies, but I’m choosing to ignore these prophets-of-no-fun and instead take note of associate professor at Shandong University School of Public Health in China, Doctor Bo Xi’s 2017 report which found that research shows ‘that light-to-moderate drinking might have some protective effects against cardiovascular disease, while heavy drinking can lead to death’.  

  There you have it.  While there may well be no safe level of drinking, I believe there’s no safe level of doing anything! Look, even over-exercising can be risky. Didn’t the European Heart Journal study once suggest that ‘overdoing the fat-burning workout can also contribute to poor cardio health’? Now, as that revelation means no matter how much walking I do, I’m never gonna get that Baywatch bikini body, then I’m gonna need to drown my sorrows in a glass of vino. Sure technically it’s one of my five-a-day….it’s fruit, for cryin’ out loud!

  On a serious note girls, please, always drink alcohol responsibly and in moderation, and never, ever drink and drive! Sláinte mhaith!

Trump in turmoil…what’s new?

If I was in the business of dishing out advice, I’d be telling Sarah Huckabee Sanders to start looking for another job because the one she has doesn’t appear to have any visible future promotional prospects. In addition, I’d imagine having to stand up and face the media on an almost daily basis and spin a load of creative bull – refuting allegations made against her boss – won’t serve to improve her mental wellbeing, nor will it garner her many friend requests on FB.

  Look Sarah, I know Michael Cohen’s  admission to two criminal violations of campaign finance law implicating the POTUS are still, as I write, allegations, however love, people don’t usually admit to crimes they didn’t commit, and people don’t usually tell lies under oath, especially when they know they’re facing jail time.

  So…here’s my advice; update your CV and distance yourself from a president who is clearly in turmoil and instead, let Mueller do his work and let him see his investigations through because if I were also in the business of placing bets, I’d bet, come the mid-term November elections your boss will realise the one key sentence contained in Cohen’s testimony regarding the alleged hush money payments, i.e. ‘For the principal purpose of influencing the elections’ is probably gonna be the one that seals his downfall…ya heard it here first folks!


Won over by Pope Francis…and a visit that may help ease hurt



It’s about 11 am on Sunday morning, and I’m tucking into a slightly late full Irish, complete with a good bit of Kelly’s (Newport) award-winning white pudding. It’s late because I’ve spent an hour and a half looking at Pope Francis’ visit to Knock Shrine.

  I have to say that I found it all thoroughly enjoyable and strangely moving. I won’t deny that I was only a little lukewarm about the Papal visit, and unlike in 1979, when we couldn’t wait to go to see Pope John 11, the truth is that it never crossed my mind to look for tickets to either the Phoenix Park or Knock. And so it was with only minor interest that I tuned in to see the proceedings in the Mayo village.

  However, from the moment Pope Francis came down from the Aer Lingus plane, and interacted so well with everyone who came to greet him at Ireland West Airport, I greatly warmed to him. Indeed I began to regret that I hadn’t made the effort to go to the Marian Shrine to see him.

  Despite the rain, pictures from the shrine itself showed everyone to be in high good humour, which was some achievement given the early start everyone had to make to get to Knock in time. All we could see were happy smiling faces, and it was obvious that the Pope was going to receive a really warm West of Ireland welcome.

  Probably the most amazing part of the day’s events was the absolute total silence during the Pope’s minutes of silent reflection in the Apparition Chapel. It was just incredible – with the large numbers of children in the attendance – how they all managed to keep quiet. It was extraordinary.

  Now there has obviously been a lot of stuff going on around the Catholic Church. The hierarchy has been severely damaged, so clearly many abuse sufferers, in so many different guises, will have wanted more from Pope Francis’ visit than they got.

  However, on a personal level, as a somewhat disillusioned member of the Catholic Church, I thought the visit was well worthwhile, and maybe in time it might help to soften some of the hurt caused to so many innocent, vulnerable victims, hurt inflicted by those predators hiding behind the facade of religious authority.

  There can be no doubt that Catholicism and the Church face many obstacles in future, but equally the second ever trip to Ireland by a reigning Pontiff can only be a good thing, and I am glad it went off so well, even if the Phoenix Park crowd was a long way short of the half million predicted.

A memorable day at  Ballintubber Abbey

On Friday afternoon we found ourselves heading off to Ballintubber Abbey for the wedding of Michael O’Roarke, son of my local publicans, Mikeen and Carmel, to Anne Marie McDermott, from the West Roscommon village of Ballinagare.

  I have to admit that until Friday the only thing I knew about Ballintubber was that it was the home of the O’Connor brothers who play for Mayo, and that the even more famous Marcus Keane, formerly of the Bank of Ireland in Roscommon and Glenamaddy, lived there as well (and that it was somewhere outside Castlebar).

  We got to Claremorris, no problem, and hit across country towards the Abbey. Then, by some minor navigation error, we found ourselves going through the tiny village of Carnacon, home of ladies football’s most renowned player, Cora Staunton, and also home of the current All-Ireland club champions, Carnacon, who for some reason have fallen foul of the Mayo County Board and are banned from all competition, and  consequently are one of the most high profile clubs in the country at this present time.

  It was hard to believe as we passed through the tiny hamlet, that it could be the home to the All-Ireland champions, and hard as I tried I couldn’t see any sign of Cora. Later, in the pub in Ballintubber there was no-one inclined to cast any light on the reasons for the Carnacon expulsion.

  By now, we had discovered that Ballintubber Abbey is an absolute treasure and a beautiful wedding venue, and the ceremony, under the stewardship of Fr. Michael Donnelly, passed off without a hitch. A good few of us adjourned for a while to Curley’s pub across the road, where I have to say the craic was ninety. Then we headed to the Knockranny House Hotel in Westport.

  Everything about the reception was first class, and from food to service to the band and their music, it could not have been bettered. My day was complete when Fr. Donnelly, having read of my efforts to get a young man for Anne Marie (not the bride…the Anne Marie from Tuam that I met last week who was looking for a 19 to 22 year old, with money and road frontage) appointed me matchmaker for the day.

  From what I could see, my services in that department were not required, but I have to sadly admit that, so far, no-one has come forward to answer Anne Marie’s request. I was told the other night that I could be the new Willy Daly, the famous Lisdoonvarna matchmaker, but even I have to confess I need to do a lot better.

  Anyway, it was a great day and all I can do is wish the newly-weds a long, happy life together, and the health to go with it, and heartiest congratulations to themselves and their respective parents.


Annette’s reminder on summer sign-off…


I think I must be writing for the wrong newspaper (you probably do as well), as once again I am staying on Mayo matters…

  My good friend and amazing singer Annette Griffin tells me that the renowned Summer Cabaret is coming to a close in the McWilliam Park Hotel, Claremorris on Sept. 5th.

  The show features Roscommon legend Brendan Shine, Gerry Guthrie, fiddler Billy Condon, the McWilliam Park Irish dancers, comedian Frank Forde, and of course, Annette herself. Doors open at 8 pm sharp (show starts at 9 pm sharp) and admission is only €25. (More details on 094-9378000).

  As someone who has seen this show a couple of times, I can recommend it. It’s a throwback to the great cabaret shows we associate with venues like Jury’s Hotel in Dublin, and this one’s right on your doorstep, so do not miss this opportunity to see some of Ireland’s top artists in the one venue on the one night.

And finally…

Finally for this week, it’s full steam ahead with our own tickets (in Creggs) for the upcoming charity dance. So we hope to be knocking on your door soon – and thank you for your continuing support.



Till next week, Bye for now! 

‘He’s got the whole world (and a historic crisis) in his hands…



When the then Pope visited Ireland in 1979, the entire population got the ‘good china’ out. This time it was different. Some people were as enthusiastic now as then; many more were indifferent, at best mildly curious; a small but significant number were critical/even hostile.

  The current Pope is, by and large, very popular. His personal charisma and humility were much in evidence over the weekend, but the fact remains that he is the leader of the Catholic Church at a time of deep crisis within it, and it falls to Francis to address historic and ongoing abuse scandals.

The shadow of the scandals follows him, and the world looks to him…



By the time I tuned in to the television coverage, Pope Francis was sitting on a stage in Dublin Castle and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was in full flow. I missed most of the Taoiseach’s speech but have caught up with it since, and I would certainly go along with the positive reaction to it.  

  Readers are being disingenuous if they deny that there was a certain fascination in trying to spot just who was in the audience. The RTE camera zoomed in on Mary McAleese, who did not appear to be planning to storm the stage. Colm O’Gorman had to settle for a spot near the back.

  I’m not sure what the term is for a collection of ex-Taoisigh (mind your language!) but they were there…

  The ex-Taoisigh wear the contented expressions of men who have climbed to the top of the mountain, but with enough melancholy there to reflect the sense of being yesterday’s news. At best, they are the rock stars who once sold out top stadiums  and who are now reduced to ‘intimate venues’.

  Simon Harris had the smile of a man who has momentum, a man who suspects he has a very bright future ahead. Micheál Martin had the half-smile of a man who is less sure of his political future; he might also have been hoping that photographers didn’t capture him alone in conversation with Brian Cowen, the latter a decent man but a symbol of the crash and the smithereens that followed…(which reminds me, Bertie was there too).

Later on Saturday

The ceremony at the Pro-Cathedral, if clearly very scripted, was quite inspiring. This Pope does have a gentle charisma that is very special, not to mention a great smile! When he reached the front pews of the Pro-Cathedral, he singled out a woman who appeared to be in a wheelchair, and gave her a blessing. Then, after some moments of silent prayer, the Pope heard from a handful of married couples. Responding to them, he took up where the late, great Les Dawson left off, i.e. with a mother-in-law joke.

  The Pope quipped that young couples should listen to the wisdom of elderly parents “even mothers-in-law”.

  All weekend, his humour, ordinariness and common touch was engaging.

  Later, another highlight of the Papal visit was the Pope calling to the Caphucin Day Centre in Dublin, where Brother Kevin and his colleagues (and volunteers) serve up to 800 meals a day to people who are homeless and/or in need. The humility of Brother Kevin, clearly a ‘living saint’ to all he has helped, was itself humbling to witness. 

  As the Pope left in his Skoda, a few women standing outside sang the ‘anthem’ that followed Pope John Paul 11 around in 1979 – ‘He’s got the whole world in his hands’ – they were small in number and tentative in their singing, unwittingly only serving to highlight how much has changed.

Saturday evening

Granted, I’m no singing expert, but I thought poor Daniel blew his big moment and was OUT OF TUNE when he sang for the Pope in Croke Park tonight.

  “You had one job to do, Daniel…”

  Still, Daniel enjoyed himself, and the crowd seemed to love him too. So he remains a national treasure.

  I understand, from people who were present, that the concert in Croke Park was an immensely enjoyable evening. Andrea Bocelli was the star turn of the night (apart from the Pope). Some children from Roscommon performed (as part of Edwina Guckian’s Dance Club), as did Scramogue native Cathy Jordan, the renowned singer.

  Another weekend highlight – a great moment, midst all the words and debates – came when Alison Nevin (12) got the ultimate selfie…with Pope Francis. Croke Park erupted, reminiscent of how it might when a team scores a last-minute winner.

Sunday morning

Knock was a very joyous part of the weekend, going by the television coverage. Rain and heavy mist greeted the Pope’s plane. Pope Francis shook hands with almost the entire welcoming party at the airport, a really nice ‘human’ touch. In the background, Ballaghaderreen native Patsy McGarry, the Irish Times Religious Affairs Correspondent, followed the entourage, clicking away on his phone. At the Knock Shrine, enthusiastic crowds welcomed the Pope. It was a very historic and special day for Mayo and the West of Ireland.

Sunday afternoon

The Festival of Families Mass in the Phoenix Park was only a ‘full house’ in Donald Trump/Sean Spicer speak. In fairness, no-one is claiming that the expected “up to 500,000 people” materialised. There is of course plenty of bickering on social media about the turnout. Most observers are now settling on anything between 130,000-200,000.

  I watched quite a bit of the RTE coverage from the Phoenix Park and have spoken to family and friends who were there. The Pope began his address by asking for forgiveness for Church sins, to applause.

  Later, the Popemobile brought The Holy Father to a final meeting with bishops, then to Dublin Airport for his return to Rome.

  As I drove from Rooskey to Roscommon on Sunday evening, the postmortems were in full flow on radio, Joe Duffy hosting.

Joe was on the same job again that night on RTE television. There are, suffice to say, conflicting views on the trip and on how satisfactorily or otherwise Pope Francis addressed the Church scandals.

  As a man, Pope Francis is very charismatic, humble and likeable. We can really only judge what we see and hear. Much of what he said was inspirational and will have proven so for many people. Of course the shadows of scandal loom large. And, charismatic and humble or not, it is this Pope’s duty to show leadership on addressing the challenges facing the Church. I was glad he told single mothers who searched for the children they had become estranged from that it was not a mortal sin to do so. Pity this wasn’t made clear decades ago. It was good too that Pope Francis met with abuse survivors. But calling for forgiveness for the sins of people in the Church, while welcome, is far from enough. What is really needed is for guilty parties – abusers and Church leaders who covered up for them – to be removed from their positions and indeed to be handed over to police/state authorities. There should be no hiding place, no ‘canon law’ veil.

  It was a historic weekend. A changing Ireland gave a mostly positive, but undoubtedly nuanced, welcome to Pope Francis. Time will tell if he has the energy, time and determination to address the scandals’ fall-out. His ‘track record’ in so many other areas is impressive. His humility is genuine, his words inspiring. I think, on balance, he offers real hope for a Church in crisis.

  Back at Dublin Airport, RTE had a great shot of the Papal plane disappearing into the clouds.

  Clouds and shadows…the humble man with the whole world in his hands was gone into the clouds, out of sight for a while, but with the whole world watching his next moves.




Scapegoating and scaremongering pregnant Irish women is cruel

It’s well-known that Dr. Eva Orsmond, right, is a weight loss expert. Sure we all remember the no-nonsense Finnish native wagging her perfectly manicured finger, shaking her judgemental blonde mane disapprovingly, and, in a voice that’d peel the enamel from your teeth, scold, reprimand and fat-shame those unfortunate Lycra-clad  contestants on RTE’s Operation Transformation some years ago.

  Well, now it seems as if the good doc has found herself in need of some much-hyped media exposure –and she got it. Last week, fine-tuning her calorie-counting diva persona, Dr. Eva turned her condescension towards pregnant Irish women, labelling those unfortunate enough to put on an extra few pounds as being delinquent offenders by saying, “It’s criminal for pregnant women to be overweight”. Ouch!

  Now while I watched the controversial, albeit professional Dr. Eva give her perspective to, (coincidentally), pregnant TV3 presenter Ciara Doherty live on the Ireland AM sofa, my first thought was, will this woman ever stop meddling in our lives? My second thought was unprintable!

  You see, it appears readers as though the trend to scaremonger and fat-shame Irish women is becoming more and more fashionable; I mean, it’s good for business after all, and experts like Dr. Eva have certainly made a lot of money over the years by telling us greedy gluttons how to drop some weight. Now while I do believe maintaining a healthy diet is important, whether you’re expecting a baby or not, picking on pregnant women is just cruel!

  Now I have absolutely no doubt Dr. Eva means well, and she has the nation’s health at heart, but her judgemental comments, where she effectively demonised mothers-to-be for having that extra piece of cake, has more than likely caused some to panic. And, while I’m no medical expert, I do know the risk of gestational diabetes is something that needs to be factored in if a pregnant woman does carry too much weight, so I’d advise anyone who is concerned not to be alarmed, but to speak with their family doctor for advice regarding their diet.

  Don’t listen to a diagnosis from a telly doc who makes it sound like any minute Greenpeace warriors will kick down your door, harpoon you with a tranquiliser dart and return you to your natural habitat because, (in her opinion), you look overweight. You’re not Moby Dick! You’re a beautiful pregnant Goddess who is about to give life, so don’t expose yourself and your unborn baby to the potentially damaging psychological effects of someone’s scaremongering; even if it is well intentioned.

  I do understand Dr. Eva’s perspective when she says “I have women coming to me with BMIs of over 30 who have been told to lose weight so they can fall pregnant”. And perhaps few will outshine her when it comes to telling us how to curtail what we place in our big, covetous gobs; and I’m certain many of her clients are grateful to the regimental disciplinarian for helping them achieve their personal goals. But I find it distasteful when she tells women desperate to conceive that, “there is no excuse for a young woman not to be a normal weight and have a BMI under 25!” And I personally don’t give a rat’s that she herself was “given a hard time by my gynaecologist in Finland, as I was 75kg giving birth. But in Ireland the attitude is softer, people are really worried and don’t want to upset the fragile pregnant woman”. Well you’re not in Finland now love and there’s a culture difference at play here…it’s called, we don’t scapegoat our pregnant women! Geddit? Whatever her credentials, impressive though they may be, one thing’s for sure, nobody will ever eclipse the lovely (albeit waspish) Dr. Eva in the egomania department!


Are my teeth brighter than the Church’s future in Ireland?


I know the Pope’s a good man, but, as leader of the Catholic Church, he should probably consider changing his PR representative because, (ahead of this weekend’s visit), I feel the Holy See’s use of empty words like ‘shame and sorrow’ to justify its feelings regarding the Pennsylvania child abuse scandal ain’t gonna cut it with Irish survivors of the perversions perpetrated by some so-called men of God.

  Now maybe the Vatican’s ‘shock-horror’ statement will assuage a few hard-core Catholics who probably feel it was okay for the Church to thwart investigations, deny and cover up sexual and physical persecution and harbour those pieces of slime responsible for the mistreatment and molestation of children and vulnerable women. And, in case anyone’s forgotten our own scandals readers, let me remind you of a few…The Tuam babies. The Magdalene laundries. The Ryan Report. The Cloyne Report, etc.

  So, while I’ve not lost my faith, (just my faith in the ‘institution’), I won’t be decking my home out in wacky Papal knick-knacks like bunting, flags, plates or cardboard Pope cut-outs, nor will I be making a pilgrimage to the Phoenix Park or to Knock. But best wishes to those readers who are. I sincerely hope you all enjoy a safe and fulfilling experience.

  However, if this weekend’s Papal visit is to be a success, I’d like to see His Holiness pledge a new and open Church, one that’ll investigate criminality, so that survivors can heal and move on. If not, I’m afraid it could be a case of my teeth being brighter than this Church’s future here in Ireland; and that’d be an utter shame for those of us who see the true value the Church holds in rural communities, and for those wonderful priests, right here in Roscommon, who are indeed genuine Christian men of God, totally committed to their vocation and who deserve our full support, appreciation and respect.

Paul’s win…you read it here first!

Regular readers may remember that it was this very publication (well it was me) who predicted the handsome and eligible Mr. Paul Clabby, a homegrown Roscommon man, would win the Escort of the Year 2018 title at this year’s Rose of Tralee festival! 

  Well call me Mystic Mir, dip me in honey and throw me to the tea-leaf readers,  but our man only went and did it! 

  Well done Paul, you’re a credit to d’mammy (and daddy) that reared ya. Absolutely delighted for you. You’ve certainly placed Roscommon on the international map. G’wan ya good thing!




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