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Are we facing a health crisis Armageddon?





Up until last week, I’d have considered meningitis to be one of those rare infections you come across. However, the HSE has revealed that 11 cases of this condition, which affects the delicate membranes covering the brain and spinal cord, were reported to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC), since the last week of December, resulting in three patients losing their lives. Now, while I hate to catastrophise, these stats clearly indicate a major and worrying spike, leading me to be concerned that, along with a possible Brexit ruination, we’re also set to become victims of some kind of health crisis Armageddon.

  And so readers, as this is a family-run newspaper with community very much at its heart, (and, as several parents and some senior readers have told me they are somewhat confused regarding the signs and symptoms of meningitis, especially as some can resemble the flu), even though I’m no medical expert, I thought I’d touch upon this emotive subject. But before I go any further, do bear in mind that the best person to address all medical concerns is your local family doctor; and, if you feel that something is not right with either yourself, your child or any family member, seek his/her advice without delay because the HSE’s data is indicating that different strains of the disease are circulating with all age groups being affected.

  My own personal encounter with meningitis occurred when, while at work, I got a call from my then 10-month-old granddaughter’s crèche to say her mammy, (my eldest) uncharacteristically hadn’t turned up to collect her and was uncontactable by phone. I dropped everything, and, while myself and hubby rushed across the city to get our granddaughter, my ex-hubby and our youngest went searching for her mother. Long story short; unbeknownst to us, two hours earlier, my eldest had collapsed at work and had been rushed to Beaumont Hospital suffering from what was eventually diagnosed as being viral meningitis. None of her colleagues had thought to ring us when she’d collapsed, (they got a right earful from me, and my daughter later said she was mortified returning to work following her recovery). Understandably, as she was unconscious, hospital personnel, quite rightly, were more concerned with saving my child’s life than they were of going through her handbag/phone to find her ‘in case of emergency’ contact, or ICE, which were myself and her dad.

  Now, while my daughter’s diagnosis struck fear into the very heart of me as we stood outside of her isolation unit speaking with her medical team, I also breathed a huge sigh of relief because I knew that the viral strain of this disease, although very serious, and requiring swift intervention, is, thank God, rarely ever life-threatening, and we are forever grateful she pulled through without suffering any after-affects. We were lucky. I remember praying to every saint I could think of; at one stage going so far as promising my soul to Satan if only he’d allow her to survive.

  Now, as there is, (and it seems always has been), a health crisis when it comes to our A&E departments, it’s understandable that if a child, an adult or a senior relative is feeling unwell with what appears to be flu-like symptoms, that bed rest with a hot water bottle and an over-the-counter remedy would likely be the sensible thing to do in order to avoid making things worse by presenting at overcrowded A&Es. However, while it has been reported that the HSE has ‘declined to say what counties are affected on the grounds of patient confidentiality,’ and, as we don’t have an A&E facility in Roscommon, a call to your doctor, even though he/she God love them, are probably inundated at this stage, is absolutely vital. In addition, readers could also contact the charity ACT for Meningitis and speak with a family support officer. Their number is Ph: 091 380058. Or ring the Meningitis Research Foundation whose helpline is Ph: 1800 41 33 44.

  In the meantime parents, I’d urge you to check your kids’ schedule of vaccinations and make sure they’re up to date. Remember readers, while viral meningitis is rarely life threatening, urgent medical attention is essential. As for bacterial meningitis, well, if untreated, this is almost always fatal, so, if you’re concerned, don’t delay and consult your doctor for professional, medical advice.


Love a woman over 50? Quelle horreur!


Well ladies, it seems we’ve been sexually gazumped by a younger, firmer, thinner and more interesting new model, i.e. the under 50 year old nymphet!

  It’s true. Last week,  as if dissecting us mature girlies with a scalpel and holding us aloft like some medical experiment gone horribly wrong; French author and TV presenter Yann Moix publicly declared that women ‘over 50 are too old to love’. And, what has prompted the misogynist monsieur to make this statement? Well, presumably the creepy lothario perceives our age-related lack of pliability has resulted in our bodies becoming ‘not extraordinary at all’. His words, not mine!

  Now while I’m no Kendall Jenner, and, at no time in my life have any of my body-parts been as taut as Angelina Jolie’s inner thigh, however, as a woman who falls into the smart-assed chauvinist’s too-old-to-love category, I’d say that, along with every other fabulous mature Roscommon woman,  I’m defo not ready to sit in a corner covered in a shawl crocheting doilies just because some homme horrible who doesn’t even possess the IQ to become a contestant on Big Brother thinks I’m past it!

  Then again, let’s not be too harsh on Moix, who is, by the way ladies, himself a 51 year old; and assume that, despite the fact he’s balding and his visage resembles an unmade bed, (I mean, he’s hardly a knight in shining Armani now is he mes chers?), that he is, like some egotistical men, experiencing a mid-life crisis. Mind you, I could be wrong, but personally, I don’t think this imbécile has even left puberty yet!



Crimes and coal: Did you hear the news?



It’s Saturday afternoon, and while I was quite busy earlier in the day, I am taking time out to read the paper. Three separate items catch my attention.

  Up in Belfast a fellow attacks his mother-in-law with a hatchet, causing her serious head and face injuries. Only for the handle flew off he would have killed her. Fortunately, he was caught and charged with grevious bodily harm, and was sentenced to a spell in Her Majesty’s prison.

  On the same night, a shopkeeper in Clones was the victim of an aggravated burglary, in which he was attacked by two armed robbers, who, having knocked him across a box of oranges (he was a fruit merchant), escaped with what was described as a small sum of money. The merchant was seriously injured, but  fortunate that the guards arrived while the robbery was in progress. Even though the perpetrators escaped, they went without a large sum of money and some expensive jewellery that the merchant had in a safe.

  The other thing that caught my eye was the price of fuel, in particular the prohibitive cost of coal. A meeting in Dublin was attended by a large crowd, with the people present protesting at a 25% rise in the price. The meeting unanimously decided to boycott the previous suppliers and to look for new sources.

  Now all of these things would appear, on the face of it, to be normal everyday things which are happening all the time, but what makes them different is the fact that I took all of them from the Weekly Freeman dated January 11th 1908. Reading through it, it simply proves that some things never change, and a lot of the stuff is just repeated again and again.

  The only big difference is the political correctness of the modern era. A lot of the language used back then would have you thrown in jail nowadays. Anyway, I have a full year’s papers to go through, and the truth is it’s great craic, and the most enjoyable read I have had in a long time. I can’t wait to keep reading. I will give you an occasional titbit to keep you up to date with the happenings of the world more than 110 years ago. That is unless someone decides to buy them in the meantime.


She’s one tough lady!


Still on Tuesday and the news bulletins are all talking about the big vote taking place in England this evening on the subject of Brexit. While I don’t claim to have much of a clue, it does appear as if Theresa May is not going to secure even the backing of her own party. But even if that happens, it seems she has no intention of resigning as Prime Minister, and I just wondered what type of thick skin do you need to be a politician.

  For normal, everyday people – no matter what we say –rejection, in any shape or form, is not a very nice thing, but for politicians – at every level – it is just an occupational hazard. Whether or not you agree with them, you must admire their ability to deal with the ups and downs of public life. It must be soul-destroying to top the poll at one point and then lose your seat the next – to go from top dog to also-ran. I suppose the trick is to see it as a rejection of your party rather than of yourself!

  Many years ago local legend Jackie McGovern used to try to encourage me to go for the Council for his beloved Fine Gael, but I could never see myself in that role. The fact that no-one else other than Jackie approached me probably helped me with my decision not to run, but I genuinely believe that you must be made of special stuff (which I’m not) for that way of life. Whatever happens Theresa May tonight – or in the future – she keeps showing that she is one tough lady.


Time for ‘cop on’ rather than ‘catch and fine’?



It’s Tuesday afternoon, back in today’s world, and a familiar theme is annoying me again. It’s the crackdown on speed limits in rural areas…and the difficulty drivers have in obeying them.

  Firstly let me say that I am totally against speeding. I believe that speed is a very dangerous thing and I’m convinced that ‘high speed’ drivers should be treated very harshly by the lawmakers.

  What is concerning me is the 50 to 60 kilometre limit areas. I believe there should be a little leeway in those areas. Since I got my penalty points and an €80 fine, I have become very conscious of the limits, and try to obey them everywhere I go. Yet today, going through Castlecoote, while I dropped down to 50, I found it very hard to stay under it, and had to continually keep an eye on my speedometer to make sure I didn’t creep up a little bit.

  And to my mind that made me a bigger danger than I already was, as by looking at the clock I wasn’t looking at the road, and so I wasn’t giving my full attention to my driving. I just felt if there was a small bit of leeway or old style cop-on, rather than a rigid ‘catch and fine’ policy, it would have been a lot easier on me – and a lot safer for other road users.


And finally…


Finally for this week, on Monday I found myself going on a magical mystery tour of the counties Longford and Westmeath, and I visited places I had either never seen at all or had forgotten about.

  When the midday hunger pangs set in, we were in the village of Rathowen, and we pulled in for lunch in Feerick’s Hotel. I suppose it was a good sign that the sizeable carpark was full. When we went in, we were pleasantly surprised. A big, friendly man was serving the lunch, and when I said to him that we were starving and not to spare the food, he did exactly what I told him! 

  We both had the beef, which was lovely and tender. It put me to the pin of my collar to finish it, but pride would not let me send any back, and I did it justice by cleaning my plate. I can only say that if you find yourself in that neck of the woods – and you are hungry – call into Feerick’s and you will be well looked after.

  From the photos on the wall, there must be a Mayo connection somewhere, but I won’t hold that against it. I also think that musical genius Mick Foster is from around there, but there was no sign of him yesterday. However, Mayo or not, give Feerick’s a visit – and tell them I sent you!

 Till next week, Bye for now!


Why rally was a bridge too far…




Breaking news: Rooskey, as a community, doesn’t do racism. The village was cosmopolitan and multicultural several decades ago, at a time when most of the rest of the country hadn’t even heard of those words!

  Different nationalities in Rooskey is nothing new – and I’m not just referring to holiday-makers on cruisers on the Shannon and to anglers doing their thing on the riverbank.

  Since as far back as the 1960s, people from England, Germany, The Netherlands, etc. have been setting up home in the area.

  Yes, I am well aware that the potential arrival of 80 refugees is a different eh… ‘kettle of fish’ – but you can be opposed to an asylum centre being located in your village (as I am) for all sorts of reasons. In actual fact, should this project go ahead, I expect even opponents of what is a very dubious proposal to still very much welcome the asylum seekers, who, after all, are not to blame for what is a chronically flawed policy. 

  The fact that the Rooskey community doesn’t do racism was probably one of the reasons why locals completely (well, a tiny handful of people aside) ignored Sunday’s anti-racism rally.

  When I arrived at the village on Sunday morning, I immediately saw that large crowds of locals had gathered…for Mass.

  There was lots of activity outside the local Church. But the locals weren’t then travelling down the village, to where the anti-racism rally was being held (in response to the alleged arson attack on the Shannon Key West Hotel, which has been earmarked as an accommodation centre for asylum seekers).

  There was no traffic jam or congestion at the bridge. It was quickly apparent that Sunday’s rally was being snubbed by locals. The people of Rooskey felt no affinity with this event. 

  The reason the people of Rooskey didn’t attend the rally is not because they aren’t against racism…it’s because they’re against the notion that there is a racism issue in their community.  

  Locals clearly felt that, by attending the rally, they would be legitimising the ‘racist narrative’ in this saga. The Rooskey community’s unspoken message seemed to be: There is no racism to express opposition to.

  So, to a man and woman, they stayed away.

  That said, the rally was (not unreasonably) deemed a success by organisers. By 12.30, there were 50 or so people gathered on the water’s edge, opposite the two landmark pubs, Reynolds’ and The Weir Lodge. There was a further dozen or so media personnel there. A woman in a Leitrim jersey was playing the guitar, and campaigners from various groups were chanting ‘One race, the human race’. The atmosphere was good-humoured. There was a discreet Garda presence – four squad cars by my estimation. A handful of curious onlookers stood on the bridge, but did not join in. One of the few cars that passed hooted its horn. In the background, the hotel and its uncertain future loomed large.

  As Leah Doherty introduced speaker after speaker, the message remained consistent: the organisers were not associating the people of Rooskey with racism, but were accusing ‘Alt-right’ elements, fascists and online ‘haters’ of stirring up feelings. There were calls for asylum seekers to be welcomed to Ireland and for direct provision to be ended by the Government.

  The crowd grew to perhaps 80 or so. Many of those present cheerfully held placards. ‘End homelessness’. ‘Direct Provision makes us monsters’. ‘Direct Provision is a prison’. A few Roscommon and Leitrim flags fluttered side by side. One man held an umbrella from ‘The World Meeting of Families’. There was no need; the sun had come out. Two Gardai stood under a Guinness sign outside The Weir Lodge. Just up the road, the hotel remains cordoned off.

  Rooskey’s past shadowed its tense present. The speeches were delivered below an old Bus Éireann sign, under which a notice still advertises the now defunct bus routes. Across the road, a Foster & Allen concert is advertised.

  The absence of locals from the village was impossible to ignore. The attendance was almost entirely made up of activists from various groups, though organisers were anxious to point out that most of these people live in the general Roscommon/Leitrim area. The organisers were complimentary about villagers, emphasising that they consider Rooskey to be a welcoming area. Their ire was directed anywhere but Rooskey.

  When it ended, just after 1.30 pm, there was a quick photo outside the hotel. Then those present were invited to Dromod for refreshments, presumably because you can’t get refreshments in Rooskey just now.  

  Me? I took a walk back to the scene of the rally at around 3 o’clock. The two pubs were still closed, the hotel was still cordoned off, the waters were calm and the sign that no longer stops any bus was still standing, an unintentionally provocative reminder of better times.

After the pirates, the revolution…



By the 1st of January 1989, most of the pirate radio stations in Ireland had closed or were in the process of closing down. The Radio and Television Act of 1988 introduced heavy penalties and potential jail terms for those who might support or advertise on such stations. This of course was paving the way for legal commercial local radio in Ireland and most of the new stations opened during the course of 1989.

  Locally, Midwest opened in the early summer of 1989, while Shannonside (as it was then) started out in November 1989. It was a brand new industry in the country, and one which this year celebrates its 30th birthday. Local radio is now part and parcel of the local community all over the country and, like local newspapers, the GAA and many other rural organisations, it is here to stay.

  I was part of the Shannonside team that started life in Castle Street, Roscommon, where, under the management of John Morrin and Joe Finnegan, a new chapter was written in local media coverage. There were marvellous people involved. They were young and full of ideas. All involved worked very hard. I’m sure it was the same story in every other station throughout country. It was such an exhilarating time. But in truth we made many mistakes too. It was a new business. We were learning as we went along.

  Those early years were exciting and challenging in equal measure. I met many people over the years in local radio who are now friends for life, and many of the talented people I worked with have gone on to be stars on national TV and radio. There is definitely a book or two in the many experiences – both good and bad – over the years. At its inception, the local radio industry was looked upon with suspicion, but as time went by most people accepted that the service would add to the local community and that it wasn’t not a threat to anyone.

  However, there was also a commercial reality. Once the initial couple of years were completed, these new radio stations had to stand on their own two feet and make money – which was easier said than done. Shannonside subsequently joined with Northern Sound, and the station has since been bought by the Radio Kerry Group. Similar deals have been done all over the country as stations try to consolidate and survive.

  It’s hard to believe that the local radio industry is thirty years old this year. I’ve been part of it for most of that journey, and the memories are mostly positive. In terms of news, sport and current affairs, it had added to our lives, particularly in rural Ireland. Long may it continue.



Climate change…and loose change!


Last Sunday I happened to tune in to one of Marian Finucane’s twice-weekly shows – I often think of it as her ‘chats with her friends’. I will remind readers that Marian’s RTE salary is approximately €300,000 per annum. In any event, when I tuned in, the panel and presenter were chatting about climate change and the proposed carbon tax.

  One of the panel members was Professor John Fitzgerald, a climate change guru and recognised expert in that field. The TCD professor is a regular on our screens and on the radio, and comes across as a very intelligent and affable chap.

  However, some of the stuff he came out with was quite incredible. I am not for one second denying the huge problems we face with regard to the damage that we have done (and continue to do) to our planet – and there is no doubt that this huge problem has to be addressed. However, imposing enormous price rises on diesel, coal and briquettes, etc. is not going to solve the problem. What it will do is seriously affect many people who live in rural Ireland.

  In many areas of this country public transport is simply not an option. In many cases people have to travel long distances to go to work. What would a 15 cent rise in the price of a litre of diesel mean to their weekly budget? Professor Fitzgerald said on last Sunday’s programme that a second-hand hybrid car could be bought for “as little as €20,000”. What planet are these people living on?

  How many people working in ordinary jobs have twenty grand to spend on a fuel efficient second-hand car? If the price of a bag of coal goes up by a tenner, or briquettes by €1.60 a bale, it will just add to the misery of a lot of ordinary people who are struggling to make ends meet as it is.

  I made some enquiries in this area over the past month or so, as I am currently doing a lot of mileage. I asked five or six experts in the motor trade if I was to change my car what would they advise. To a person they said that diesel was the only choice to make, even if the price of a litre goes up. Electric cars are simply not an option for people in rural Ireland. That’s the feedback I received.

  It was also notable that in the radio discussion in Dublin 4 not one mention was made about tractors and other agricultural machinery products which are run on diesel.

  We have to face the threat of climate change, but the powers that be will have to be more creative in suggesting ways in which to deal with it. There is a real world out there. Heaping further misery and charges on rural people won’t work – it’s not the answer.




Being an effective Healy-Rae and the magic of the cup


Revealed! The 10 rules for being an effective Healy-Rae



1: When making a speech in the Dáil, always adopt an indignant, serious tone. While it’s not always possible, try to avoid being included in camera shot with Michael Lowry and/or Mattie McGrath as they er…lack credibility.

2: Whatever you’re speaking about – whether it’s the decline of post offices or the rise of Putin – make sure to namecheck Kerry towns, villages, townlands, actual voters, pets…at every opportunity.

3: Never forget the Golden Rule: It’s all the fault of ‘them up there in Dublin’ and/or Dublin 4. Sneer with an extravagant flourish as rehearsed.

4: Before condemning all initiatives to do with rural transport/drink-driving/motoring offences, make it absolutely clear that you are not condoning drink-driving, “nor would you ever”. Look stunned/angry/perplexed if so accused. Remember what we rehearsed: ‘Ivan/Matt/Pat/Claire, if you think I’m going to sit here and take that from you…’

5: In any discussion on drink-driving, always remember to cite the example of the poor ould fellas who are being prevented from going to the pub and enjoying “one or two glasses” of stout. Yes, er…glasses, not pints (stick with that line at all costs, keep straight face).

6: Until further notice (e.g. Government formation talks) Simon Harris is a young pup, Shane Ross has never been past ‘the Red Cow’, Leo Varadkar would want to get out of his ivory tower.

7: Always stick to the Healy-Rae Gospel: “They won’t be happy ‘til they have rural Ireland closed down”.

8: Whatever they say ‘in Dublin’, or in ‘da meeja’, never forget the plain people of Kerry. After all, they are the second most important group in society (after the Healy-Raes, that is).

9: Michael: Always, we mean ALWAYS, wear that cap. Danny: Always, we mean ALWAYS, wear an open-necked shirt (no tie). As long as ye have the cap and no tie, the locals are receiving the signals, loud and clear.

10: If all else fails, adopt that expression which we discussed at length. As you know, we code-named it ‘The Poll-topper’. You know the one, you must remember…yes, that’s it: Adopt that facial expression which suggests that a group of people from Dublin 4 have stolen everything in Co. Kerry overnight…and you have just heard the news. That’s the one!


George the TV repair man…and when the Cup was magic…


George Latimer was the man who fixed televisions – in between enjoying life with great relish.

  He had a broad smile, a big hearty laugh and a mischevious glint in his eye. ‘Mr & Mrs Latimer’ enjoyed themselves socially, and we often saw them in our parents’ pub in Rooskey, where their arrival was much welcomed.

  Now I needed George to deliver in his day job – because he had our telly, and I wanted it back!

  It was 1979, and for a (very) young lad, amongst the scariest sentences in the English language was: “Sure drop the telly into us and we’ll get it back to you in a few days”.

  Bringing your broken telly into a TV repair shop was like loaning a favourite book to a friend – you could never be sure when you’d see it again.

  In the TV repair shop, once-healthy televisions tended to gather dust as they took their place on the musty shelves – the likely length of their captivity was anyone’s guess.

  Which is not to say that we didn’t appreciate the TV repair man – because we did. Because once the telly went on the blink, the TV repair man was our last hope. If he called to your house, the most dreaded words you could hear after his inspection were: “I’m afraid the valve is gone”. Cue anxious look in direction of parents…

  Anyways, George was our friendly TV repair man, his headquarters in Mohill. And in May 1979, he had our telly in his TV repair shop. At home in Rooskey, we survived the first few days without the telly. But then, as the big day got closer, we became more nervous. Life without a functioning telly on a normal day was bad enough; life without telly on FA Cup Final weekend was unthinkable.

  Fast-forward for a moment to last weekend (we will return to George)… and my mind returned to that frantic fear of possibly not having a telly for the 1979 FA Cup Final forty years ago. Last weekend, the BBC bombarded viewers with FA Cup third round action. There were several hours’ of live football and highlights shows, and while it all was entertaining enough, the quantity – even the quality – simply can’t rekindle what we once had. 

  And what we once had was great. In its heyday, the FA Cup was a huge part of our lives…arguably up there with the heavyweight boxing from Madison Square Garden, the snooker from The Crucible and the tennis from Wimbledon. In one and two channel Ireland in the late 1970s, at a time when live TV soccer was restricted to a handful of games a year, FA Cup Final day – with a five-hour celebrity-inspired build-up – was magical.

  Oh yes, that word…‘magic’. Now I wouldn’t dream of suggesting that a memo went out to all BBC commentators last weekend, but every time a great goal was scored (there were many) and every time a great giant-killing act unfolded (there were many) the man or woman with the mike excitedly referenced the ‘magic’ or ‘romance’ of the cup. And yes, for teams from the lower divisions who turn over high profile opponents, there is, I guess, still some magic and romance in the cup. The reality of course is that almost all of the Premier League clubs are fielding ‘second strings’, reflecting the extent to which the FA Cup is no longer a priority or a glamour competition for the ‘big boys’. 

  For three days before that 1979 final, we implored our parents to keep the pressure on George, the avuncular, larger than life TV repair man from Mohill. Telephone calls, personal visits, homing pigeon, whatever it took. It went down to the wire. Our telly had been in with George for perhaps a fortnight. Kick-off in the 1979 FA Cup Final between Arsenal and Manchester United was at 3 o’clock on the Saturday (naturally).

  Our father arrived home from Mohill with the TV at 3.05. We had missed Little and Large during the extensive ITV build-up, but so be it. Telly plugged in. Intake of breath. Pictures. And Sound. All good. Working. Massive relief.

  We saw the first goal, and the four that followed. It was one of the all-time great FA Cup finals. It was Liam Brady’s final. We were bursting with pride as the Irishman made Wembley his playground. Arsenal 3 Manchester United 2. Thanks to our father, thanks to George the TV repair man…thanks to Liam Brady…we had witnessed more of the magic of the FA Cup.

  Little and Large? We caught up with them again…



Are you successful and single? Wow…what’s your secret?



You’ve got a spectacular CV, a good job that affords you a decent standard of living, you drive a nice car, have a wide circle of friends, a pretty hectic social life and you go on foreign holidays, etc., but wait…something’s clearly missing here ladies…I wonder what it is? Oh yeah, a good husband!

  Now, before you get your control top tights in a tangle girls, this whole ya-gotta’-get-a-man-to-get-ahead idea is not mine…no waaaay; rather it’s (allegedly) culture minister Josepha Madigan’s opinion. Yep, according to reports, the multi-talented Minister Madigan, (aka mother of two, Mrs. Hayes), who is not only capable of saying Mass, and whose impressive rapid rise through the ranks made her the 19th woman to be appointed to a senior ministerial role since the foundation of the State, (for the record readers, that’s a bit of trivia I discovered without the help of my good husband),  has, it appears, now become somewhat of a relationship/career guidance counsellor, encouraging aspiring female politicians to “get a good husband”. In fact, as a bonus bit of advice for those slackers among us who believe the secret to a successful marriage/parenting/working outside of the home combo means keeping our kids alive, Ms. Madigan enthuses that we should make sure to “get good childcare,” as well.

  Honestly Josepha, you’re amazing, I mean, do daffodils  curtsy before you when you float across Merrion Square?

  Look ladies, while I’m not taking a swipe at Josepha, and while I’m sure her advice was well meant, I’m also sure that there is not one successful single lady out there sitting on a designer handbag full of (her own) money, crying bitter tears into her G&T because, due to the scarcity of ‘a few good men’ her only consolation is she has a big brood of rescue cats to console her. 

  Full disclosure girls; I am no relationship expert, but I’ve always told my daughters that no woman needs a man to be a success, and, may I add, neither does any man need a woman or a ‘good wife’ to be a success, because being single is not a drawback, and I for one am sick of those cloying and annoying perfect cake-baking goddesses who appear to be more judgemental than the High Court, dishing out lifestyle advice.

  Now, while I have a lot of respect for those women who believe their marital status and the love and help of a good man has made them what they are today, I have to say that when someone as intelligent and as influential as Ms. Madigan makes such a statement, I would worry that those of us applying for jobs may feel that, in the ‘any distinguishing characteristics’ section of our application forms, we are compelled to disclose we’re tragically bereft of a ‘good husband,’ and have instead, in some cases, been lumbered with a specimen who is only barely capable of keeping up with the relentless pace of our professional lives!  So, before Roscommon county becomes a generation of barren, husband-less single career women, my (tongue in cheek) suggestion is to let the hand-wringing and the race to dive into that pool of available and, let’s not forget, suitable mates, begin this weekend ladies, because, if the lovely Josepha is right, it’s probably our only option to security and stability while climbing that career (and that political) ladder. May the best ‘good husband’ hunting woman win!


Nobody is entitled to fat-shame us ladies


I was shocked, and, I have to say, annoyed when I read that curvaceous and absolutely stunning British model Kelly Brook revealed she had ‘dropped two dress sizes’ after her boyfriend called her ‘a balloon’.  

  Look ladies, if you’re in a relationship with a man, and he fails to shower you with love and treat you with the respect you so richly deserve, then I’m afraid he no longer fits the category of being labelled a ‘man’ anymore! So, if any of my  breathtakingly gorgeous readers…(in which case, that describes every woman in Roscommon), have sadly been faced with the grim reality of their husband/partner inappropriately and cruelly body-shaming them, then I suggest you start thinking of him as an arrogant, cold-blooded pot plant, and, at warp five speed, head straight for the fridge and your emergency stash of luxurious Green &  Black’s dark chocolate bars, and, instead of dropping a single dress size, (never mind two like Kelly), drop the callous arrogant creep instead!

  It’s really hard to get my head round the idea of someone who is meant to love you feeling they are entitled to fat-shame you; however, it’s clear these individuals exist and, if we are unlucky enough to have one of them in our lives, we must remember that our bodies are our own.

            We were not created for anyone else’s pleasure, meaning nobody has a right to touch us, criticise us or to judge how we look. If we gain or indeed lose weight, or if we develop wrinkles or scars, etc., our bodies will still be beautiful and the only one who genuinely needs to love us is ourselves.




Goodbye to all that…‘til next year!



It’s Monday, January 7th, and little (and big) Christmas has come and gone. Today is the day we say goodbye to the Christmas tree and the lights – to all the decorations. As we gather everything up to send all back up to the attic, I must confess that this year I am more than a little sad. I suppose it’s down to the very rapid passage of time. As each year passes, I’m beginning to realise that there can’t be that many left, and that I have to make as much as I can out of them all, and, hand on my heart, (although with all the stents I have in maybe I should leave the old ticker alone) I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed the entire festive season. 

  It was one of those that passed without any drama, apart from the telly breaking down, and the dishwasher and the washing machine, and the chimney fire, but they all got sorted, and thankfully everyone was healthy and well and we all had a lovely, enjoyable Christmas. I don’t remember being here for the taking down of all the stuff for a good few years, and the most amazing thing was the huge amount of decorations we have accumulated over time. We carried bag after bag up the stairs, and this year we promised we would remember whose room we put them into! I said that we put stuff in the attic, but that’s mainly the tree – a fine but fake one – and the Crib pieces. Every year, despite having a small house, we can’t remember where the many decoration bags go, and all hell breaks loose as we try to find them. Even though I probably wasn’t there at all when they were put away, I still get the blame for losing them! So this year I wrote it into my phone, and please God on the 8th of December next year, if I’m still here, I will find them straight away and get rid of any related stress.

  Anyway, as I say, the 6th of January is the official end of the celebrations, but I am beginning to think that I am not the only one who was missing the festive excitement, because last evening, as I made my way cross-country to Kinnegad, I couldn’t get over the number of houses that were still all lit up. It’s obvious that more than me were reluctant to take down the decorations. However, for me, it is fully behind us, and now we have a whole new year to look forward to.


In praise of hi vis jackets!


One of the things I like to do at least 4 or 5 times a week is go for a walk in the rural area where I live. One of the automatic things that I do is put on a hi vis vest or jacket. I would have thought that it would be more or less accepted that such a vest should be part of every walker’s night-time attire. However last week, in the Daily Mail, one of its columnists – who advocated the use of hi vis by all walkers – told of being abused roundly on social media for doing so.

  Now I’m not sure why so many people objected so strongly to his advice, but today as I went for a walk of about 35 to 40 minutes on a quiet country road, I decided to count the number of vehicles I encountered. One large tractor, one JCB, two vans and seven cars passed me by. Now it wasn’t dark today, and visibility was pretty good, but it would be crazy for me or any other ‘me’ to be out walking on or country roads after dark  without both a torch and a hi vis. Sometimes common sense should prevail over twisted political correctness.

  Everywhere we look, Shane Ross is bringing in legislation to supposedly make our rural roads safer, and yet more pedestrians and cyclists are being killed – and in my view, walkers who go out with dark clothing and no visibility aids should be fined just as much as errant drivers. 


Surviving the NCT…


It’s now Tuesday morning – and still dark – as myself and the sometimes trusty old Volvo head off to Castlerea, where she, i.e. the Volvo, is to undergo the NCT at 8.30 am. Now I wasn’t any way worried about it or anything, but still I had a restless enough night’s sleep, and in my dreams I could see a big sticker being put on it, which would mean the car was being grounded…and me having to try to get a lift home.

  Thankfully the outcome wasn’t that bad, but, amazingly, after a year without any bother, that was the morning the boot decided to refuse to open, and along with a couple of other minor defects it all means I have a return journey to do inside 30 or so days. However, I have to admit I was happy enough with the verdict, and please God my Volvo will carry on for a little while yet.


And finally…a pudding dilemma


Finally for this week, out here in Creggs for the last few years, Kelly’s (Newport) White Pudding has been the undisputed pudding champion at the local harvest festival, and has romped away with the title despite great competition from other pudding makers from all around the country. In the opinion of this writer, it’s an honour thoroughly deserved.

  The traditional Sunday morning fry would be almost unthinkable without a few slices of Kelly’s best, but I suppose it’s a sign of the times that they have now come up with a vegetarian version of the White Pudding, and they are selling 50,000 of these around the country each year – with not a morsel of meat to be found in any of them.

  As one of the organising members of the Creggs Pudding Festival, I imagine we will have to have an Extraordinary General Meeting to see if this newcomer will be allowed to partake in our national competition, but as an ordinary fry-eating member of the public I can categorically tell you all that no vegetarian White Pudding will ever feature on my breakfast plate, and their traditional Champion Pudding will, ‘till death do us part, be the rock on which I will build my Sunday morning fry.


Till next week, Bye for now! 

Dishwasher Man leads comeback after our Christmas mishaps!





It’s a cold, miserable, damp Wednesday, 2nd of January, very different from the amazingly mild weather we have had over the Christmas, and as I am sitting at the kitchen table writing this piece, it’s hard to believe that after the great anticipation and excitement of putting up the tree, and of Santa’s visit and the opening of all the presents, it’s as good as over. In a few days’ time everything will be packed away, and life as we know it  will return to normal.

  I have to say that the festive season was really enjoyable, but, as with most families, we had our own stresses to put up with – and for some unknown reason, this year was one of those years. The television dish went blank for a week, the dishwasher stopped washing, the washing machine almost blew up (and was declared terminally ill), and the chimney went on fire, all in the few days before the Christmas. However, thanks to the great efforts of various people, including Hughie the TV man, and Kevin the Dishwasher man, we got all sorted and were able to watch all the rubbish on telly over the holidays, and to wash the dishes after the turkey and ham had been demolished.

  The washing machine had to be replaced, and in fairness to one of our local electrical retailers and his staff, the new machine arrived on the Saturday before Christmas, and as I write this piece I can hear it working away out in the back kitchen.

  Of all the things we would have missed, apart from all the food and drink, the washing machine would have been the most lamented, so huge thanks to Tommie Kelly and his lads for coming up trumps at their busiest time of the year.

  That brings me to the chimney fire on the Friday evening before Christmas. I was working in Athlone when Carol rang to say the Dishwasher man, Kevin, who had arrived to fix it, told her the chimney was on fire, and that huge volumes of sparks were flying up into the atmosphere. Being made of solid stuff, I advised her to let it burn itself out, and added that it would be nice and clean for Santa’s visit. She agreed to go down that route, until a few minutes later she heard an outrageous bang in the chimney, and herself and Kevin agreed that it was time to call the Fire Brigade.

  Barely more than 20 minutes after she made the call, the Brigade was on the job, and I cannot praise or thank them enough for the great work that they did. They were so professional in every aspect, including leaving the room spotless, and before they left they checked to see that everything was in order and that the danger was totally averted. Santa had no problem making his way down the chimney on Christmas Eve, so heartfelt thanks to Pat Hoey, Gary Smyth and the other six lads – one of whom was in the bath when he got the summons – who looked after us so well. I hope he managed to get back to it (the bath) over the rest of the Holy Season.

  Meanwhile, with all the material stuff that comes with it, it can be easy to forget that for people of a certain religion, the festive season is also about the birth of Baby Jesus, and, while I am the first to admit that I am not as committed to my faith as maybe I should be, at the same time, on Christmas Day I made sure to attend Mass in Donamon Castle. It was just a beautiful experience. The musical journey that Annette Griffin, her mother Frances, and John Staunton took us all on was quite special, and there was a lovely feelgood atmosphere amongst the huge attendance. It truly was an uplifting hour or so. 

Ole, Ole, Ole… Solskjaer now the Special One?

For those of us who are Manchester United fans, the New Year has arrived with a little bit of hope, thanks to the attacking football that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has got them playing since he took over from the Special One, Jose Mourinho. And while this year is over and done with, in my opinion there is now some hope for a more exciting, and possibly even successful, future.

  For some reason I am not the normal United fan who automatically hates Liverpool, nearly like the unionists and nationalists in the North used to hate each other, and so I am happy enough to see the Merseysiders walking away with this year’s title. If they even draw tonight at Man. City, I think the race is as good as over. As for us (Manchester United), a top four place is highly unlikely, but hopefully we will continue to play attacking football in the old United tradition.

Big night at The Green

Out here in Creggs, the rugby season is now fully on the boil, and the next four or five weeks are critical in terms of possible league or cup success.

  On this Saturday night, on the wonderful new 4G pitch, we play Castlebar, who will be gunning for revenge after we recently beat them in the Cawley Cup final. It’s a must-win encounter, so try to get to The Green, see the excellent facilities up front for yourself, and help our lads get the win they so badly need.

Happy New Year

It has now become a family tradition that we go out for dinner on New Year’s Eve. Afterwards, I discovered the delights of Heineken Zero, a non-alcoholic lager which tastes very like the real stuff. That left me free to drive back from the Abbey Hotel to Mikeen’s, where I could park the old jalopy, have a pint or two of the black stuff, listen to the musical entertainment (provided by Paul Browne), see out the old, see in the new, and get chauffuered home at the start of yet another New Year.  

  At this stage of my life it’s an achievement to be still here, so I’m happy enough with that, and – not forgetting the many great people who passed on in 2018 – all I can do is wish you all a happy New Year, and may you still be here this time next year.

Till next week, Bye for now!


Privileged Spencer needs a lesson in parenting, 2019-style…





Apparently the Edmund Hillary of social climbing, (he’s related to royalty don’t ya know), and smitten-kitten new dad, (he’s been parenting for all of five minutes), Spencer Matthews is such a dab hand at raising his baby son, he’s been sharing his new-found skills with us mere mortals via Hello! Magazine, saying: “So far, it hasn’t been a particularly stressful experience. If your child is screaming his head off, he’s either too hot, too cold, tired or hungry. People make it sound like rocket science and it’s not”. Wow, thanks Spence love…and, while I really do hate the shrewish tone in my voice right now, as you gaze down upon us less stinkin’ rich parents from your cloud nine throne to impart this well-meant insightful little nugget pet, I’m going to tell you that your guidance is probably about as puerile as privileged Leo Varadkar pledging that he’s going to do something to prevent Irish people being forcibly thrown out of their homes in 2019!

  Look, call me cynical readers, but if you’re a new parent, or indeed, are about to welcome that glorious little bundle into your life in 2019, as an experienced, (imperfect) mother myself, I’m going to tell you that anyone who thinks parenting is a breeze, (a la Spencer), is not only faking it…they’re failing it; or rather, they’re totally out of touch with the highs, lows, joyous wonders and, sometimes the overwhelming woes and anxieties that welcoming a precious new life can bring.

  You see, here’s the reality folks…until you’ve spent hours gnawing at the inside of your cheek as you try to soothe your adored newborn infant as her  gut-wrenching colicky screams penetrate your very heart, while at the same time make a nutritious dinner from scratch and prepare a PowerPoint presentation for your husband explaining why empty milk cartons belong in the bin instead of the fridge, and scream that just once, you’d like to go into the bathroom and sit on a dry toilet seat, (all of which I’ve done), then I’m afraid you should not be taking advice from some rich molly-coddled, socialite/reality star.

  It stands to reason that only those parents who’re mega-minted enough to have the spondulicks to hire a housekeeper and a nanny who can be on hand to tackle the night feeds and the dirty nappy changes, will, a week following their child’s birth, be capable of stepping out looking like a male model to attend a luxury car launch, a la ‘childcare expert’ daddy Spencer. And didn’t he look buff!

  Yes, rich parents with means, royal connections and personal trainers/stylists, don’t suffer from sleep deprivation; nor are they (like me), forced to hyperventilate to the point of collapse while trying to suck my post baby-belly out through my ass while I struggled to drag on a pair of pre-pregnancy jeans, which were pinned together beneath a baggy jam-stained jumper just so I could feel ‘normal’ again! 

  However, I will give Spencer some credit for the way he praises wifey Vogue Williams, saying she’s an “exceptional mother,” adding how he’s “always been in awe of my wife, in many aspects, and being a mother is certainly her finest achievement”. Ah, now fair play to him. And, while, following my children’s births, I wasn’t exactly rushing to take out a membership of martyredmothers.ie, I was a bit (okay a lot) annoyed that nobody (okay their dad), didn’t declare how gloriously wonderful I was following my very difficult labours. Now while I know that I, and every other exceptional Roscommon mammy out there realises that, deep in our hearts, (and rooted in our stretch-marks), we’re all just as flawlessly fabulous as the superhuman, Instagram-posting model Goddess that is Spencer’s wife Vogue Williams, an aul declaration of appreciation emblazoned on a light aircraft sky-writing message would suffice and earn all you daddies a few brownie points in 2019! I wish the Williams-Matthews’, and all new parents, a glorious new year.


From obscurity to household names…let’s get ready to rumba!


I don’t know about you, but I haven’t quite reached my quota of formulaic-celebrity-based-reality-shows just yet, (must be my age), so I’ll likely tune into this season’s Dancing with the Staff, sorry Stars. However, I’m disappointed with what the meeja is calling ‘the full celebrity line-up,’ because, well, I don’t wish to be impolite, but I’d hardly label any of them as ‘stars’. 

  I mean, who cares how former Today FM radio DJ, sorry broadcaster, Mairead Ronan fares with the foxtrot? Not me! And, while you’re probably booing and hissing at me panto-style, as a licence payer, I want to ask if the show’s guest bookers/producers have all sunk to a previously unexplored ‘scraping-the-bottom-of-the-barrel’ level, and, instead of securing the likes of such gems as Anne Doyle or Bryan Dobson, or to even look past the RTE canteen and see if my former TV3 colleague Mark Cagney is up for the challenge, they seem to be excelling in promoting the mundane! Mind you, I congratulate them on their remarkable ability to advertise Clelia Murphy, Peter Stringer, Darren Kennedy, Johnny Ward, Fred Cooke, Demi Isaac Oviawe, Eilish O’Carroll, Denis Bastick, Cliona Hagan and Holly Carpenter as household names; (that’s a marketing merit that can never be undersold). Let’s hope these, er, top-dog supremoes can keep us dazzled, (cue healthy dose of scepticism), with their fancy footwork.

  It’s safe to say readers, despite the fact I’ll likely tune into this year’s series, my expectations for the entertainment value of the entire offering is probably now as low as the status of the ‘celebrities’ taking part in it.


Happy New Year…

Happy New Year to you all.
I’ve no doubt 2019 will not only bring you thousands of reasons to pick up the Roscommon People, but also good health and lots of happiness.





















































































































































































































































































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