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Alleged college scam makes my fake fairy cake hoax appear harmless



Last week it was reported that high profile US celebrities Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, right,  as well as other filthy-rich parents, were charged with committing fraud following an investigation into a so-called college admissions ‘scam’.  Apparently the ‘scam’ in this case was a highly successful and lucrative one, netting the ‘fixer’ – or, as the US media are calling him, the ‘mastermind’ – a staggering $24m between 2011 and 2018.

  These parents allegeded to have paid tens of thousands of dollars to a guy who arranged ‘for someone to take the SATs/ACTs’ for their children or to ‘set up fake profiles to have them recruited to college athletics teams’. Now, for those who’re scratching their heads, the SATs/ACTs are entrance exams used by almost all colleges/universities in the US to make their admissions decisions, and, the higher a student scores, the more options are open to them.

  While this train wreck is the type of scandal deserving of an entire episode of Desperate Housewives, (the show that catapulted Huffman to fame), it’s also an egregious example of the inequalities present between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ in today’s society, and I for one am glad these shady practices have been laid bare. Now don’t get me wrong folks, we all have a desire, (and a duty) to give our children as much of a leg up and as much help as we possibly can; however, unlike as it alleged in this scenario, the majority of us are aware of the ethical line that must never be crossed, and we would never, for example, consider offering examiners a bribe, or scandalously have others pose as our own kids and take their tests for them.

  Now readers, I’ll be the first to hold my hand up and say that I have, (on several occasions), been guilty of buying a few fairy cakes in the local supermarket, unpacked and, er, roughed them up a bit, before popping them onto a plate and wrapping them in tinfoil to be presented at the school’s annual fundraising bake-sale, passing them off as being ‘wholesome and home-made’ in order to impress the principal (and not embarrass my poor child). But that could hardly be construed as bribery or indeed as taking advantage of some corruptible middleman’s greed in order to engage in a dubious admissions strategy…could it?

  I mean, while I’m not a bad cook, (he-who-licks-the-pattern-off-his-plate will vouch for that), I do know my limits, and my baking skills, which don’t stretch to elaborate fairy cakes, cupcakes, sponge cakes, scones (you get my drift) would most certainly constitute a breach of any school’s health and safety regulations...meaning my motto is, if at first you don’t succeed, destroy all evidence you’ve ever tried in the first place and head to the shops! You see, despite the fact darling daughters’ notes home would clearly state that any simple offering would be gratefully received, the thing is readers, there was always some judgy, domestic goddess, Mary Berry wannabe type who was capable of concocting not one, but numerous batches of delectable masterpieces, all beautifully presented in packaging she’d crocheted from old crisp bags and bits of baby grows she’d recycled during the hours she hadn’t been out organising marches and designing banners for Greenpeace! Make ya sick! And, it’s not like I was jealous or anything, nooooo way; it’s just I hated show-offs who believed the way to the head nun’s heart was to turn up with a raspberry butter-layered creation displaying the image of the shroud of Turin when I can’t even follow a simple recipe!

  Look, I can fully understand the desperation felt by some parents when trying to secure a future for their kids. I can fully relate to that; sure it’s normal…but to allegedly bribe your child’s way into a college is wrong on so many levels. In my opinion readers, while it’s one thing to joke about your inadequacies as a parent and screwing up your kid’s future, it’s quite another to actually do it…allegedly! Kinda makes my ‘home-baked’ fairy cake hoax seem perfectly innocent!


Leo did fair to middlin’ on St Patrick’s Day junket


Our Leo, right, (whom, it must be said, historically tends to get a tad giddy when he goes foreign and represents Ireland on the world stage), seemed to be doin’ fair to middlin’ during the annual diddly-eye St. Patrick’s Day junket to the US. 

  Between the tin whistles, the shamrock, the bodhrans and the hornpipes, An Taoiseach not only became firm friends with The Donald, (God help us), he cleverly went on the charm offensive and totally won over so-called Christian conservative, vice-president Mike Pence, a macho man who (allegedly) has some very un-Christian like views on LGBT issues. 

  However, it was Leo’s dissing of MMA fighter Conor McGregor – who was invited to march alongside our country’s leader in the Chicago parade – that impressed me the most. I mean, why would organisers invite someone with so many anger management issues and legal troubles, (isn’t this latest incident McGregor’s second felony charge in under a year?), to walk alongside and effectively upstage our Taoiseach?! Now okay, I know McGregor, like a lot of us Dubliners, never had the advantages Leo had, nor did he receive an education at a posh prat college; and while I will always stand up for my fellow ‘how’er’ya’ Dubs, an arrogant individual, prone to, let’s say, thuggish behaviour, is not and never will be a suitable ambassador for our country, or indeed, a role model for her youth!

We must never allow embryonic hatred to win

Hate breeds hate, and this callous and brutal massacre of innocent people, no matter what their creed, colour or ethnicity, has got to stop. My heart is broken for the families, friends and loved ones of those murdered and injured in last week’s shocking Christchurch mosque terror attacks. However, having a broken heart and sending good thoughts is never going to be enough to soothe the unbearable horror that befell those Muslim families who innocently and peacefully went to meet, worship and pray together as a community.

  As a nation, sadly, we have first-hand experience of this type of embryonic hatred; we know what it’s like when some bitter and twisted terrorist goes on a homicidal rampage, hell-bent on carrying out acts of butchery and carnage. For this, and many more reasons, I know the good people of Roscommon will not only join nations around the world in sending our heartfelt condolences to all those who have been affected as they try to deal with what will be the traumatic aftermath – we will also stand side by side in solidarity with them.




Calamity in Cardiff…guile and grit in Galway



I have often told you that one of the things that annoys me about myself is the tendency I have to make great plans to go to different places and events, and then, as the time approaches, begin to lose interest, and – using any excuse I can come up with – usually end up staying at home, going nowhere. And so it was on Wednesday afternoon of last week.

  Even though the trip was only to Galway, and I had been looking forward to it for almost a fortnight, as the time for me to head off approached, the old familiar ‘looking for a way out’ syndrome kicked in.

  All the usual excuses started to form in what I have that passes for a brain. The weather is too bad, the crowd will be too big, there will be no parking, and it will be a major challenge trying to get home after the game, the game being the CBS’ first ever schools senior rugby cup final (against Garbally).

  By 1.30 pm I had myself convinced to give it a miss, but then I had a chat with myself, told myself that this was history in the making, and that the CBS would never again be appearing in their first cup final. I decided that I should go to support their efforts, and so I changed my mind, put on the wet gear (a second pair of trousers and a jacket), and hit for the Western Capital.

  And never was I as happy at a decision! The atmosphere was just electric, with everyone I ever met from Roscommon seeming to be there, including the two Jacks (the higher and the lower). Even though the end result was a disappointing defeat, the effort, skill and commitment was just fantastic, and the Brothers should be justifiably proud of their efforts.

  As I cheered them on, it crossed my mind that although I had never set foot in the CBS, this was at least the fourth time I had been on the sideline at one of their major games…firstly following the football exploits of the team in the 1990s when they reached the All-Ireland final, and a couple of years back when the Junior rugby team made their own history by winning the Connacht Junior Cup.

  Even though I find it so hard to cheer on the county footballers, I had no problem shouting for the Brothers, and cheered them as enthusiastically as anyone else. And – miraculously – the traffic wasn’t terrible, and I got home in good time. It had turned out to be a hugely enjoyable experience.


And now…over to Creggs


As I drove home I reflected on the fact that we, Creggs RFC that is, will be back there this Sunday for the Connacht Junior Cup Final, our first in 26 years. I can only hope that we compete with the same pride and commitment as the CBS did, but hopefully with a different result.  

  After such a long time, it’s great to be back in the Sportsground again, and the fact that it’s against our old foes (yet, funny enough, our friends) the Connemara All Blacks, gives it an extra twist. Even though it’s only Monday evening as I write this, I have to admit that I am already getting a touch of the butterflies.

  Once upon a time we used to nearly think that we’d be in the cup final every year or so, but time has taught us differently and it’s actually very difficult to get to it. So we hope to make the most of this opportunity – and end the 26-year drought. If we do, there will be no drought in Creggs on Sunday night. The big game kicks off at 3 pm on Sunday so I appeal to anyone who can, to dig out any bit of maroon and white that you can find, and get to Galway – and with your support help the lads to cross the line. I can’t wait.

  I suppose I can’t leave rugby (although I’d love to) without mentioning Ireland’s no-show against Wales in Cardiff on Saturday. All I can say is it was one of the most error-ridden, leaderless, and spineless performances put in by Ireland for many a year, but nonetheless I don’t go along with some of the sports correspondents from the national papers who have effectively totally written us off before the World Cup.

  We certainly have a lot of work to do before November, but one of the quotes of the weekend came from Welsh captain Alun Wyn Jones, when he said, post-match, that the Welsh now have a target on their backs. In other words, they are now there to be shot at. I think all that has happened is that we have certainly fallen back a good bit, and all the others have upped their games, but I still believe that come November we will be very competitive.

  Whether we are good enough to even come out of our group – which includes the hosts Japan and a buoyant Scotland – only time will tell, but instead of having a go at our national team, we should realise they have punched hugely above their weight for a few years now. We should be grateful for the recent very good times. Sport is like that; every team can hit upon hard times.

  I for one believe that when we get some of our injured players, especially Athlone man Robbie Henshaw back, and with a few tweaks in personnel, we will still have a good World Cup, and who knows, we could still get to our first ever World Cup semi-final. Here’s hoping.

And finally…

Finally for this week, as we know, our Taoiseach Leo Varadker  was the guest of honour at a lavish reception in the White House last Thursday, when he presented President Trump with the traditional bowl of shamrock.

  About 300 specially invited guests were in attendance. Among that number was our own Creggs woman, Sinead Connaughton, who was honoured for her work as Vice-President of the Irish Association in Atlanta City. Sinead is the daughter of Sean and Josephine (the latter the former principal of the CBS in Roscommon), and has been in Atlanta for the last three years, where she has obviously become very involved in the huge Irish community.

  Well done Sinead. It’s a great achievement to have been one of such a small number invited to the Dinner, and we can always say we had a Creggs woman in the White House.


Till next week, Bye for now!

The Dublin fans, the mayhem, the cattle…






In this column last week, I wrote about the occasion in the 1970s when Dublin fans went on a bit of a rampage in Roscommon on the night before a match between the two counties.

  Not only did they fight, break windows and cause general mayhem, but according to folklore, they allegedly broke into the mart, released cattle and rode them down Castle Street.

  Last week, I invited readers with any recall of that night of mayhem to get in touch. My invitation was ‘half in jest’, but in fact I got a great response!

  A number of people that I’ve spoken to since last week have confirmed that the ‘night of mayhem’ most certainly happened. One man insisted ‘1976’. Needless to say, over four decades on, when it comes to recalling the detail there is a bit of ‘rustiness about the rustling’. But we are making progress on salvaging this night from the past, and if you read on, you will get the perspective of a Garda who was present that night…and we also find out more about the extraordinary story of the ‘stolen cattle’.

The Garda’s eyewitness account!

I received a detailed account of the ‘night of mayhem’ from a Garda who was on duty on the night.

  The now retired Garda contacted me during the week and confirmed that all the drama on the night happened in the Castle Street area.

  “I was a very young Garda in Roscommon at the time” he began. “On the Saturday night before the Roscommon/Dublin game, fans congregrated around the Royal Hotel. Fans always congregated there when there were matches on”.

  Yes, that I could vouch for myself!

  Back to our friendly ex-Garda, whom I must say recalled the night with some nostalgia.

  “So”, he continued, “on the Saturday night, the Dublin fans were outside the Royal, and after a while there was bedlam. Castle Street was blocked off. We arrived in the only squad car we had, two or three young Guards. It was mayhem, with Dublin fans breaking windows and throwing punches”.

  The Gardai made a number of arrests, which wasn’t easy in the madcap prevailing circumstances.

  “There were fellas hanging on to the squad car…batons were drawn. Peace was finally restored after several outbreaks of fighting”.

  But it was really only half-time…

  The Gardai brought whatever few offenders they had managed to arrest straight up to the cells in the Garda Station.  Suddenly it was “all calm” on Castle Street, with hundreds of Dublin and Roscommon fans drinking on the still impassable street. Then, out of the blue, a Co. Roscommon man upended a Dublin supporter and “all hell broke loose again”.  

  Back in the Garda Station, the apprehended Dublin fans – still the worse for wear – were having the craic with the local Gardai, not to mention insisting that they were innocent.

The cattle – revealed!

So, did some of that small number of rampaging Dubs break into Roscommon Mart and release cattle? It appears not, but instead they ‘borrowed’ the cattle from a very well-known business family!

  None other than well-known Roscommon businessman Declan Molloy (of Molloy’s Bakery) was able to help with my enquiries. “They were our cattle” Declan said with a smile when I called in for a coffee the other day.

  So I rang him back on Wednesday.

  “We had cattle at the back of our house in Castle Street” Declan revealed.  “The incident happened in the early hours of the morning, after whatever high jinks had gone on in Castle Street. We were all gone to bed in our house…then in the early hours, we got a phone call from a neighbour, who told us that Dublin fans were riding our cattle around in the field!”

  Seemingly about half a dozen Dublin fans had corralled the cattle into a pen and proceeded to ride them around the field.  

  Declan Molloy: “By the time we got down to check, they were just leaving. Cattle would have been fairly tame in those days. One of my brothers went down to check on them and he said the cattle were absolutely shattered”.

  I asked Declan if the cattle were traumatised.  

  “No, there was no harm done, but they were certainly tired! They were all sitting down!”

Another twist…

Larry! Of course, why didn’t I think of Larry before this! So, just before going to press, I rang Larry O’Gara, whose family ran the Royal Hotel, which was so frequented in that era by GAA fans.

  He remembered the night well. And he even ventured to ‘change’ the year! “I’m pretty sure it was 1975” Larry said, “because Dublin were All-Ireland champions at the time. They had won the All-Ireland in 1974”.

  So, a new twist! It was the All-Ireland champions who were in town, and it was 1975, not ’76!

  And, during our conversation, Larry even re-opened the theory that the Dubs DID ride the cattle down Castle Street!

  Larry O’Gara: “It was a great weekend! The Dublin fans stayed in the hotel Friday, Saturday and Sunday night. They brought accordions and tambourines and bodhrans…they played music all weekend”.

  Larry recalled the fighting in Castle Street on the Saturday night.

  “In fact there was a fight in the hotel itself, but it was harmless enough. Castle Street was full of people and yes, there were rows, but a lot of it was good-natured and harmless”.

  He recalled his late mother having quite a job accommodating Dublin fans. “In the end, they were asleep in the corridor, in the bar, anywhere they could get a lie-down!” 

  I asked if he recalled the episode with the cattle.

  “Oh yes, now I didn’t witness it myself, because I was busy in the hotel, but I am certain that some of the Dublin fans rode cows down Cattle Street. They got them from Molloy’s land, took them out, and rode them down the street”.

Back in the cells in the Garda Station…

Meanwhile, some Dublin fans were kept in the cells overnight, and throughout the game, only being released after Roscommon and the All-Ireland champions were finished in the Hyde.

  My Garda contact from this week: “We let some of them out after the match on Sunday…to get the train back to Dublin. I think it was leaving at 5 o’clock.

  “One fellow ran up the street to get to the train and away from the Garda Station… there was scaffolding up outside a building in Abbey Street. The poor fellow ran straight into it and knocked himself unconscious. We came to his aid, got him on the train and made sure he was looked after”.

  Now – I’m almost as exhausted as the Dubs, the Gardai and the cattle were!

  Ah, the good old days!

A sporting Saturday that just wasn’t funny…

I didn’t get to Salthill for Roscommon v Galway, but, a few screen breaks aside, I was able to commit to a long afternoon in front of the television.

  And that’s when those amongst the sporting Gods that wear primrose and blue duly punished me for not supporting the Rossies in the flesh…

  What a stinker of a sporting day! I sat in front of that television as an expectant Leeds, Roscommon and Ireland fan…little did I know what misery lay ahead.

  To paraphrase that great Norwegian soccer commentator from long ago (Norway 2 England 1, 1981), I took a hell of a beating.

  Leeds, so close to securing that long-awaited return to the Premier League, had a chance to go five points clear of promotion rivals Sheffield United. The sides met in Saturday’s ‘High Noon’ on Sky – Leeds dominated, but Sheffield won.

  Next, Wales v Ireland in the rugby, with radio and Twitter updates on Galway v Roscommon. More misery. Roscommon’s defeat leaves them staring relegation in the face. Still, while there’s life there’s hope. The Rossies face Kerry in a crunch game this Sunday.

  Ireland lost every key call against Wales, but it was still a poor performance. Wales were worthy winners.

  Anyways, the amazing Scotland comeback against England in a Twickenham classic, and a simply sensational Players’ Championship in the golf – won by Rory McIlroy – brought some welcome balance and brilliance to that mischevious sporting weekend.

Four ‘nuns’ on a truck…

This country is changing so rapidly, it’s mind-boggling. There we were on Sunday, my son and I, walking along the pavement in Ballyleague, minding our own business.

  Then four nuns waved at us from a transport box, or was it from the back of a truck?

  Oh yeah, just remembered…the Ballyleague/Lanesboro St. Patrick’s Day Parade had just ended. Lots of good floats, lots of fun, great crowds. Oh yeah again…thanks a million to the guys on the ‘Zombies’ float (representing Ballyboro Scouts, I think). They were firing water pistols and dancing to/singing Baby Shark – and I cannot get that sound out of my head since!

THE highlight of the Six Nations…

So, farewell then, to the 2019 Six Nations Championship…

  On Sunday night, the Virgin Media team did a review of the tournament, hosted by the sure-footed Joe Molloy. Despite Ireland’s drubbing by Wales on Saturday, it had a good-humoured end-of-term feel to it. Even Matt Williams smiled, although this may have been an unintentional lapse.

  They discussed the highlights of the 2019 Six Nations…and while it is true that Wales and England were impressive, I thought the pundits overlooked what for me was the obvious highlight of the campaign.

  Which was…that wonderful, evocative television advert (a true story) featuring the two Welsh brothers honouring their late mother’s will by attending Six Nations’ matches.









































































































































How good is the Internet for our society when this happens?



The advent of the Internet and social media has changed our lives, changed society. There are many positive aspects to this revolution, but there are very many serious downsides to it too. The way the world is going, it’s hard to know whether it has been a force for good or bad.

  A major downside to this Internet revolution is the fact that privacy is to a large degree a thing of the past. With billions of people now on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, every little tittle-tattle, no matter how unimportant or trivial, is on the Internet for the whole world to see and share.

  We also have the proliferation of extreme violence and porn on the Internet – material which can be accessed by any child who can operate a smartphone (never mind by an adult).

  It wasn’t that long ago that you could go down to the pub for few drinks and hear, in comfort, some great yarns and funny stories – but such innocent days are now gone. The minute someone raises their voice, there is a smartphone in the air to record it. The same has happened with sing-songs. People are now afraid to open their mouths in case it appears on social media within minutes.

   But there is a far more serious and sinister side to the Internet than this latter example. Up to last week, nobody beyond his own circle of family and friends had ever heard of Brenton Tarrant. Tarrant, a 28-year-old fitness instructor who is originally from Australia, is the suspect in the Christchurch massacre. From what is now in the public domain, it would appear that he rationalised that if he took his semi-automatic weapons to a couple of mosques and began shooting people while having a video camera strapped to his head, the whole world would soon know who he was. That a twisted and sick individual could bring such a deranged plan into homes and to the phones of tens of millions of people around the world for their 15 minutes of fame is grotesque.

  Last Friday morning, within minutes of getting into work, I was sent the video of the killing spree. I didn’t watch it – instead immediately deleting what I had received – but it goes to show that, despite the authorities having the footage removed from the Internet, once it is put there in the first place the damage is done. We had a situation here in Ireland recently when horrific photos of a fatal traffic accident in Dublin were shared on social media without any regard for the victim’s family and friends.

  Surely these huge tech companies, which make annual profits that run into billions, have a responsibility to police what’s going on to their platforms. At the moment, it’s open season. At present, all these companies are self-regulating – which is a very dangerous situation. However, it is probably true to say that governments around the world are powerless to do anything to stop what appears online. These Internet companies now how have more power than governments.

  The big worry about all this is that there are other sick individuals all around the world who are prepared to do anything to gain notoriety and have millions of people watch their evil deeds.

  Surely these tech giants have within their organisations clever people who would be able to come up with a way of filtering out this kind of stuff, preventing it from getting online. If nothing is done, what happened in New Zealand is going to be repeated many times over as the lure of such widespread coverage appeals to the very sad and dangerous people who want their proverbial fifteen minutes of fame.

  The Internet has certainly been a wonderful invention for the human race – but we are paying a very high price for it on a number of fronts.

‘Super’ memories of good old days…and a present-day trip to Arnotts





It’s hard to believe it now, but once upon a time we lived in a society which had no Lidls or Aldis or any other type of supermarkets.

  As far as I remember, it was Pat Quinn with his bald head and distinctive glasses who first introduced us to the supermarket idea when he started off Quinnsworth somewhere up in Dublin.

  His namesake (but no relation) Fergal then came up with the Superquinn model, and before we knew it we had several more. Now in almost every middling-sized town, we have Dunnes, SuperValu, Londis, Tesco, Centra, the two German stores and many, many more, all of whom have contributed to the decline of the local shop.

  Back in those good old days we had the little country shop selling everything from the proverbial needle to the anchor, and villages like my own (Creggs) would have had seven or eight shops doing groceries, sweets, light hardware, etc. Some of them would sell animal feeds, fuel, and even coffins. However, back then the department store ruled the roost, and a department store was exactly what it said. Each shop had several departments, all with their own dedicated staff.

  Pettit’s in Ballygar was known throughout the land, and customers came from all over to do their shopping there. Under the one roof you had giftware, drapery, hardware, footware, homewares, carpet and flooring sections, and out the back was the building supplies and fuel departments.

  In Dublin, the big three were Clery’s, Brown Thomas and Arnotts. As a young lad, I can remember Mrs. B (my mother) talking about shopping in Brown Thomas. I don’t know if it was shopping or window shopping, but she was a big fan of that store. Time however passed on, and a lot of the big department stores – including Pettit’s – closed their doors, but Arnotts and Brown Thomas are still going strong and have become exclusive high-end shops. 

  Nowadays, if you are going to Arnotts to do your shopping, you would need a mini-bank behind you. Myself and Carol paid it a visit a little while ago, and I needed a stiff drink to recover from the shock at seeing the prices of clothes (thankfully it was a window shopping trip). So when our daughter rang us on Saturday evening to tell us that there was a massive Arnotts warehouse sale all last weekend near her (in Swords), we decided to head up there to check it out. And my God was it massive!

  The sale was in a warehouse the size of a football pitch, with a marquee added on at the far end for the furniture and flooring, and there was everything from all kinds of electrical stuff to giftware, to bedding and bathroom stuff. You would need a full day to see it all.

  Despite the rain which was pelting down there was a huge crowd coming and going, and the good news is that Carol was there long enough to grab a few (a good few) bargains, and, for the first time in my life I proudly carried bonafide Arnotts bags, with their own goods, to the car. I doubt if it will ever happen again, so I am saving the bags for posterity.  

  Then we called into the Airside Shopping Centre, and for me, the big excitement was in Harvey Norman’s, where the rain was literally pouring through the roof in bucketfuls. While they were doing their best to gather it up in dozens of buckets and barrels, eventually they gave up, and had to close the shop. I’d say there will be a fair insurance claim, as there was quite a bit of damage done as far as I could see.

  Anyway, we hit for home some time around four pm and, just as we headed off, the snow came, and by the time we got near Enfield the motorway was white and traffic was down to almost a crawl. It stayed that way ‘till near Moate, and then, miraculously, the snow disappeared and it was back to the wind and rain. I was giving out about the rain on my way up, but I can honestly tell you I was never as glad to see it as I was on Sunday evening. Anyway, I was glad I went to see the warehouse sale, even though I normally hate that type of thing, but it was an education, and I certainly never saw as much stuff, of so many different types, under one roof before. If it happens again next year, I’ll find somewhere else to be.


Golfing in February


It’s Tuesday evening, February 26th, and if anyone had told me that I would be out playing golf on the beautiful parkland course that is Castlerea, I would have told them to go and have their head examined. But if they then said I would be playing in my shirt sleeves, I would have said they were beyond redemption and couldn’t be cured.

  Every year, without fail, I have waited ‘till the month of May before coming out of my winter hibernation, but on that recent Tuesday I made a burst and played six or seven holes. The one thing that hadn’t changed – despite the wonderful weather – was the golf. As usual with me, the shots went in all directions – but seldom in the direction they should go.

  Whenever people ask me as to how I played I always say that with me the score makes no difference. As long as I hit a decent whack on the ball I don’t really mind where it goes, provided it doesn’t hit any other unsuspecting golfer on a different fairway. Just the sheer enjoyment of following a ball around the lovely Castlerea course, and breathing clear fresh air – with an occasional visit to the woods to search for your own ball, or even someone else’s – makes it all so special, and I am fully intent on playing more often this year than in previous years. Hopefully I might even get a handicap, but that might be stretching it a bit.


And finally…

Finally for this week…two big local social nights to tell you about. Firstly, don’t forget the big dance on this Friday night, 8th of March, in the Abbey Hotel. It’s in aid of the Lourdes Assisted Pilgrims Fund. There will be great music by The Lancers, Patsy McCaul, and the Frank Nelson Band. It’s all kicking off at 9 pm. There will be loads of spots and raffle prizes…it’s a great cause and will be great craic, so make sure you get there.

  Meanwhile, Therese Kenny tells me that Cuisle are holding a St. Patrick’s fundraising party on Friday, 15th of March, in An Cuisle (starting at 9.30 pm). You are invited to turn up in green fancy dress, but that part is optional. There will be music, dancing, finger food, and spots (prizes, not pimples). Admission to both events is only €10, so in one throw of the dice there’s your next two Friday nights looked after! You can thank me later.


Till next week, Bye for now!

We had 48 hours to bite the Big Apple…






From mild to wild, from food experiences that range from hot dog stands, artisan epicurean markets, and pizza and burger joints to fine dining that’s so outrageously expensive, I warn you readers, it will break the bank…New York has it all. From large department stores like Saks on Fifth Avenue, and of course that premier shopping emporium that is Macy’s – located right in the middle of a hyperactive Herald Square – to little pop-up stands; and, I have to be honest, a few seedy gift shops, peddling items more bedraggled than the rubbish I threw out during our house move, it’s fair to say the city that never sleeps is, quite possibly the most culturally diverse metropolis I’ve ever visited in my entire life.

  And, even though I only spent a short time there last week, during what was a surprise whirlwind trip with my beautiful youngest daughter, without doubt, I loved every single minute of it – and I will return. However, due to the minus four temperatures, next time I grace the Big Apple with my presence it’ll be during their summer months.

  Yes folks, a wonderful Mother’s Day trip to the city that never sleeps with my baby girl, (okay she’s 26, but she’s still my baby), was always on the cards. We’d chatted about it for years. However, noticing that mammy was in serious need of a pick-up, (due to a tough house move), taking matters into her own hands, Megan booked our flights, our hotel, acquired Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) approval for me, and, in her no-nonsense way, told me she was bringing my Mother’s Day surprise forward and advised me regarding what items of clothing to pack (warm, comfy clobber and runners). Yes, my take-charge, youngest deffo takes after d’mammy! I wasn’t able to come up with a valid excuse like, “I can’t leave hubby on his own with the dogs”…to which he-who-thought-he’d-never-get-rid-of-me insisted that oh yes I could! In fact, in order to make sure I left, not only the county, but also the country, he-who-yearned-for-bit-of-peace, drove me to my daughter’s city centre apartment the day before our trip…and legged it back to Roscommon!

  Flying with Aer Lingus was extremely pleasant, and with a choice of in-flight movies, (including new releases and old classics), delicious food, refreshments and alcoholic beverages on tap, as well as sweet treats, all served by what has got to be the nicest, most professional crew I’ve ever had the pleasure of taking care of me, my seven-hour trip passed in no time at all. 

  My super-savvy daughter had booked us into a beautiful over-sized double room at one of New York’s finest hotels; spoiling me with what is arguably the most breathtaking views of Manhattan’s iconic skyline. And, even though we had a full day’s travel under our belts, we checked in, did a rapid make-up top-up, followed by a quick change of shoes, but wearing the same travel outfit, (my jeans were now more wrinkled than my face), off we went, into the cutting cold, to catch the 158 bus to downtown Manhattan for pre-show cocktails and to indulge in some of the most diverse gourmet vegan food either of us have ever experienced. Yes, No. 2 is also vegan, and sure with New York being home to some of the best vegan-friendly restaurants showcasing vegan menus galore, and, given the amount and the sheer quality of choice available, the pair of us could barely contain our unbridled enthusiasm. (Note to self: Have jaws wired shut for a month). If I was pushed on my favourite eatery, it’d have to be Le Pain Quotidien whose menu is packed with simple, yet elegant organic fare; I’ll tell you readers,  their breakfast avocado toast followed by granola with bananas and coconut yogurt is, quite literally, to die for!

  Having tried to get tickets for Jersey Boys, which, by strange coincidence had departed Broadway for Dublin that very day, we opted for Phantom of the Opera at The Majestic in Times Square; an area that is as insane as it looks on d’telly! This, anything-goes ‘crossroads of the world’ with its commuters, tourists, construction workers, street performers, (no Naked Cowboy, apparently it was too cold for him that day), and scammers, attracts over 50 million tourists annually; every one of whom seemed to be visiting on the same day as me.

  But I digress. Now in its 30th year, Phantom, which officially opened at The Majestic on Broadway where it remains to this day, is a timeless story of obsession, winning both Olivier and Tony awards, and was, for both of us, an exquisitely crafted piece of musical theatre rendering us perched on the edge of our fifth row seats. Ben Crawford and Eryn LeCroy were mesmerising as the Phantom and Christine. This show was definitely the highlight of a trip which took in the Empire State Building, the heartbreaking Ground Zero where, visitors were so respectful, (and rightly so), you could have heard a pin drop; the New York Public Library, Grand Central Station, the art deco skyscraper that is the Chrysler Building and one of the city’s oldest and most historic buildings, the Flatiron. Sadly, due to time constraints we didn’t get to see the Brooklyn Bridge or take a bike ride through Central Park, meaning we’ve got a perfect excuse to return to the ever-changing fabulous fairytale that is New York City. Thank you baby girl; I had an amazing time.


Kerry, for the sake of the kids, tone it down a tad!


Due to what I can only describe as severe jetlag, I tuned into the Ray D’Arcy show to watch Kerry Katona’s (a stunningly beautiful woman, it must be said), brash, distasteful, car-crash behaviour during what was, for me, a highly uncomfortable interview. Now, as someone who has, in the past, interviewed Kerry for both print and broadcast media, I had hoped, that, given, (in her words) she’s nearly 40 and the mother of five kiddies, she’d matured a bit over the years.  However, the queen of reality TV’s brash cringe-worthy technique of  “I just marry ‘em, get pregnant, sell it to ‘OK’ magazine, and then get divorced,” and the way she threw shade at her first husband’s exes left me with a sour taste in my mouth. Look Kerry, no matter how much you may dislike your ex-husband’s former partners, no matter how draining or demanding you feel they may have been on your relationship with him, (and believe me I know all about the stressful tsunami that is a divorce), when speaking publicly love, it’d be wise for you to set a good example and remember that children learn about relationships through studying the models in their lives. And as you say you’re a “single mother”, that model is you!

  Therefore, if you come across like a bitter, cold harpie, then it’s possible your beautiful kids may follow by example and use this type of conduct as a definition for their own adult behaviour; and that can’t be healthy hon, now can it?

































































































Lamenting Liam, the last of the legends



The last time I met Liam Gilmartin was about five years ago at a function in the county. About five years before that I decided to do a radio documentary for Shannonside with the surviving members of the Roscommon team which won senior All-Ireland football titles in 1943 and 1944. For that project, I spent a couple of hours with Liam at his home in Raheny and it was a chat that I shall always remember.

  People in Roscommon GAA will know Liam’s story. He was a magnificent player who captained Roscommon to win the All-Ireland minor title in 1939. He was one of the stars of the Roscommon senior team when they won the All-Ireland senior title in 1943. They repeated the feat in 1944, beating Kerry in the decider. Liam was a magnificent midfielder who had been on the Roscommon senior team from the age of 18. Incredibly, he was never defeated in a championship game playing for Roscommon at any grade. His last game for Roscommon was that final against Kerry in 1944.

  In 1945, Liam was struck down with TB. He spent many months in hospital. At that time in this country TB was a killer disease and it was touch and go as to whether Liam would survive to the end of 1945. But survive he did – and it is absolutely amazing to report that he outlived all his colleagues on that team, living to the age of 97. He was immensely proud of his Ballymurray and Roscommon roots and of his achievements on the football field. Liam lived well over 50 years in Dublin and he loved the Dubs too. What a coincidence that on the day after he passed Roscommon and Dublin met in a big league game in Dr. Hyde Park. It was surely written in the stars.

  I know that many of us in the GAA are constantly accused of living in the past, but Liam Gilmartin is the last link to the magnificent team that Roscommon had in the 1940s. The passion and love that many people have for Gaelic Football in Roscommon was generated by the deeds of those mighty men and subsequently passed on through the generations.

  I never saw Liam Gilmartin or any of his colleagues play football but I remember my late father telling stories of great games from the ‘40s and ‘50s when Roscommon were at or near the top of the football pile. Their deeds are part of Roscommon folklore and will never be forgotten.

  Liam Gilmartin loved Gaelic Football right to the end, although he was not shy about giving his view as to faults in the game. He did a brilliant interview with Dermot Crowe in The Sunday Independent in 2011 in which he decried the cynical edge that was creeping into the game.


“Nobody should say ‘well we won, it doesn’t matter how we played, we won’”


“I don’t hold with any of the common tactics used to gain unfair advantage”


The above are just two quotes from that interview which received widespread acclaim throughout the country and was an accurate reflection of a man who at all times played hard but fair.

  Now all those men who represented our county with such great distinction have passed on and it is truly the end of an era. They brought great honour to Roscommon over the many decades that have passed since then. To Liam’s family I extend my deepest sympathy. May he rest in peace.



Closed premises, ballboys and Lovely Leitrim...



The other day…

That little premises used to be open – but now it’s closed.

  I noticed it the other day, another quiet and silent and dignified addition to the ‘boarded up premises’ statistics.

  The life has ebbed from that small business outlet, at least until someone else ‘takes a punt’, if someone else ever does.

  The shelves are suddenly empty. The unopened post lies on the floor. The furniture is gone.

  Hopefully it wasn’t/isn’t too great a trauma for the entrepreneur who had to ‘call time’. We can only wonder. There may have been stressful nights, long debates, awkward conversations, tensions and torments. A dream, of whatever magnitude, has died, at least for now.

  The small premises’ where the shelves were stocked with hope are under serious attack. Online shopping has all the momentum, true…but next time we need to do some shopping/access some services, let’s remember the small man and woman with the scribbled projections on the kitchen table – and let’s think of those doors that are shutting in our midst.


They’ll have told us so!

Wondering what the Irish rugby media will say after Ireland’s crunch game with France this weekend? I can tell you…

  If we win: ‘Ship steadied. Calm leadership from Schmidt. Growing into the tournament. Strength in depth. Can look to World Cup with cautious confidence. We told you so’.

  If we lose: ‘Wheels have come off. Schmidt should never have said he was leaving. Team is over-rated. One-dimensional. No real strength in depth. 2007 all over again. Bah, humbug. We told you so!’

Gaffer Anthony

I was intrigued by the following reference to Roscommon manager Anthony Cunningham in a report in the Irish Sun on the weekend thriller in Hyde Park:…‘Gaffer Cunningham’.

  Gaffer?!! Could it be that the Irish Sun is being influenced (infiltrated?) by their UK colleagues?

  Coming next week: ‘The lad done well’?


Not Trumped yet

I know people across the world are thinking ‘something has to bring Trump down sooner or later’, but I’m not sure that Michael Cohen is the smoking gun.

  Cohen sought to rip asunder the credibility (yeah, I know, I know) of his former boss (President Trump) from the very beginning of his testimony to the House of Representatives Oversight Committee.

  But when I heard this direct quote from the bould Michael on day one, I reckoned Trump had little to worry about.

  Mr. Cohen: “I lied, but I’m not a liar”.

  With enemies like that Donald, you can continue to stay ahead of the posse…


Short(ish) memory!

It’s almost 21 years since Eastenders famously got into hot water over its depiction of Ireland when some episodes of the popular UK soap were based here (complete with tedious stereotyping).

  I don’t watch Eastenders, but under the ‘It was on in the corner’ rule, I noticed on Monday evening that Albert Square legend ‘Dot’ is going to spend some time in Ireland with relatives.

  Which prompted this response from some character I didn’t recognise:

  “Even Ireland’s got to be a better place than here, innit?”

  Even Ireland? Ouch.

  We’re suitably sensitive/indignant…and so it’s a yellow (green-tinted) card to the scriptwriter with the short(ish) memory!


Ballboy 1 Klopp 0

Can the owners of Liverpool arrange to have that charismatic but increasingly easy-to-wind-up Jurgen Klopp airlifted from the touchline at the final whistle of Liverpool’s remaining games?

  Example one: Recently Klopp furiously rounded on a referee when no-one in the stadium had a clue what the ‘Pool supremo’s gripe was.

  Example two: Last Sunday, there was that bizarre footage as Klopp left the field after a disappointing 0-0 draw in the Merseyside derby.

  Sarcastically applauded by a cheeky ballboy, Klopp initially looked set to explode, before responding with a less than convincing ‘smile’.

  To be fair, that Everton ballboy caused Jurgen Klopp more anguish than have most rival managers/teams this season.

  Mr. Mourinho, wherever you are, please note: There’s a new maestro of psychology in town. An Everton ballboy…



I had some sort of a weird vision the other night…basically that our local TD Michael Fitzmaurice wasn’t a guest on the Tonight Show with Ivan Yates and Matt Cooper.

  I know, it’s crazy. I can only presume that it was a dream…


Poetry in motion 

It was a special weekend for Leitrim. We knew it was coming to this, such was the momentum. And so, with two games to spare, our neighbours march into Division 3 and into a league final at Croke Park.

  I remember their big day in Croke Park a quarter of a century ago. It’s hard to believe almost 25 years have passed since that memorable day. There was a wonderful atmosphere in Dorset Street before the game, as Leitrim folk from all over the world took over this part of the Capital, prior to their All-Ireland semi-final with Dublin.

  They were there, in that era before the ‘back door’ and quarter-finals, by virtue of winning only their second ever Connacht Final.

  Managed by John O’Mahoney, Leitrim defeated Mayo in Hyde Park. The scenes were epic, emotional, historic.

  And that’s when one Leitrim supporter was inspired to write this simple but memorable and apt poem.


The man from Leitrim (5.30 pm)

With chest expanding

He strides across Roscommon Town

A young son clutches his big hand and asks

‘Daddy, why are you crying?’








All eyes on Cardiff thriller





It’s Saturday evening, and after a busy enough day in the shop, I pull the door behind me. I have only one thing on my mind – and that is rugby – because the eagerly-awaited showdown in Cardiff between Wales and England has just kicked off, and I can’t wait to see if the Welsh can put a halt to the English gallop.

  It’s five o’clock, and I decide to watch the game in the newly-refurbished bar in the Sheraton Hotel, but it was absolutely jammed, and even though there were two televisions showing it, it was difficult to either see or hear it.

  Funny enough, very few of the big crowd seemed to be watching the action, as they all were eating or drinking, and – even at that early hour – they looked as if they were out for the night. I headed just up the road and settled on a welcoming high stool in Carey’s bar. It too was well crowded with a few early starters from a hen party, but most of the clientele were engrossed in the rugby, and all seemed to be supporting our Celtic brethren. It’s amazing how we all like to beat the English. If we can’t do it ourselves we delight nearly as much when someone else does.

  It’s now Monday afternoon (as I resume writing) and it’s well documented how we all got our wish, and the English Chariot was derailed. Everyone in Carey’s was delighted. Once it was over I headed down to the Buccaneers rugby ground where our lads (Creggs) were taking on the local team in the penultimate league match of the season. Now the result didn’t go our way, but all of us who were lucky enough to be there witnessed a terrific encounter, with some top class rugby played by both sides.

  As I watched from the sidelines of the main pitch, I couldn’t help but think that taking away the U-20 internationals from Dubarry Park and moving them to Cork  was a big mistake. Maybe I am being a bit selfish, but in recent years I attended a number of U-20 matches in the Midland venue, and they were great occasions, the games played in splendid surroundings. There can be no doubt that for accessibility alone, Athlone is far and away the more convenient.

  Earlier in the day, the Buccs had beaten St. Mary’s in an All Ireland League game, and our own Bill Flynn, a former fearsome prop forward, had taken in that match, watched the international in the Bounty, and then watched our lads in the evening – so he surely had a feast of top quality rugby. As a well-known student of the game, I’m sure he had a lot to discuss later on in the night.

Danny’s big night

Staying with Saturday night…I have to admit that I find watching any game that I have an interest in more demanding than when I actually used to play, and so by the time I made it home, I was only fit for a siesta on the couch in front of a nice warm turf fire. That’s why I missed out on a great night in Mulvihill’s in Castlerea, when my good friend, and one of the greatest people of all time, Danny Burke, had a surprise (to him) 80th birthday party.

  I’m told that the Castlerea Brass Band led Danny up Barrack Street (from his home) to Mulvihill’s, with great crowds looking on, and the night that followed was one of song, laughter and great craic, just as the one and only Danny would have wanted and deserved.

  I have had the privilege of knowing Ireland’s most renowned postman ever for nearly fifty years, and no words of mine could do justice to the contribution he has made in so many different ways to so many different organisations and communities. All I can say is I really regret not making it on Saturday night, but heartiest congratulations Danny, and, if we’re both still around in 10 years’ time, I will make your 90th. Happy birthday Danny, and here’s to many more.

Brexit woes

Brexit is something that I have seldom if ever mentioned, but as someone who remembers being asked to get out of a car along with four other young (at the time) men who were going to play rugby for Corinthians up in Belfast, and having all our gear bags opened up, with stuff literally thrown around the road by British soldiers, I, along with many others, would not like to see a return to those bad old days.

  However, there are many other little things that may cause problems, and one of those is the fact that a British driving licence may no longer be valid in Ireland. Two people that I know of who moved back here from England some years ago, and who have driven quite legally here since then on their British licences, are now frantically trying to get Irish licences before the dreaded No Deal comes to pass.

  I have no idea if they will be successful, as I’m sure they will have to do a test, and I keep saying – although in truth I haven’t a clue (nothing unusual there, says you) that the No Deal won’t happen – but the people involved are scared they may find themselves in a licensing limbo which could invalidate both their licences and their insurance – and so they can’t take the chance. It’s just one very minor problem that a hard border may bring, so for all our sakes, let’s hope something can soon be sorted to prevent such a scenario.

And finally…

Finally for this week, Jimmy Kearney of The Lancers’ fame has asked me to remind you all that the Roscommon Deanery fundraising dance in aid of the Lourdes Assisted Pilgrims Fund takes place on Friday, 8th of March in the Abbey Hotel, with dancing from 9 pm to 1 am.

  Music will be provided by three of the best local bands…Frank Nelson, Patsy McCaul, and The Lancers themselves. It is for a great cause that helps so many individuals and families. There will be loads of spot prizes, and a raffle too. It all only costs €10, so if you can at all, get out the cowboy hat and the dancing shoes, saddle up your old horse, and get to the Abbey on Friday night, 8th of March, where you are guaranteed a top class night of music and dancing. See you there.


Till next week, Bye for now!

Have foolish Brexiteers unwittingly threatened to demolish this State?




Well folks, as the release date of Brexit…The Final Season is looming, the Brits still appear to think they’re both an empire and a force to be reckoned with. This element became clear to me when, last week, the British Government attempted to do what it believes it does best…issue idle threats to the Irish by playing dirty, announcing they’d favour Brazillian beef over ours. The nerve! Eh, let me know how that works out for yas! G’wan, flood your UK market with what is highly likely to be a food product riddled with not only traceability and sanitary issues, but that also raises questions around the way in which the animals were slaughtered.

  I mean, have the British Government become so obtuse they’ve totally forgotten the litany of concerns highlighted in a report documented by a delegation of MEPs who visited Brazil’s main beef-producing regions last year, where they declared ‘it became clear that Brazil does not have the same standards as EU producers’.  

  So, as each day is being ticked off the Brexit calendar, and the rhetoric surrounding the initial vote whereby our lovely neighbours declared they ‘never, never, never, shall be slaves,’ to either the EU or anyone else has now long since subsided, it seems the big dog that is the UK – i.e. the fifth biggest national economy in the world – has, I’d imagine now realised it may well have made a massive fizz-up of the whole untangling bit, and, as is usual in acrimonious divorces, resorted to playing hardball. However, I’d have to ask why they’d want to pull such a stunt on us? I mean, hasn’t history taught them that throwing intimidating ultimatums at the Irish, a nation that never has been, nor never will be, frightened of them proved fruitless? A nation which, even when our back is up against the wall – and the Brexiteers have become a massive thorn in our sides – will not, under any circumstances, bow to their pathetic threats.

  Irish farmers, (including Roscommon farmers) are synonymous with producing and providing top quality beef. Even as a vegan – I never have and never will consume it or any other animal product – I do fully understand that with prices reaching an all-time low, the industry here is not only under severe threat; it’s in crisis. And, even though Simon Coveney is doing his best ‘spin’ exercise in a bid to insist both the government and the EU will support our farmers following the Brits’ ‘we’ll buy Brazillian on a tariff-free quota basis’ bluff; the situation is indeed perilous and I hope his strategies will, as he pledges, protect both vulnerable citizens and vulnerable sectors. Time, which is running short, will tell.

  Something else which is under threat from a no-deal Brexit in our little country is our stability and our peace. You see, nobody, except of course for those who thrive on violence, will want to see the reestablishment of a hard border with the North. Therefore, while it gives me no pleasure to say this, (and I mean no insult to our wonderful UK residents living among us), it seems that the Brexiteers, through their unbelievable lack of judgement, and, dare I say, folly, have, once again, due to an ill-thought out referendum and their follow-up irrational behaviour of deciding to leave the EU without even a hint of a plan, may have unwittingly threatened to demolish this State. 

  Theresa May needs to stop pandering to those self-destructive extremists in her party, grow a set of liathróidí and strike a middle ground as a matter of extreme urgency. The diplomatic pressure is on, we’ve reached our limit of compromise, and our government cannot, and absolutely must not, take a risk with Ireland’s peace, its people, both north and south, its stability and its economy! Let’s hope common sense will prevail!

Do dial down on the whining Meghan love!

If Meghan Markle aka the Duchess of Sussex doesn’t want to be, according to her pal George Clooney ‘pursued and vilified,’ or indeed, get ‘a raw deal’ from the public,’ then I’d advise she refrains from jetting across the globe to attend high profile celebrity packed events, i.e. a lavish baby shower, held at a £57,600-a-night penthouse, (€66,294) that she knew was guaranteed to attract the interest of the paparazzi! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying she should toe the line drawn by her in-laws…no way. I didn’t toe the line for my former in-laws, nor do I do it for my current ones, (and hubby wouldn’t dream of expecting me to). However, if, like privileged Meghan, someone manages to nab a job where they earn oodles of money, (funded by the public), for doing very little other than keeping a tight grip on their baby bump…(eh, we know you’re pregnant love, and we wish you well); and while everyone understands that royal life is debilitating, it’d be prudent not to whine because, unlike Meghan’s  deceased mother-in-law Diana, she’s no innocent teenager; rather she lived in the spotlight and she  knew what she was getting into before she signed her employment contract with the Queen. Just sayin’.

The Church didn’t want to act…it had to act!

Well readers, it appears the ‘alleged’ cover-ups regarding the sexual abuse and exploitation of children within the Catholic Church are now no longer allegations. And, I’ll bet when Pope Francis opened a landmark Vatican summit to tackle child sex abuse he didn’t expect Cardinal Reinhard Marx’s candid confirmation that ‘Files that could have documented the terrible deeds and named those responsible were destroyed, or not even created’.

  Now while locals commented to me last week they were delighted the Church had decided to “act to address the issue,” my answer was, “they didn’t choose to act, they didn’t want to act…they had to act!” I mean, when you look at this summit and see that level of high-ranking prelate gathered in the same room, you know the Church has realised the game’s up! They’ve been sussed and the sex abuse crisis, which will only escalate, now needs to be urgently addressed. It’s classic PR crisis management…take responsibility, be proactive, be transparent, be human, apologise and promise to take action! So, while Pope Francis has issued ‘guidelines’ suggesting ‘mandatory codes of conduct for priests, training people to spot abuse and informing police,’ etc., I for one am not buying it and I’d question if His Holiness has got what it takes to see his ‘guidelines’ and his ‘concrete measures,’ are put in place. I remain sceptical because for me, there’s a huge difference between what this Pope says and what this Pope does.


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