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There’s lots of life in rural Ireland!

 

 

 

 

It’s Monday morning as I write, and as I look out the window at the rain that at the moment seems to be almost constantly falling, I am reflecting on an amazing sporting and social weekend that certainly puts paid to the theory that life in rural Ireland is dull and boring, and indeed to any theory that rural communities are as good as finished.

  It all started on Friday night, when after spending the day at work in our other shop in Mullingar, we headed to Kiltoom where our Creggs footballers were playing the host club, St. Brigid’s, in the semi-final of the Tansey Cup. Despite coming out on the wrong side of the result, I have to say that we witnessed a really good game of football. We have come so far over the years that we take facilities like those at St. Brigid’s for granted, but it is to the credit of so many clubs all over our countryside that wonderful floodlights and good playing surfaces are now nearly the norm. It’s not only GAA clubs, but also soccer and rugby clubs that nowadays lead the way in providing such facilities for their members.

  The big change from days gone by was that after the game it was straight home –  with no ‘pit-stops’ – and favourite watering holes like Coffey’s in Lecarrow and Ned’s Bar in Knockcroghery (owned by Carol’s niece, Anouska, and her husband, Richard) had to be bypassed. Even so, it was still after 11 pm when we made it back to our own picturesque little village.

  I had taken Saturday off in order to watch our massive Rugby World Cup match with Samoa, and while Ireland put in a strong professional performance and comfortably made it through to the quarter-finals, I was sorry for poor old Bundee Aki, who I believe was harshly sent off and whose Rugby World Cup may now be over.

  As for Ireland, they are in a great place now, because nobody gives them a snowball’s chance in hell against the All Blacks, but if any team can use the underdog tag to their advantage, it’s Ireland, and despite all the evidence against them I would not rule out an Irish victory. I admit it’s a long shot and probably just wishful thinking, but sport sometimes throws up unusual and unexpected results, and just maybe we might have another one on Saturday next.

  Anyway, having watched the rugby, I decided to continue my couch day by watching Ireland versus Georgia in the soccer, but you should never watch soccer after watching rugby, hurling or football, because it has now become almost like a game of chess…so boring that most games would put you to sleep.

  Therefore, I headed outdoors to mow the lawn – hopefully for the last time this year –  after about 20 minutes of the soccer. However, it took a good while to get the lawnmower started, and sadly with about three-quarters of the job done, it conked out, and the Lord himself would not get another ‘meg’ out of it, and so there’s still work to be done. It’s too wet today (Monday) and in any event the lawnmower may be going up to join all the other lawnmowers in the sky.

  Saturday evening came, and at 7.30 it was off to Creggs to the rugby pitch where our second team defeated Corinthians in a junior league game that was thoroughly enjoyed by the enthusiastic followers. Our lads, with a mix of elder and younger lemons, were thrilled with a really good win which hopefully sets them up for a good run in the league.

 

Communal approach to going to the pub…

 

We are always being told that country pubs are dying on their feet – and I suppose there is no disputing the facts – but last Saturday night Dowd’s in Glinsk was well full (see separate item), and the people were out enjoying themselves.

  I have always believed that country pubs can survive – with a lot of effort. One of the ways to do so is to provide transport so that the punters can get to and from the pub safely and (obviously) without drinking and driving.

  I recently saw where down in the south of Ireland a group of 20 to 30 locals came together and drew up a roster so that between them they provide transport to their local village pub. As most people are only out over the weekend, I imagine it could and should be done in all our little towns.

  If the project is done properly, a driver would only be ‘on’ every few weeks, and it just might mean an upsurge in fortunes for our rural communities. I’m not sure if publicans are involved in the southern scheme, but I would think they should be. While I am also aware that every new initiative has some challenges, my view is if it works somewhere else, then why not in Creggs? Maybe we could organise our own group.

 

 

Rugby thrills…in Japan and Creggs!

 

I rose quite early on Sunday morning to see the Scotland-Japan Rugby World Cup game, and it proved that maybe we had overreacted to our defeat at the hands of the Japanese. They are a top class rugby team, and their match with South Africa next weekend has me bristling with anticipation. The Japanese are well capable of turning over the Springboks.

  The full Irish was belatedly devoured and then it was time to put on the coat and the woolly hat and head to The Green in Creggs, where our Firsts were doing battle with old foes, Monivea.

  In a game full of scintillating rugby, we won on a 43 to 19 scoreline. What a game, what a setting! For all of us old Creggs folk, what’s happening in our village is just so positive.

  I have all my words used up for this week, but next week I will tell you all about what is coming down the line in the near future. Bet you can’t wait!

 

And finally…fundraiser success

 

Last weekend our annual fundraising dance was held in Dowd’s of Glinsk. It was a fantastic night of fun and craic.

  The dancers amongst us (not me) really kept the floor hopping. As ever, The Lancers were brilliant. We had a raffle with 23 prizes…there were four door prizes, including the Dinner for 2 (with a drop of wine thrown in) courtesy of the Abbey Hotel.

  There was an auction for a few unusual items (which the one and only Tom Connolly conducted) and at the end of it all we have raised over €5,400, our best result so far, funds which will now be divided equally between Lourdes Invalid Fund and Cancer Care West.

   It was great to see so many people coming out to support the dance. Eileen kept her promise to have the Guinness at its bubble-free best, and the craic was ninety.

  So, on behalf of all who helped to organise it, some thank yous: to all who donated prizes, all who bought and sold tickets, to Tommy and Dolores Dowd, to the ever-popular Lancers, to everyone who made it to the dance, and indeed to anyone that helped in any way. Please God if we are all still here we will do it all again in a year’s time, and we look forward to seeing you all then. 

 

Till next week, Bye for now!

 

 

Eamon’s bizarre carpooling plan runs into a roadblock

 

 

 

I have to say I like Eamon Ryan. Even though I would disagree with a lot of his policies, I’ve always seen him as well-educated, a good speaker, reasoned and calm. Until last week, that is. Last week he made a suggestion on TV…that there could be twenty of thirty cars parked in a typical Irish village, and that residents could book one of those vehicles when they wanted to go somewhere. This rural carpooling arrangement has to go down as the daftest suggestion I have heard in many years.

  The Green Party leader obviously has no understanding whatsoever of the reality of rural life, of how we have to live from day to day. Many people, including yours truly, get up early in the morning and have a long commute to work. I would need a car every single day from ‘the pool’, and so would many others. Public transport in most rural areas is simply not an option.

  Apart from that, there are insurance issues to be factored in. There would also be issues with regard to fuel costs, not to mention further unresolvable problems. If this is the best that the Green movement can come up with, then we are truly in trouble.

  As predicted, the carbon tax increases saw two cent being added to the price of a litre of petrol and diesel last week. That is on top on an 8-cent increase in the previous month (due to other factors). The bottom line is that it is becoming dearer and dearer for people to live and work in rural areas – and nothing positive is being done about it.

  I know that it has been pointed out already, but a decade ago people were urged (and incentivised) by the Government to buy diesel cars because they were supposed to be better for the environment than petrol vehicles. We know how that has turned out. I would love to be able to buy a monthly train ticket and travel in comfort to work with someone else doing the driving, but it’s never going to happen.

  This climate change problem is real and it has to be tackled. But a plan such as the one Eamon Ryan put forward last week is simply unworkable. The powers that be need to be realistic about what they want for rural Ireland in the future. We need more imaginative plans for rural dwellers when tackling this issue.

  The turmoil around the world and the impending likely departure of the UK from the EU will mean another hike in carbon taxes for everyone. Those living in the bigger urban areas will be better able to withstand that development because of the many public transport options they have – but the rural dweller will get hit hard every time there’s an increase.

  I suspect that if there wasn’t an election on the way, the carbon tax increase in the recent Budget would have been far greater than €6 per ton. The Government have promised that they will increase the tax to €80 per ton by 2030. The increases will be much bigger as time goes on.

  It looks like the Greens may well have a presence in Government after the next election. They will have to come up with better suggestions that Eamon Ryan’s carpooling plan if they want to garner a significant rural vote.

 

 

I (don’t) want to ride my bicycle, Eamon!

 

 

 

 

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, right, says he ‘deeply regrets the hurt’ caused by his recent comments about carpooling in rural Ireland. I’ll bet he does, especially given the country’s more than likely going to the polls next May. Yep, frantically back-peddling, (pun intended, because this genius suggested rural village dwellers could ‘cycle down to a local collection point’ to pick up our proposed shared car), the deeply deluded one was quick to try and clarify his absurd suggestion. Feverishly issuing a statement (possibly drawn up by an over-wrought PR officer), it now appears that poor misunderstood Eamon didn’t want to take away our cars, nay, nay and thrice nay dear readers, he only wanted to ‘provide people in rural Ireland with extra options’. Ah, bless his tender heart.

  Now, idiotic as Deputy Ryan’s comments – and his pathetic attempt at clarification – may be, it has to be said his position on rural Ireland is probably no different to that of his fellow politicians sitting pretty up in the big shmoke – and it’s this…we simply don’t matter. I mean, if we did, why would they continue to constantly treat us as a minority? And now, given the silly suggestion made by the leader-of-the-pack of so-called environmental heroes, we run the risk of being further marginalised and stripped of our constitutional right to own our personal mode of transport in our own country!

  Look Eamon, I’m sure you and the rest of your colleagues in Dublin have heard time and time again about the struggle rural Ireland is facing in order to make ends meet. Our plight can’t have escaped you. However, instead of trying to endear yourself to us and help us make our lives better, it appears your attitude is to penalise us ‘hicks’ by limiting our resources and with it, our sense of self-respect. Indeed, if Eamon (and the rest of the heavy-hitters) ever visited a genuine sweat, toil and tears rural village, they’d see that for many, the business element is either dead or on the verge of breathing its last as the people struggle to keep local shops, pubs and petrol stations open. Now I hasten to add…Tulsk is a thriving little village, (thank God), open and ready for business, but sadly that can’t be said for a lot of our rural neighbours. 

  Indeed, if Eamon drives (or cycles) to some rural areas, (many are located outside of beautiful Roscommon), he’d soon see the majority are showcasing similar scars resulting from apathetic bureaucratic neglect! Service stations stand idle; their pumps, due to the rising cost of fuel, are no longer operating. Shop windows are boarded up and small schools are disappearing through lack of families. And why? Because Ireland’s economic growth is concentrated in Dublin, the city that houses the decision-makers, and what I like to sarcastically call, the ‘brunch-bunchers,’ i.e. the over-privileged prats who have it all!

  Look Eamon, while I pride myself in being an environmentally friendly citizen, nobody, not even my husband, is welcome to use my precious car. I mean, I’m okay with him using it, (and grudgingly hand over the keys), when he absolutely needs them, but when it comes to my private transportation, I’m just not a team player! Like the rest of my village neighbours, I work hard for an item which is, quite literally, costing me a fortune to run, but is essential to my very existence here in rural Ireland.

  Okay, I admit it, I chose to leave Dublin with its DART, its Luas, and its buses, etc., and relocate here to live in Roscommon. I chose to cut and run, leaving the bright lights, big city, high-paying jobs way of life, and nobody twisted my arm to do so, however, I never once thought I’d be penalised for it. Nor did I think my decision to enhance my life would mean I’d be living in a situation whereby the county I moved to would have its taxpayers’ and its voters’ money collected and dispersed for the betterment, not of themselves, but of some arrogant politicians and their favoured urban communities!

  For the record Eamon, I’ll never be giving up my car, nor will I be sharing it, and the day that I do is the day that my doctor needs to tag my toe and call the coroner, ‘cause I’m dead! Got it? Good!

 

Who were these impossible-to-place X Factor celebrities?

 

I have to say readers, despite the fact I wasn’t at all sold on the overall concept, and, through a lack of nothing better to do, last Saturday myself and himself tuned in to see episode one of the X Factor Celebrity series. I told you we don’t get out much!

  Mind you, the calibre of ‘celebrities’ was so questionable, and so deliciously absurd, I imagine, for the researchers, it  was really a case of scraping the bottom of the barrel to see who was available. Okay, I recognised Ricki Lake, Jenny Ryan, Martin Bashir and David Hasselhoff’s young one Hayley, and of course the man who seeks publicity like a black tar heroin drug addict seeks a fix…Ben Foden, but that was it! As for the other ‘performers’, I could only describe them as being a part of the wannabe celebrity underclass desperate to dominate our small screens.

  Yep, perhaps I’m getting old, but who the hell were those third-tier reality show stars, and that extremely impossible-to-place actor from Holby City who seemed to think winking and smirking were the perfect substitute for lack of stage presence? I mean, I actually watch Holby City and I still can’t place this man; that’s how characterless he is. Then there was former Glee actor Kevin McHale, a bloke I hadn’t heard of either; but wait, I suddenly got a nagging suspicion that  somehow, through the wine fog, I recognised him; but then I didn’t quite know why…so I googled him. Turns out talented Kev had played paraplegic guitarist and singer Artie in the musical drama. Aaah, there it is.

  Anyhow, as the winter nights are drawing in, and myself and himself love nothing better than sitting by the fire, takeaway on lap, glass of wine in hand (me), pint of non-alcoholic beer in meaty paw (himself), I can guarantee you I’ll be tuning in. And why? Well, these X Factor quasi-celebrities have now crept onto my Saturday night viewing radar; but not because I can listen to them ‘singing’, but because I can poke fun at their questionable plastic-surgery-nightmare-horror-stories, their spilling-their-guts-on-Instagram-dramas, and their unhinged-desperate-to-be-famous-and-clever-enough-to-act-stupid-to-achieve-notoriety claims to fame! Yep, I need to get a life!

 

 

 

 

Brexit, Pearses and D(enmark)-Day

 

 

On cusp of a deal

As we go to press on Wednesday night, a deal on Brexit looks an inevitability. Which is quite an achievement. And yet…not that surprising.

  There was always likely to be compromise, always likely to be eleventh hour poker playing. The details of the deal have not emerged as we go to press, but it’s looking good.

   That will be a massive relief to millions of people, not least farmers, small business owners and the public in general…in this country (not to mention in the UK). A no deal Brexit would have been a disaster.

  And yet…assuming a deal is agreed, there is still the hurdle of securing the approval of the House of Commons to be overcome. The House is expected to sit on Saturday. This could yet be a close vote. There will be pressure applied to ensure that the deal is validated by the public in…yes, a referendum. So there may yet be twists and turns this weekend. 

 

Pearses get their day in the sun

 

Sport really can be tough. Utter joy for Padraig Pearses…desolation for Roscommon Gaels. Pearses fully deserved to win Sunday’s County Final, and congratulations to them. Roscommon Gaels made a bright start but were then hit by two great goals, and they never fully recovered. Mind you, the Gaels made a real game of it in a pretty dramatic finale.

  Whatever side you were supporting, the fact is we were witnesses to history on Sunday. This Pearses team is bursting with power and quality, truly a golden generation for the Woodmount club. Watching them finally claim the Fahey Cup, it was hard to believe that the club had never produced county senior football champions before. They often came close – and had some great players and fine teams – but they had never got across the line.

  When the final whistle blew, it was a special moment. A historic one. As Pearses’ fans swarmed on to the pitch, first out of the blocks were a group of young kids, all clad in their club’s colours…the stars of the future at one with the present, and with the emotions stirred by thoughts of the past. A sea of red and white. Hugs, embraces, emotions released.

  The sea of people grew, merging into a red and white symbol of parish joy. The parishes of Moore, Taughmaconnell and Creagh. It was 5.30 pm on Sunday, the 13th of October, 2019. An emotional day, especially when one thinks of all the great Gaels who have gone before. A great day for a great club. Finally, the sea of people drifted towards the stand, and joint captains Niall Carty and Ronan Daly lifted the Fahey Cup high. History made, past heartache eased, new and boundless possibilities to be embraced. 

 

Gloom for the Gaels

 

Monday was dark and dreary and wet in the county town, and that just about summed up the mood of despondent Roscommon Gaels players, management, members and supporters. It was the morning after the day before, and a gloomy Monday in every way. 

  Watching Sunday’s game from the stand, you could sense how much pressure was on the players (and management). On both sides. Both sets of players were desperate to win. Neither side would have cared if the final score was 0-2 to 0-0…as long as they won. Pearses had never won the title; the Gaels were looking to exit a 15-year barren spell.

  It was impossible not to feel great sympathy for the vanquished. The Gaels have been ‘nearly men’ for a few seasons. Coming second holds no appeal to them. Sport is tough when you come so close to the summit, only to see a competitor inch past you in the final stages. Losing a big sporting final sickens your stomach. So much work put in over so many months. So many nights of training; so many scenarios spinning around in your head in the nights before the final. So much hope, that it would work out. And regrets are unavoidable afterwards. Where joy and relief was meant to be, now there are thoughts of what might have been, defining moments relived.

  Roscommon Gaels have put a huge amount into this season’s campaign, and for the most part it has been marked by success and joy. On Sunday, they battled to the very end, getting to within one score of salvation. Nine points behind at one stage, and with two men less for the last twelve minutes or so, they lost with honour. Pearses fully deserved their win, but the Gaels can hold their heads high. This is a club that is prospering on and off the field. I hope they can come back and challenge next year.

 

Soccer team’s D(enmark)-Day

 

The Republic of Ireland’s 0-0 draw with Georgia last Saturday was as boring as a classic episode of Oireachtas Report.

  Unaware that our columnist Frank Brandon was going through similar agony – he reveals in his column today that he deserted the pros for the grassroots (i.e. cutting the lawn) – I too abandoned the game, heading for the office to check in on my emails. There were a few mundane press releases, but, as if symbolically, no offer of a fortune from a foreign prince. Every now and again I had a weak moment and checked the score online…needless to say, still 0-0.

  Fast-forward to Tuesday. This time I stayed on late in the office and asked our daughter to record Switzerland v Ireland. I got home at 9.30 pm with low expectations. More fast-forwarding as I whizzed through the footage. We lost 2-0, but it would appear that we played with some structure and purpose, a good deal better than the toil in Tbilisi. (Then again, I was fast-forwarding).

  Our hopes of qualifying for Euro 2020 now depend on the home game against Denmark next month. Win and we go through. It’s hard to be optimistic. Our lads are game but limited. All the more reason for some perspective, I suppose. We tend to overlook the fact that we are third seeds in the group. You know the mantra, but it’s hard to argue with…all together now: ‘Had we been told before the campaign began that we would be within a home win (in our last game) of qualifying, we’d have been happy…’ (Repeat as required over coming weeks).

  I’m glad the D-Day game is a few weeks’ away. Just now, after one point from two games, we feel vulnerable, exposed, on the cusp of a sad and tame exit. But the days will roll by, and the memory of Tbilisi will fade.

  By the time we face Denmark at home, hype and hope will have merged. The radio stations will crackle with talk of little else. The newspapers will speculate about possibly, just possibly, cutting Great Danes down to size. As limited as we are, we will be able to lift ourselves for that showdown. We will be glued to the telly and we will invoke the spirit of Big Jack. Beyond that, I don’t know. It will be in the lap of the Gods, our fate, if we’re lucky, to be determined by a random set-piece or deflection…

 

Bernard, Bercow and Mrs Brown….

 

The list of Late Late Show offences against the concept of entertainment grows week on week. Some Friday nights, to be fair, it can be grand, but more often than not there is a cringe factor. Then there’s the maddening ‘repeat guests’ – my old chestnut about Dermot Bannon, Diarmuid Gavin, Jason Byrne & Co.

  Last Friday night, we watched in growing horror. Bernard O’Shea – last seen prancing about with the media-shy Marty Morrissey – has written a book, titled: ‘My Wife is Married to a Feckin’ Eejit’. It may well be a funny book, but was its publication worthy of this prime-time coverage?

  I went into a dark room and closed my eyes (not really) and pined for the great days of the Late Late Show pomp.

  Desperate to share my anguish, I tweeted to the world, naming a few of the greats of Late Late Shows past…John Cleese, Tony Curtis, Billy Connolly, Spike Milligan. I forgot to add ‘Peter Sellers’, but enough fellow Tweeters got my point and shared my pain.

  When Bernard had finished explaining his considerable eejitry, I said I’d give last Friday’s Late Late Show another chance. But then Ryan only went and unloaded the entire cast of Mrs. Brown’s Boys on to the set. I thought they’d never stop coming. I actually admire Brendan O’Carroll, and sometimes find him funny. But this love-in (celebrating 20 years of Mrs. Brown’s Boys) was tiresome, excruciating in fact.

  Meanwhile, in the Late Late Show Green Room, John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons, must have assumed that he had been lured to Dublin under false pretences and was now being forced to watch this drivel as some sort of Irish revenge for that Brexit hell his countryfolk has subjected us to.

  As Mrs Brown/Brendan modestly listed all the charities the crew have helped, desperate viewers deserted to Graham Norton, where Robert De Niro and Bruce Springsteen had a slight celebrity status edge over Brendan and Bernard.

  I too switched over to the BBC, for fear that at any moment a giant Mrs. Brown’s Boys’ birthday cake would be wheeled out, and that either Marty Morrissey or Twink would burst from its midst.

  To be continued (no doubt)…

Gold medal goes to greed...as money proving to be a spoilsport!

 

 

It’s hard to believe it now, but once upon a time sport was exactly what it was meant to be, and wasn’t completely taken over by the money men. That dominance of financial factors in the current era means that the highest bidder tends to win the right to host the major tournaments, often with little apparent consideration for either the participants or the supporters.

  At the present moment we have the Rugby World Cup being played in Japan, where the humidity is apparently so bad that Donal Lenihan had to change his shirt after conducting a pitch-side interview, and where the ball is so slippy (with sweat) that even the All Blacks are making several unforced handling errors.

  Throw in the fact that there is also the chance of monsoons, typhoons, and other major weather events, and one can only wonder why the biggest rugby show of all is taking place in Japan at this time of year. As I write this, I’ve just heard that Ireland are in danger of going out of this year’s tournament, not because of their poor performances (which they certainly have been), but because there’s a typhoon coming that could mean that our last game (against Samoa) on Saturday might not go ahead. The powers that be have decreed that if a game can’t take place because of unforeseen circumstances – such as extreme weather – then the result will be declared a nil-all draw (no rescheduling). Such a result would almost certainly see Ireland on their way home and four years of preparation gone by the wayside.

  The lack of foresight shown by the tournament organisers is extraordinary. In my view there has been no consideration whatsoever for either players or supporters. Two close friends of mine are due to fly out this Thursday for their dream holiday, taking in the Samoan match and the first two quarter-finals, which should include Ireland against either the All Blacks or The Springboks, but which we potentially might not now feature in at all.

  I know how much these people sacrificed to enable them to travel to Japan. Now, thanks to a total lack of foresight by whoever runs World Rugby, their trip is in doubt, and even if they travel there is every possibility that the weather will have put paid to whatever chance Ireland had of progressing to the knock-out stages.

  I really hope this typhoon heads off in a different direction, that Ireland get to play Samoa, that they get the bonus point to get us through to the quarter-finals, and that my friends get to see a glorious Irish victory over either the All Blacks or the ‘Boks. Dream on, Frank!

Meanwhile in Doha…

 

As bad as World Rugby is (see main article), there is always someone worse – and in this case the World Athletics Championships are in a league of their own. Conditions in Doha are so hot that the Women’s Marathon had to be run at midnight, in the hope that it might have cooled down a bit. As it happened, even at midnight, the temperature was over 30 degrees, 28 of the 68 starters didn’t finish at all, and several needed hospital treatment after trying to run a race in inhuman conditions.

  These athletes had been preparing for these championships, but nobody (as with the rugby) was prepared for such extreme heat. I have to say that when I was a young boy I was totally in love with the Olympics, and the athletic competitions were the highlight, so much so that we would have our own Milford Olympics. In our minds, we were emulating the wonderful deeds of the top athletes. We may not have been as fast or as agile as our heroes, but we certainly thought we were, and to this day we still reminisce about our athletic feats in our own mini-Olympics.

  Sadly, as with cycling, drug abuse and doping has completely transformed the sport, to the extent that I don’t watch it any more. No matter who achieves what in any event, the suspicion is always there that performance-enhancing drugs may have been involved. Needless to say there are always some athletes who are totally clean, but over the years we have seen so much abuse that it’s hard to see the wood from the trees.

  However, despite all the suspicion, athletes should be able to perform in normal weather conditions, and there can be no doubt that the World Championships are in Doha because they put up enough money. The World Athletic people could not care less if the athletes had to run in a furnace.

  Closer to home we have had the continual mismanagement of the FAI with the John Delaney saga, and here in Galway we have the unusual situation where Supermac’s want to find out where their huge sponsorship monies to the Galway County Board have gone to. It hasn’t always been like that, but nowadays money seems to be the dominant feature in every type of sport. It truly is the root of all evil.

 

And finally…

Finally for this week, we are into the last couple of days’ before the big fundraising dance in Dowd’s (Glinsk) on Saturday night, a social event which is in aid of Cancer Care West and the Lourdes Invalid Fund. Once again this year, the reception by everyone has been fantastic; your generosity never ceases to amaze me.

  This year we may not have got to everyone, due to the poor weather, so we are appealing to you all to try and get to Dowd’s on Saturday night, dance the night away to the super sounds of The Lancers, and contribute to two very worthy charities.

  We will have loads of prizes for the raffle, Tom Connolly has a couple of surprise items for a small auction, we have the wonderful door prize from the Abbey Hotel (for someone who is at the dance), and Tommy Dowd and his great staff are all set to look after you on the night. Eileen promises the best Guinness ever – with not a bubble in sight! So all we need is to see you all and, as Jack Charlton used to say, we’ll “give it a lash”.

 

Till next week, Bye for now!

George, Eoghan and a very shy Lorenzo!

 

 

 

 

Last week the country braced itself for Storm Lorenzo. George Lee put on his most serious face (and that’s very serious) and used his most desperate and most solemn tone of voice to warn us of the impending disaster. RTE reporters were sent to all points on the West Coast to record the terrible tempest and Eoghan Murphy and his officials were holed up in the bunker in Dublin, ready for the worst. But it just didn’t happen – and, not surprisingly, criticism came quickly. 

  I have sympathy for the authorities. The ‘weather people’ were genuinely afraid that there was going to be a significant storm. If they didn’t warn us and the storm caused havoc, then there would have been an even bigger outcry. But a lot of the media coverage of the storm that never quite materialised was way over the top. The danger now is that when the next storm is coming, people may not heed the warnings.

  I see where businesses in places like Galway and Limerick have been critical of the persistent warnings about Lorenzo, as they led to a huge fall-off in the numbers of people who came into the city centres. There was a major financial loss to businesses as a result of the publicity. But it’s very hard to win in these situations.

  With the storm passing without any major damage being done, some of the commentary on social media was hilarious. ‘Light Breeze Lorenzo’ was one of the more printable verdicts that I saw on Twitter.

  As far as I can see, the biggest threat from the change in our climate to people living locally is flooding. For instance, over the past six weeks or so the amount of rain that has fallen is way above average. The land is drenched already – and we are hardly into October. There will be lots more rain before this year is over, which is a major worry.

  Despite the virtual non-appearance of Lorenzo last week, the fact remains that we are facing the threat of more intense storms and heavier rain in the future. Such weather will have a fundamental effect on our land, our homes and on our roads too. There is not much point depending on the insurance companies for solace – make one flooding claim and that’s likely to be the end of your cover into the future.

  Minister Eoghan Murphy was in his element last Wednesday and Thursday. Politicians love to be on our screens day and night – even, I suspect, if warning of impending disaster – especially when they have nothing to do with it.

  I suspect that the majority of people heeded the warnings that they were given and stayed in last Thursday night. It meant that there were no injuries or mishaps at all. But it also meant that the country almost came to a standstill for a night.

  Lorenzo may have passed with a whimper but I suspect that it won’t be long before another more serious weather event hits us. That is the reality.

Note: I am running a fundraiser (an ‘80s and ‘90s video disco) in aid of Roscommon Palliative Care in Nancy’s Nightclub, Castle Street, Roscommon on Friday night, the 25th of October. It’s a tenner on the door. Please support this very worthy cause if you can.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t blame it on Met Éireann, they’re forecasters, not fortune tellers!

 

 

 

I’m no tree-hugger, however I do my bit to try and live an environmentally-friendly lifestyle. Indeed, I fully understand, and I worry quite a bit about the negative effects that extreme weather conditions are having on our planet. And, despite the fact some of our elected officials recklessly continue to deny climate change exists (I’m talking about you, Danny Healy-Rae), I for one will always place my trust in the experts, (I’m talking about the very capable Evelyn Cusack and the folk at Met Éireann).

  Therefore, last week, when the no-nonsense Ms. Cusack and her team flagged the extent of the potential threat posed by the incoming Hurricane Lorenzo, (downgraded to storm status when it reached our shores), I personally took notice and got into preparation mode. Yep, I stocked up on dog food and wine!

  Look, given last year’s (and previous years’) extreme weather patterns and events, (which tragically saw several people losing their lives), it was obvious that Hurricane/Storm Lorenzo was always going to pose a substantial threat to our country. To that end, in my opinion, the criticism levelled at Met Éireann in the aftermath was totally unfair and largely inexcusable! Yep, before the last drops of rain had dried up, the condemnation on social media had begun.

  Okay, I know many businesses who shut up shop now feel pretty annoyed and believe the scaremongering was a bit over the top. I also know that unfortunately there’s a financial impact attached to these decisions, but the thing is, nobody told anybody to close down for the duration of the storm. Met Éireann and the local authorities simply armed the public with the facts, and, as responsible citizens it was up to us to take that advice and either run with it or ignore it. In short, we were free to make our own informed decisions, to be big enough to take responsibility for them and to not go lambasting the experts when it all went pear-shaped.

  Indeed, an example of one amadán who chose to ignore the Irish Coast Guard’s message to ‘stay back, stay high, stay dry,’ meaning unless you’re a total imbecile (my words not the Coast Guards’), back off from coastal areas, was a certain kite-surfer. However, clearly this arrogant dope and his ‘I know best’ attitude, which culminated in a full-scale air and sea rescue to recover him, has a limited brain capacity. Therefore he should, in my opinion, be prosecuted for placing these heroes’ lives at risk and then slapped with a bill for the financial cost of his rescue and evacuation to hospital in what were gale-force nine conditions.

  Don’t get me wrong, I’m so glad this glutton for punishment was found safe and well, his only injury apparently being a broken leg, but his thoughtlessness placed his fellow human beings’ lives at risk – and that’s inexcusable in my book.

  Look folks, I don’t mean to rant. I’m just someone whom, when it comes to our weather, relies on the skill and proficiency of Met Éireann’s staff. And, even though they’ve got access to the European Centre for Medium-Range Forecasts, which is apparently ‘the best weather-modelling service in the world,’ last week’s event proved that when it comes to our weather, unpredictability is always to be expected with precaution being the catchword of the day. So, why not cut Evelyn and her colleagues a bit of slack, listen to their advice and, as is your prerogative, decide yourself whether or not you wish to adhere to it! But remember, if, after the event, your roof hasn’t blown off, or your trees haven’t fallen down flattening your car, don’t criticise those who tried to help, just take a deep breath and  be thankful!

The ghosts of relationships past!

 

Here’s a question for you readers…would you invite your ex or your partner’s ex to your wedding? I only ask because this week, it was reported that the UK’s Princess Beatrice has invited her fiancé Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi’s ex-girlfriend to their wedding! How very grown up of her.

  Now apparently, Bea’s hubby-to-be was engaged to this ex, (interesting), and, (even more interesting), they have a two-year-old son together. So I suppose in this type of situation the invite makes sense, especially if the couple want the child to be a part of their big day. You see, if you split up and share young children together, extending an invitation might be a good idea, because it can show the kiddies that, even though mammy/daddy have moved on from each other, they’re still united when it comes to their commitment to the family they created together.

  However, for those who have an ex or three floating around, (and let’s face it, you’ve split up with them for a reason, meaning they should be well gone, along with any fleeting flashback moments), with no kids attached, then you should cut them from your list. Why? Because your wedding day is not an opportunity to dress up and show your ex what he/she missed out on! And bear this in mind folks, if there’s a drop of alcohol taken, (and there will be), and he/she’s the teary-eyed drama queen who can’t cope with his/her former squeeze being betrothed to someone else, then it’s very likely that there will be trouble! Look, you’re no longer an item; you’re donezo…accept it, and, if you’re a reader who unexpectedly receives an invite to the one-who-got-away’s-wedding, my advice is to tick the ‘enthusiastically decline’ box and move on! He/she’s someone else’s problem now!

I’m free…kinda!

 

Finally…I’m free! (Kinda; I still have a slight limp and temporarily need one crutch). But, yippee; after nearly thirteen weeks incarcerated in a child’s fracture boot, (I’m only 5’ and my shoe size is a four, meaning the adult boot came over my knee), I’m now back to wearing a shoe on my left foot! Mind you, it’s a horrible, sensible, ‘healthy’ walking shoe, that, together with its partner, while intended to provide me with a bit of stability, is really only providing me with a severe pain in my pride!  

  Now okay, I know that ‘flats’ are currently enjoying their moment, with the fashion pendulum swinging towards ‘comfort’, so you could say I’m on trend. But seriously, as a short woman, being told I need to wear a shock-absorbing low, broad-based heel for the foreseeable future is proving to be sole-destroying (pun intended). I can tell you I feel more frumpy than fashionable. I cannot wait for the day when I slip into a pair of leg-elongating, place-my-ass-on-a-pedestal stilettoes, and I’ve no doubt that, with the help of Rachael, my fabulous physio in Castlerea, I’ll be cutting up that rug at the office Christmas party. (Apologies for mentioning the ‘C’ word).

 

Till next week, Bye for now!

 

 

The Budget, Brendan and Ballintubber!

 

 

Paschal spares us!

 

I missed most of the Budget coverage on Tuesday due to a long day at work, but I did catch a few minutes of Paschal Donohoe being interviewed by ‘Matt and Ivan’.

  And I actually heard the Finance Minister counter the charge that he had failed to make even minimal tax cuts by saying…wait for it…that he didn’t want to put more money into people’s pockets and then (if we have had a no deal Brexit) have to take it back off them in a few months’ time.

  So, Paschal was sparing the hard-pressed taxpayers. We might call it the ‘I won’t be giving you an engagement or wedding ring darling, in case we get divorced in future’ policy!

 

Moving tribute to Brendan

 

Episode two of the three-part documentary series featuring the late Brendan Grace aired this week.

  ‘Thanks for the Memories’ was originally intended to follow the famous entertainer’s plans to stage a variety show for dementia sufferers with the Forget-Me-Nots community choir. When Brendan sadly passed away this summer, the programme evolved into an emotionally-charged documentary on his battle with illness.

  Monday night’s episode was extremely moving. Brendan Grace’s immense courage and great humanity shone through. While deeply sad, it is an excellent documentary, a very emotional and fitting tribute to a great man.

Deer – and Bird

On Monday morning, Morning Ireland reported on an appeal to the public not to take selfies with deer in places such as the Phoenix Park.

 The warning to “leave wildlife alone” came as the  ‘rutting’ or mating season begins. Taking selfies with deer could be dangerous, we were told by the Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

  I’m sure I wasn’t the only listener (easily) amused by the fact the their spokesperson is a Ms. Gillian Bird.

 

It was worth it…

I understand why the Government, Met Éireann and the media are all being accused of over-hyping Storm Lorenzo, which, let’s face it, was a bit of an…er, damp…squib. Thankfully.

  It certainly was over the top, all those solemn updates from the HQ of the National Emergency Co-ordination Group, where our grim-faced masters continuously warned us to ‘stay back, stay high and stay dry’. 

  Still, it was all worth it. After all, it meant we knew where ‘Boxer’ Moran and Eoghan Murphy were at all times, and it kept them out of mischief for a few days…

 

Yellow card for rugby pundits!

 

Ah, those rugby pundits…

  A week or two before the World Cup, Neil Francis intimates that Ireland are peaking at just the right time. After a couple of unconvincing performances, Know-All-Neil has the barbs at the ready.

  Eamonn Sweeney spent much of 2018 lauding Joe Schmidt and Ireland as the greatest thing since fried bread; now he has them down as toast.

  Sometimes I wonder how those of us who work in the media get away with it. So many pundits who unashamedly puff their chests out and co-exist in two parallel universes…enjoying the best of both worlds.

  It was Liam Cosgrave Senior who graciously said of Charles Haughey: “He did more than his critics ever did”.

 

Hey…it was OUR Ballintubber!

 

It’s bad enough losing out to Mayo when they actually beat us in sporting combat, but it’s such a shame to lose out unnecessarily…

  Irish Independent TV critic John Boland, reviewing ‘Raised by the Village’ last Saturday (he wasn’t particularly impressed by the programme) wrote that the so-called ‘troubled teens’ from Dublin had been briefly re-located to Ballintubber, Co. Mayo.

  It was of course Ballintubber, Co. Roscommon that featured on the programme recently.

  In contrast to Boland, Brenda Power in the Sunday Times was very impressed by the programme, reporting that the two teenagers were transformed due to their visit to “rural Co. Roscommon”.

  And I caught a couple of minutes of Gogglebox Ireland, in which the ordinary-people-sitting-on-their-sofas raved about how well the two supposedly troublesome teens had fared when they spent a week in Ballintubber (Co. Roscommon!).

 

Free advice for ‘Week in Politics’

 

RTE’s ‘The Week in Politics’ needs another makeover. Presenter Áine Lawlor does a good job – but the format is jaded.

  Long, circular sofa with (usually) four politicians as guests. In their best suits, except for the cool Lefties who probably think they’re making a game-changing statement with their casual attire. All four wait in turn to have their say. Naturally, they articulate their perspective, stick to their line; spin and hope to win. Blandness rules. There will be no meeting of minds. We learn little or nothing. What’s the solution? Maybe there’s no solution, but it’s not working at present. Current affairs shows in the UK and America seem to have more vigour and energy.

  The Week in Politics needs a shake-up…less guests, maybe even a small studio audience, a review of the Sunday papers, maybe an outspoken commentator/columnist or two…most urgently of all, some real, meaningful, lively and edge debate.

 

Mysterious blaze

 

I spotted the following headline on the RTE website last week:

  ‘We all need Neighbours like this! Jason Donovan tackles blaze in his underpants’. There was a video, with footage of the Australian singer/actor responding heroically.

  I looked at the headline a second time. ‘Jason Donovan tackles blaze in his underpants’.

  And naturally, I immediately wondered…how on earth did a blaze start in Jason Donovan’s underpants?

  Yes, I was reminded of the old Groucho Marx joke (which obviously inspired me to make the above flippant observation).

  Groucho: ‘One morning I shot an elephant in my pyjamas. How he got in my pyjamas, I don’t know’.

  Thank you, Groucho. (And if any younger readers/readers don’t know about the Marx Brothers, please correct that position). We need a little more silliness in this world…

 

The late Christy Keane

We lost another good man out our way this week. Just a week after the passing of Fonsie Nolan (RIP), another great neighbour has gone to his eternal reward.

  Christy Keane, of Ballymurray, Roscommon, was the most unassuming of men. Quiet, dignified and soft-spoken, Christy lived life without fuss and was devoted to his wife Marie and children. He had a great sense of humour and always seemed to be cheerful, in fact often mischevious.

  Widely known in farming circles, Christy loved the soil, and nature. He was also a keen race-goer for many years. Of course, many hundreds of people knew Christy through his 35 years’ as the familiar and friendly man behind the wheel of the school bus. Poignantly, he had just recently retired from that role.

  Christy faced his illness with customary serenity and courage. He passed away last Friday and was laid to rest in St. Coman’s Cemetery following Funeral Mass in Kilteevan. A thorough gentleman who had a great way with him, he will be greatly missed and very fondly remembered. May he rest in peace.

 

 

 

These brave people should be able to live and work without fear

 

 

 

 

It’s Tuesday of last week, and, unusually for me, I find myself watching Clare Byrne Live on RTE 1. In truth, it was an absolutely riveting programme, the highlight being an interview with Newtowngore businessman, John McCartin.

  The definition of a hero in the Collins Dictionary is “someone who gives of himself, often putting his own life at risk, for the greater good of others”, and in my opinion if I ever saw a hero, it was the Leitrim man, whose involvement with Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) has led to every possible kind of intimidation, threat and personal vilification, and whose own safety must now be a matter of major concern to himself, his family, and the Gardai.

  The world and its mother knows of the unprecedented and barbaric assault a few weeks ago on Kevin Lunney, a director of QIH. Since their takeover of the Quinn Group, all five directors have endured threats and intimidation from unidentified individuals who are apparently unhappy with their involvement in the running of part of the former Quinn empire.

  And yet, on the Clare Byrne show, Mr. McCartin reiterated his commitment to saving the hundreds of jobs that QIH currently provide in the Cavan/Monaghan area. He said he will not be bullied into giving up on their ‘project’, and despite wondering as he drove back from Dublin as to what or who might be waiting for him on his arrival home, he has no intention of being forced from his right to carry on in business in his own local area. 

  Sometimes a seismic event occurs – such as the murder of Veronica Guerin in June 1996 – that changes the whole face of police work in the country, and we can only hope that the unbelievable level of violence that was perpetrated on the unfortunate Mr. Lunney is another such moment, and that the full force of the law will be used to apprehend and punish the people who did the horrendous deed.

  All the indications so far are that there is indeed a similar policing reaction. I hope, firstly, that it continues, and secondly, that Mr. McCartin and his family, and all the other directors, can finally live in peace – free from fear – and carry on with normal living. Surely, it’s not too much to ask?

Excellent work on Tidy Towns’ front

Many times over the years I have touched upon the importance of the sense of community in local areas. This week the Tidy Towns awards have once again been given out, with Glaslough in Co. Monaghan taking the top honours, and our neighbours Castlecoote winning a Gold Medal in the Village category.

  To date (as I write) I don’t have the marks for our own village of Creggs, but one thing I know for sure is that the local tidy towns committee have done Trojan work all year to turn Creggs into a place we can all be proud of. It has been transformed by their efforts over the last few years.

  For more than 60 years the Tidy Towns competition has been in existence. It has grown bigger and better every year, and nowadays there are hundreds of entrants, with almost 1000 towns and villages from all over the country taking part. The awards are a welcome recognition for the winners, but in truth all the participating communities are winners in their own right.

 

Great drama in Kilbegnet!

Last weekend, the Kilbegnet Drama Group staged a wonderful version of John B. Keane’s ‘Sive’, with full houses reported on both nights. Now I suppose I would be biased, but in my opinion the production was absolutely top class, and the packed audiences thoroughly enjoyed the performances.

  There were nine actors involved in the play, and each and every one of them was superb. The truth is that they were all brilliant at what they did, and it would be wrong to pick anyone out as the star of the show.

  That said, if only for longevity of service, I have to give special mention to Seamus Keane, a man whose contribution, in every way – from sport to drama and even politics – is legendary in our neck of the woods, and whose wonderful acting skills show no sign of diminishing.

  All I can say is, well done to all involved, and if by any chance you missed the weekend shows, don’t worry…it will be on again somewhere local before the Christmas. I’ll keep readers informed.

 

And finally…

 

Finally for this week, the inclement weather has meant that our ticket selling for the fundraising dance has been slightly curtailed, with the last two Mondays both rained off. However, we are determined to get to as many houses as we possibly can before the 12th of October, so bear with us and we will try to visit you all. There will also be tickets at the door on the night. 

  The good news again this year is that the Grealy family from the renowned Abbey Hotel have given us a door prize of a Dinner for Two in their fabulous hotel. To win this superb prize you must be present at the dance on the night – all we ask you to do is to write your name on the back of your ticket and give it to us on your arrival in Dowd’s.

  Jimmy Kearney and The Lancers are mad to get you dancing, so don’t forget…Saturday, 12th of October in Dowd’s, Glinsk…and the Lourdes Invalid Fund and Cancer Care West will benefit from your generosity.

 

Till next week, Bye for now!

 

 

Boris and friends recklessly taking everyone to the edge of the cliff

 

 

 

When I heard on Monday that Boris Johnson’s latest idea aimed at trying to solve the Brexit crisis was to propose border checks 10 km or so either side of the border, I had to check if the reports were for real. Then on Wednesday he apparently changed tack to a ‘two-border’ solution, promising no customs checks on the island of Ireland. Monday’s idea was the most unworkable proposal that I have heard so far – and Wednesday’s is not much better – and will be rejected out of hand by the EU.

  In fact a poll in Northern Ireland in 2025 (part of the latest proposal) would most likely turn out to be a poll for a United Ireland and I think most people would know how that campaign might go.

  The most serious aspect of what Mr. Johnson is doing relates to the misery and chaos that a no deal situation will cause. It is not unreasonable to say that it could cause people to lose their lives in the long term.

  So here we have the British Prime Minister, an allegedly intelligent man, who is speaking on behalf of about 65 million people, and who must know that what he is proposing hasn’t got a snowball’s chance in hell of being accepted anywhere. It’s hard to understand how these proposals were seriously considered by someone in the first place. Just when you thought that things could not get any more farcical in the UK, they reach new depths with every passing day.

   From the outside, it sometimes looks as if this is a game to Boris Johnson, the erratic PM lurching from one bizarre situation to another. He seems to be coming up with more unworkable proposals with every passing week, perhaps stalling for time so that he can get the UK out of Europe without a deal – like he has always promised he is prepared to do.

   The craziest thing of all is that every credible economic indicator is predicting that the UK economy will be plunged into recession in a ‘no deal’ scenario. The prediction is that hundreds of thousands of people will lose their jobs, there will be some shortages of medicines and foodstuffs, tariffs on almost all goods, and severe travel restrictions too. But these warnings don’t seem to bother Boris in the slightest.

   As for Ireland, my contention all along has been that Johnson and Jacob Rees Mogg and the rest of the Tory ‘posh boys’ could not care less about this country, that any suffering we endure arising from a no deal outcome will simply be our hard luck. One might say the same for his attitude to the suffering which a no deal Brexit will visit on his own country.

  What is very worrying is the fact that there seems to be nobody in a position to sit these people down and make them see sense. Their arrogance and egos have seen to that. “How dare the Irish or anyone in the EU tell us what to do, after all we are the British Empire” seems to be their mantra.

  I was always of the hope that reasonable people in the UK Government would see sense and that there would be a last-minute deal to satisfy everyone (or most people). That now looks very unlikely. Since his tenure as PM began, Boris Johnson and his colleagues have not put one credible idea on the table in relation to the negotiations. It’s as if he is relishing the chaos that he is presiding over.

  There is a growing view in Europe and here in Ireland that people are now sick and tired of the mayhem in the UK and that, despite the fact that it will have very serious consequences, maybe they should leave on October 31st with or without a deal – and have done with it.

  The British people will soon get a chance to make a judgement on Johnson’s leadership, via a General Election. However, I reckon it will be too late. The damage will already be done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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