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Hefty insurance costs are a threat to local businesses

 

 

One of the biggest problems facing every type of business in Ireland at the moment is the cost of insurance, most particularly the cost of public liability, with many businesses finding their renewal premiums are spiralling out of control, and, all over the country closures are taking place, with people out of work as a result.

  A couple of months ago, Martin Mulligan, whose family run a shop on the Roscommon side of Athlone, revealed that he was flabbergasted to find his annual insurance bill had more than quadrupled - it had risen from €7,000 a year to a financially crippling €30,000, a sum that made the proprietor actually consider closing up.

  At the time, local Senator, Terry Leyden, raised the matter in the Seanad, claiming the Government needed to tackle the rising premium costs as well as tackling the ever increasing number of fraudulent claims.

  Only a few weeks ago, I saw where a long established event promotion business in Dundalk had closed after 29 claim-free years, and in this case the problem was not the price, but rather the fact that no company would quote for his business at all. This was primarily a bouncy castle type events company, and the proprietor said that while he had managed to pass all his bookings on to other presently insured businesses, he predicted that a lot of them would also have to close when their insurance would come up for renewal.

  And so, as the pressure grows on small local businesses and even community festivals, and especially those catering for large crowds, I have to applaud the efforts of two publicans (at least) who have erected marquees beside their premises, and are having their own summer music festivals.

  On Friday night last, as I dropped into Mikeen’s for a few quiet weekend pints, I met a group of local revellers who were about to board a bus and head for Jimmy Screene’s pub in Guilka, near Menlough, where Mundy was performing in the marquee, and where Patrick Feeney and Paddy Casey have already played over the last week or two. I’m told that our gang had a great night at Mundy, and thoroughly enjoyed their outing.

  Not too far up the road in Aughrim in Co. Galway, at Valerie’s, there was also a marquee erected and it has a couple of fantastic shows lined up. On Thursday night, Foster and Allen, Chloe Agnew, daughter of our good friend, Twink, Matt Leavy and an unknown guest superstar are appearing, and, please God, I’m hoping to head down there myself. There is also a big American country band there on the Saturday, and a local party night on Sunday, and all I can say is well done to both of those pubs, for having the courage to promote such big music weekends, and I really hope the crowds flock in huge numbers to both places, and hopefully they will continue to do so for many years in the future.

  Jimmy Screene was a top rugby player with Buccaneers who got a number of Ireland ‘A’ caps, and I am told that when it comes to food, his Guilka venue is among the best around - maybe sometime in the near future I will check it out, but, in the meantime, despite the huge insurance costs, these two venues are fighting back, and fair play to them.

  As I said, loads of community carnivals and festivals are falling by the wayside due to the outrageous insurance costs, so Terry Leyden is right and it’s time fraudulent claims were investigated and the claimants were punished accordingly, and it’s also time that legitimate claims got reasonable awards, not the crazy sums that are being awarded presently. 

 

Tipp are tops as Cats are licked

 

On to sporting matters, and the All-Ireland hurling final, which we had all anticipated so eagerly, turned out to be a disappointing affair with the Richie Hogan sending off dominating the post-match discussions. As with all controversial decisions, there are people coming down on both sides. In my humble opinion, the sending off, while regrettable, was correct, but I don’t think it affected the result that much as Tipp were a much better side, and would have won anyway.

  However, once again, even though it was a one-sided final, the unbelievable bravery, commitment and total fearlessness that our hurlers show is amazing, and as someone who suffers greatly watching the antics of soccer superstars like Paul Pogba and other overpaid Man United underperformers, wouldn’t it be great to give some of them a helmet, a hurl and a sliothar, and let them experience the intensity of even a junior hurling match.

  Pogba must be one of the most irritating sportsmen alive, and as he and Alexis Sanchez, among others, pocket their obscene weekly wages, I wonder has he ever seen T.J. Reid or Joe Canning or any of the Mahers, and if he has, what he makes of the punishment they take all for the love of their native counties.

  Anyway, my late mother was a Tipp woman, and, as I told you before, my uncle Mikey brought me all over Munster back in the late fifties and early sixties to watch the Tipp hurlers and so I cannot deny that I have always had a soft spot for them, and I was delighted to see them beat the Cats. Let’s hope Galway can get back into the frame next year, and maybe bring the MacCarthy Cup back to the west.

 

Big Tom tribute night in Glenamaddy

 

On Friday, September 27th in the Oaklands Hotel, Glenamaddy, Julie Healy is having a Big Tom tribute night, with very special guest John Rex Reeves, a singer-songwriter nephew of the late superstar, Jim Reeves, who is a top country star in his own right, and who was inducted into America’s Old Time Country Music Hall of Fame in 2012. He has toured England, Scotland, Norway, and Australia, has had eight records in the American national charts and has had a very successful musical career. This is his first time in Ireland, and he is looking forward to getting here, and I know he will get a great Irish welcome here in September.

  The supporting line-up, which includes Michael Lyster, Michael Commins, The Conquerors Showband, Johnny Carroll, PJ Murrihy and loads more, is just extraordinary, and this promises to be one of the best nights ever in the locality. The show starts at 8 pm and tickets are selling fast, so if you want to be there call Julie on 087-9049388.

 

Dance the night away for Cancer Care West!

 

Finally for this week, for the sixteenth year in a row, we are having our own fundraising dance for Cancer Care West and the Lourdes Invalid Fund in Dowd’s of Glinsk, on Saturday, October 12th with music by Jimmy Kearney and the Lancers. We will be calling door-to-door very soon with our tickets. Admission is optional, but we are very glad to get any contribution for two very worthy causes. Over the years are supporters have contributed the amazing total of €70,000 and, as always, we look forward to calling, meeting you for the chat, and thank you, in advance for your great support.

 

Till next week, Bye for now!

Is Rose Bud Roisín Roscommon’s future super-vet?

 

 

The 60th International Rose of Tralee festival takes place this Friday, and, while regular readers know, while I’m not a big fan of this frocky-horror-show, the thing is, when it comes to the viewing public, it appears to be somewhat of a ratings’ winner, meaning somebody must be enjoying it. So, g’wan the girlies!

  However, this year viewers from our lovely county of Roscommon are being provided with an added bonus regarding this wholesome celebration of ‘Oirish’ womanhood. Let me explain. Taking part as one of the thirty-two Rose Buds, (little ladies aged between six and ten years), is our very own little flower, Ms Roisín O’Reilly, age nine-and-a-half…with the half being very important!

  In a nutshell, Roisín, who hails from Kilbride, was chosen from hundreds of applications made by parents of children from all over Ireland and abroad; with a portion of their entry fee going to charity. Twenty-four successful applicants come from Kerry with the final eight little ladies’ spaces being allocated to other areas. However, while I wish Roisín well; and know she’ll do Roscommon proud as she accompanies the Kerry Rose over what will be four days of fun activities, I have to confess, her involvement in this event is not the main reason this child has come to my attention. Nope, rather it’s her humane and compassionate nature when it comes to animals.

  You see, in a week where we were inundated with sad news, and stories of heartbreak, tragedy and alleged thuggery, (appearing to involve Conor McGregor), I was reassured to have happened across a happy story of hope. A story involving young Roisín, a child who is, in my opinion, set to make a real difference in her community. To put it simply, when this local child is not preparing for her very important international Rose Bud festival duties, she is, even though she may not realise it, inspiring others by working hard to save animals’ lives.

  Now you all know I’m passionate about animals. Indeed, I’m not even going to pretend to be ashamed of the fact I love my dogs as much as I love my family. It’s no secret that in my world, and in my home, my four legged fur babies are my canine kids, and my two-legged human ones are fine with that. Well, they kinda have no choice!

  However, in showing my dogs, (and all animals), the love and respect they deserve, I hope I’ve managed to provide my girls, including my granddaughter, with a valuable example of responsible and humane animal welfare. I’ll go so far as to say this pattern has provided them with a merciful, empathetic characteristic, which I hope was imperative when it came to shaping them into compassionate adults. It was precisely this type of gentleness and consideration that brought young Roisín and her lovely mam Kathy to my attention.

  Indeed, from chatting with the pair I’ve got no doubt that mam, along with Roisín’s dad Noel, are raising a caring, selfless child; attributes which are clearly essential to their happy family life. Therefore, when I heard from T.N.R. South Roscommon how Roisín, who is “big into animals, especially cats,” donates her toys and her clothes as well as any unwanted gifts she may receive to this wonderful local charity to sell online and at car boot sales, I was hugely impressed. I knew immediately that not only does this child want to promote a better world for both humans and animals, she also has the confidence to do it; and that, dear readers, is most definitely worth a mention.

  I know this county is bursting with inspirational kiddies, every one of whom is impressive in their own right, and I’m not discounting them. But I’m sure you’ll all wish Roisín well as she embarks on her Rose Bud role this weekend. I know she’ll miss her “great friends” Itchy and Scratchy, a pair of adorable four-year-old semi-ferals she adopted through the T.N.R. South Roscommon programme.

  In fact, in her quest to make their little lives better, Roisín who wants to work with animals when she gets older, fashioned a fairy fort at the bottom of her garden where she plays with her fabulous feline family. As someone who believes it’s never too early to think big, I feel that in Roisín, Roscommon could well have its very own future super-vet! Watch this space.

Is it clear Ireland’s (probably) got no talent?

Despite the fact they’ve broken up and reconciled nearly as often as Friends’ characters Ross and Rachel, it seems Mayo man Louis Walsh and Simon Cowell are (allegedly) set to reunite. According to (unconfirmed) reports, our lovely Louis has signed on the dotted line and will ‘take part in the X-Factor All-Star reboot and a celebrity version of the format’ later this year. Well I for one am delighted for Louis, he’s a gentleman and, whenever we worked together during our RTÉ days, or whenever we socialised, I have to tell you I enjoyed his company enormously.

  Look, to be honest, while I’m no fan of X Factor and would rather watch an entire series of Daniel and Majella’s B&B Road Trip in slow motion, I do believe Louis was wasted on home-grown series Ireland’s Got Talent and I’m not surprised it’s been (allegedly) scrapped by Virgin Media. I mean, let’s face it, given the calibre of contestants it was clear that Ireland (probably) didn’t have any real talent to showcase! 

  Indeed, for those of you who’ll now insist that you do actually possess a knack for entertaining audiences, my response is this…you clearly didn’t choose to flaunt it on that series now did you?

  And don’t get me started on the endless array of ‘dance troupe’ entries who seemed to churn out the same old boring routines that strangely matched their same old jaded stories about how they had no focus, and were lacking motivation and direction etc.

  But hey, when they discovered dancing, well, it miraculously saved their entire lives! Oh purleese! Then again, perhaps this is where I’m going wrong readers. Perhaps I should give up my job and instead do back flips, head spins, split leaps and scissor jumps on a TV ‘talent’ show where an audience, who really couldn’t care less about me, secretly harbour an urge to fling the remote control at the screen as I perform. Too harsh? My apologies.

‘Blast from the past’ in Fermanagh

 

 

 

 

 

At the start of this week a bomb was left close to the border in County Fermanagh. Thankfully no one was injured but the intention was to injure and kill police officers. It is a reminder of what could lie ahead if the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal on October the 31st and it would appear that Boris Johnston either doesn’t understand this or doesn’t care.

  It is fantastic that a whole generation of young people have grown up living in this country in relative peace. I was looking at the excellent RTÉ programme ‘Reeling in the Years’ last week and it was a grim reminder of what life was like here during the 70s 80s and 90s.

  I know that here in Roscommon we were far enough away from the violence that it did not affect most people but every day we got up during that time there was news of some atrocity or other. Thousands of people’s lives were ruined forever as the men of violence held sway.

  The facts of the matter are that if the UK pulls out of the EU without a deal there will be a return to a hard border and checks will be inevitable. It will give dissident republican and loyalist groups a reason to re-commence the violence and people will lose their lives as a result.

  Let’s leave the economy aside for a minute. Border posts and security will be a like a red rag to a bull and violence would be certain to follow. Arlene Foster and her crowd are prepared to put their own people’s lives in danger to preserve ‘the union’ while Sinn Fein are sitting on the sidelines as the lack of any political leadership is dragging Northern Ireland back into the dark ages.

  A lot of the young people that I speak to would not be able to comprehend why anyone would be bombing and shooting each other but it’s a real possibility unless some real leadership is forthcoming and sense prevails.

  There is an onus on everyone to re-double their efforts to ensure that this situation does not come about. Not only Boris Johnson, the EU and Leo Varadkar, but all political parties and none. The pressure must be put on all elected representatives and major organisations to do whatever they can to ensure that we do not return to the days of the past. There are just about 70 days left to go and after that it will be too late.

  It took most of a decade of behind the scenes talks to set up the peace process that culminated in the Good Friday Agreement. It took that long for people to trust each other. Once the horse has bolted then it’s too late. We simply cannot afford to go back to those days again. We can only hope and pray that someone will make Mr. Johnson and Arlene Foster see sense.

  The blame game has already started. If there is no deal and violence returns it will be blamed on Ireland and the EU. To return to the bomb and the bullet cannot be allowed to happen.

 

My blended-family advice for Una Healy

 

 

The glitterati and the twitterati went into meltdown last week when former Saturdays’ singer and Tipperary native Una Healy’s ex Ben Foden  announced he’d married a woman he’d allegedly only been dating for two weeks. Foden and Healy were married for six years and have two children together, Aoife (7) and Tadhg (4). However, the pair split just over a year ago after he admitted cheating on her.

  Foden’s gushing ‘I’ve remarried’ announcement on Instagram generated plenty of comments, some coming from well-wishers congratulating the couple. Mind you, given the speed with which he has moved on, (i.e. before the ink had dried on his divorce papers), there has been an overwhelming feeling of surprise, and, despite the fact Foden claimed ex-wife Una had given him her blessing, understandably, a slew of scathing remarks peppered the post.

  To be honest, while I’d always wish a newly-married couple well, I do feel Foden’s line that his new wife, New Yorker Jackie Belanoff Smith, would be ‘a great step-mum to Aoife and Tadhg, and offers me a future I can’t wait to explore with her’, to be extremely crass and downright insulting to the mother of his children. But hey Una, if that’s his idea of showing you the respect you deserve, then you’re probably well rid, love!

  As someone who has been divorced, I can tell you that one of the hardest situations you will ever have to deal with is when your ex remarries; with feelings of loss and, perhaps depression taking hold as you may feel you’re being replaced. Now, granted, I’m the one who remarried. My ex is the one who had to deal with my new status of being someone else’s wife. However, he soon got over me, and is in a long-term relationship with a lovely woman, and we all get on really well together, regularly meeting up for family meals and events, etc. Now don’t get me wrong, we’re not the sickly sweet Brady Bunch (of TV renown) living a life of blended bliss, nay, we’re more like that crazy lot in TV sitcom Modern Family, i.e. having a laugh, having a drink, and being respectful of each other’s new relationships and set-ups.

  But back to Ben, Una and their kiddies. While Ben may be able to slot in Jackie as his new wife, hoping the business woman will seamlessly step into her designer stilettoes, the new Mrs. Foden will never, ever be a compensatory mother to his children…end of! Now, mind you, Jackie probably doesn’t want to even try and become a step-mother, and, let’s face it, no matter how nice she may be, I’d bet she knows only too well that she’s never, ever going to share the same bond with them as their biological mother…is she? Even though my husband has four grown-up children with his first wife, making me technically their step-mother, I’d never consider giving myself such a title. Why? Because they have their own lovely mother; the woman who raised them, and I’d never dream of insulting her standing; it’s discourteous. And sure, why would I? I have my own grown-up kids and my granddaughter. Besides, my ex’s fiancée wouldn’t dare entertain the notion that she’s their step-mother; a fact I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt, because we, er, had a little chat, and, ahem, came to a mutual understanding…if you know what I mean. As in, you can have him, but don’t ever contemplate laying claim to my kids/grandkids. Point made, point taken, and an agreed civility was forged, with my territory being distinctly marked…and, so far, so good, we’re still friends. We all get on great, and, for now, we’re all living happily ever after. But my ex and I are lucky. When the divorce dust had settled, we realised that, for the sake of our children/grandchild and future grandchildren, (not to mention our sanity), we needed to turn rage and heartbreak into respect. The result being, the acrimonious and desperately painful demise of our marriage is now a healthy, friendly, civil relationship that allows us, our partners, and, most importantly, our children/grandchild to be part of a happy, functional and, what I’d gratefully call, a loving and extremely close-knit blended family.

  I wish Ben, Una, their kiddies and their new partners every future happiness possible.

 

New investment shows great faith in Roscommon’s potential

 

It’s always great to hear positive local news, and I was delighted to read about the fantastic investment confirming the multi-million euro sale of the Centre Point Retail Park in the county town, especially as it’s set to generate up to one hundred much-needed new jobs.

  So, to those who insist that rural Ireland is dead, I say you couldn’t be more wrong. You see, given this cash injection, it’s clear to me that the savvy ‘investors’ behind this wonderful new business project have enormous faith in the good people of Roscommon. This means, instead of viewing our rural communities, (and those like us), as being on our last legs, they have rightly identified the enormous opportunities and potential we have for growth, development and extensive progress; and fair play to them. Let me assure these investors that they couldn’t have chosen a better county in which to spend their millions. On behalf of everyone, I’d like, if I may, to express gratitude to  these business people for their faith and their trust in the wonderful citizens of this county who will, I’ve got absolutely no doubt, richly reward their expenditure and their innovation with the loyalty and the allegiance it richly deserves. I can tell them that, by making a commitment to our communities, they’ll not only be repaid by hard-working, dedicated locals who’ll excel in the newly-created jobs they’ll provide, they’ll also significantly contribute in order to ensure this new enterprise evolves into a sustainable business. Onwards and upwards readers!

 

Why Bigfoot look isn’t for me!

 

Well ladies, apparently, according to well-known model and activist Emily Ratajkowski, ‘it can be sexy not to shave’ your pits! Yep, in an effort to ‘empower’ women, Ratajkowski is seen posing in next month’s Harper’s Bazaar magazine donning a black bra and, er, armpits so hairy, at first glance I thought she had Chewbacca in a headlock!

  Look, I’m all for empowering women. However,  as someone who likes to shave my pits, and wax my bikini line, (because it’s what I do), I can assure you, I’ll never buy into the whole female-and-furry movement! This means, other than on my head, I will not be growing any manner of body hair to the extent I could put a bow in it. Now, I mean no disrespect to any woman who enjoys and embraces growing out their body hair, in fact I applaud them for doing it, if that’s their choice. However, for me, the whole Bigfoot look is highly unattractive. And no, it has nothing to do with me buying into the patriarchal standards being put upon women; rather it’s got everything to do with personal hygiene, my personal choice, my personal grooming and my personal refusal to allow myself kowtow to those suffocating messages being generated by a radical, heretical feminist movement.

 

 

 

Michael’s motivational tip(p)s…and Bobby in flying form!

 

 

 

Two memorable documentaries…

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes we can jump to conclusions as to what certain public figures are like, and quite often we row in with the popular assessment, without really knowing anything at all about a person’s life or personality when he or she is away from the media limelight.

 

  Undoubtedly one of the people who falls into that category is Clare hurling legend Davy Fitzgerald, a man whose extraordinary passion for hurling has led him to being labelled everything from a ‘madman’ to a loose cannon. His sideline demeanour during a big game certainly does nothing to take from that image.

 

  As one of the greatest goalies of modern times, ‘Davy Fitz’ won three Munster titles, two All-Irelands, and three All Stars, before turning his hand to management. As a manager he had great success with Waterford, whom he won a Munster title with in 2010, bringing them to a first All-Ireland final appearance in 45 years. He then took up the mantle as manager of his native Clare, winning the All-Ireland in 2013, and a National League title the same year (their first in 38 years), before taking over Wexford in 2016, and leading them to this year’s Leinster Championship, their first provincial win in 15 years.

 

  And yet, despite all he has done and achieved, Davy has been regarded more as a ‘hot-head’ than as the superstar he certainly is. Mind you, incidents like the one where he went on to the field during the league semi-final against Tipperary in 2017 to have a go at the ref, but ended up confronting one Tipperary player (Niall O’Meara) and jostling another one (Jason Forde), only served to copperfasten his reputation as a wild man, and to divert attention from the brilliant hurling figure that he is.

 

  And so it was great to see the other side of Davy in a wonderful recent documentary ‘When Davy met Michael’. Michael O’Brien is a visually impaired lad from Killarney, whose absolute hero is Davy Fitz. The two met on the Late Late toy show, after which the Wexford manager invited Michael to come to the Wexford dressing room before a vital league game against Tipperary (again) and give the team a motivational speech before they took the field.

 

  If ever we had an example of dealing with adversity it was the way in which 11-year-old Michael let absolutely nothing stand in his way, and the documentary was one of the most uplifting programmes I have seen in a long, long time.

 

  The young Kerry lad was such an inspiration to everyone everywhere, and the daunting experience of addressing a team of top intercounty hurlers didn’t faze him at all, so much so that after his stirring words they went out and beat the Tipp lads!

 

  As for Davy, his instant rapport with Michael was a joy to see, and the bond between them had to be seen to be believed. Judging by the public reaction to the programme, there was an enormous outpouring of every possible emotion – there were tears, laughter, joy, pride, and above all admiration for both of them – and even though it’s an absolute guarantee that we will see the wide-eyed Davy on the sideline again this year, somehow, having watched the programme, I will be less inclined to have a go at him.

 

  The behaviour of his Wexford hurlers during the young lad’s speech, and the complete attention and respect they gave him, was a credit to each and every one of them, and I can only tell you that if Galway don’t win next year’s McCarthy Cup, I really hope Davy, Lee Chin and his Wexford team do. Can you imagine what that would mean to young Michael O’Brien?

 

  I’m sure RTE will show it again before too long, and while we all like to give out about repeats, this is one which, if you didn’t see it the first time, you should make sure you get it to see second time around – it truly was an inspiring, heartwarming, lovely programme and a huge credit to everyone involved.

 

 

 

Sky’s the limit for lovable Bobby

 

 

 

Staying with documentaries, a few weeks ago I was lucky enough to see ‘The man who wanted to fly’, the story of Cavan octogenarian Bobby Coote who, while spending his days making violins and fixing clocks, has never given up on his lifelong dream of taking to the skies.

 

  With the help of his neighbour Sean he builds a hangar and a runway, and, despite much derision from his brother, Ernie, buys himself a micro-light plane, and sets about fulfilling his slightly crazy ambition.

 

  The eccentric brothers are just wonderfully entertaining characters, and the twists and turns the story takes before Bobby finally flies and lands his airplane on the homemade runway in front of a large crowd of enthusiastic neighbours and friends – and a by now proud and emotional brother – is just spellbinding television. Once again, if you missed it first time around, make sure you see it whenever it makes its way back to our screens.

 

  Not for the first time it made me realise that oftentimes the most interesting and extraordinary characters are right there beside us in rural Ireland, and it’s great when TV producers go that extra mile and search for, and find, this type of brilliant material and turn it into truly unforgettable television.

 

 

 

Fundraiser for Glenamaddy Day Care Centre

 

 

On to local matters: out the road in Glenamaddy, Mae Murray tells me there is a Day Care Centre, started many years ago by the legendary local GP, Patrick Geraghty (RIP), which is the only one of its type in Ireland. There are two minibuses which collect people from an 18-mile radius, bringing them in to the centre each day, Monday to Friday.

 

  Once there, they can enjoy a welcoming cup of tea. There’s a nurse on duty, help with their shopping and washing, and a four-course dinner on offer every day. There are all kinds of activities laid on, including various talks and games, and it seems to be a wonderful local initiative.

 

  Mae also tells me she has two relations receiving treatment in the Oncology Unit in Portiuncula Hospital, Ballinasloe, and to show her appreciation of both facilities she is holding a fundraising dance in the Community Centre in Glenamaddy on this Saturday night, 17th of August.

 

  The hugely popular Mary Coughlan and her band will supply the music, and tickets are available at both the Day Care Centre and the Community Centre. There will be a door prize, spot prizes, and a raffle, and it promises to be a great night’s entertainment for two very worthy causes. For more information you can contact Mae on 087-2489327.  

 

 

 

And finally…

 

Finally for this week, it’s back to Creggs…Larry Kilcommins tells me that on Wednesday next, 21st of August, in conjunction with Heritage Week in Creggs, Dr. Gerry Beggan will give a powerpoint presentation on historic monuments, former place names, and forgotten legends of the Upper River Suck. It’s in the local Heritage Centre (7 pm). Admission is free. It promises to be a most interesting and informative night, so if you have any interest in local history get to the Heritage Centre and enjoy Dr. Beggan’s excellent presentation.

 

 

 

Till next week, Bye for now!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leaving Cert bridges gap between adolescence and adulthood, but it should never define any person

 

 

This week tens of thousands of young men and women will have received their Leaving Cert results. The world that they will be entering into now is much different than it was even ten years ago. Having gone through the experience with four of my own children in recent years, I would have a fair idea of what to expect.

  Third level college is what lies ahead for most students, and while it is probably a requirement now for most jobs, there are far more choices for young people which are not given fair consideration. Qualified carpenters, electricians, plumbers, block-layers, mechanics and plenty more jobs in construction and the building and other trades are now more valuable than they have ever been. The day of people turning their noses up at these careers should be long gone. Indeed, good tradespeople are capable of earning far more than many of those who have spent five or six years in college.

  The general trend now for students in third level is that a huge number do a basic degree and then go on to do a secondary degree such as an honours or some complimentary course that will enhance their chances of getting a job. It’s to the credit of many young people that they are prepared to go to college for so long to improve their chances later in life, but the reality for parents is that it costs a fortune…and many people are struggling with the cost of sending their children to third level institutions. The cost of rent alone is almost out of reach in some cases. How long will it be before some people simply will not be able to afford to send their children to college?

  On the plus side, there are loads of employment options for young people at the present time, and with our own economy showing almost full employment, there are plenty of jobs to go around. But, as we have seen so many times in the past, these things move in cycles and it is hard to predict what’s coming down the tracks. A Brexit with no deal is one major worry in terms of jobs.

  One aspect of life that has certainly changed in recent years is that young people tend not to look as a job as being ‘for life’. A huge percentage of the younger set are happy to work in a job for four or five years, and then seek a change. The fact that there are so many of that generation who simply cannot afford to buy a place to live has also changed lifestyles radically.

  But the fact remains that while the Leaving Cert is an exam that bridges the gap between adolescence and adulthood, it should never define any person. If the results are good then that’s great, but if they are not so good then there are many options for our young people to take. I wish them all the best of luck as they consider their options and look to the future this week. I would love to see a sizeable number of the local students being able to live and work in County Roscommon, but that’s far too much to hope for unfortunately. The vast majority are set for Galway, Dublin, London, New York, Toronto and elsewhere. 

 

 

On to the next chapter…

 

 

Congratulations to all the students in Co. Roscommon and beyond who received their Leaving Certificate results this week. I’m one of those who believes it’s a largely unfair and out of date system…but there you go.

 

  The general consensus locally is that students, parents and teachers were – by and large – pleased with how the Leaving Certificate ‘Class of 2019’ fared.

 

  There’s too much pressure on students these days and I have no doubt that those who sat the exams will be relieved and delighted that the long wait is over. Regardless of what points total you achieved, the world is your oyster. Today’s young people can achieve whatever they set out to achieve. An individual exam has nothing on hard work, common sense and good old-fashioned determination. On behalf of all our readers, I wish the Class of 2019 all the very best in the future.

 

Lame leaders!

Seriously…if Boris and Leo (and their officials) cannot agree on whether or not – not to mention where and when – they are meeting, can we really expect them to run their respective countries?

 

Cricket? Nah? Well, maybe…

 

The attitude of a lot of Irish people (certainly not all) to cricket over the centuries: ‘Nah…not for me…don’t even understand the rules, plus it’s boring’.

 

  The attitude of a lot of Irish people to cricket when England recently won the Cricket World Cup…a bit alarmed, a bit relieved it wasn’t the soccer…on reflection, happy enough, but fairly indifferent.

 

  The attitude of a lot of Irish people to cricket when Ireland, a week on from England’s World Cup win, started beating the new champions in a Test match: ‘Eh…did you see the cricket? We bowled England out for 85 this morning! We’re doing brilliant in the cricket! Any update on the cricket?!’

 

  The attitude of a lot of Irish people to cricket when England struck back – to win. ‘The cricket? What cricket? Sure that’s an English game…bring on the hurling and football!’

 

Saving Eoghan…

 

In politics, nothing can be taken for granted.

 

  Eoghan Murphy was well on his way to winning the ‘Worst Politician of the Year’ Award…but then there was a massive swing in the direction of Maria Bailey, and now she has taken the honours…

 

Small crowds...Could it be the football?

 

Most people were shocked by the small attendance (not much more than 30,000) at the Tyrone/Kerry All-Ireland Senior Football semi-final on Sunday.

 

  I’m not sure that the main reason was the sense that Dublin are unbeatable. I do think that the costs being incurred by families – particularly with qualifier games and now the Super 8s – is a big factor in falling attendances.

 

  But I was amused that very few commentators mentioned what must be a primary reason…i.e. the tedious nature of much of the football.

 

  Tyrone’s style of play – and very often the modern game generally – is boring and very difficult to watch.

 

 

 

Seeking a stand-in…

 

They’re all decent people, but I’ve had enough of these stand-in radio presenters already…

 

  If it’s ‘Today with Sean O’Rourke’, we want Sean…ditto with ‘The Pat Kenny Show’ and so on. True, people are entitled to holidays, but the ‘stand-in’ blitz every August, coupled with the increasingly frivolous content, leaves us with duller radio.

 

  Until normal service has resumed, someone will have to ‘stand in’ for this listener…

 

Political Love Island…

 

It’s off air at the moment…but will be back soon. On Political Love Island (nightly, Virgin Media, with Matt Cooper and Ivan Yates) Roscommon/Galway TD Michael Fitzmaurice remains one of the most popular islanders, as he’s always there – and it looks like he always with be.

 

  But, drama during summer of 2019 in the form of a familiar face…hinting that he might become a potential rival for the affections of Matt and Ivan…i.e. Denis Naughten, who suddenly started appearing as a guest on Political Love Island. Just now, Michael Fitz remains the firm favourite, but he’s not having it all his own way.

 

  Now, as autumn looms, and with normal current affairs coverage on TV to resume soon, the question is: Will Eugene (Murphy) enter the fray to further change the dynamic on Political Love Island?

 

Lilly graces Croker…

 

Last Saturday was a memorable day for one young Roscommon footballer when Lilly Murray (12) got the opportunity to play during half-time in the All-Ireland Senior Football semi-final at Croke Park.

 

  Lilly, a pupil of Ballymurray NS, was the sole Roscommon representative amongst the 42 children who featured in the GAA/INTO Cumann na mBunscol Respect Education Go Games.

 

  Representing their primary schools, the children took part in exhibition games at half-time in the Dublin/Mayo game…in front of an attendance of over 83,000 people!

 

  Lilly is daughter of Anne Marie and Liam Murray of Kilcash, Rahara, Co. Roscommon.

 

 Lilly, who plays with St. Dominics GAA Club, did have to line out in a Mayo jersey, but that was a small price to pay for what was a wonderful experience – and a great honour! (The 42 children involved on Saturday donned the jerseys of Mayo and Dublin for the exhibition games).

 

  It was an unforgettable experience for Lilly and for all involved, particularly given the tremendous atmosphere generated by the Dublin and Mayo fans in what was the most high profile and eagerly awaited GAA game played at Croke Park so far this year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How do we fix our childcare system?

 

 

 

Well folks, I hate to toot my own horn, but I think I called it correctly last week when I wrote that the country’s child protection watchdog was – and I said allegedly – unable to immediately close down high-risk childcare facilities, and this week they’ve come out and confirmed that very fact. Yes, following the fall-out of RTE’s documentary regarding the disquieting goings-on at the Hyde and Seek chain of crèches, not only has Tusla identified what it deems to be a string of ‘critical’ risk levels of non-compliances occurring in 37 crèches across the country, it has also confirmed its own toothless tiger status. In addition, the Child and Family Agency is refusing to provide concerned parents with information pertaining to the alleged offenders’ names and locations.

  However, in this instance, it’s not Tusla’s fault. It seems their hands are tied. While it has the power to deregister a childcare service, under the Child Care Act 1991, Tusla is only required to give the offender 21 days’ notice of deregistration and the right to appeal to the District Court. What this means is that when non-compliance is observed, (i.e. the unforgivable mistreatment of children as witnessed in RTE’s documentary), the agency merely has the ability to encourage improvement, as opposed to the legal statutory powers needed to enforce a closure. Wow, where’s the child protection policy there?

  So parents/grandparents/guardians, if you currently have a child or children attending a crèche/childcare facility, and you’re concerned about their welfare or indeed concerned if that facility is one of the ‘37’, here’s my advice. Sit down and write a list of those concerns; and, even if you have a good relationship with your crèche manager, insist, in a friendly manner, that he/she addresses your questions, one by one. Yes, it may be awkward, but you’re trusting this facility and paying good money for them to care for your precious child in a home-away-from home atmosphere, so, do what you know you have to do to ensure your child is safe. May I suggest you begin by asking the manager if they’ve undergone an inspection? If they have, ask them how they did. Ask to see written evidence of their results. In fact, if I managed a crèche, and it had undergone an inspection and passed, in light of recent happenings, I’d have my certificate framed inside the door for all to see. If your crèche discloses that they’ve unfortunately failed on certain issues, ask what they were, and ask when they expect to undergo their follow-up inspection. When it’s completed, ask to see the results. If they have undergone both inspections and yet still failed to comply with standards, for God’s sake, grab your child’s hand and take him/her home.

  Ring your boss, explain the urgency of the situation, and ask for a week’s leave while you arrange alternative, responsible childcare. Your boss will understand. It’s up to us as parents to place our children first, and I’m certain a grandparent, a kind neighbour, or another trustworthy adult will step up and provide you with either an emergency, or hopefully, a long-term solution.

  Again, I will add that there are fantastic childcare facilities across County Roscommon, and while this latest scandal is grossly unfair to them, I’m sure they will be delighted to address any parents’ concerns, (if they have them) regarding their professional practices. In the meantime, you could check Tusla’s Quality Regulatory Framework…for all the good that may do you. However, I understand Minister for Children Katherine Zappone is examining ways to increase Tusla’s powers where serious breaches of childcare regulations are identified. Let’s hope she does this without further delay.

 

Maybe Arlene needs to choose her side more carefully

 

As the Boris effect takes hold, a leaked UK government document is scaremongering us into thinking that a no-deal Brexit could ‘virtually stop’ cross-border agricultural trade in the North within 24 hours. Yes, quite literally overnight. And, following this, the advice from our fearless leader was that er, “We should be afraid of a no-deal Brexit”. Talk about stating the fizzin’ obvious Leo.

  Now, mind you, that Arlene Foster’s bold “dial down the rhetoric” response to our Leo wasn’t very helpful, was it? And it’s my opinion that she’d do well to wake up and share our concerns; as opposed to obtusely getting sucked into the whole Boris hype. So, with that in mind, perhaps Arlene should set aside a bit of time to consider her own party’s options and choose her side more carefully. You see Arlene, Leo is actually talking sense. Boris is merely spewing bluster. This means you’d do well to bear in mind that if farmers here are hit, it’s my view that those living North of the border, in your constituency, will likely suffer even greater losses.

  While Arlene is throwing around big words like ‘belligerent’ and ‘intolerant’ to describe our government’s reaction, let me throw one back at her…ignorance! She doesn’t seem to grasp that the reason we’re insisting on a ‘backstop or nothing’ is because it’s an insurance policy. Not just for us, but for the North too. And while Arlene actively searches for more colourful adjectives to hurl at us down here in the South, let me ask her this important question. Did it conveniently escape her notice that, as Boris visited the North for his little love-in last week, he managed to totally avoid speaking to the one group she’s apparently so concerned with, i.e. the farmers? Too busy fan-girling all over the Slum-Dodge Millionaire love?  

  But look…big picture, readers. I don’t think a crash-out is going to happen. In fact, I think old BJ will find himself facing a massive rebellion among the troops, resulting in his government collapsing, thus sparking a General Election. I mean, how can the Brits take him seriously? For God’s sake, this man’s first act as Prime Minister was to buy himself a £500 digital Brexit countdown clock to hang on the walls of his War Cabinet room! What does that tell you? It tells me that the individual the great British public has tasked with delivering Brexit is really nothing more than a stupid little boy with a novelty toy.

 

Thank you!

 

I’m sick to death of being incarcerated in a surgical boot large enough to sail down the River Shannon in! As someone who has no patience, I’d prefer to suffer acute pain and discomfort for a short period of time, as opposed to spending what I’ve been told may possibly be twelve weeks, strapped into this unsightly contraption, accessorised by a pair of clumpy crutches!

  However, as I struggle on, I’ve realised one thing, and it’s this…the people of Roscommon are genuinely decent, salt-of-the-earth folks. So, this week, can I say a massive thank you to everyone who has approached me offering their support, saying how they’d read about my tumble. Thank you to those who stopped what they were doing to open doors and carry coffee for me, etc. You’re all diamonds.

 

 

 

 

Murder in the mall: Will Americans ever change their gun laws?

 

 

 

It’s Friday afternoon. Carol and I are visiting our daughter in Dublin, and as you do on these occasions, we head off to some big shopping centre where Lisa (our daughter) says there are sales everywhere (music to Carol’s ears), and for a couple of hours we mingle with the huge Bank holiday crowds, do a bit of window shopping, a bit of real shopping, have a break for a coffee and scone, and generally enjoy a nice, peaceful, lazy afternoon.

  Fast-forward to Saturday afternoon, and over in El Paso, Texas, a similar scene is taking place in a Walmart shopping mall, and shoppers are going about their business. It’s probably exactly the same scenario as we had experienced the day before. Then, a man casually walked into the mall, and opened fire with an assault rifle at random…in a matter of minutes, 20 people are dead and 26 injured. Among the dead is young mother Jordan Anchondo, who died as she tried to shield her two-month-old baby from the attack. The suspect is Patrick Crusius, described as a hate-filled anti-Hispanic white supremacist.

  Apparently, the gunman wanted to kill as many Mexicans as he could. In fact there were three Mexicans amongst the victims. The killer, we are told, didn’t want to kill Americans, but reports indicate that the majority of his victims were indeed Americans.

  A number of hours later, in Dayton, Ohio, as revellers were queuing to get into a bar, a second gunman, Connor Betts, opened fire on unsuspecting innocent victims. He killed nine people, including his own sister.

  Following this carnage, America’s gun laws are yet again coming under huge scrutiny. I am well aware that there is a powerful lobby, fuelled by enormous financial muscle, which doesn’t want any change to the very liberal rules which apply to gun purchase and ownership – but surely, after 251 mass shootings in the country so far this year, something has to change?

  As for all of us, who throughout last weekend attended festivals, carnivals, bars and nightclubs all over the country, while it rightly never enters our heads, it’s nice to reflect on the fact that we can do so in relative safety, with only long queues and maybe the odd row between a couple of drink-fuelled lads to upset us. For those people in America who do the very same thing, there now has to be the nagging thought, even if it’s buried deep in their head, that there might just be someone in the crowd who is planning to carry out another terrible atrocity. Not a nice situation, and one that the politicians over there surely ought to address right now. However, we won’t hold our breath.

 

Fun (and buns) at the fair!

 

It’s now Monday afternoon, and I am just back from a visit to Ballygar – where the Fair Day is taking place – and I have to say it was a visit that I thoroughly enjoyed. The weather, which hadn’t been great earlier in the morning, had cleared up quite a bit, and there was a huge crowd roaming the streets…looking at the massive amount of stalls, having fun on the amusements, and generally enjoying themselves – and the atmosphere was just lovely.

  I got away from the amusements as quickly as I could as there was a flying machine going around that reminded me of a trip I took on one on a Sunday morning a good few years ago, when I thought I was going to die. It was the following Thursday before I recovered, so even looking at one flying around in Ballygar was almost enough to make me sick all over again.  

  I met loads of people who were out for the day, and among them were two of Ballygar’s finest footballers – triple All-Ireland medal winner, Sean Cleary, who was there with his wife Ann and his brother Shay, and also Tomas Heavey. Tomas, whom I often played against during his football days, never wanted to let me have the ball, and used to knock lumps out of me to make sure I didn’t get it! He was promoting a book, ‘From Ballinamore to Ballygar and Newbridge’, a history of the parish of Ballygar, Newbridge, and Toghergar from 1800 to 1918. Written by Michael A. Martin, it looks to be a ‘must buy’ for all local people. Sales were flying when I was there, so I’m sure it will be a bestseller!

  Our good friend, Myra Fitzmaurice, was on a stall for the tidy towns selling all kinds of cakes and stuff, and I couldn’t resist a few of the most gorgeous cream buns. I’m just boiling the kettle now, so I will take a little break from my writing and have the cup of tea and bun.

 

(A few minutes later…)

The tea is over now, and the bun(s) proved to be delicious, and just for a moment my mind drifts to this coming weekend when the All-Ireland football semi-finals take place, and I can’t figure out how all of a sudden there is a feeling that Mayo can shock the five-in-a-row chasing Dubs.

  I realise that the men from the west have given the Dubs really hard games before, but they still haven’t beaten them, while this Mayo team has already lost to Roscommon and Kerry this summer. Now, while I admire Mayo enormously for all they have done in the last few years, I really think the champions will have way too much for them and will win easily enough. I also admit that I hope I am wrong, and if ever a man looked forward to eating some humble pie, then I am your man.

  The other game is harder to call, but I hope the Kingdom overcome Mickey Harte’s Tyrone and set up a mouth-watering All-Ireland final.

 

And finally…TC’s great birthday gesture

 

Finally for this week, Glinsk’s Tom Cunningham, better known as TC, has asked me to tell you about a big fundraising dance he is holding in Dowd’s of Glinsk on this Friday night, 9th of August.

  Tom will have turned 60 (hope he doesn’t mind my telling you) by the time you read this, but rather than have a big birthday party, he has decided for very important personal reasons, to hold this fundraiser, proceeds of which will be going to the Irish Cancer Society and Ability West.

  Music on the night is by Jimmy Kearney and The Lancers, admission is optional, and local TD Michael Fitzmaurice will conduct an auction. Light refreshments will be served.

  I can only say fair play to TC for this wonderful gesture, so now it’s up to you (and me) to get to Dowd’s on this Friday night – and make it a night to remember. See you there.

 

 

Till next week, Bye for now! 

 

End of term report…on politicians!

 

 

 

 

Fine Gael

The proverbial curate’s egg. There are times when Leo looks very much the dapper, well-educated modern young leader, and then he opens his mouth and comes out with some unbelievable stuff. It’s not a great trait to have with crucial and sensitive Brexit negotiations on the way. In fact, Simon Coveney looks an altogether safer pair of hands.

  Fine Gael look set to be the biggest party once again after the next election, but they will be hoping to form a far more solid coalition Government. They may have to deal with the Greens in order to get back into power.

 

Fianna Fáil

It remains to be seen whether or not Fianna Fáil will get a bounce for ‘wearing the green jersey’ over the past three years. In reality, they have been in a pretty impossible position. They can give out all they like about Fine Gael, but they won’t vote against them. They seem to be stuck at about 23% in the polls, which would see them behind Fine Gael. This will be Micheál Martin’s final hurrah. It looks like he will become the first ever FF leader not to be Taoiseach.

 

Sinn Féin

It’s very interesting to look at what’s happening to Sinn Féin. They were growing spectacularly for three or four years but that growth has stalled and has now gone into reverse. Since Mary Lou McDonald took over they have gone down in the polls, which is surprising. The fact that they are still out of Government in the North, and that they are seen to be very negative on most major issues here, is telling against them. It’s very unlikely that either of the main parties would go into Government with Sinn Féin, which is also a major problem for Mary Lou.

 

The Green Party

They are back with a bang and they will grow furher too. They could have as many as 10 TDs elected in the next election. They will be the kingmakers in the next Dáil. Whether that’s a good or a bad thing remains to be seen, but certainly the Green agenda is here to stay.

 

Labour

The end could be nigh for the Labour Party, which seems to have lost all direction. They are being squeezed by Sinn Féin and People Before Profit/Solidarity/‘the left’ on one side and by the Greens on the other. I would fear for them in the next election.

 

People Before Profit/Solidarity

There is always going to be a certain amount of support for the far left and well educated politicians like Paul Murphy, Richard Boyd Barrett and Ruth Coppinger (whethere you like them or not) look safe. They may not be everyone’s cup of tea but there is a vote out there for them.

 

Other Independents

The advent of ‘new politics’ saw the likes of Shane Ross, Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran and Sean Canney assume ministerial office. They did well – but a lot of people would welcome any future Government being minus Ross…in particular! Many people in this area feel he is anti-rural.

  Other high profile Independents like Michael Fitzmaurice and Denis Naughten will only be effective as part of a grouping that can challenge any sitting Government on the issues of the day.

  Overall then, it looks like more of the same when the General Election votes are counted in early 2020, with no party making huge gains. The exception and unknown quantity are the Green Party who are certain to hold the balance of power when the next Government is being formed.

  Here in this constituency I can see no change with Michael Fitzmaurice, Eugene Murphy and Denis Naughten holding on to their seats.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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