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Ireland says 'Big Hello!' while Leeds wave goodbye to promotion!

 

 

Surely some mistake?

Of course I have no issue with the Government’s ‘Big Hello’ event this weekend, which will see local communities hosting gatherings with a view to strengthening community ties. In fact, I welcome the initiative.

  I have no issue with it at all, merely one query: Why didn’t they call it ‘The Big Howya’?

 

Is Mr Lawless Serious?

A Fianna Fáil TD has expressed concern about the possibility of the Chinese state spying on TDs and Senators in the future.

  Deputy James Lawless – an apt surname in the circumstances – has raised the issue following the installation of surveillance cameras manufactured by the Chinese state in Leinster House.

  Now we know that the Skibbereen Eagle newspaper famously warned the Czar of Russia that they were watching him.

  But surely the Chinese authorities aren’t planning to spy on Danny Healy-Rae & Co.?

 

Winner alright!

In a world that sometimes feels like it’s gone just a little mad, it’s reassuring to see that there’s still some normality…

  I’m referring of course to a poll in the esteemed ‘Radio Times’ on the greatest sit-coms of all time. I was pleased to see that reason prevailed in this increasingly mad world – and Fawlty Towers duly won out.

  Mind you, I was very surprised to see Father Ted taking second place. Father Ted was a great comedy, but it’s hardly worthy of such an elevated position. It’s certainly not fit to ‘lace the boots’ of Basil, Sybil, Manuel & Co.

  Meanwhile, Only Fools and Horses finished in sixth place, which was unfair on that classic and even more objectionable than Father Ted’s high placing.

 

Golf ball lands. Crowd goes crazy

Anyone who doubts if there is such a thing as a ‘herd mentality’ should really watch the golf on television.

  Time and time again it happens…a golfer hits a wayward shot and shouts ‘Fore!’…we all await the swish of the tree branches. TV camera zooms in. Someone spots golfer’s ball behind/near tree, perhaps fortuitously in a clearing. They point at it.

  Immediately, hundreds of spectators surge towards the ball. They stand around it, staring at the motionless ball, as though under some sort of a spell.

  It’s always a pretty bizarre sight. Maybe they just want to have a great vantage point for the next shot. Or maybe they all have ‘Late-Late-Show-audience-itis’, defined as ‘I want the folks at home to see me on the telly’.

 

Oops, they did it again…

Honestly, I had major misgivings about the appointment of Ole as Manchester United manager.

  Unless I’m missing something, this is what happened: Manchester United wisely parted company with Jose Mourinho, then appointed an unproven manager (undoubtedly a former playing hero) as interim boss.

  Unexpectedly, Solskjaer oversaw a great winning run. And, frankly, United fans lost the run of themselves! ‘Appoint the new Messiah’, they chanted, oblivious to his managerial track record, the poor quality of some of the opposition, and the reality that many new managers experience an immediate ‘bounce’.

  Next, results change…and suddenly it all goes downhill. Suddenly, Solskjaer looks out of his depth. Nice guy, probably not the right guy. The board acted rashly. I can’t see this one ending happily.

 

Meanwhile, back at Elland Road…

Pity any Leeds United fan who tuned into Sky Sports in the 77th minute of Sunday’s Championship game with Aston Villa…to see Villa’s Albert Adoma walk the ball into the net from the halfway line with the Leeds players standing like statues.

  If any such fan exists, that odd sight won’t have inspired them to believe that Leeds can gain promotion to the Premier League via the upcoming play-offs.

  Happily, there was an explanation for the bizarre ‘uncontested goal’, which is that Leeds gifted it to Villa because their opponents were fuming over the goal Leeds had scored a few minutes earlier. (Villa were unhappy that Leeds had played on after one of the Villa players went down injured).

  Personally, as a Leeds fan – and a sporting one at that – I think it was extremely generous of Leeds to gift Villa the goal.

  Anyways, it all reminded me of a soccer game (well, fixture) in the Rooskey area, more than forty years ago. The opposition didn’t turn up, and the referee asked the Rooskey-based team to kick off (and go through the formality of scoring a goal into the empty net).

  Sadly, after casually working the ball upfield, a Rooskey player carelessly kicked it wide! Unless my memory really is playing tricks with me, a national newspaper reported: ‘Red faces in Rooskey. No score against invisible rivals!’

 

 

Is there a code of omertà around Mother and Baby homes?

 

 

 

Last week we celebrated 70 years since our  country officially became a republic, (it happened at midnight Easter Monday on 18th of April 1949), yet I for one, a normally proud Irishwoman, feel sick to my stomach and thoroughly ashamed. You see, (in the same week), according to a new report, the burial locations of hundreds of babies and children who died in the State’s notorious mother and baby hell-holes remains unknown. Now, with regard to our highly respected neighbours in Tuam, the institution, (run by the Sisters of Bons Secours), was situated on a site allegedly operated and owned by Galway County Council, whom, in the face of deep criticism relating to them not being able to produce a legally required Register of Burials, is, let me state, insisting it is ‘fully co-operating with the investigation’.

  Now, during the course of my work, I’ve visited Tuam many times, and let me declare that it is populated by wonderfully decent human beings, people who deserve respect. However, as the town is sadly notorious as being the location of the disreputable Mother and Baby home, which harbours a mass burial site containing the remains of hundreds of babies who perished while in the care of the Order who ran it, I’d have to agree with the investigation and say that yes, it’s entirely possible that some local workers would’ve passed through its grounds on a regular basis. And, given this theory, I’d imagine that this week, the stench of humiliation, remorse, guilt, hypocrisy, and possibly fear is permeating that normally glorious Tuam air. 

  In relation to Bessborough, which was run by the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary, I’d also agree with the report when it asserts, that, it is “very difficult to comprehend” how those who managed it have no information to offer concerning the locations of the burial places of the hundreds of infants and children who died in their care. Are we expected to believe that not a single, solitary, chaste, God-fearing Catholic among this lot has any credible info whatsoever, and can’t (or refuse) to provide even a smidgen of a clue that’d point families in the right direction?  

  Look Sisters, maths isn’t my strong point, but if, between the decades of 1920 and 1980 nine hundred little souls perished at Bessborough, I make that fifteen deaths a year, so it’s absolutely staggering that not one single nun among you can come forward and break their silence; leading me to ask if there’s some sort of omertà in place here? If this shameful practice had happened anywhere else in the EU, the entire scandal would be referred to The Hague…and rightly so!

  Well done to Minister Katherine Zappone, who appears to be genuinely doing her best to get to the bottom of this horror, and who has passionately appealed to anyone with answers relating to these places of persecution to “let us know where they (the children) are buried”.

  I mean no disrespect to our wonderful neighbours in Tuam, and I fully understand we are living in very different times. I empathise with those of you who may have information but whom, up to now, for whatever reason, have (disgracefully) remained silent.

  However, whether these tight-lipped individuals are possible members of the local clergy, are close family, or indeed, are possibly former members of an Garda Síochána, or are a part of the local community and council, etc., I’d implore you, given the revelations, and given the unspeakable horrors that befell these innocent little angels, it’s reasonable to assume your continued silence may be construed as not only being your acceptance, but possibly your collusion in the unauthorised and unrecorded disposal of innocent babies and young children’s bodies; babies who were Irish citizens with both legal and human rights.

  So today, examine that part of your conscience making you stand idly by, and come out and tell us what you know. The families, and indeed Ireland as a whole, needs a forensic investigation to bring about clarification and justice for these children and their mothers.

  For more information, please contact the HSE on 1850-241850.

 

I’m keeping the dogs!

 

You’re probably already aware, but a pre-nuptial agreement has absolutely no basis in Irish law, and is, therefore not binding. However, while there may be many reasons why a couple would sign a pre-nup prior to tying the knot, (money being the main one), as far as I’m concerned, retaining custody of the beloved fur babies would definitely be top of my list!

  I only mention this because the fight to retain custody of the family pet following a divorce is on the rise here in Ireland. And, as I love my doggies as much as I love my kids, (more, according to my eldest), I can fully understand this scenario and it’s for this very reason, as well as the fact that, according to the UK’s Blue Cross, ‘30,000 divorce cases in the past year involved a dispute over a pet,’ that, on an occasion where I’m asked to carry out a voluntary home-check for an animal rescue charity, I’ve been known to ask the surprised applicants the one question everyone else avoids, and that is, have they made plans for the pet in the unlikely event they go their separate ways? When the answer’s ‘er, no,’ I ask, well, are they planning to return the poor dog/cat back to the rescue? When the reply is, ‘well yes probably,’ I follow up with, does the same apply to the kiddies? As in, will they pack up the cherubs and return them to the maternity hospital? No…of course they won’t!  So isn’t it reasonable for me to ask them to consider making arrangements for their pets prior to their commitment to adopt.

  Therefore, (and not that I’m contemplating it whatsoever because I adore him), but, if he-who-can-assemble-an-entire-car-engine-with-his-eyes-shut-yet-can’t-tidy-away-his-spanners and myself ever decide we no longer deserve our Lifetime Achievement Award for putting up with each other, let me state here and now that I’m keeping our dogs!

 

Well done on an ‘egg-cellent’ Easter Parade!

 

There was a great buzz in the county town last Sunday as locals donned their glad rags and flocked to the town’s annual Easter Parade. Well done to everyone who took part. The sun shone on what was definitely a healthy dose of community spirit at its very best with everyone in attendance looking happy and content…and why shouldn’t they be? Roscommon is a thriving county, full of fantastic people who not only believe in promoting and cultivating sense of belonging, they showcase it. Other counties would do well to take note! Just sayin’!

 

Local charity working to tame a growing problem!

 

 

 

 

As you may know by now, every so often my long suffering wife, Carol, and I head across to Cabo Roig, a nice little place on the far side of Spain, where we can relax in the sun for a few days and enjoy what is a really friendly seaside village. It is a place that has everything that we would want in a holiday destination; fabulous scenery, great walks, top quality beaches, and any amount of golf clubs, as well as the obligatory selection of good pubs and restaurants, and fine weather.

  So what’s the catch I hear you ask? In truth, there is none, and yet, for the last few years, you could hardly fail to notice the ever-increasing numbers of wild cats that seem to have sprung up overnight. Now I freely admit that I am fan of cats, but, while I would remark on the large numbers and indeed on the tourists who feed them, if I had not been contacted by a reader of this column about a similar problem in this country, I would probably never have thought about them again!

  Wild or feral cats are now very plentiful here in Ireland, and because the female is such a prolific breeder, who can have three litters a year with an average of five kittens per litter, it doesn’t need Einstein or any other mathematical genius to figure out that, without some intervention, we will soon have a major problem on our hands.

  The end result of uncontrolled breeding is large numbers of wild cats roaming the countryside, hungry, possibly disease ridden, and impossible to handle or tame, and many of these will be poisoned or trapped and killed by people who get fed up of their constant fighting, yowling, or just their very presence around a house.

  Fortunately however, an organisation called TNR South Roscommon (Trap, Neuter, and Return) is in existence in this area, and its aim is to keep the feral cat population under control, by doing exactly what it says on the tin, and by raising public awareness of the necessity of spaying and neutering stray cats.

  TNR is a non-profit registered charitable organisation, formed by Orla Hanley some years ago, and Orla has coordinated the veterinary care, professionally offered at Cloverhill Veterinary Surgery. In simple language, if you want to get a stray cat that you might be feeding, spayed or neutered, you can contact TNR and they will organise everything for the discounted sum of €10. When everything is sorted they will return your feline friend and you will have played your part in keeping the wild cat population under control.

  As with a lot of these organistions they rely almost exclusively on public donations to keep them going, and so they have two fundraising efforts coming up - this Saturday (27th), they are having a bucket collection at SuperValu, Roscommon, while the following day (Sunday 28th), there is a Sale of Work in the Courthouse, Ballygar, from 10 am to 2 pm., with all kinds of everything including jewellery, clothes, ornaments, and toys, all generously donated by members of the public, available for purchase.

  Orla and her loyal team of volunteers are doing an amazing job in a very important area, so if you happen to be shopping in Supervalu, Roscommon on Saturday or if you can get to Ballygar on Sunday dig deep, and give them any help you can. I’m also told they also have an online shop so you can support them that way as well.

  As I said, I am not a cat man but, nonetheless, they don’t deserve to find themselves cold, hungry or homeless and a little kindness and compassion could help to make their lives, and ours, a lot easier. I wonder does Orla know anyone in Cabo Roig, who could sort out the problem over there?

 

Lyra’s murder casts a dark shadow

Normally at this stage I would be going on to matters of a lighter nature, but events in Derry on Good Friday cast a shadow over the entire country and the murder of journalist, Lyra McKee, by the New IRA has provoked a reaction of horror and outrage not seen since the murder in 1996, of another journalist, Veronica Guerin.

  Now I have no intention of moralising on the actions of these so-called ‘activists’, but it was so heartening to see the reaction of people who live in nationalist areas of Northern Ireland, and the total and utter condemnation of the cowardly murder of an innocent woman makes me think that all is not lost.

  I have to say that there can be nothing more cowardly than shooting from the shadows at human targets, whether they are police officers, or in this case, ordinary local residents, and if anything good is to come out of this, let us hope it’s that the local communities come together and show the gunmen that their day is long gone.

  I am writing this on Tuesday evening and it is highly significant that our President, Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, will both be in attendance at Lyra’s funeral. In doing so, they honour the memory of a young journalist, who, in every way, showed a lot more courage than the shooter who took her life. It is sadly ironic that her murder took place on the day the whole country and indeed the world was celebrating the 21st anniversary of the Good Friday Peace Agreement. The greatest testimony to Lyra’s memory will hopefully be the fact that nothing will be allowed to undermine that peace agreement. May she rest in peace.

Dancing with Odd Sox on Easter Sunday

Finally onto lighter matters, and surprise, surprise on Easter Sunday night I found myself in Mikeen’s where a young band, Odd Sox, were providing the musical entertainment. Even though I had heard a lot of good things about them, this was the first night I had the chance to see them live.

  Now I have to tell you they more than lived up to their blossoming reputation, and their lively music, aided by a substantial helping of Mikeen’s porter, had me, as they say, strutting my stuff on the dance floor. I even felt my dancing was good enough to get me a call-up to ‘Dancing with the Stars’ however on the night the award for the ‘Best Dancer’ went to Michael Fleming Jnr, who produced a dance that was impossible to describe but was mostly built around the splits. For content, style and entertainment value he was a worthy winner and walked away with the first cup we could find which was in fact the Tug O’ War Cup!

  Young Mike is heading for Canada in the near future so to be going as the Champion Dancer of Creggs is a great boost for him, and we wish him well.

  Odd Sox are definitely worth a look and despite my disappointment at not winning the Dancing Competition, I have to say we had a great bit of craic, and thoroughly enjoyed the night.

  Before I finish, this Friday night coming I am quizmaster at a table quiz in Mikeen’s to raise funds for St. Ciaran’s boys and girls who are hosting Féile later in the year. My neighbour Mary Keane is organising the event, and I hope everyone makes the effort to be there - it will all kick off at 9.30 pm and there will be a raffle with loads of nice prizes to be won. Hope to see you there!

Till next week, Bye for now!

 

Is it too late to save the Earth?

 

 

 

Last Thursday night I watched the David Attenborough documentary ‘Climate Change – The Facts’ and then later on BBC Four a docu-report on BBC called ‘The Age Of Stupid’. They made for very sobering and at times very distressing and depressing viewing.

  The climate change argument is now long over. Those who deny it’s a fact are either deluded or have a vested interest and don’t want to acknowledge the facts. We are destroying our planet simple as that, and at a frightening rate too!

  Is it good enough that this destruction will probably not happen in our generation’s lifetime and does that mean we can ignore what’s happening?

  As far as I can see there is very little we can do to stop the inevitable happening. The level of emissions now escaping into the atmosphere means that unless we address it now it will be too late in 10 or 20 years’ time. Our children and especially our grandchildren will be living in a world that will be unsustainable on several levels.

  But people have to live, and the way our lives are structured means that we are all guilty. I am no different. I have to travel to work in Tullamore from Roscommon town four days a week. The only way I can get there is by car. There is no suitable public transport to get me there early in the morning. I recently changed my car and sought advice from several people on what to buy. When I told them that I was doing a lot of mileage every single one of them advised me to buy a diesel car. That’s also allowing for an inevitable sharp rise in diesel prices as carbon taxes kick in later in the year. There are hundreds of thousands of people like me here in Ireland never mind in other countries.

  Then we have our farming industry which is the backbone of rural Ireland. Climate change activists want people to cut down on red meat and dairy products. What would these people advise farmers to do if they are not working the land?  Everyone has to work in order to feed their families.

  But the dilemma a lot of us face here in Ireland pales into insignificance with the situation in the three biggest economies in the world. The US economy is built on the use of oil and Donald Trump has pulled his country out of the Paris Accord on climate change. In India the levels of pollution there now are four times what they were ten years ago. In China they are building one new power plant every week to deal with growing energy needs. Just think about that for a minute.

  There are very laudable efforts being made here in Ireland with regard to recycling and the use of plastics, and plans to introduce carbon taxes to help with the situation but when the likes of the USA and China are ignoring this crisis the planet is doomed, and that’s not an exaggeration.

  If the BBC programmes last Thursday night were even 50% accurate then it is only a matter of decades before the situation spirals out of control. 

  So what will stop this kamikaze race to the bottom? According to both documentaries the only thing that will work are massive public protests all over the world. It is the only thing that that politicians take any notice of.

  Have I got any solutions? I don’t, is the simple answer. I’ll be dead and gone before the real trouble starts. When every country in the world is suffering from extensive flooding, when storms are killing hundreds of thousands of people every year and when society breaks down because wars are being fought over access to clean drinking water. That’s when climate change will affect everyone.

  This will be the first generation in the history of time that we will be handing over a world that is a much poorer and more damaged than the generation before. It’s hardly a great legacy to hand on to our children.

  At the end of the docu-report ‘The Age Of Stupid’ the narrator Pete Postlethwaite said: “With all our intelligence and sophistication, the incredible thing is that we are committing suicide and we are doing it knowingly too”.

Is it too late to save the Earth?

 

 

 

Last Thursday night I watched the David Attenborough documentary ‘Climate Change – The Facts’ and then later on BBC Four a docu-report on BBC called ‘The Age Of Stupid’. They made for very sobering and at times very distressing and depressing viewing.

  The climate change argument is now long over. Those who deny it’s a fact are either deluded or have a vested interest and don’t want to acknowledge the facts. We are destroying our planet simple as that, and at a frightening rate too!

  Is it good enough that this destruction will probably not happen in our generation’s lifetime and does that mean we can ignore what’s happening?

  As far as I can see there is very little we can do to stop the inevitable happening. The level of emissions now escaping into the atmosphere means that unless we address it now it will be too late in 10 or 20 years’ time. Our children and especially our grandchildren will be living in a world that will be unsustainable on several levels.

  But people have to live, and the way our lives are structured means that we are all guilty. I am no different. I have to travel to work in Tullamore from Roscommon town four days a week. The only way I can get there is by car. There is no suitable public transport to get me there early in the morning. I recently changed my car and sought advice from several people on what to buy. When I told them that I was doing a lot of mileage every single one of them advised me to buy a diesel car. That’s also allowing for an inevitable sharp rise in diesel prices as carbon taxes kick in later in the year. There are hundreds of thousands of people like me here in Ireland never mind in other countries.

  Then we have our farming industry which is the backbone of rural Ireland. Climate change activists want people to cut down on red meat and dairy products. What would these people advise farmers to do if they are not working the land?  Everyone has to work in order to feed their families.

  But the dilemma a lot of us face here in Ireland pales into insignificance with the situation in the three biggest economies in the world. The US economy is built on the use of oil and Donald Trump has pulled his country out of the Paris Accord on climate change. In India the levels of pollution there now are four times what they were ten years ago. In China they are building one new power plant every week to deal with growing energy needs. Just think about that for a minute.

  There are very laudable efforts being made here in Ireland with regard to recycling and the use of plastics, and plans to introduce carbon taxes to help with the situation but when the likes of the USA and China are ignoring this crisis the planet is doomed, and that’s not an exaggeration.

  If the BBC programmes last Thursday night were even 50% accurate then it is only a matter of decades before the situation spirals out of control. 

  So what will stop this kamikaze race to the bottom? According to both documentaries the only thing that will work are massive public protests all over the world. It is the only thing that that politicians take any notice of.

  Have I got any solutions? I don’t, is the simple answer. I’ll be dead and gone before the real trouble starts. When every country in the world is suffering from extensive flooding, when storms are killing hundreds of thousands of people every year and when society breaks down because wars are being fought over access to clean drinking water. That’s when climate change will affect everyone.

  This will be the first generation in the history of time that we will be handing over a world that is a much poorer and more damaged than the generation before. It’s hardly a great legacy to hand on to our children.

  At the end of the docu-report ‘The Age Of Stupid’ the narrator Pete Postlethwaite said: “With all our intelligence and sophistication, the incredible thing is that we are committing suicide and we are doing it knowingly too”.

A week in politics that broke my cringe-o-meter

 

 

 

To quote former British PM Harold Wilson, ‘a week is a long time in politics!’ Firstly, (and unsurprisingly), little was achieved regarding Brexit, other than the six-month ‘flextension’ farce. This means we now have a scenario whereby the UK will continue to be a full EU member state, retaining all of the associated rights until, of all dates, Hallow E’en. Are yez ‘avin’ a larf? I hope readers will forgive me for saying it, but the phrase too many freaks and not enough circuses springs to mind here.

  Now, okay, I suppose the longer the whole mess goes on, and the further down the road the can is kicked, the better it is for us because hey…they may not even leave at all, as, (in my opinion), the move for a second referendum appears to be gathering pace.

  However folks, and I do hate to rake up old wounds, (no, really, I do), especially as we’re all so palsy walsy now, but, given our lovely neighbours over-stayed their ‘visit’ to us by eight hundred years, I’m going to assume that, come Hallow E’en, the rest of the EU will still be pulling all-nighter-crisis-talks with auntie Theresa, (if she hasn’t been deposed beforehand) – simply because the UK just don’t seem to be able to grasp that the whole Brexit thingy is not really all that difficult to achieve.

  I mean, if you want to be Euro-free lads, all you have to do is agree a withdrawal deal that puts an arrangement in place regarding the whole ‘Irish issue,’ and then leave, and we can all live happily ever after…simples!

  Meanwhile, talking of kicking the can…when someone brazenly hides behind their lawyers as an excuse to refuse to answer questions, my paranoia shoots straight through the roof. Then, as the seeds of doubt begin to take root, my suspicious mind suddenly switches from wondering if that someone is simply just trying to titillate and tantalise us, or worse…if they’ve actively gone to this much trouble to avoid responding to what were reasonable questions, then how harrowing are their answers going to be?

  You see folks, as the unravelling commenced and the buffoonery progressed, I was half-expecting someone sitting at last week’s Oireachtas Sport Committee proceedings to swiftly whip out a ukulele and compose a melancholy Country ‘n’ Western ditty called, ahem, The Dirge of John Delaney…or something like that, because, quite frankly, I was amazed by the man’s total refusal to ‘walk the line,’ and not only decline to answer TDs’ questions regarding the €100,000 loan he gave the association, but, worryingly, at that sitting, he didn’t even go so far as to clarify issues relating to FAI governance. Look John love, if there had been nothing to see, you should have just explained that, and then politely pushed off. I mean, why the need for a so-called gagging order? Sure the whole drama was akin to trying to unravel the plot of an Agatha Christie whodunit!

  Now folks, dubious as Delaney’s behaviour was, I have to comment that Independent TD Michael Healy-Rae’s incredible defence of him was equally puzzling. I mean, talk about ‘standing by your man’. Healy-Rae’s geeky fan-boy reaction, pledging that Delaney would be afforded “the mother of all welcomes” the next time he came to Kerry, was so farcical, I swear to God readers, it actually broke my cringe-o-meter! Will yez ever get a room lads, ‘cos this is possibly the biggest bro-mance since Batman met Robin! Holy heap of boot-lickin’ Batman…I mean Michael!

  Look, I’m not a footie fan at all but, for me, it seems the entire episode has raised more questions than it has managed to answer. However, as a bystander, I’m now wondering if perhaps John Delaney, (and the beleaguered association) really believed he was untouchable, and, given that he has run the organisation for fifteen years, I would imagine his backers and dedicated soccer fans alike, must have viewed him as being the ultimate, the faultless, Mr. FAI!

Oh how the mighty have fallen.

 

Teachers are not substitute parents

 

A report that a primary school in Walsall in the UK has been forced to hire a ‘dedicated nappy changer,’ because some of the students attending have not been properly toilet trained is, in my opinion, very worrying.

  Now okay, I do understand that these kids are in the four and five year age group, meaning they’re very young, and of course some little ones may have an issue or two when it comes to doing their business in a strange place; I do get it. I’m an adult who carries a pack of antibacterial wipes and a hand sanitiser 24/7 in the unlikely event I may need to use a loo other than my own!

  I find this very interesting. We live in an age where toddlers as young as two years’ old are able to master a smartphone or a tablet, which I believe is fantastic when it comes to their future digital/technology preparation, their hand-eye coordination development, and in enhancing  their problem solving skills. In addition, (and I’ll bet child development experts are rolling their eyes right now), I also believe it’s great for a parent/grandparent to be able to hand the ankle-biters these devices when they’re sitting in their car seat whinging with boredom, or climbing out of the supermarket trolley throwing a tantrum! Sure isn’t the aul mobile a Godsend. However, I would assume that when it comes to a child’s personal development, not to mention their individual hygiene practices, teaching them to be independently capable of using the loo is also vitally important.

  Look, I’m always supportive of time-poor, over-stretched parents, (I was one), but school teachers are not employed to be substitute mammies and daddies; they’re educators! And while of course any decent school will work with families regarding addressing certain needs their child may have, as far as I would imagine, changing nappies just because someone has neglected to potty-train their little darling in preparation for big school should not be one of them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

         

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

        

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Missing the point on the coldest Sunday in memory!

 

 

It’s a cold, wild, windy Monday afternoon, and believe it or not I am thinking about the weather, because as recently as Wednesday (of last week) I visited Castlerea Golf Club and played a few holes all by myself in the most beautiful weather imaginable.

  In a line I will always remember from my compositions in the national school, the sun “was splitting the stones, and there wasn’t a cloud to be seen in the sky”.

  Fast-forward to Sunday and our local footballers were to be playing St. Barry’s in the second round of the Tansey Cup in Creggs, but the torrential rain of Saturday night put paid to that as our pitch was waterlogged. Therefore, the match was transferred to the pitch of our neighbouring club, Fuerty, where I headed for the two o’clock throw-in.

  There is something special about club football matches and about the diehards that follow their local teams through good and (mostly) bad times, but the hardy souls who braved the elements on Sunday should get medals, because, weather-wise, it was sheer torture. I am going to matches for a long time now, but never have I been as cold or as miserable as I was on Sunday afternoon. When I got into the car to drive home, my hands were so cold I could barely feel the steering wheel. That’s my excuse for the Barry’s supporter in a red BMW that I pulled out in front of as I took off – and I do apologise.

  I also have to apologise to our scorekeeper Mary D, who never gets the score wrong – but this time she did, as I gave Barry’s a point that belonged to Creggs, and so as I headed home for a life-saving shower, I was sure the game had ended in a draw. The good news is that because of my mistake (if you follow) we had actually won by two points.

  Now I have to say that sometimes we are critical of our teams, and indeed of the match officials – and in the case of the latter, sometimes with good reason – but after watching a quite enjoyable contest which could have gone either way, I must say well done to everyone involved and I hope ye never play on as cold a day again.

  Out here in Creggs, it was a great weekend for such a small village, as on Saturday night, at a big gala event in the Galway Bay Hotel, Creggs RFC was named Connacht Club of the Year – an amazing but well deserved achievement. Then on Sunday the U-18 and a half (don’t know where the half comes from, but it’s there now) team won the Connacht League by beating a hugely fancied Corrib fifteen in the final. I’m told we had a good number of representatives at the Connacht Dinner, and it was a great night with the Connacht senior players in great form after their brilliant win earlier in the day over Cardiff.

  Continuing with Creggs wins, and huge congratulations to local lady Kathleen Coleman (formerly Keane), daughter of the legendary Bill, who, while living outside Ballygar now, is from just down the road. Kathleen won €70,000 on Winning Streak on Saturday night – well done!

 

Fond memories of Sean

 

A few years ago I wrote a piece in this newspaper lamenting my lack of success when it came to sowing daffodils, and I told you that not once but twice I had failed dismally to get any to appear, even though it is widely acknowledged that they are the amongst the easiest flowers to grow, as evidenced by the fact that they can be seen flourishing on ditches, by the roadside, and in the middle of fields.

  Anyway, a short time after I wrote it, I was surprised to get a phone call from Boyle’s Sean Young, advising me how to sow them. This was the same Sean Young who was manager of the Roscommon footballers during my short time with them back in the mid-1970s, and in truth, I had never spoken to him since then. However, it was so nice of him to take the time out to try to help me with my flower problem, and we had a long chat reminiscing about our (short) time together with the Rossies. I was sad to read on last week’s paper about his recent passing.

  There were many tributes to him for his work as a coach and a manager, but I will always remember him telling me when first I reported for county training, that as a forward, if I couldn’t put the ball over the bar from fifty yards, I had no right being on a county team! How right he was. If that criteria applied now, there would be very few forwards on any county team – scoring points from a distance is almost a lost art.

  As for the daffodils, they are now flourishing in the garden, so even if he couldn’t make a footballer out of me, at least Sean had some success in turning me into a gardener. May he rest in peace.

 

And finally…

Finally for this week, a little tale concerning Tom Connolly, a former Personality of the Year here in Creggs. A few weeks ago he was a passenger in a car coming down from Galway, when it pulled into a filling station for petrol, which the driver duly filled and paid for.

  As he sat back into the car he remarked to Tom that the Roscommon People was to be got in the shop, and that he was surprised to see it so far into Co. Galway. When Tom asked him was he sure, the driver said he’d run in and get one – he won’t admit it, but he couldn’t last the week without reading my piece!

  Anyway, he shot into the shop, grabbed the paper, and was just back in the car when two burly gentleman came looking for him – they thought he had stolen the paper, and were going to apprehend him. Thankfully they saw the funny side when he showed them it was, and is, a free paper, but if we had a Star of the Week Award, it would have to go to the man who was nearly arrested so he could read the Roscommon People!

  Well done Tom, it shows our readers will go to any lengths to get their weekly fix – even to getting one in the heart of Galway.

 

Till next week, Bye for now!

Rosalie closure: Our local Oireachtas members should let THEIR votes do the talking 

 

 

 

The planned closure of the Rosalie Unit in Castlerea, which currently caters for 12 residents, will certainly not knock Brexit, the troubles at the FAI, or the housing crisis off the front pages, but to the people involved, this is a major story. To the people of Roscommon it is a symbol of what the powers that be think they can get away with in rural areas, particularly areas where there is no Government TD to represent the people.

  That latter situation came about because of the exact same kind of neglect of the issues affecting the people – but that’s a story for another day.

  I cannot understand why the HSE is so determined to close this unit as this saga is going on for a number of years now. There has been a constant public outcry, yet the HSE and the Government have not passed the slightest bit of heed on those protests. What a lot of the so-called experts do not realise is that this unit is home in a very real sense for most of these people and they should be allowed to live out their lives in familiar surroundings.

  In the next number of weeks we are having local and European elections and this issue should be front and centre here in County Roscommon. Unfortunately, we have no Government TD to hold to account, but we have a TD from Fianna Fáil, a party which is propping up the Government. Why not vote against the Government to highlight this issue and show the level of anger felt by the public? 

  We also have two Fine Gael Senators who should register their opposition by voting against the Government in order to highlight this serious matter.

  There have been several public meetings held to highlight this issue and a petition with thousands of signatures has been sent to the Government in protest at this planned closure. But it would seem that it’s all falling on deaf ears.

  The people will have politicians calling to their doors over the next month or so, seeking votes. The fate of the Rosalie facility is an issue that should be raised with representatives of all parties and none. We have heard many fine political speeches complaining about this decision, but what the people want to see is action. There is not much point in making statements such as ‘I am standing with the people’ if they are not prepared to back it up with decisive action.

  It is significant to note that a professional body like the PNA have come out to condemn the HSE decision. Minister Jim Daly says that there will be new services available at the Rosalie Unit in the future. People know full well that if this unit closes then that’s it. Nothing will replace it.

  I know there are pressing issues affecting every community in the county which need to be addressed, but when the politicians come to your door over the next few weeks, remind them that the Government is planning to close this unit against the will of the people. It is a symbol of how rural Ireland is viewed by the powers that be. It will be interesting to see how this pans out in the end. If this unit closes, it’s another nail in the coffin of services in rural areas and in County Roscommon in particular. Will they get away with it again? Time will tell.

Would it happen in a minister’s constituency?

 

 

 

 

 

No surprise here at the dismaying ‘news’ that the fate of the Rosalie Unit in Castlerea has been sealed. We’ve seen it all before. Our local politicians, of all hues, have failed on this one. The Government of the day has let local people down. As ever, they hide behind the coat-tails of faceless people.

  The mantra of Junior Health Minister Jim Daly has become tiresome. Over the years, politicians have always been adept at hiding behind civil servants…in the case of health, they shamelessly hide behind the HSE or HIQA, or both. Daly excels at it.

  He is not the only one. If there’s a positive health story, the politicians are all over the place, smiling for the cameras and slapping themselves on the back. If it’s bad news, they tut-tut and say it’s all down to the civil servants. In the case of the Rosalie Unit, Minister Daly has bluntly said he has no intention of ‘going against clinicians’. He takes his advice, he says, not from local politicians, but from clinicians.

  So that’s it then. In Jim’s world, politicians who have responsibility for the Department of Health cannot intervene. It’s baloney. If the political will was there, Rosalie would remain open in its current guise. I somehow doubt that we would see a similar facility closing down in a minister’s constituency.

 

One to watch: Casey v Ming

 

He may be a divisive figure with controversial views, but I must say I found Peter Casey to be a very friendly interviewee on Monday.

  The Roscommon People was the only local media outlet to meet up with Mr. Casey, who spent Monday – the day on which nominations closed for the European elections – in Roscommon. He and his wife Helen stayed overnight in Gleeson’s in the county town.

  Initially seen as something of a joke candidate (and still derided by many), Casey clearly connected with a huge section of the electorate in last year’s Presidential election, securing 342,727 votes and finishing second to President Michael D. Higgins.

  One week after Marian Harkin’s departure boosted Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan’s re-election prospects, Casey’s entry into the European election race represents a real challenge to the Castlerea man (and others). 

   And there’s no love lost already between the controversial Casey and the sometimes controversial ‘Ming’. They met for the first time last week, when both were panellists on the Tonight Show with Matt Cooper and Ivan Yates. According to Casey, Ming initially ignored him in the ‘Green Room’ before the show began. Casey told the Roscommon People that during the break he had to ask Ming to stop shouting as it was giving him an earache! For his part, Ming says that Casey is “probably one of the least interesting candidates in the field”.

  After our interview on Monday, I believe Casey popped into a local pub, The Brewery, where he was greeted by surprised locals…who were not expecting the runner-up in the 2018 Presidential election to suddenly walk in and enliven their Monday evening!

 

Marching on together?

 

Of course the sporting comeback that makes what Mr. Woods has achieved look like a walk in the park…or fairway…is tentatively taking shape in Leeds.

  Ready (hopefully) to shake up the world are the mighty men of Leeds United, who might just possibly be about to return to the top flight of English football for the first time since 2004.

  There are numerous Leeds United fans in County Roscommon, some of them even willing to go public on it.

  Only recently, Seamus Comiskey put his head out the window as he was driving past me in Abbey Street, letting out a shout ‘We’re marching on together!’

  Yes, there are lots of Leeds fans in Co. Roscommon who are marching on together just now. You will probably find them hiding behind their sofas when Leeds are in action on Sky Sports, or maybe in their garden shed saying a prayer in front of a poster of the Don Revie team of the 1960s/’70s. All will be revealed in the next few weeks…(in other news, Liverpool are apparently facing off with Manchester City).

 

Tiger shakes up the world…

 

Oh, the magic of sport!

  Last Sunday, organisers brought forward the fourth round of the Masters Golf Tournament – because they feared storms were coming to Atlanta. In fact they got an earthquake.

  Just about everything Tiger Woods has done over the past decade or so could have been accompanied by that dramatic closing theme music on Eastenders. And that’s putting it mildly.

  It’s a crazy narrative. He was the superstar who fell into the gutter. He destroyed his marriage, his personal life unravelling in scandal in front of the entire world. Then came the golfing decline. Woods spent years’ battling severe back pain, plummeting to 1,199 in the world rankings. The Gods were vengeful. He even got the putting Yips. He was a pitiful sight on his arrest for reckless driving. A series of surgeries on his back seemed only to prolong the agony, Woods trapped in an increasingly hapless battle against physical and mental breakdown. A year or two ago, as he sought to scramble any hope of recovery from the wreckage of his career, it was unthinkable that Woods would ever be a force again.

  It was all so different in the beginning. He first shook up the world in 1997, winning his first major at the age of 21. He won 13 more majors in a 9-year spell. Then it all ended. Woods lost his auru on the course and his credibility off it, and was cast into a decade of humiliation, hurt, and justified shame.

  They said he couldn’t win again. They even said he couldn’t play again. Long ago, they even began to avert their gaze. Now he was pitied, the great Tiger dragged down by his own demons and fate.

  Then the miracle began to reveal itself…over the past 18 months or so. Tiger back, on the march again, but older and wiser and more mature now. By last weekend, we had begun to wonder if a sporting immortal might actually drag the glory days back through sheer will.

  ‘I shook up the world’. It’s Ali’s phrase. When Muhammad Ali (well, he was Cassius Clay at the time) sensationally defeated Sonny Liston in 1964, he stood on the ropes of the boxing ring and hollered aloud: ‘I shook up the world! I shook up the world!’  

  Ali defined more than one generation, perhaps he defined the entire 20th century. He transcended and partly shaped historic social change.

  Tiger Woods belongs to a different era, and will never be such a positive force as Ali was. So I am not making a direct comparison; Ali has an iconic status that Woods cannot match.

  Woods wasn’t a nice man in the past. He behaved shockingly in his private life. But this is arguably a story of epic redemption. It was very touching to see those emotional scenes on Sunday, moments after his triumph, as Woods embraced his children.

  Redemption or not, it’s certainly one of the most amazing sporting comebacks of all time. Tiger Woods has shook up the world.

 

 

 

 

Stop demonising farmers – they are not ruining the planet!

 

 

 

Last week, a teacher resource pack, which apparently is part of the An Taisce Green Schools’ programme, was rolled out in an effort to call for teachers in Irish classrooms to encourage students to eat less meat. Great! I’m all for saving animals’ lives. This latest move, which is allegedly endorsed by Minister for Communications Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton TD, should, for someone like me (a vegan and dedicated animal welfare supporter), be music to my ears. But instead, I find it all a bit very holier-than-thou(ish), for the simple reason I’ve always believed in the old adage that there’s no such thing as the one-size-fits-all scenario, and people should be allowed to consume whatever foods they wish; with hopefully a healthy, happy lifestyle being the overall objective. 

  You see, as a former animal welfare officer/humane education lecturer, when I spoke in schools and colleges, (including the UCD School of Veterinary), and, when Eurogroup for Animals invited me to give a presentation to a delegation of leaders from 27 EU member states in Brussels, my lesson plans always focused on the humane and compassionate treatment of all animals as well as enlightening participants regarding how the meat and dairy industry can have an impact on both human and animal health in the wider environment. So, okay, you get it folks…Mir kinda knows her stuff!

   But here’s the thing readers…never once did I, and never once will I, ever tell anyone to stop consuming meat and dairy. Why? Because it is none of my business what people eat!

  Besides, (and while I mean no disrespect to the minister), I’d have to ask Mr. Bruton if he’s fully thought this whole initiative through. I mean, what’s his cunning plan if the following were to happen? That’s if the whole country stops eating meat and dairy and instead everyone becomes like me, (a vegan), and farmers are forced to industrially grow grains, fruit, soya and maize, etc.? That would mean using massive amounts of pesticides, fungicides and fertilisers, etc., all of which can contaminate soil, seriously degrading it due to their chemical input. This, in turn, can blight our water supply and negatively affect other vegetation, as well as killing insects and proving toxic to our birds and our fish.

  While I applaud this wonderful Green School initiative, my advice to those who’re involved in rolling it out would be to concentrate their efforts on educating parents and children regarding the practice of shopping and supporting our local farmers and suppliers. Show them how the use of sustainable forms of farming methods, which are based on traditional structures, can help our planet, and for God’s sake, stop demonising farmers and trying to force them to turn away from meat and dairy production!

  I mean, ask yourselves two questions…how are farmers going to earn their living? And – do we really want to pressure them into growing crops that require massive amounts of toxins? 

  The bottom line here is that perhaps our educators, and our government, need to understand that they have not just got a major responsibility, but indeed an obligation and a duty, when it comes to enlightening students and their parents regarding the whole ‘stop-eating-meat’ issue because, unless everyone in Ireland sources their vegetarian/vegan produce and products specifically via a one hundred per cent organic source, (impossible…I’ve tried it), then we are in danger of, (and will be guilty of), engaging in the destruction of our soil. If this happens, we will deprive our beautiful wildlife and our insects of their lives…thus remarkably, and sinfully contributing to the serious threat we face from climate change, which will then increase the carbon footprint dilemma the minister is trying to reduce!

  What we need is an end to unethical, high-carbon polluting practices, however, (and it may seem mad coming from a vegan), persecuting farmers and telling everyone that giving up meat/dairy will save our planet is not only ludicrous, it’s also a clear indication to me that somebody hasn’t done their homework!

 

Who do you think you are, Mel B?

 

Mel B, aka Scary Spice, once told the world, (according to a piece carried in The Guardian), that she was ‘ecstatically in love with her husband, Stephen Belafonte’. That the pair ‘were soulmates,’ sharing ‘an extraordinary intimacy,’ and they were ‘so compatible, she’d basically married herself’. Bless her. So, you get the picture; they were mad for each other.

  However, given more recent allegations surrounding drug binges and horrific abuse within the marriage, (and her memoir Brutally Honest), it’s now clear that the leopard-skin clad, tongue-pierced one was telling big porkies. So, having read that the raucous attention-seeker had publicly dropped the aul me-and Ginger- had-a-fling bombshell on the eve of a Spice Girls’ tour, which is allegedly only happening to help Scary crawl out of debt following her costly divorce, I think Ginger, who denies anything happened, is right to feel ‘upset,’ and ‘hurt’. However, I’d not only question Mel B’s motives, I’d also question her credibility and ask if she’s ahem, distorting the truth?

  Look, I don’t care if the two (of them) became one, I don’t even like the Spice Girls, but as far as I’m concerned, there’s no worse an unladylike position in which a gal can find herself than publicly kissing and telling on a former lover. For me, due to her big mouth, Mel B has become a walking punchline, with a reputation for milking the last drop of publicity out of a supposed historical liaison. You see, by dishing up dirt concerning her alleged dalliance with her now happily married/mother bandmate all those years ago, Scary has committed one of the cardinal sins against being classed as both a lady and as a ‘girl power’ role model, leading me to wonder if she’s just another desperate ‘wannabe’ bore, banging on about notches on her bedpost in an attempt to generate ticket sales, and er, ‘spice up her life’.

  So, for any future partners out there, I’d suggest that ‘if you wannabe her lover,’ be prepared for Scary to blab, because it appears the woman simply cannot resist washing both hers, and your, dirty laundry in public.

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