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Sun shines on ‘festival season’

 

 

Festival season in County Roscommon and surrounding areas is, if Maria Bailey will forgive the expression, in full swing – and the weather’s being kind too.

  We went to Rooskey on Sunday, where the local Heritage Festival was easing towards a successful finale. This year, our friends in Rooskey went for a week-long festival. The event attracted great crowds and provided lots of entertainment.

  Indeed the sight of cars lining both sides of the village street on Sunday was a reminder of times past, when Rooskey’s famous (now sadly idle) bacon factory was in its prime.

  But Rooskey is bouncing back from the setbacks of recent years (closure of the factory, village being bypassed, the recession, downturn of the angling industry and so on). It was nice to see that a new café has opened beside the former Crew’s Inn pub. The new business (formerly Eileen’s Hairdressers) was bustling on Sunday!

  We decided to stay in Rooskey on Sunday evening…along with many more Rooskey-ites who had returned to the village for the festival. There was a great buzz in the village, as there was most evenings last week.

  Meanwhile, festival fever continues throughout the area. The Boyle Arts Festival has once again been a great success. The O’Carolan Harp Festival is taking place over the coming days and is well worth checking out.

  Castlerea Rose Festival kicked off with a colourful opening parade last Sunday, and I know that committee chairperson John Mulligan and his colleagues have a great schedule lined up.

  Last Sunday’s annual Family Day at Donamon Castle was once again a great success. What a wonderful annual event this is. We were sorry to miss it. The great Danny Burke was MC. Well done to Sean Beirne and his committee colleagues.

  Meanwhile, the Ballintubber Heritage Weekend took place last weekend, and was one of the highlights of the month-long celebrations there. We sent photographer Michael McCormack along to the Mock Wedding which was held in Kenny’s – and judging by his photos, it seems to have been a brilliant evening’s entertainment!

  Meanwhile, the nationally renowned Ballygar Carnival starts today (Thursday, August 1st). This year’s gala event is a very special one, as it’s the 75th annual Ballygar Carnival. It promises to be a great family-oriented celebration.  

  These great communal events showcase the wonderful spirit in our communities and also have the effect of lifting the mood – and boosting local businesses. They are also great examples of the magnificent voluntary sector in our midst. Here’s hoping the sun keeps shining on ‘festival season’.

 

‘Mystery music men’ revealed…almost

 

A number of readers have recently got in touch with us here in the Roscommon People in relation to our request for information on this photograph.

  A reader had previously submitted the photograph and explained that it was from “a calendar of ‘The Times Showband’, which was picked up at a dance in the Casino Ballroom in Castlerea in 1977”. Our correspondent wondered if any of our readers recognised this band and its members.

  One reader, Mike Lannon, of Swarbriggs, a shoe shop in Mullingar, called in identifying some of the showband members featured in the photograph. In the background, second from the left, is Des Doherty, and third from the left, Vinnie Baker. In the foreground, on extreme left is Billy Whyte, and second from the left is Greg Donnelly. The reader also mentioned Johnny Dellaman, Mullingar, as manager.

  Another reader, Martina Murray, Four Roads, also got in contact after sending on the photograph to her uncle, Kieran Sullivan – living in London but originally from Banagher, Co. Offaly – who is “an avid music fan and has a vast knowledge of showbands!” He identified the band in question as former members of the The Drifters. Back row left is Jimmy Horan, Mullingar, bass guitarist. Beside him, once again identified was Des Doherty, also known as The Doc, who played the keyboards. He also identified the man furthest right as Joey Gilhenny, playing the trombone, and mentioned a man named Donal Aughey who was the drummer of this band but isn’t pictured in the photo. 

  Thanks to all those readers who got in touch in order to help us to identify our mystery music men. One member still remains unidentified, however, so any further information about the group would be welcome. (Further responses to the Roscommon People at Abbey Street, Roscommon, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

 

 

 

 

 

Why Simon’s HSE ‘shake-up’ has got me in a spin

 

 

He finally admitted  the HSE was “never fit for purpose” and promised that the shake-up of our health services would result in fewer managers overall – however, time will tell if Health Minister Simon Harris’ cunning plan to reform this hugely bloated cumbersome  organisation will succeed. Personally, I doubt it…and here’s why; we’ve already been there and done that.

  Under new plans, over the next two years, taxpayers and service users should see six regional health areas being set up across the country. Sound familiar? Thought so! You see, the HSE, in its current form, was introduced back in 2004 to replace the health boards that were already in operation at the time. So, in a nutshell, it’s not a shake-up, it’s simply a case of the government doing a Marty McFly and going back to the future, only now they’re spinning it as the implementation of Sláintecare.

  For those who’re still a tad confused, the idea is that it’s hoped the ‘new’ structure will showcase a more linked-in local health care system and a far smaller HSE administration to look after the likes of quality and financial assurance and clinical strategies, and so on.  These are principally the current problems the failing framework has typically been facing. Now, from chatting with readers, I know Simon’s spin is generating lots of excitement around the possibility that at last, our government will be providing us, the taxpayers, with a greatly improved community-based health service, but personally I’m sceptical. I want to know what plans he’s put in place, if, in the highly likely scenario, variations in care standards arise across the country. However, on a positive note, (because I want to be fair), I’m glad it’s proposed that local people will be hired based primarily on their medical experience and abilities, and on their competency skillsets to run these regional offices as opposed to  what could be described as the technically deficient suits currently in charge.

  Whatever happens, make no mistake about it folks, this shake-up, which we should see being fed in by 2021, is gonna cost us taxpayers’ big time. This proposed ‘joined-up’ service between the local doctor to the local hospital and to us, the community, is not gonna come cheap and I want to know where Harris will make the cuts and how many patients are going to suffer as a result of his big plans.

 

Tee-ed off with British pundits who blur our stars’ national identities

 

Now, I know absolutely nothing whatsoever about golf, other than the fact that players Shane Lowry, (comhghairdeas champ), and Rory McIlroy are both Irish! Did ya get that pundit Gary Lineker and Sky Sports’ commentator Laura Davies? They’re not British, you cheeky pair of gits, they’re both I-r-i-s-h; from the island of I-r-e-l-a-n-d, the country your, ahem, ‘empire’ once tried to airbrush out of the history books!  Yes readers, it really tee-ed me off last weekend when this pair, who should really know better, tried to claim both of these Irish sportsmen as their own.

  In the case of Rory McIlroy, Lineker ignorantly tweeted ‘It’s the British Open and @McIlroyRory is British’. In the case of Offaly native Shane Lowry, as the event was taking place on Irish soil for the first time in 68 years, and, strangely, as the strapline appeared on the screen in front of her eyes, Davies’ rudely stripped our hero of his nationality. Indeed, I’m certain the collective sharp intake of Irish breath was clearly audible across our entire island when the misinformed one announced live on air, “It would be lovely wouldn’t it for the home fans, and for us as well because it’s nice to see a British winner of The Open”.

  Look, here’s the thing Britain. With regard to Rory, we know he’s faced a few questions around his identity during his very illustrious career in the past, but the fact is, he will be representing Ireland, (not Britain) at the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020. With that in mind, stop bein’ so flippin’ clingy, it’s embarrassing, and stop staking a claim to our home-grown heroes and instead, move on and get a few of your own! 

 

What is your price-point Paschal?

 

I listened to Minister for Waffle, sorry Finance Paschal Donohoe’s jibber-jabber regarding his Department’s latest strategy proposals around applying tax on new cars and used imports, the terms of which he’ll need to consider in time for this year’s Budget. Now, while I do know that, from an environmental point of view, certain changes are needed, this whole sudden anti-diesel campaign waged by our government has really got me fuming, especially as I’m one of the suckers who bought a diesel car, paying them €1,200 a year to tax it.

  I mean, if I could afford it, as an eco-friendly citizen, I’d gladly change to an electric vehicle; as I’m sure so would many other concerned readers. In fact, if I lived in a county that had a public transport system like buses, the DART and the LUAS, I’d happily get rid of my car altogether. However, here’s the thing, I’m in Roscommon, and, not only are we lacking the public transport facilities enjoyed by other counties, we’re also devoid of a sufficient supply of electric vehicle charging points.

  So, while Paschal parades his vote-winning initiatives contained in a ‘give and take’ Budget, teasing us with  the €700 million available to him to balance the nation’s books – the clincher being his big plans to overhaul the type of cars we drive – rural motorists like you and me are being overlooked.

  With this is mind, I have the following questions. Why are rural drivers/voters constantly being ignored by our government? How is Paschal going to make electric vehicles more affordable to us, and, if he does, as the infrastructure is not in place to charge them, how does he expect us to drive them? In short…charging points aside, I want to know, what exactly is your price-point Paschal?

 

Why I won’t be FaceApping!

 

 

Living with the consequences of a broken foot hasn’t just left me clinging to two crutches while trying to apply a bit of make-up; it’s also rendered me the perfect contortionist for a job with the Cirque du Soleil.  However, due to my lack of make-up, not only do I not wish to see what I look like in the mirror today, I don’t wish to see what I look like when I’m pushing 90. To that end, I won’t be engaging in the new FaceApp fad everyone’s on about.

  But for those who do, bear in mind that the App, developed and owned by Russian company Wireless Lab, has privacy policies dating back to 2017, meaning they pre-date GDPR, the relevance of which means your biometric data, (including your photos), is covered.

  Now this company has issued a statement saying ‘most’ images uploaded are being removed within 48 hours – but ‘most’ does not mean all! However, if you’re happy with that, knock yourself out and snap away. But remember this, your pic is not just changing on your phone, it’s changing in other places too, and it’s going onto an unknown server. So, if the day ever dawns when you, (who’ve given your images away for free), will want/need them to be returned, the company involved may not be so generous, possibly leading to you paying extortionate amounts in order to retrieve it.

 

 

Shane lifts nation’s spirits…and Gaelic Football at its best

 

 

It’s a fresh, fairly windy Tuesday morning, and even though it’s a couple of days since his momentous win in golf’s Open Championship, the feelgood factor brought about by Shane Lowry’s amazing victory is still being felt all around the country. It is doubtful if there has ever been a more popular winner of anything, be it sporting or otherwise!

  Now I have never met the lovable Offaly man, but over the years I have had umpteen Clara people come into the shop where I work in Athlone, and I can truthfully tell you that I have never heard a bad word about him. The overwhelming verdict is that, despite his fame and wealth, Shane has never changed and is still the same humble lad that he has always been, and has never lost touch with his Offaly roots.

  The numerous online videos which are doing the rounds, showing clips of the celebrations since Sunday, also seem to confirm that he is a normal 32-year old midlander (apart from the Claret Jug, and the millions of euro that he already has), and the homecoming this evening (Tuesday) in his home town will be a never to be forgotten special occasion.

  In my opinion, what Shane achieved at the weekend – and especially taking into consideration the appalling weather we saw at Royal Portrush on Sunday – ranks with the greatest Irish sporting achievements of all time, and has undoubtedly lifted the spirits of the entire nation.

  On a personal level, as a golfer who has yet to hand in a scorecard anywhere (apart from in the Creggs Rugby Club Classic), I feel certain that Shane’s win will inspire me to greater things, and  while it might be a bit late for a professional career, I now have great confidence in my future golfing life. Anyway, congrats Shane, well done…and thank you for the lift you gave us all!

  Before I leave the sporting events of last weekend, the Super 8s confirmed lots of stuff that we already knew, especially that the Dubs are almost frighteningly good, and most likely they will win the five-in-a-row. But for sheer entertainment and excitement, the match on Sunday between Kerry and Donegal would be hard to beat. It was an absolutely wonderfully enthralling game. I would go so far as to say that it restored our faith in Gaelic Football, and for all of us who have grown sick of turgid, defensive football, it was a joy to behold – and proved that if lads were let play the game without the fear of making mistakes it could still be the great game it used to be.

  On Sunday we saw no extra defenders…it was ‘one on one’ most of the time, there were loads of wonderful points scored (each team scoring one goal and twenty points), and while I know we will see lots more negative sideways play, at least this game was like a breath of fresh air. When next I see the Galway footballers going sideways and backways, I will close my eyes and imagine I am in Croke Park watching Kerry and Donegal – and life won’t seem so bad!

My immense pride in Creggs as community excels

It’s 5 pm on Tuesday evening, and I am just home from the Pride of Place event that took place this afternoon in the schoolhall in Creggs.

  I have to tell you that seldom in my life have I seen such an amazing turnout at anything anywhere, and seldom have I experienced such a sense of community spirit as was evident among the huge crowd that was present.

  Businesses, sporting clubs and other community-based organisations – up to thirty or more – had stands in the schoolhall, which the judges paid visits to, and the atmosphere all over was so positive it was just wonderful.

  After a marvellous speech by chairperson Sean Beirne, we were treated to a 35-minute video presentation highlighting the many benefits that living in Creggs has to offer. Practically everyone in the parish turned out for the occasion, with many more of our exiles making the journey home for the occasion, and there was more sandwiches, buns, cakes, teas and coffee on offer than would feed a hungry army. You could just feel the pride in our area that was clearly felt by everyone in attendance.

  I’ve lived here all my life, with the exception of a few years in my late teens and early twenties, and I have never hidden the pride or love that I have for my area, but today was something special, and I will never forget the 23rd of July 2019, when our little community put its best foot forward.

  TDs Michael Fitzmaurice and Eugene Murphy were in attendance along with newly-elected county councillor Declan Geraghty, while also there was the living legend and former councillor Danny Burke. From Lecarrow, Billy Kelly and his wife Carol came over to support us.

  Will we win the competition? I obviously don’t know, but win or not it makes no difference, as for the last month or so this little village surpassed itself – and today crowned it all. I am proud of Creggs, proud to be from here, and as I write this I am absolutely buzzing, and am now heading to Mikeen’s to meet with some of the many people who made the journey home.

And finally…

Finally for this week…another reminder of the big Open Day in Donamon Castle on this Sunday. After 12 noon Mass there is an amazing array of musical talent, fun and games to keep you entertained for the afternoon, with a new addition being the old-style kitchen and working forge. To make it even more attractive, parking is free.

  This is the 25th year of the Open Day, and it’s getting bigger and better. So get on your bike, hit for Donamon, and bring a few bob with you as the big raffle tickets will be on sale, along with books, and my favourites – currant buns and lovely cakes. If I eat any more of that stuff my cardiologist will surely be looking for me to check me out! I hope he doesn’t read the Roscommon People!

 

Til next week, Bye for now!

Caught between a Rock and a hard pace…

 

 

It’s probably not the best week to quote that famous Mark Twain line about golf – “A good walk spoiled” – but I was reminded of it in Croke Park last Saturday.

  This, unfortunately, was a good evening out which was spoiled somewhat by the fact that a football match was taking place.

  I am of course, being tongue in cheek: Roscommon were completely outclassed, but they battled on bravely, and the morale-denting defeat does not undo the good of what went previously this season.

  I could have joined the ‘hacks’ in the press box, but instead a number of us gathered high in the Cusack/Davin Stand areas. Every time you visit Croke Park you are wowed by the splendour of this magnificent stadium. Rossies were few and far between. The restaurants and bars are a stunning backdrop to the actual pitch and seating areas. It’s luxury all the way at Croker these days. One can only assume that the designers of the original Croke Park over a century ago would be spellbound if they saw it now.

  With a relatively small crowd (about 36,000) in for the Super 8s’ double-header, the atmosphere was nothing special. At half-time in the Dublin/Roscommon game, fans surged to the bar. As the second half resumed, many of them remained behind the spectacular ‘glass walls’, watching the match from the bar, the one-sided nature of the game draining the afternoon of its promise and potential.

  Of course we hadn’t expected a Roscommon win, but we had hoped Anthony Cunningham’s team might have been able to live with the super Dubs longer than transpired. In fact we were level at 0-3 apiece after ten minutes or so, though even by then, the powerful running of the men in blue was ominous. I loved Diarmuid Murtagh’s confident, brash early point from way out on the right wing, and felt – at the time – that Colin Compton could have tried for a goal in Roscommon’s first attack (he fired over for a point). In fairness, the ‘Sunday Game’ highlights suggested he probably made the right choice.

  Dublin moved up the gears and soon Roscommon were in trouble. Still, we cut through them a few times, Killoran dragging a goal chance wide, Enda Smith lighting up the game with a surging run and pass to Murtagh, the latter trying to palm to the net when it might have been wiser to gather the ball. Already, midst our goal misses and the relentless Dublin surges, a sense of a long evening. Their pace is amazing. Pace, power, physicality and great skill. Dean Rock on fire. Yeah, caught between a Rock and a ‘hard pace’. When Conor Daly was sent off just before half-time, we wanted someone to tell us it was all a dream.

  At half-time, the Dublin fans were indifferent to it all. They weren’t critical of Roscommon’s display, moreso they were just going through the motions, casually analysing another routine demolition job. It’s quite dispiriting for neutrals, for non-Dubs. We prepared for the second half with heavy hearts. An early Dublin goal, and soon Gavin’s giants were seventeen ahead. Roscommon rallied and played some lovely football. Conor Cox was heroically fighting against the tide. Some of his points were beauties, but in a way it was like poking a giant with a twig. Credit also to Conor Hussey, scorer of three points. Roscommon tried gamely to keep the blue-eyed monster at bay, but our dismal fate was not in question. And so, with Cork – pipped earlier by Tyrone – we departed from this year’s All-Ireland Senior Football Championship, save for the final Super 8s fixture next Sunday week (v Cork).

  It’s been a good season for Roscommon. Saturday’s gruelling outing at HQ was a ruthless reminder of how much further we still have to travel. Of course this Dublin team is an exceptional yardstick. It’s hard to see their gallop being halted; they are magnificent.

  Our lads need to hold their heads up. We are Connacht champions and moving in the right direction. Saturday may have been hard, but we’ve had our super moments this season.

  Back in Croker…fancy bars, tempting menus, state-of-the-art furnishings, elevators…the delights of 21st century super-stadiums, of which Croke Park is one of the best. Around the corner, a GAA Museum in which the feats of our great teams and heroes of the past are celebrated in glorious nostalgia-tinted black and white. In truth, nothing spoiled. Any evening in Croke Park is a good walk, a walk in the shadow of greatness.

 

 

Shane (and his granny) steal the show…

 

 

Move over Donald Trump, Boris Johnson and Maura from Love Island – Monday’s front pages belonged to a modest man from Offaly.

  I texted one of my brothers on Sunday: ‘It’s hard to believe that the most talked about golfer on the planet today – the Open champion – is such an ordinary guy, from GAA heartland, in a rural area about 40 minutes up the road’. (Thankfully my brother’s into the golf and knew what this rambling text referred to).

  Into the golf? All of Ireland is ‘into the golf’ this week after Shane Lowry’s sensational feat. Come to think of it, that tribesman in an Amazon rainforest who made the news this week (‘Uncontacted tribesman, bare-chested and carrying a spear’) has probably been googling ‘Clara’ and ‘Lowry’ since Sunday.

  There are two reasons why we’ve all gone Shane-crazy. On a golfing/sporting level, it was a magnificent feat…the Offaly man defeating the world’s best by six shots, burning up the course with a record score on Saturday and then holding his nerve in testing weather conditions on Sunday. The second reason is because he is the ultimate nice guy.

  Lowry is the most ordinary of men (well, except for his golfing prowess). Long before last week, the nation had taken him to its heart. If he wasn’t Shane Lowry, he’s just the type of ordinary guy you’d expect to be beside you in your living room, the pub or on the golf course, cheering Shane Lowry on. If you follow me.

  It’s obvious that Lowry is the product of a typically decent, grounded Irish family, indeed one that is steeped in Offaly GAA. His parents Brendan and Bridget obviously made huge sacrifices in support of their son’s passion for golf. And what a star turn this week by Shane’s granny, Emily Scanlon, who gave priceless media interviews, most notably to Ciaran Mullooly and Joe Duffy of RTE.

  My favourite Emily quote (there were many) came when Joe Duffy asked if she had ever flown to the US to watch Shane play.

 “Fly to America? You wouldn’t get me on a plane…if a plane arrived at the gate this minute I wouldn’t go to Kilbeggan on it!”

  It’s been obvious for a few years that Shane Lowry is a special talent. It’s wonderful to see him win a major. This is a heartwarming story. I suspect there is a lot more to come too.

 

 

 

 

How music and rugby have helped the ‘process of peace’

 

 

 

On the 10th of April, 1998, the Northern Irish peace agreement was signed, bringing an end to a conflict that had spanned over thirty years, and which had brought untold grief, hardship, and sheer terror to thousands of people. This agreement heralded a new beginning for the divided communities of the war-torn region.

  Twenty years later, it’s easy to forget just how horrendous the events of that period were. However, in the last week or so, I watched two completely different documentaries which shed some light on the importance of both music and rugby in helping to keep some degree of normality alive for the suffering population during those dark days.

  The first one was a documentary by Ardal O’Hanlon about the extraordinary era of the Irish showbands. The film covered a lot of the different aspects of the showband story, also showing how the massacre of the Miami Showband in 1975 as they returned from a gig in Banbridge, Co. Down, changed the social landscape in the North for ever. Up until then, the showbands were playing week in, week out in dancehalls north of the border, despite the Troubles. The prevailing feeling was that, as entertainment providers, they were pretty much guaranteed safe passage. However, in the words of our Country Queen Margo, and perhaps echoing the lyrics of Don McLean’s huge hit, ‘American Pie’ – that was the ‘day the music died’. Immediately after the terrible Miami massacre, the bands all stopped going to the north. In the act of killing three members of that showband and injuring two others, the murdering gang also killed the entire live music industry.

  Up until this, rugby clubs from the south had continued to play up north. However, this incomprehensible atrocity brought that to an end as well. Yet remarkably, to this day – as Brian O’Driscoll’s riveting documentary showed – even the most Orange of Northern people support the Irish rugby team. Brian himself struggled to understand how Orangemen – who told him they were British citizens – could also say they would love Ireland to beat England, but that’s the way it is.

  Rugby alone (of all the major sports) seems to bridge the six-county divide. I suppose it’s because there is only the one team on the entire island, while soccer has both a Northern and Southern team, and of course Gaelic games are seen as a nationalist sport.

  Anyway, it all brought me back to my playing days in the late 1960s and early ‘70s when I was lining out with Dundalk. At least half our fixtures were up north, with a good lot in Belfast, and some in Portadown – the latter at that time was regarded as possibly the most anti-Irish place in the whole province.

  However, while they were aware that we were mostly from the south, the welcome we would receive in those clubs was unbelievable. You would never be allowed to put your hand in your pocket; food and drink was all on the house – which, for a young lad in his 20s, was very much appreciated. For at least a few hours every Saturday, sectarian hatred was put to one side, and peace reigned in those highly-charged areas.

  Sometimes when we played in Belfast, and had to go through known loyalist areas, a fleet of cars would pick us up from the train and we would be told to lie down on the back seat, covered with coats and blankets, so that nobody could see us. Looking back on it now, it should have been scary enough. I suppose we were young and carefree, and all we thought about was playing rugby, and eating and drinking as much as we could for free before ducking back in under the blankets and hoping for no drama on the way back to the train.

  I have to say that both programmes were absolutely riveting, and, while Ardal’s end product was much more fact-based, I found it no less interesting. Brian made a serious effort at trying to understand rugby’s place in Northern Ireland society, a difficult job indeed. If and when they are both shown again, try to have a look and I promise you will find both of them to be compulsive viewing. 

 

 Wimbledon wonders!

On Sunday, while there was an absolute bumper GAA programme in both hurling and football, it was the epic, amazing men’s singles final in the tennis at Wimbledon that provided drama the likes of which we are privileged to see only very few times in a lifetime.

  For more than five hours, two of the greatest players we have ever seen went head to head in this enthralling final, and at the end of it, Novak Djokovic had pipped 37-year-old Roger Federer to the title. In truth, both of them contributed equally to one of, if not the, greatest tennis matches of all time.

  As someone who was physically and emotionally drained after spending most of those five hours on the couch, hopping on the remote from one station to another, it is just mind-boggling to contemplate the physical and mental conditioning of those two warriors. I can only take off my hat to both of them – especially Federer, who, as he approaches 38 years of age, still remains at the top of his sport, and is an example and inspiration to so many. There is no doubt he will take a while to recover from Sunday’s massive disappointment, but he will be back, and as an avid sports lover (except maybe cricket), I look forward to more epic matches between the best players in the world.

  Rafa Nadal is the third member of the Super 3, who between them have claimed 51 of the last 59 Grand Slam titles. As of now, there seems to be no-one else about to challenge their dominance.

  Anyway, it was sport at its absolute best, and a pleasure to watch. I have no doubt that Sunday’s final will be talked about for many years to come.

 

Pride update!

Back home to our local village, Creggs, and as I told you last week, we are full steam ahead for the Pride of Place competition. Nothing I have ever seen before has sparked such a response from the local community, and if nothing else comes of it, the improvement in the village and its immediate surrounds is just remarkable.

  Last Wednesday night and the previous one, there were upwards of 60 locals out doing their bit to clean and tidy up the place, and if you had left Creggs on Wednesday morning and didn’t get back ‘till Thursday you would think you were in a different village, such was the transformation!

  It will be all over in a couple of weeks, but at a time when we are told rural Ireland is dying on its feet, the people of Creggs are showing that with the right leadership and community spirit, anything is possible. Creggs is certainly not showing any sign of a visit to the mortuary. 

And finally…

Finally for this week, just a reminder that the 25th Annual Donamon Open Day takes place on Sunday, July 28th, with Mass at 12 midday followed by an entertainment line-up that would do justice to a major festival.

  My good friends Annette Griffin and John Staunton are performing at the festival Mass, and I don’t have to tell you how talented they are. Among the impressive line-up of musical entertainers you have Jake Carter and his band, Mick Flavin, Carmel McLoughlin, the Ryan Turner Band, along with a number of top local talents.

  All the usual attractions will be there, including the bouncy castle, pony rides, book stall, the big raffle for great cash prizes, an auction, craft village and much, much more. It will all take place under the watchful eye of your MC, the one and only Danny Burke.

  All will be revealed in next week’s Roscommon People, but for now just pencil it into your diary, if you have one, and be in Donamon (where there’s also free parking!) on Sunday, July 28th for a wonderful day’s fun!

 

Till next week, Bye for now!

 

 

Nothing like a broken foot to keep you grounded

 

 

It was 6 am. I’d showered, and, as the sun was shining, I’d dressed in a pair of skinny jeans and a t-shirt. Then, putting on more make-up than would be required by the entire cast of Ru Paul’s colourful drag queen contestant line-up, I headed downstairs. As my nose followed the aroma of freshly-brewed coffee, compliments of he-who-is-manacled-to-me, I was in great form at the prospect of the pair of us enjoying breakfast with our fur babies before I’d head off to work. That’s when the unthinkable happened. Five steps from the bottom of the stairs, my left foot suddenly slipped over the edge…and bam! I heard two things. The first was a loud crack. The second was the ear-splitting sound of my own voice screaming louder than a Tony award winner!

  However, thanks to he-who-picked-me-up-as-if-I-were-a-feather, in no time I was being rushed to our family doctor in Boyle. Once there, lovely receptionist Nicky got me into surgery and Dr. Kamal, upon examining me, gave me a shot of painkiller, before sending me, (and a letter) to Roscommon hospital’s injury unit for treatment, where I received wonderful care.

  Following a series of x-rays and CT scans, it was thought I’d broken my talus, which is a small foot bone that works as a hinge between the tibia and the fibula. Or something like that. I was finding it difficult to concentrate through the excruciating pain barrier, wishing some kind soul would dispense a bit of morphine in my direction. By lunchtime, I was on my way home, my left foot fitted with a support boot, a pair of crutches and an appointment to see a fracture specialist the following morning at Merlin Park Hospital in Galway. Before I go any further, I need to thank the porter Paul Lally, an absolute gent who came out to the car with a wheelchair to whisk me to reception. Thanks also to the receptionist, whose name I didn’t get, but who’ll remember me as the white-as-a-sheet aul wan, whom, upon being asked her age, replied…“I’m a 22-year-old supermodel masquerading as a menopausal harpy”. You were both a pleasure to deal with. I’d also like to thank the advanced registered practitioner Maggie Mew, who was exceptionally nice and super-efficient.  And also the delightful radiographer Emer, who I’m sure, delayed having her lunch in order to carry out my CT scan. Congratulations on your forthcoming marriage Emer; you’ll be a beautiful bride.

  The following morning, upon arrival at Mr. Shannon’s clinic in Merlin Park, the fantastic team discovered yet another fracture. Hearing this news has greatly upset me, especially as the second one affected my calcaneus, (heel bone), which, according to the specialist, can be a pretty disabling injury. In addition, due to an autoimmune condition, they are unable to operate. Nor can I take anti-inflammatories. However, I refuse to let this beat me and, following a visit to the physiotherapist, I’m determined to do all in my power to get back on both feet again.

   I’m in a lot of pain. My foot resembles a piece of bruised and blackened flesh, as opposed to a body part, (probably because my tendons and ligaments are bunched too). I’m extremely upset and mad at myself for ‘allowing’ this to happen, but through it all, I’ve been taking the past two weeks to reflect on my life. 

Here’s what I’ve discovered:

  I had an accident because I wasn’t paying attention to what I was doing. It’s that simple. I’m not religious, but I’m thanking my angels my momentary lack of attention only caused physical hurt to me, and nobody else.

  I need to be more patient with myself. This is something I’ve learned as I haul my ass up and down the stairs, carry out my exercises and take three times longer to do simple things like going to the toilet, or taking a shower. This patience thing also needs to extend to others around me; especially those looking after me when I ask them to do something and they do it their way, and not the OCD Miriam way. Sorry darling!

  It’s going to take time for my foot to heal; during which I can’t go for my daily walks, and having already missed them for two weeks, I’ve gone from always moving at warp speed to a lunatic who is now literally crawling the walls. However, big picture…in the context of the rest of my life, those healing weeks will prove to be relatively short and I need to slow down, cut myself a bit of slack and allow myself to heal both emotionally and physically. I need to stop being the worrier who carries the weight of the world on her shoulders, and all her ‘just-in-case’ c**p in her handbag. The reason I’m doing this is because I know that being patient and being calm in the coming weeks, and in accepting help when it’s offered, will result in a more positive outcome for both me and my injury. A massive thanks goes to the man who is my minder, chauffeur, coffee and sympathy dispenser, helper, and laid-back smart-ass who commented that maybe now I’ll learn to live life at a more reasonable pace…my wonderful hubby Simon.

 

Did angry feminists kill chivalry?

 

Last week, broadcaster Laura Whitmore’s tweet regarding how she’d ‘struggled to carry a massive case up 3 flights of stairs at train station. Well abled group of men behind me watched and didn’t offer to help,’ (Sic), got me asking two questions:  One, is chivalry dead? Two, did angry feminists kill it?

  Now, I empathise with Laura, but, as an independent woman myself, (crutches aside), I’d wonder why she singled out the ‘well abled group of men’ not coming to her aid, and didn’t take umbrage with any possible ‘well abled’ women standing by? I consider myself to be a feminist, but for me, feminism is all about equality. It’s not about man-bashing. Hence my curiosity regarding why unhelpful males and not unhelpful females appear to have raised Laura’s ire.

  You see readers, it’s my fear that, sometimes, in this politically correct world, instead of us feminists using our skills to educate others about equality and good manners through a logical and balanced approach, some – we’ll call them revolutionary renegades, (okay, nut jobs) – are burning their colourless bras, throwing their childish tantrums and hopping on bandwagons just so they can spread hate and utter confusion. This has led to the majority of men now being scared of how their good manners in offering help to a lady will be interpreted. And, dare I suggest that in Laura’s situation, it’s highly likely one or more of those ‘well abled men’ wanted to offer her their assistance, but were actually scared stiff, that if they stepped up, they’d be accused of treating her as a weak and feeble female. Remember, chivalry does not equal sexism, folks; rather it equals good manners and respect for all.

 

A weekend on Aran Islands

 

 

 

Friday

The ferry trip to the Aran Islands took about 45 minutes. Our destination was the biggest of the islands, Inis Mór, and yes, I was well aware that we were sailing further and further away from Hyde Park and Saturday’s big Super 8s match. They would have Sky Sports on the island, wouldn’t they?

  We didn’t really know what to expect – Fiona and I had never actually been to the Aran Islands. We disembarked at shortly after 7 pm and met up with the group of friends who we were spending the weekend with.

  Our bed & breakfast was ‘old style’ and quaint. The woman of the house did the cooking and the man of the house served breakfast, throwing in the odd wry comment and folksy banter. That’s the way it was. He was a perfectly nice man, embedded in island life, island ways.

  After checking in, we checked out the village (Kilronan). It’s a beautiful central hub, overlooking Galway Bay, offering beautiful scenery, with quaint stone walls, narrow roads and the promise of glorious walks, not to mention many places of historical interest.

  From a commercial/facilities point of view, there’s a large shop, a tiny bank, a few pubs and restaurants, a hotel, and souvenir shops too. Aran sweaters, caps and scarves entice the browsing visitor.

  First call was to Joe Watty’s bar and restaurant, a fine, thriving, friendly establishment with a great atmosphere. After a lovely dinner there, I briefly took a stool at the counter to do the ‘strangers and locals’ thing.

  Sure enough, after sussing me out for a few minutes with sideways glances, the two men at the counter decided to strike.

  “Where are you from?”

  On hearing Roscommon, they chuckled and asked what our prospects were in the Super 8s game the following day.

  “We’re up against it, but you never know…where are you from?” I replied.

  “Tyrone” the first man said, and it was actually only then that I realised he had a ‘Red Hand’ top on!

  So, it had turned out that the very first person outside of our group that I had spoken to in the restaurant/bar was a Tyrone man! I will call him ‘Tyrone Joe’ – not his real name (well, it might be, but I never asked).

  We proceeded to have a good chat. Tyrone Joe was in his late 60s. He had played for Tyrone at minor level, before moving to live and work in England for a quarter of a century or more. Now he’s back, living in Galway with his wife, and is a regular visitor to the islands.

  I complimented Peter Canavan (Tyrone legend). Tyrone Joe complimented Dermot Earley. I showed my age by complimenting Frank McGuigan (Tyrone legend). Tyrone Joe complimented Jigger O’Connor. Then he asked about Jimmy Murray and Knockcroghery, and my heart soared a little.

 

Saturday

 

 

As Inis Mór first-timers, nothing could really have prepared us for the sights early on Saturday morning. There were several hundred tourists milling around the island, hundreds of whom were on bikes. This is rural Atlantic-kissed Ireland at its most stunning…winding roads, ancient sites, stone walls, evidence of remarkable craftsmanship from centuries ago, spectacular scenery, a beautiful beach, donkeys, horses, sheep…locals living life at their own pace, warmly welcoming about-to-be-smitten visitors. It was incredibly busy, with tourists from all over the world.

  We took a bus tour of the island, being dropped off at the foot of the cliff-top fort, Dún Aonghasa. Here, in glorious sunshine, we joined hundreds of other tourists on the long but beautiful rising walk to the fort. Again, spectacular scenery from that cliff-top, savoured on this, the hottest day of the year. Easy to be proud to be Irish. Halfway up that long walk to the cliff-top fort there was a small boy, perched on a rock, busking away, on his tin whistle. Ah!

  Next, we visited the medieval Christian ruins of the Seven Churches, and also Kilmurvey Beach – known for its birdlife – and a nearby seal colony.

  Our bus driver was a character. I thought he’d have us back at base by 4 pm or so, but he decided to bring us to his very own Goats’ Cheese making factory. This was indeed very interesting – and the goats themselves were charming – but very few of the bus passengers and none of the goats had the Super 8s on their mind.

  Thankfully, the friendly bus driver got us back to the village by 4.20 pm or so. We watched Roscommon v Tyrone in Joe Mac’s, a great old-style bar perched up high and overlooking Galway Bay. The first man I saw when we went in was Tyrone Joe, my friend from the previous night. Damn it, he was smiling already. Thankfully, four or five more Rossies came in – you can meet anyone anywhere – and soon the pub was half-full. A stranger from Galway and a stranger from Kildare joined us, and soon we weren’t strangers.

  Most of the customers were cheering for Roscommon. It was a very exciting first half – Roscommon matching Tyrone, but denied two goals by their ‘keeper. We were quite optimistic at half-time, but unfortunately Tyrone prevailed by four. Still, it was a very good Roscommon performance. I shook hands with Tyrone Joe before returning to the glorious sunshine outdoors.

  As an aside, observing the dynamic between drivers, pedestrians and cyclists on the Aran Islands is intriguing. The bus drivers weave with expertise around tight corners, cyclists and walkers usually only a couple of inches away. At times on Saturday it was chaotic, such were the crowds. But it was all good fun!

  On Saturday evening we had a beautiful meal in the Bayview Restaurant. One of our party had to wait a few minutes for her duck main course, affording me the opportunity to quote Basil from Fawlty Towers (“Duck’s off, sorry!”). The duck wasn’t off in the Bayview, it arrived, and to an excellent review. Later, we joined a large number of revellers in Joe Watty’s. No sign of Tyrone Joe, but there were lots of locals, numerous tourists and a lively Hen Party group. The live music came from none other than the Mulkerrin brothers, winners of the first series of The All Ireland Talent Show in 2009 and regular performers in Watty’s. The three lads were brilliant, really getting the crowd going. A memorable night. 

 

Sunday

 

 

On Sunday, there was time for more walks, a visit to the beach, an eye on the hurling, a bite to eat and a few more hours of ‘holiday mode’ as hundreds of tourists again mingled around the island in sensational weather.

  It was a wonderful weekend. We had stepped back in time and we had seen for ourselves the beauty of the Aran Islands. The boat sailed off and we left Inis Mór behind, with its beautiful stone walls, its easy beauty and charm, its tourists and locals, and smiling Tyrone Joe, with his two Super 8s’ points in his back pocket. We’ll be back.

Progress on and off the field

I wasn’t at the Roscommon/Tyrone game (see article alongside) and I hear it was a great occasion in town. Of course we were watching closely on TV.

  Roscommon were extremely competitive and very well placed at half-time. This weekend we travel to Croke Park to take on the mighty Dubs. This very promising Roscommon team are still very much in the championship and should go all out for victory!

  Think positive…we are still masters of our own destiny.

  Meanwhile, relief all around as we note that Roscommon County Board have submitted a planning application for improvements at Dr. Hyde Park.

  The application was submitted a week ago and the project include an extension to dressing rooms beside the main pitch, an extension to existing toilet blocks and the construction of new toilet blocks by the main stand.

  It will also see the construction of 39 turnstiles and entrance gates on the Athlone Road and Golf Links Road as well as the partial demolition of existing turnstiles on Golf Links Road. Security fencing will also be erected to separate players and officials from public areas.

 The sooner the works proceed, the better. We need the outstanding issues at our stadium sorted.

 

Goodbye to Ireland’s comedy king

 

The late Brendan Grace had a huge following in Roscommon – but then he had a huge following all over the country.

  At his peak, he was brilliant. He was also a great singer, and came across as a lovely man. He was one of those comedians who seemed to absolutely love what he did – particularly performing live. He relished having an audience, getting laughs.

  I saw him live a few times – many years ago – and always enjoyed him. In latter years, he wasn’t perhaps as ‘relevant’ as in the past; comedy had changed, and Grace’s stage show was at least a touch dated. But since his sad and untimely death, many of us who grew up with Brendan as the dominant comedy presence in Ireland have felt great nostalgia for his innocent, funny humour, his brilliant delivery and sheer likeability. Now that he’s gone, we are transported back to his heyday, we pause and laugh again with fondness at this giant of Irish comedy.  

  It’s fitting that Brendan Grace is being mourned, remembered and celebrated with such emotion, sadness and joy. He was a one-off, a comic master, a part of our youth. Mention of his name will always bring smiles and happiness. 

 

 

 

It’s time for a cohesive and properly funded Primary Care plan

 

 

 

 

 

Ever since the establishment of the HSE, the health service in this country has become more chaotic with every passing year. A posse of well-meaning ministers from different parties have come in and vowed to change things. They have all failed miserably – and that includes the current incumbent, Simon Harris.

  Now the plan is to return the running of the HSE to six regional areas, an approach which sounds very much like it’s back to the days of the old health boards. I would not criticise this latest plan before it has a chance, but if the powers that be thought that the old system didn’t work, then why are we now going back to what is essentially what we had in the past?

  I have had personal experience of having to deal with the health service in recent times. When you actually get into the system, the staff are caring and professional, top class in every way. But trying to get into the system is the big problem. There seems to be absolutely no joined up thinking and, even more crucially, no accountability. There are layers and layers of bureaucracy in the HSE. When things go wrong you can never find anyone willing to accept responsibility. 

  My experience is that the only truly dependable medical service comes from our overworked GPs. Instead of paying lip service to Primary Care, the Government must formulate a cohesive and properly funded plan for Primary Care throughout the country. The chaos, despair and misery that exists in A&E units throughout the country on a daily basis must be halted. I have seen it first-hand and it is a thoroughly depressing experience. Nobody should have to put up with it.

   The problem with running our health service is that ministers go into the job with clear ideas of what they want to do to straighten things out, but they get bogged down almost immediately. I somehow doubt if there is a single politician in Dáil Éireann who is prepared to go in and make the very difficult decisions that are needed to sort this out once and for all. There would have to be job losses in certain areas of administration, and there would also have to be restructuring of the entire organisation to make it one where the patient is at the centre of everything it does. And patient-centred is not how it is at the moment.

  There are hundreds of vacant consultant posts and there is hardly a word about that at all. These are the people who make the crucial decisions as to what treatment people need. I am convinced that people have died or are dying as a result of not being able to access treatment. If that is the case, we should be ashamed. There are 560,000 people waiting for a hospital appointment and tens of thousands more waiting for essential surgery.

  My experience is that the people on the front-line of our health services – the doctors and nurses and support staff – are fantastic individuals, but they are working under increasing pressure with every passing day, month and year.

  We need an overall plan to get us out of the mess we are in. Bring in the GPs, support Primary Care properly in order to ease the burden on hospitals, appoint the consultants that are needed, and make people in the HSE accountable.

  It’s a massive job for whoever has the courage to take it on. However, I would not be holding my breath because – as we all know – when politics intervenes, a lot of the best-laid plans go out the window.

 

  We can only live in hope. We have to keep trying until we get it right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

         

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

        

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Leo goes and spoils it all by saying something stupid…

 

 

 

Last month marked the two-year anniversary of the date Leo Varadkar, right, was elected to high office, becoming the fourteenth Taoiseach of Ireland. And, even though the elevation to power of a young, openly gay, son of an immigrant hailed a new and tolerant era for a country which has, thankfully, grown tired of its one-time discriminatory, old-fashioned ways of the past, part of me remains concerned about his appointment. You see, I’m not sure if it’s down to the humidity or just plain stupidity, but it appears our Leo never ceases to miss a good opportunity to say something daft.

  Now, don’t get me wrong, none of us are perfect. And I’ll be first to admit, I’ve said some pretty stupid things. However, one of the greatest attributes of getting oneself elected to public high office is having the gift of the gab. Indeed, choosing one’s words carefully, and speaking with knowledge, passion and compassion are all part and parcel of being a first-class world leader. In fact, you could say, given the ridiculous things some of our former Taoisigh have uttered, when it comes to the art of communications, the bar is really not set that high for our Leo. And yet, strangely, almost as if it were a force of habit, instead of raising it, he just limbos right underneath it.

  Look, we all remember Bertie and laughed at the way in which he managed to mangle the English language, especially when he once described a gangland incident as a “fly-past shooting”. Bertie’s also on record as saying he wasn’t going to be “upsetting the apple tart” and he advised people to “stop throwing white elephants and red herrings at each other”. Now, while all of these little Bertie bloopers proved to be a highly amusing set of malapropisms, I have to say Leo’s gaffes are more cringeworthy, than they are funny. Take his latest clanger for example where, the day before he was scheduled to meet up with church leaders, the Fine Gael leader crassly compared Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin to a “secretly sinning priest”.

  Now let me say that I am not a practising Catholic, rather I choose to engage in the parts of my religion that best suit me. Therefore, I’ve taken absolutely no offence whatsoever regarding Leo’s remarks. And, while I believe that from the point of view of a positive spin, Leo’s comments were enormously inappropriate, unlike Independent TD Mattie McGrath, I am far from being “horrified”. Yes, Leo wounded and offended a lot of people, but he didn’t really mean to launch an attack on the country’s main religion. Nor did his words, as Mattie so dramatically decried, hail the onset of an “open season on the Catholic Church” policy. Honestly Mattie love, do get a grip snowflake. Sure it’s as if you’re tripping over yourself to become offended these days. However, I would definitely agree with Independent Roscommon-Galway TD Michael Fitzmaurice’s more balanced views where he’s quoted as saying that “If this (Leo’s remark), was said about any other church or group in society, there would be uproar”. And he’s right. There would be, pardon the pun, hell to pay for the simple reason there are many religions that would go ballistic and probably declare war on anyone who so mercilessly ridiculed their clerical representatives.

  So, while I believe Leo’s comments were unfortunate, poorly timed and highly inappropriate, I also believe they were delivered in the heat of the moment by an over-excited individual who really should know better. That said though, I do feel our leader’s disparaging comments were, on a personal level, highly unfair to Catholic priests. I do know there are many wonderful priests, especially those living among us in rural communities, who go way above and beyond their duties in an effort to serve their flocks. And, while certain scandalous acts perpetrated by some men-of-the-cloth in the past have been well documented, Leo’s stigmatising denouncement of all priests as a group, is not only cutting as it is immature, but dare I suggest it, his statement last week could also be construed as being highly defamatory.

 

Gender neutral uniforms offer kids more choice

I’d imagine parents everywhere are bracing themselves for the long queues to buy the kids’ back-to-school stuff. However, I wonder, when kitting the kids out for their uniforms, how many Roscommon parents think that purchasing skirts for the boys and trousers for the girls is a good idea? I only ask given St. Brigid’s National School in Greystones, County Wicklow’s recent announcement regarding their all-inclusive initiative to introduce a gender neutral school uniform policy.

  Look, as far as I’m concerned, school should be a place where kids feel happy and comfortable, where they can be themselves without fear of being bullied or being treated as an outcast. And, if that means that some children feel their identities are better expressed by wearing certain items of clothing, albeit ones that are in line with the school’s policy, then sure where’s the harm in that? I mean, it’s not really that radical a move, now is it; rather it’s about offering students more choice and not pigeonholing those kids who may feel confused about who they are, into specific gender stereotypes.

  No child is born homophobic. No child is born with a discriminatory bone in their body. However, as they grow and develop, it is my belief that they do form and adopt certain hostile attitudes, (which can often prove to be prejudicial), from other influences such as us, their parents, their peers and from society as a whole. Therefore, through exposing our children to a less restricting and more tolerant and humane perspective, we, as parents and educators are not opening them up to hate and homophobia, instead we are helping them to create a culture of acceptance, and that has got to be good for everyone, now hasn’t it?

 

Alleged thermal pollution at Lough Ree is worrying

 

I don’t know about you readers, but news that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is investigating what I’d deem to be a serious issue at the Lough Ree power plant, leading to a suspension of operations, has got me concerned about our wildlife and our marine life. I’m no expert but it doesn’t take one to know that the effects of thermal discharges on freshwater fish and our wildlife can greatly affect their reproductive cycles, wreaking havoc on their very survival. Let’s hope the situation is brought under control as a matter of urgency. Water is our most precious asset, and we must reduce the risk of it being polluted…for all our sakes!

 

 

Pride of Place very evident in Creggs

 

 

 

It’s a swelteringly hot Monday afternoon, and out here in our little village it’s all systems go as we put the finishing touches to our efforts to win a most prestigious award – the Co. Galway Pride of Place.

  In the entire county of Galway there are only two places nominated – Creggs and Moycullen – and the challenge for our community is to showcase our area to the best of our ability and highlight the many positives there are in living and working here. For the last number of weeks, loads of local volunteers have been gathering information on everything good that is happening in the locality.

  Everything that is considered relevant will be put into both a booklet and video, and on Tuesday, 23rd of July, the judges will come to Creggs at 2.30 pm and take a walk around the village. The judges will have a look at the fantastic work that is going on at the rugby and GAA pitches and other areas, and be treated to a video presentation in another of our unbelievable assets – the local national school.

  Our many local organisations will have the opportunity to showcase all their various exceptional talents and achievements on that day in the school. After that it’s over to the judges – and maybe a few novenas and a prayer or two. The results will be announced at a big do in Lyrath House, in Kilkenny, sometime in November. Win or lose, everyone out here who has got involved will agree that it has been a most worthwhile and fulfilling journey.

  As someone who has really only been on the periphery of the huge community effort, the process has really opened my eyes to the amazing number of people who are involved in so many different organisations. All of these people do this work on a voluntary basis, often unheard of and unsung, but all contributing in so many ways to making Creggs a fantastic place to live in. This competition has brought out people of all ages, shapes and sizes – all anxious to help in any way they can. All I can say, having lived around here nearly all my life, is it really is great to see such an effort being made – and please God it will all be rewarded in November. However, even if the good people of Moycullen were to pip us, it will still have been a great experience, and one a lot of our friends and neighbours will never forget. Up Creggs every time!

 

Meanwhile, in Donamon…

By now you will know that one of my favourite places anywhere is Donamon Castle, which is only about five minutes down the road. Last Sunday week I went to Mass there, and was pleasantly surprised to find that, among the ten or so celebrants, were two very recently ordained priests: one from Germany, and one from China. In an era of so few vocations, it was nice to see two newly-ordained priests.

  Now I don’t think China in particular would be a Catholic country, but the Chinese priest’s parents had travelled all the way to be there for the occasion, and I can only imagine how proud they must have been of their son. Everyone was invited in for tea and buns and stuff, and to meet the new priests, but I had to go and didn’t get to talk to them – it was, however, really nice to have been there at one of their first Masses, and I just want to wish them the very best on their new road of life.

  Still in Donamon, and on Sunday July 28th, they are once again hosting the Annual family day, or the 25th year. Another great day’s entertainment is lined up for all. I will fill you in on everything next week, but just to whet your appetite I can tell you that amongst others, the great Mick Flavin, Carmel McLoughlin, and Jake Carter are definitely appearing. So don’t forget that on the 28th of July, Donamon Castle is the place to be.

 

St Stephen’s Day Walk

 

Back to Creggs, and Mikeen O’Roarke asks me to remind anyone who has money for the St. Stephen’s Day Walk to drop it into him as quickly as they can as it’s time to distribute the funds. So get cracking and bring all you have to Roarke’s.

 

Off the Laois…

 

Finally for this week, what about the amazing performance from the Laois hurlers! On Sunday last, they dumped the highly fancied Dubs out of this year’s championship – a Dublin team that had beaten our own Galway side in the last round, and who were rightly regarded as a team who could have a big say in the destination of the McCarthy Cup.

  The previous Sunday, the Laois lads had won the Joe McDonagh Cup by beating Westmeath in the final, and it’s no secret that they had celebrated flat out for a few days. As someone who can see no logic in the alcohol bans that most managers impose on their players (sometimes even at club level), I was thrilled to see that Laois produced such a performance after their few days’ break.

  As their manager Eddie Brennan said, they went back training on Wednesday night, and by Friday night he could tell they were all fully tuned in, and ready for whatever the Dubs threw at them.

  Some bookies gave them so little chance in the game that they were quoting Dublin at 3/1 for the next match against Tipperary, thereby writing Laois totally out of the script – such a lack of respect was surely a motivating factor for the Midlanders, and regardless of what happens next Sunday against the Premier county, the hurlers of Laois have torn up the form book and been the story of the GAA summer, at least so far, and given hope and inspiration to every underdog everywhere. Will the Rossies follow suit against Tyrone on Saturday evening? Don’t rule it out!

Till next week, Bye for now!

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