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New sporting heroes bringing us back to the future!

To this very day, if anyone asks me, although no one ever does, I would always say that my first (sporting) love is gaelic football, because as a young lad growing up in the rural village of Creggs, there was at that time little else to do in the way of entertainment and if you had any inclination towards being a sportsman of any kind you simply had to play football with your local parish team.

  In truth, for very many years, I had great fun playing with Creggs footballers, and while we didn’t have too many medals to show for our efforts, at the end of our careers we had a lot of good times and happy memories to look back on.

  However, somewhere along the line, probably during my term in school in Cistercian College, Roscrea, I discovered the game of rugby, and after wearing the jerseys of Ennis, Westport, Dundalk and Corinthians rugby clubs, my whole life was transformed for the better when Creggs Rugby Club was formed in 1974.

  The fledgling club took a few years to make an impact, but when it did it made a huge one – and for the next 15 or so years there is no doubt that our little village club punched numerous times above our weight and at both cup and league competitions, success followed success.

  One of the big differences between rugby and GAA is that every local parish has its own Gaelic club, while rugby is still apart, from a few exceptions, mainly to be found in the bigger towns. And so, in a way we had a siege mentality, which stood to us in good stead and I can still hear the Mick Hernon rallying cry “come on the village” ring around our original pitch, the Church field in Kilbegnet.

  Mick would be standing on his perch up on the ditch and I firmly believe his war cry put the fear of God in visiting city teams.

  Success wasn’t confined solely to the first team, the seconds also won several cups and leagues, there was a lot of underage victories too – and when the women came along in the early ‘90’s they surpassed everything the men had achieved by becoming the All-Ireland champions.

  Along the way as a club we developed great rivalries with, first Ballina, who when we arrived were the undisputed kingpins in Connacht junior rugby, and later with Connemara All Blacks, who were a bit like ourselves in that they came from the rural community of Clifden.  

  One of my first memories was going on a tour to Clifden, a tour on which the whole club, including wives and girlfriends (nearly all our own) were brought. We were to play the All Blacks in a Saturday evening friendly and afterwards we were booked into a local hotel, for a bit of fun and craic.

  Sadly, it seemed that the locals were totally unaware of our presence – mainly because we forgot to tell them –and when we arrived at the All Blacks pitch, we found it deserted, and that was the way it stayed. No opposition appeared, but being a resilient crew, we didn’t let it affect our enjoyment of what turned out to be a fantastic weekend.

  However that was a long time ago and in the meantime the fortunes of both clubs have taken very different paths. After a two-year flirtation with the All-Ireland League, we have dropped out of the top tier in Connacht rugby and for a few years now we have been plying our trade in the Second Division, while for all of those years Connemara were doing very well in the All-Ireland league.

  However two years ago they lost their place at the top table and on their return to junior rugby in Connacht one could be forgiven to think that they might now struggle in the local competition. That’s where you would have been wrong, because last year, in their first year back, they took up where they had left off and won the Division One League. We at the same time were finishing 3rd in Division Two.

  Fast-forward to last Sunday in The Green in Creggs where our local team once again crossed swords with the All Blacks, this time in the Connacht Junior Cup, a game which resulted in a fantastic win for Creggs. The final score was 13 to 7 in our favour, but you would want to be there to appreciate the great effort and performance put in by the Creggs lads. It was a win built on great heart and commitment, topped by no little skill, even in terrible weather conditions, and for us old folk, it was wonderful to be there to see it.

  I’m told by a curious twist of fate that it’s a quarter-final next Sunday at two o’clock in the Green, against our other old foes (and friends), Ballina and even if it clashes with Ireland’s match with Wales, give that one a miss and come to Creggs and help push the lads over the line.

  Nothing would give me greater pleasure (except maybe to win the Junior Football Championship) than to have the Junior Cup back in the village and who knows, this could be the year.

  We danced and sang on the counter in Seamus Keane’s ‘till the early hours the first time it came and I have no doubt it would be similarly celebrated this time. Here’s hoping!

Terry – ‘loveable Limerick rogue’

That’s almost it for this week, as Martina tells me I’ve gone a bit mad and put in too many words and only that it’s by email she wouldn’t pass it on at all, (what a shame says you), but I suppose for all of us who grew up with the BBC back in the 1980s and who watched Terry Wogan – the lovable Limerick rogue – as he ruled the British airwaves, it was very sad to hear this week of his unexpected death after a short battle with cancer.

            The newspapers on both sides of the Irish sea are full of tributes to the late broadcaster, which in itself is a mark of the huge respect and affection he commanded during his long career.

  All I can say is that, for many years, Val Doonican and Terry made Saturday night viewing a must for me and many, many more. May he rest in peace.

Till next week, bye for now

Paul Healy's Week - 5th February

Paul Healy on Alan kissing Joan; the peerless Terry Wogan; Willie and the Pope; the French locksmith who got stuck in Kiltoom; Jamie Vardy’s awesome goal…and ‘Storm Cliché’…
Saturday

Everyone is somewhere else, I have the television to myself, so I decide to opt for maximum possible entertainment and dip into Joan Burton’s keynote address at the Labour Party Ard Fheis.

I spare the dog and banish it to another room, at least until the ads come on. I don’t know if she’s a socialist or not – our dog, that is. Then again, I don’t know if Joan is a socialist or not.

Joan makes a good speech, as these things go, but when she referenced the same-sex marriage referendum at some length, I thought it a little mean-spirited of the Tanaiste not to credit Eamon Gilmore for his role in making it happen. She didn’t mention Pat Rabbitte either (she praised Brendan Howlin).

Little wonder that Rabbitte clapped in slow motion, or like a clapping toy in need of new batteries. I was keeping an eye out for the body language between Joan and her all-action Deputy Leader, Alan Kelly, a sort of Charlie Haughey Lite who promises to daub much colour on the Irish political canvass in the coming years (provided he keeps his seat).

In an amusing interview with the Sunday Independent at the weekend, Kelly boasted in a kind of endearing way about being a fast mover who gets things done, while bristling at the very notion that anyone would consider Joan to be his boss! Anyways, when Joan was finished standing up for Ireland, up popped the bould Alan and, not content with shaking her hand, he planted a kiss on the side of Joan’s head.

This was too much for Senator Lorraine Higgins, who burst out laughing, presumably because she was thinking what I was thinking: ‘Yeah Alan, you have some nerve!’ Anyways, enough of the serious stuff.

On the trivial side, Joan claimed credit for lots of things and promised to do much more. I let the dog back in at 9 o’clock when Celebrity Big Brother was starting.

Sunday

For many of us, the death of Terry Wogan represents the quiet, sudden theft of a little more of our youth. I absolutely adored him! We were on holiday in Birmingham for a few days, caravan in tow, back in the late 1970s. That was the very first time I heard him on the radio.

So I woke that morning in the caravan and I turned on a radio. Wogan played a song by Bryan Ferry, then, in that lovely laconic style of his, he mused… “Ah Bryan Ferry…can you think of a better way to start the morning? Answers on a postcard please…” I was hooked from that moment.

For many years, we in Ireland didn’t hear much of Wogan’s acclaimed radio show, but he became a television favourite through Blankety Blank, his chat show, the Eurovision Song Contest and Children In Need.

At his all-conquering peak, he won the ‘Most Popular TV Personality’ award for ten years in succession…he was undisputed king of British television then, and even more popular on his phenomenally successful radio show. We felt that we knew him personally.

He was such a huge presence in our lives for so long. For me, what set him apart from others, was the great sense of humour, the marvellous soft voice, the feeling that this was a wonderfully, warm, kind, self-deprecating man. He was a master of what he did and he brought joy to millions of people over more than half a century.

This week, the world really does seem a little greyer without the one-off that was the great Terry Wogan.

Also on Sunday…

In Kiltoom, Roscommon returned to Division One action, threw everything at Monaghan but lost out to a late scoring spree by opponents who timed their swoop on the points with the assurance of veteran top-tier campaigners.

On Shannonside, Willie Hegarty dragged the Pope into it. “The Pope said this was the year of mercy,” said Willie, “well it hasn’t started in Kiltoom.”

Tuesday

A ‘Match of the Day’ edition midweek is always a bonus. I’m watching, with no knowledge of how this evening’s games have gone. And now I’ve just seen Jamie Vardy score a goal for Leicester (against Liverpool) that is almost beyond belief.

It must be one of the greatest goals ever! In terms of technique, it reminded me (a little) of a goal I scored for Dynamo Rooskey in the early 1980s. In fairness to Vardy, mine was from much closer range.

Oh yeah, and the goalkeeper wasn’t expecting my shot, because he was our goalie and it was an own goal. (True story; I was trying to ‘clear the danger’– and concede a corner).

Wednesday

The election has been called. Forget Gertrude and Frank and those other imposters… get ready for ‘Storm Cliché!’

Sunday - ‘It started with a push…’

The scene was the training pitch at Kiltoom last Sunday, where, notwithstanding superb organisation by the hosts, some motorists found the going tough, in what were terrible conditions. First, a car and its driver, a woman from Monaghan, got stuck.

It was moments after the final whistle. A few Rossies came to her rescue. …even though Monaghan were making off with two valuable league points. Andrew Fox (the photographer covering Sunday’s match for the Roscommon People) took a quick snap, then realised that maybe he should help out.

So he put his camera into the boot of his car, and went over to help push the Monaghan car out of the muck. But Andrew locked his keys in his car…

Next phase of the drama saw Andrew and some Rossies speculate about breaking a window. Of his car. To rescue the keys. Meanwhile, the Monaghan woman got stuck again. The Rossies came to the rescue again.

No photo this time (obviously ­– camera in the boot). Deciding against breaking a window, Andrew instead rang his insurers. Inpressively, they said ‘We’ll have a locksmith with you in an hour.’

Ninety minutes later, the locksmith arrived, fair play. All the way from Dublin, and on a wild Sunday too. He was French, apparently. (Who’d have thought it?) So the French locksmith, a nice man, went about his business. Within ten minutes, he had opened Andrew Fox’s car and retrieved the keys. Great. End of saga.

But not quite… Because then the Frenchman got stuck in the mud. He was driving (or, at this precise moment, not driving) a fine big van. It was only when Andrew looked in his rear view mirror that he noticed the French man was stuck.

The Irish man had been rescued by the French man; now the French man had to be rescued by the Irish man. (The Monaghan woman was probably at home by now, but that’s beside the point).

Andrew drove back to the stricken French man, then called for help from the St. Brigid’s Clubhouse. Two men who had been stewards at the game came out and rolled up their sleeves. But there was no budging the French man’s van.

Next, further help was sought from the bar. Four more men and a Jack Russell dog emerged. All seven (the dog merely observed) pushed heroically. “Would this count as winter training?” asked one man, panting, as their first epic effort failed. They tried again. They pushed and they pushed again.

Suddenly, the French locksmith’s big van advanced in triumph. The French locksmith heaved a sigh of relief. The group running behind his van shouted ‘Up the Rossies’ – and then went back to the bar. There was no comment from the French man – or the Jack Russell.

The strife of Brian – it’s time foul-mouthed McFadden grew up

Tsk, tsk Mr McFadden, a decade ago you were a chart-topping icon, last year you were a respectable married man, this week you’re a ridiculed public spectacle. Yes folks, as an ahem, ‘singer,’ I’m sure Brian McFadden shows flair…look, I’m trying my hardest to be nice to a fellow Dubliner here; but his latest infantile yobbo-esque tantrum towards a follower who responded to his Twitter tweet leads me to ask once again if Brian is about to unravel.

  Apparently, the former No Lifer, sorry Westlifer, reacted with an outrageous foul-mouthed tirade of abuse when someone made, what was in fact, in my humble opinion, quite a humorous and harmless remark regarding McFadden’s career.         

  When reading the papers online, the www.independent.ie headline ‘Brian McFadden launches foul-mouthed attack on Twitter user,’ caught my attention because, well, Brian and his first wife Kerry Katona were once neighbours of mine and, er, well, I remember a previous Twitter outburst whereby Brian, ever the keyboard warrior, allowed his kneejerk emotions get the better of him regarding negative comments (concerning his parenting skills) allegedly made by his ex-wife and mother of his kids. Brian’s creative response was to call Kerry ‘a pig-faced mole.’ Very imaginative.

  That was back in 2010, and, six years later it appears poor Brian, perhaps in an attempt to garner a few much-needed column inches and possibly a viewer or two to watch him perform in Channel 4’s sports-themed TV show, The Jump, tweeted ‘This year @TheJumpC4 has gone to new heights!” to which a response, “Unlike your career hey?!” was illicited by a troll. However, conveniently with Twitter, it appears now the serial husband and wannabe TV star has stumbled on a style that suits his limited vocabulary – well what other conclusion could one come to when one reads Brian’s quite aggressive reply which was, disgustingly, “Shut your face cxxx!” Then threatening, “Or I’ll find IP address find out where you live and strangle you with your f***ing mouse.” Later, when another user jumped on the bandwagon with, “I’d be angry to, if I had to resort to dreadful reality TV to make a living! (sic) taking the bait once again,  McFadden retorted, “As angry as you working in Tesco and shopping at lidl?” (sic). Now what’s wrong with working in Tesco – and I shop at Lidl!

  I have to say Brian I remember a time when, one night, performing in a show in Dublin, (when Westlife were called Westside) and my eldest daughter, who was one of your backing dancers, had to remove her own white jacket from her back and give it to you to wear onstage because you couldn’t afford to buy yourself one…bet you’d have appreciated a wage from Tesco back then!!! Huh?

  Now I don’t care how many times poor old Brian might proclaim that he’s a decent bloke; just one of our own; and for the record, I’m sure he’s a perfectly lovely lad who is just, er, misunderstood; but this image and these tweets, are now hopelessly intertwined and tainted by belligerent rants towards those he sees as his enemies…i.e. fans who just want to interact with him and have a bit of craic. I think it’s time the expletive-spewing McFadden, whom, let’s face it has had a somewhat chequered and unsteady career, needs to realise that he cannot court and cruelly try to enslave the media and his twitter followers when he feels like it, then threaten to strangle them when they fail to massage his fragile ego.

  Oh well, and colour me bitchy here readers, because, as you know, I don’t usually take a swipe at stupid people, they have nothing to lose, but in this case I’ll make an exception and give my advice to those reality TV junkies who watch this mind-numbing show and  who wish to communicate with the audacious little McFadden boy on Twitter or any other social media forum and it’s this… ignore him, in fact, de-throne him and the rogue gene that apparently seems to course through his arrogant veins making him the insufferable, offensive individual he appears to be.

  Yes folks, I think we’ve endured the strife, and the life of Brian and the several sub-plots to his less than dynamic career for long enough. Don’t you? 

Keep goin’ John, you’ll get there in the end

Some food and diet experts think they’re a notch above the rest of us, and, in my book I fear Operation Transformation’s dietician Aoife Hearne may be in danger of falling into that category. Hearne, who is probably trying to launch a high profile TV career, appeared to be close to tears in what I can only describe as an ignominious display of guilt-tripping targeted at one of the contestants, Mayo man John Conmy.

  Poor aul John, who failed to reach his target weight loss, appeared to be genuinely mortified as he stood, publicly humiliated and judged as if he were a recalcitrant teenager, face puce with shame as his squishy belly hung low over a pair of ill-fitting Speedos, while every morsel he dared to  pop into his mouth came under scrutiny.

  Seriously, does anyone think for one minute that picking on this unfortunate man by using such sanctimonious and humiliating drivel as the well-worn line “It is heart breaking to see that you got this opportunity and you are not grasping it,” whilst welling up is going to cause controversy, increase ratings and possibly garner a contract for a spin-off show?

Golf… is it a load of balls?

Ladies, does your hubby spend more time playing with his (golf) balls than he does playing with you?  Thought so. You see, I’m a former ‘golf widow’.  I curbed that little obsession by threatening to take up the most mind-numbing, tedious, lacklustre, humdrum, mundane and any other adjective you can throw at it – sport as a hobby – and tag along on outings!

  And no, I wasn’t really prepared to spend my weekends shivering in a giant field searching for a pathetic little ball just so I could hit it into a miniscule hole; it was merely a threat…which only worked for a while. I discovered a more permanent solution. Divorce! 

  However, a poll carried out by Golf Monthly revealed that 32 per cent of golfers would forgo sex in favour of playing golf! Seriously lads, would ya ever get over yourselves. You see girls, this particular bit of info tells me a lot about the blokes who’re more obsessed with the sport than they are with their partners and, it’s this – golf is just a game men play when they’re too out of shape to stay the pace at sex and bless them, they think they can achieve the same rush on the golf course.

  Let’s face it, there are only two things in life these men ever boast about, golf and sex, and to be honest, they’re the ones who’re usually inadequate at both! In my opinion, the only time a male golfer hits two of his best balls is when he’s gardening and accidentally stands on the rake. And another thing ladies, how do you know when your sport-obsessed hubby has legged it for a round of golf? Well wretchedly, the sex is exactly the same, but the empty wine bottles begin to pile up!

 

 

 

Time for a pint on Good Friday …especially this year?

All across the media, there is a lot of controversy about the Centenary celebrations of the 1916 Easter Rising, and quite a lot of the problems seem to centre on the cost and the extent of the planned celebrations and where they will take place, with a number of commentators concerned that the overwhelming majority of events will be located in our Capital city, Dublin.

  Now I would have no great problem with that part of it as, after all, the GPO would be the place most associated with the Rising – at least in the minds of lukewarm historians, like myself, who wouldn’t know as much about the circumstances as I should. However, one undeniable fact is that the Centenary will bring huge numbers of people to Ireland and more specifically, Dublin, for the Easter weekend and one of the big questions now is whether or not they will be able to have a pint or two on Good Friday?

  Now I have no idea why the custom has been there, certainly all my life, that the pubs close on Good Friday, and in truth it has always been the accepted thing and in my time I have known publicans who were delighted to have the day off. The tradition was so well ingrained into our minds that only once in my life have I ever had a Good Friday pint, and just in case you might think otherwise, it was many, many miles away from Creggs and many, many years ago.

  However, for a few years now, the argument has been made that, particularly in the cities and big towns where tourists are visiting, it’s a bit ridiculous that they can’t get a drink in any of our world-renowned pubs – and I’m beginning to think that it’s maybe time for a change – and especially for 2016.

            Apparently legislation would have to be brought in to allow the pubs to open on that day – and it may already be too late – but, even if it is too late, surely they could open anyway and let the Gardai turn a blind eye? That way a publican could make up his or her own mind as to whether he or she opened or not, but I’m sure at least in the major tourist centres enough would open to ensure that the visitors and indeed our own could raise a glass and toast the heroes of 1916.

            I might even break the habit of a lifetime and have my second ever Good Friday pint. We’ll wait and see!

Hugh’s blackboard jungle

Once upon a time I was a sort of a rugby player, whose best performances were reserved for the safety of the clubhouse bar and whose long career owed much to making sure that I was never over-extended in training ­– in fact my first proper rugby club was when I played with Westport way back in the late 1960s and we actually trained in the bar of a local hotel.

  The coach at the time was Hugh O’Malley, a man who also owned the Ormond Hotel in Dublin. Hugh was the first man I ever saw making use of the blackboard to go through his moves.

  We would train on a Friday night and as there were no floodlit pitches back then we would tog out, go up to the function room bar and go through our paces on the dance floor. For the next hour or so, we would gaze intently at Hugh and his blackboard, vainly trying to figure out his complicated (to us) manoeuvres. When all was over, we would then go to the proper bar, drink a load of pints, discuss our new moves and hit for the TF (Traveller’s Friend) in Castlebar on our way home.

  Hugh could never figure out how we never implemented his wonderful moves! It may have had something to do with a loss of memory, after several of his best post-training pints of good Guinness.  

            I am reminded of all this on a Monday morning, when for the umpteenth time in the last few years, the health of Irish out-half Johnny Sexton is again called into question.

  As a fully paid-up member of the non-tackling union (another reason for my long career), it is frightening to see the belts that professional players are taking nowadays. 

  One of my readers contacted me before Christmas to make the point that there should be different tackling rules for amateur and professional players.  

  He made the point that other contact sports like boxing have more safety regulations to protect participants who have to go to work on Monday mornings – exactly what he had in mind I’m not sure, but this morning, as Johnny Sexton worries about the long-term effect another massive blow to his head may have, maybe it’s time to have a look at what he was saying and make rugby safer for everyone, professional and amateur.

  I’m off for a few laps of Mikeen’s – I have a few moves to work on!

Can we address this drugs anguish?

On the subject of having a few pints now and again, I make no secret of the fact that I am not averse to an odd pint of the black stuff, but for some unknown reason I never experimented with any kind of drugs – even back in the ‘60s as a young lad, I didn’t bother, although, at that time, drugs like L.S.D., cannabis and hash (maybe that’s cannabis by another name) were freely available.

  Today things seem to be different and a recent survey of 3rd Level students suggests that a high percentage of them will at one stage or other have a go at using some of the illegal substances that, admit it or not, can be got in every village, large town and city in our country.

  Because I never tried any of them, I suppose I really haven’t a clue what I’m writing about, (not a lot new in that, says you), but the tragic death of young Cork student, 18-years-old Alex Ryan, after he took a hallucinogenic drug known as N-bomb, exposes the enormous dangers that are out there for our susceptible children.

  I am well aware that it’s almost natural that young adults will give way to peer pressure, and experiment, but there has to be a way of keeping totally unsupervised street drugs (which basically means there’s no way of knowing what’s in them), away from innocent, first-time users.

  I don’t know what the answer is. Some countries legalise the sale of drugs, which brings the whole process out in the open and reduces the enormous financial earnings available to unscrupulous dealers, thereby reducing the risk of contaminated batches of drugs finding their way onto the streets – and, in my ignorance, I would see some benefit in such a move.

  However, before I get into trouble, I’m sure there may be a better way, but we must find the solution soon, or more youngsters like Alex Ryan will lose their lives and more families will have the unbearable pain of burying a loved one for no reason other than the fact that our legislators failed us.

  Anyway, it’s a tragic loss of a young very promising life and I express my sorrow and condolences to his family. May we never see it happen again.

Paul Healy's Week - 29th January

Paul Healy on getting away from it all (sort of) in Clifden; missing Vincent Browne (sort of); the new Roscommon Proclamation…and the Save Roscommon campaign…

Friday-Sunday

In Clifden for the weekend, for a family occasion. The Station House Hotel is on the location of what was once Clifden Railway Station. It’s a family-friendly, inviting hotel in a beautiful part of the country.

  Most people from here probably go to Clifden via Galway; we opted for a Mayo route. The Maam Cross area is spectacular. The views are stunning. The sheep are oblivious to the fast-paced world of today; their idea of turmoil is two cars meeting on a corner, both drivers stopping to photograph them (the sheep).

  The Station House Hotel was pretty busy, which, given the supposedly quiet time of year, was encouraging to see. The staff could not have been nicer.

  Clifden itself is a very pleasant town, with a great atmosphere created by its shops, pubs and cafes.

  A day trip on Saturday brought us to Omey Island, which you can drive over to, provided you take due note of when the tide is due to go in and out. It’s remote, beautiful and popular with strangers.

  There are a few houses on it; all appear to be of the holiday home variety, although we were told later that a former Hollywood stuntman lives there. We didn’t see him on our visit, but then he could have been dangling from one of the trees above us.

  On Saturday evening, forgetting all about the Fine Gael Ard Fheis, I popped over to the bar for a quiet pint. I sat at the counter, twenty-five minutes to spare before dinner.

  Surely peace and quiet awaited?

  It would be a chance to relax, to avoid thoughts of work, of the upcoming election, and I all the better for not having a ring-side seat at an Ard Fheis. Any Ard Fheis.

  Suddenly the doors opened and about forty canvassers came in, all of them working with Independent candidate Fidelma Healy-Eames. Within minutes, there were pockets of them everywhere, seasoned campaigners sitting at the counter ordering pints or hot ones, others sitting back with a coffee. The candidate herself came in, all smiles. It was an impressive show of strength. It will be interesting to see how she does.

  As the pre-election chatter grew, I had to escape to the residents bar. Fifteen minutes to dinner, still chasing that quiet pint. Just as I arrived in the empty bar, a meeting of cyclists –they were taking part in a cycle over the weekend – broke up in the adjoining room. All the cyclists took the first right turn – into the previously empty residents’ bar. The barman looked up, expectant. One by one, the members of the club ordered pints of blackcurrant juice. The barman was speechless. I was glad to get to the crowded restaurant for a bit of peace.

  On Sunday, we called into flood-hit Cong on the way home. This is where one of my favourites films, ‘The Quiet Man’ was made. The film, starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara, was part-shot there in 1952. Cong is dotted with premises’ and attractions which link themselves to the movie, including one tiny cottage with a sign on it: ‘The dying man’s house.’

  So, if you’re planning a break, I think you’d enjoy this general area. It really is beautiful, and the Clifden Station House Hotel is recommended.

Monday

That Vincent Browne gets younger looking by the night, in fairness, and (a bit) less grumpy too.

   Oh, you mean it’s not him…it’s Michael Clifford?

  Actually, Clifford isn’t that bad; he’s warming to the stand-in role. He hasn’t got a plush broadcasting accent, but then many will feel that ‘new’ rural tones on national television are to be welcomed – and I agree.

  Vincent seems to be missing quite a lot lately. We assume that he is sharpening his teeth ahead of the hunting, I mean election, season.

  What I would really like to see is Vincent taking on Enda Kenny. This may happen in leaders’ debate format. It would reflect poorly on Kenny, who for a long time now has been avoiding Browne, were he to turn down a TV3 debate offer.

  Another option is for Browne to hijack a Taoiseach’s press conference. This is something he did memorably with both Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen. You can view both Browne roastings on Youtube.

  I actually have a feeling that Kenny is too cute to get caught in this way by Browne. Charlie Haughey may have said that Bertie was the most cunning and the most devious of them all, but Enda is no slouch when it comes to tactics, playing the media, outwitting enemies and staying ahead of the posse.

Tuesday

I missed Tuesday night’s AGM of Roscommon Chamber of Commerce (I had to work) but I hear that Council CEO Eugene Cummins made an impressive address to members.

  Outgoing President Declan Molloy is to be commended on his leadership in the past couple of years and I have no doubt that his successor, Sean Mahon, and his fellow officers will be equally as proactive and energetic going forward.

  I remember a time many years ago when, with respect to those involved, Roscommon Chamber of Commerce went through a ‘limbo period.’ Now in recent years the Chamber is thriving again and it is important that the momentum is maintained.

  There is an energy in the Chamber now which is encouraging. After a really gruelling seven or eight years for businesses in the county town – and for the general public – there are signs now that there is much to be energised about. The economy is improving and in the coming years there will be real opportunities for the continued growth and development of Roscommon town. It is surely in all our interests that a vibrant Chamber is proactively involved in this development. I have no doubt that this will prove to be the case.    

Wednesday

Today is D-Day for submissions relating to the ‘Save Roscommon’ campaign. There was a flurry of activity all day, with people travelling to Mullingar to hand over thousands of submissions before the 5 pm deadline.

  I don’t really understand why the submissions are being handled by Westmeath County Council, which has a vested interest in this whole affair. That having been said, the folks in Westmeath HQ in Mullingar were very courteous as the ‘Roscommon invasion’ was taking place in recent days.

  The response by the public in Roscommon has really gained momentum in the past ten days or so. Celebrities, public figures across the board, ordinary members of the public, all have come together to put their shoulder to the wheel.

  Schoolchildren have been very involved in the ‘Save Roscommon’ campaign too.

  I liked the letter I received from Sean McCormack, a 9-year-old boy from Kye in Elphin, who said he wants to help save Roscommon.  

  “Dear Paul,” Sean wrote, “I am nine, and I know that it’s not a good idea to let part of our county to be taken. This is why I wrote the Roscommon Proclamation, and I also asked my sister and brother to sign it. My mammy and daddy have voted online.”

   Thank you Sean for your letter and your interest, and here, for our 80,000 readers, is your excellent ‘Roscommon Proclamation,’ also signed by your sister Alicia and brother Hugh!

Roscommon Proclamation

Roscommon men and women. We summons our children to our blue and yellow flag. Roscommon should rule Roscommon. We will not let Alan Kelly or any of our Government take it from us. We never went interfering into Westmeath. Alan Kelly should stay in Tipperary. Do you think Alan Kelly would like if we joined South Tipperary on to Limerick? Ireland is a democracy. We will get enough votes to save South Roscommon from Westmeath and Alan Kelly. We will do everything we can to save our county. We assure you, Alan Kelly, don’t you worry. 

 

Forget childhood, our kids are suffering from accelerated maturity!

Regular readers will know I’m a doting grandmother, however, it occurred to me this week that my eight- year-old little cherub is alarmingly now on the cusp of puberty.  Yes, I said puberty because worryingly, according to a report in www.webmd.com ‘Puberty starts on average in girls between ages 8 and 13 and in boys between ages 9 and 14.’

  Now I don’t know about you folks, but from where I stand, this makes for pretty unnerving information. As the onset of puberty, i.e. entry into adulthood, happens at a younger age, it means my innocent little angel, who is the light of my life, and whom, last week when I telephoned her, instead of answering the phone with her usual, “Hey Nana, wassup?” in front of her pals growled a bored “What!” down the receiver; is now feeling the pressure of adolescence where it’s no longer cool to have cosy chats with the aul wan who’ll always have her bail money stashed away…just in case. However, as my granddaughter’s accelerated maturity breaks my heart, leading me to want to jump in the car, drive to Dublin and attempt to reclaim her innocent, fast-fading childhood, our ‘phone call’ reminded me of an article I read in last Friday’s www.dailymail.co.uk regarding the death of a 16-year-old British girl who tragically succumbed to a rare blood clot disorder which, according to the piece, occurred “after her contraceptive pill gave her deep vein thrombosis (DVT) on a family holiday in Gran Canaria.”

  An article in www.telegraph.co.uk reports the teen’s mother saying she had “accompanied her daughter” to her doctor where she was prescribed the pill.

  Now I’m making no judgements regarding this poor mother for putting her daughter on the pill at such a young age, nor am I making judgements against this tragic young teenage girl; in fact I applaud the mother in her quest to be a responsible, nurturing parent and firmly believe that the decision as to whether or not you place your teenager on contraception is both a difficult and personal one that should start with a discussion at home and conclude down at your doctor’s surgery.

  When my girls were teenagers with boyfriends, knowing how easy it is to get pregnant and how hard it is for peer-pressured teens to remain innocent, I discussed the possibilities of contraception with them and the conclusion was, as having sex appeared to be on the cards, prevention was better than cure; especially when, in this day and age, many teens tend to think that ‘abstinence’ is something they only do at Lent!

  To be honest readers, these are probably the kids who’ll aspire to heading to KFC rather than UCG if you get my drift; (and there’s nothing wrong with that either), but still, if a parent can help their child avoid a crisis pregnancy, (and it appears that’s what this grieving mother was trying to do) then who can blame them?

  A parent’s job is to get their kid through life, through school and hopefully through college until they’re at an age where they’re mature enough to decide if they wish to have babies. A parent’s job is to be sensitive, caring, understanding, guiding, and to anticipate the dangers and the pitfalls. Let me tell you threatening, screaming and grounding will get you nowhere. And remember, while I would always advise you encourage your teen to explore alternative routes of interacting with her boyfriend, and while the pill doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted diseases, do bear in mind that discussing the possibility of contraception with your daughter is NOT, as some accused me, giving them a licence to have sex, rather it’s…and big picture here…protecting them, educating them and preparing them in the best way that you can.

Poisoning us, pilfering our land and charging us for it!

I’m a strong, proud North Dubliner whose been living among you for nearly four years now, and, having experienced this county’s floods, snow, ruinous effects of unemployment, hospital A&E closures and a slew of shattered promises made by our government, I have to say, despite the fact we’re all up against it – I hope you don’t mind me including myself as one of your own; after all, I have the honour of writing for your favourite newspaper, and you’ve all been so welcoming to me – the quality I’ve noticed most about you, the lovely people of Roscommon; is your endurance, your stoicism, your friendliness and your ability to down tools and fight the good fight.

  So, let’s stop Enda and yer wan with the Thatcherite idiosyncrasies – iPhone Joan – from pilfering part of our county with a swipe of their pens, (again, hope you don’t mind the ‘our’). 

  Earlier this week, it was revealed, that once again, Bonnie & Clyde had placed their seedy, greedy, gluttonous, pickpocket politics before people by rushing through a Bill to steal payment for water charges from our wages and welfare – water which, according to a report on www.utv.ie  contains a ‘chemical linked to cancer,’ meaning  they’re now charging us to consume toxins!

  However, while I’m no solicitor, my understanding of The Sale of Goods and Services Act, 1980, is that all goods we purchase, (and we are being forced to purchase water), ‘must be fit for their purpose’ – in the case of water, it MUST be safe to drink. It’s clear to me folks, given this week’s damning findings by the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) that the water in Roscommon is NOT safe to drink; that there are serious compliance issues associated with these scandalous revelations and, the irony is, as consumers, despite the fact we are meant to be protected by Irish and EU laws, our government, the very ones asking us to re-elect them, is slowly lacing us with poison through our kitchen taps. 

  Yep, they’re bumping us off, stealing our land and charging us for it. Perhaps I’m being paranoid here, but the term draconian holocaust keeps springing to my suspicious mind.  

Kristina and Ben to have a Tiny Dancer

The rumoured romance between dancer and CBB evictee, Kristina Rihanoff and the then-married rugby player Ben Cohen was possibly the most scandalous allegation to come out of the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing TV series. However, with the self-named ‘Strictly Siren’ Kristina’s recent impending motherhood revelations, it’s clear dancing is no longer her priority…er, sorry, but when was it ever, love? I thought publicity-seeking was top of your agenda; but I digress.      

  So what next for Kristina, I wonder. Will she and Ben now star in their own gross out reality TV show dazzling us all (including Ben’s poor former wife) with how Kristina can slip into her rightful place at the centre of domesticity? Will Kristina hang up her compact dancing cossies, fake tan and G-strings in favour of a gingham apron, fur-trimmed marigolds, wall to wall smelly nappies and cracked nipples?

  Watch this space folks because personally I fear the flagging diva is too immature and wrapped up in her own self-importance to cope with the trials and tribulations of motherhood. Still, nice to see she’s managing to hold onto that trailer park trash image!

 

Is it time to talk about Frank?

It’s another Monday morning, with more than half the month of January gone, and at the early hour of a quarter to nine, I found myself heading back to the cardiac facilities in the County Hospital in Roscommon to undergo a check-up and stress test, with the brilliant team run by Rosemary Thorpe and Deirdre O’Reilly.

  Now I had no intention whatsoever of telling you about my visit (incidentally I put on 2 lbs over the Christmas, which I thought was not too bad, but which didn’t greatly please the cardiac people) until I tuned into Shannonside Radio on my way to work and heard Joe Finnegan conducting a most interesting interview with soon-to-be-retired Boyle-based Fine Gael TD Frank Feighan.

  The dogs on the street know the story of Enda Kenny’s promises (prior to the last General Election) to keep the A&E facilities in the County Hospital open, and how subsequently the promise proved to have no more substance than the recent fall of snow – and how when Feighan voted with the Government to close the A&E Dept. he effectively wrote an end to what up to then had been a glittering political career.

  Now I have only once, very briefly, met Frank Feighan, and that was long before he became a TD, so this is definitely not a party political broadcast on his behalf, but listening to him today it was hard not to feel that he was badly treated and his insistence that he did what he thought was right for both his constituents and the hospital was spoken with a great degree of sincerity.

  We have all suffered with the closure of the A&E Dept., but in truth it was the Taoiseach himself who made the broken promises and the Boyle man who suffered.

  However, leaving the A&E Dept. aside, nobody can argue with the statement that Roscommon County Hospital is vastly improved over the last few years, and as a recent beneficiary of the fantastic cardiac services there, I can say it’s a credit to all concerned.

  I don’t know how much of those improvements can be laid at Frank Feighan’s door, but, as he leaves political life behind him, maybe he should be judged on the overall picture regarding the hospital, which also has a new soon to be opened endoscopy unit, at a €5 million cost, rather than just as the man who – rightly or wrongly – is blamed for closing the A&E Unit.

Motoring madness

During the recent cold spell, when the roads were at their slippiest and most dangerous in the early mornings, twice I saw lads (maybe girls) take their lives (and other people’s lives as well) in their hands by leaving the line of traffic and overtaking at ridiculous speeds.

  It was the height of stupidity and we have to realise that, in such driving conditions, it’s better to arrive safely and late, than being dead on time.

  It’s safe to assume that as we’re still only halfway through January, there’s loads more bad frosty and snowy weather to come, so if it was you who broke the line, in future stay where you are and don’t take unnecessary risks.

Can Nick do the trick?

What about the news that Nicky Byrne is going to sing for us in the Eurovision Song Contest? Surely he could have given that a miss, having got away for years with making millions on the strength of Shane Filan and Mark Feehily being such good singers in Westlife.

  Now he has to take his own lead – and while he won’t  have to live up to much, after Jedward and Dustin – I still think he might have been better off to, as they say, let sleeping dogs lie.

  However, what’s done is done and we will all get behind him and who knows, maybe he might restore our good name in the Eurovision. Even if he doesn’t win, let’s hope he at least ends up in a respectable finishing place.

And finally…

Finally for this week…up to now the most famous John McCormack that I had heard about was the renowned late singer from Athlone…however this week we learned of the other one, the Chief Executive of the Irish Cancer Society, who, while he may never have released any musical recordings, was certainly laughing all the way to the bank.

  A salary of €145,000 was more than enough to keep him happy, but I would wonder how all the thousands of voluntary fundraisers, who give up their time to sell daffodils, as well as taking part in lots of other fundraising activities, feel about it. He has volunteered to take a €10,000 cut, which is in my opinion an empty gesture, and once again it highlights the rewards (remember the IFA, the FAI, the banks, amongst others) that are available for the occupiers of such positions.

  I don’t really have any qualifications as such (do you need any?), but if any organisation out there needs a chief executive, I’m available, ready and willing – and as a gesture of good faith, l’ll start at €100,000. Martina at the People will give you my number.

Til next week, bye for now

When Jerry met Rupert ... and how there’s hope for all you lads!

Meeting yer fella’s mammy for the first time can be very daunting for any prospective wife; especially when it comes to being scrutinised by d’mammy; and we all know that for some Irish blokes, their relationship with their mammy is so strong it can sometimes border on the Norman Bates syndrome with the pair of them often going around hugging each other like they were ‘must have’ fashion accessories. 

  However, for newly-engaged Jerry Hall, that particular fly in the ointment certainly won’t be a concern because I’d say, given the age gap between herself and her new beau), d’mammy will be well and truly out of the picture.

  You see, from hanging out with, and being engaged to, the uber-cool Bryan Ferry and being the partner of old rubber lips himself, (no she wasn’t the wife, remember that high profile Bali ‘wedding’ to Mick Jagger was ruled to be ‘not legally binding’ by a court) it seems the beautiful Texan drawler, former Vogue model, fashion muse and firm fixture on the celebrity social scene, Jerry Hall is about to become media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s fourth wife.

  Well now lads, if that doesn’t make you want to ditch the gym, forget about the healthy diet, the anti-wrinkle creams and the face lifts…

  To stop holding in your beer bellies,  and oh, while you’re at it, cancel your prescription for Viagra because it appears in order to net a dacent lookin’ woman all you need is, no, not a full head of hair, but a healthy bank balance because yes, in this cash-strapped day and age, methinks money is most definitely a magnet.

  Ah sure maybe I’m just jealous and maybe Jerry is the independent, down to earth kind  who is not looking for a piece of the pie because, as we all know she’s got her own wealth…even if it does only come via her so called ‘modest’ settlement from her split with Jagger;  it’s clear that, due to Hall’s union with her new ‘sugar daddy’ she will never be forced to face the problem that is poverty or homelessness and good luck to her; she makes for a very credible ‘sugar mamma,’ and besides, who knows, they may actually really love each other.

  At 84, Murdoch is rumoured to enjoy the company of strong women, so now we have this merger with the 59-year-old Hall, whom, let’s face it has definitely earned her place at the top of the rock chic royalty list. At this time I think it’s prudent for me to remind the aging minted magnet that even though his intended has, in her own words, “gone out with younger men and they’re great fun, they’ve got enthusiasm,” the lady, who appears to have cultivated a stable of studs, might just be what the doctor ordered for a man who kinda resembles an elderly hamster emerging through a time warp backwards.

  Now look, I’m not saying Murdoch doesn’t have a great personality and a hilarious sense of fun, and of course, his prowess as a savvy businessman is well documented (cue the pre-nup) but seriously, while  most octogenarians often find it difficult to raise their little finger, let alone the ability to  have a willing,  younger and hot companion on standby to mop their drool, polish their bald heads, mash and strain their food before they dine – and choose their nursing home when they feel the pressure that comes with counting all those heavy green backs – I will say best of luck, I wish them every happiness, but mind you, I’d say the prosperity part will take care of itself.

  I’m sure our lovely postman will be dropping my VIP invitation in the letter box any day now.

 Nipple piercings: is it worth it?

Well you’ve all heard of Tupperware parties ladies – to be honest I’ve never been to one in my life – Botox parties – again, never been to one – and underwear parties – been to lots – but if you want to be hip, throw a piercing party. 

  Yes, this week, word reaches me from the Big Shmoke that apparently they’re huge; with nipple piercings being de rigueur for all those who worship at the altar of Planet Fashion.

  Come to think of it, if I remember correctly, some years ago celebrities such as Britney Spears, the once virginal teen idol, threw a piercing bash for her flunkies, easing their pain by gifting them with solid gold and silver hearts to dangle from their nipples! 

  Now folks, it seems to me that unless you’re the type who tends to go through boyfriends/girlfriends faster than a hot knife through pure Irish butter and try to outdo your mates in the ‘Most Convincing Performance by a Slut,’ category, then by all means get those dangly bits painfully pierced because if it’s true that the Romans are rumoured to have started the old nipple piercing fad, inventing it as a convenient place on which to hang their capes; then it stands to reason you’d make a good hat and coat hanger for your conquests. 

  However, before you take such steps, ask yourself the question, why would anyone want to undertake such a risky procedure and inflict such pain on two of the most sensitive parts of their body, all in the name of making a fashion statement?

One hundred thousand  Ire-(ish) welcomes

Well we’re over halfway through January folks and with the wonderful occasion of our 2016 Rising celebrations set to enlighten and educate us, last week I had my first encounter with what will possibly be the expected (and welcome) influx of wall to wall Oirish Americans coming home to visit the auld sod of their ancestors. 

  You know the kind I mean, the ‘Ma grandpappy came over here from Ballygobackwards to escape the hunger,” type of hot-air wannabes. And they’re a cinch to spot; dressed in a kaleidoscope of plaid trousers and bomber jackets, expensive cameras hanging from necks that display enough chins to fill a Chinese ‘phone directory, whilst conversing in that unique high-pitched nasal screech only audible to dogs.

  They’ll be called Martha and Marshall or Chuck and Sindy and they’ll visit every single one of the celebrations, parades and events, ambushing the best spots, placing their overweight axxes smack in front of your whinging brat so that you have to raise him over your shoulders to see the homemade floats that wouldn’t even have passed muster a century ago.

  Of course you can get your own back when they ask for directions to the GPO in Dublin and send them to your friendly local post office in Roscommon instead. 

Paul Healy's Week - 22nd January

Paul Healy on saving Roscommon from the clutches of Westmeath; fine dining (in Roscommon and Westmeath); in awe of Paschal Donohoe…and the warm glow of winter football…
Friday

In the Roscommon People office, we’re throwing our weight behind the ‘Save Roscommon’ campaign. We’re designing posters and fine-tuning a sample submission – all with a view to helping to facilitate a mass petition against the proposed ‘land grab.’ This proposal is preposterous, this would-be theft is treacherous, this land grab is ludicrous.

I note the calls for a plebiscite, i.e. a vote or a referendum. That, at least, would be democratic. But why should the people of Roscommon even have to countenance this offensive proposal?

Why should we forfeit part of our county to Westmeath, with all the implications for business, sport, culture, morale, community life, population base, our traditions and identity, etc?

Politics, readers, whether we like it or not, is at the heart of just about everything. And whatever it was that initiated this threat, it is politics that can end it. Suffice to say that if any of Enda Kenny, Joan Burton or Minister Alan Kelly were TDs in Roscommon, this boundary baloney would be out of bounds.

We must make our voices heard loud and clear. So people everywhere should sign the various letters of protest that are put before them, or else make your own submission. And when the General Election comes around in a few weeks, current Government representatives and aspiring ones should be challenged on their position with regard to the feared transfer of part of South Roscommon into Westmeath.

Start with the Fine Gael and Labour candidates (i.e. the outgoing Coalition). Then move on to the representatives of other parties and all Independents.

Any of these people could, on being elected, be in a position to support or be part of a new Government by March of this year. Make sure you know where they stand now, and if you are a supporter of the ‘Save Roscommon’ campaign, make sure they know where you stand.

Sunday

It is true that when you think of gaelic football as its best and most memorable, your thoughts turn to sunny days in summer and the almost tangible excitement of the championship.

But there is something very special too about winter football, when loyal fans enthusiastically embrace the cold conditions and wallow happily at the prospect of making long car journeys, attending relatively undistinguished venues and seeing new players in experimental teams.

Trying to distinguish what is worth getting optimistic about from what isn’t, is part of the fun of the early-season experience. Far from being a very plain starter before the main courses of league and championship, the various ‘lesser’ competitions in January are fulfilling for diehard fans, and presumably of significant benefit to managers.

There was a justifiable pep in the step of Roscommon supporters on Sunday, and it was a great day too for some of our neighbours. In the FBD League, Roscommon had a good win over Mayo in Castlebar.

It was such a shame that the game couldn’t be played in Roscommon, as was originally scheduled. As for the football side of things, it was a very positive performance. I was also delighted to see Leitrim win (against Sligo). It’s not that I have anything against Sligo – I love the county – but I do have a soft spot for Leitrim, a county team that faces a perennial battle to form a strong senior squad, hamstrung as it is by a small player base and the ongoing impact of emigration.

However, Roscommon and Leitrim were both upstaged by Longford, who defeated All-Ireland champions Dublin by six points in an O’Byrne Cup semi-final in Pearse Park. Sure, it’s not the championship and it’s not summer, but that Longford win is already one of the beautiful sporting moments of 2016.

I can just imagine what the atmosphere was like in Longford as the GAA-mad locals savoured the extraordinary giant-killing act. It may ‘only’ have been the O’Byrne Cup, it may be the January shadow boxing before the all-out combat of summer, but this was a marvellous effort from Longford, sport visiting a sprinkling of its eternal magic on a damp and otherwise undistinguished day in Pearse Park.

Every day

The Oscar nominations are out, and still – sadly – there’s no category for ‘arrogant ministers.’ Lest anyone accuse me of political bias, let me say that, had there been Oscars for Arrogance in the past, I would have given one to Dermot Ahern of Fianna Fail, I would have given a ‘Best Supporting’ one to Noel Dempsey of the same party, and I wouldn’t have argued with a ‘Life Achievement’ award going to their colleague, Dick Roche.

There were many more in that FF/Greens administration who scored highly when it came to being arrogant. As for being out of touch with the public/living in a world of their own, that crowd were world-beaters.

When it comes to Enda’s current crew – who will shortly be doing their ‘Greatest Hits’ tour on the airwaves and at selected venues (exciting!) – you have to say that, for a collection of politicians who had been power-starved for years, they fairly hit the ground running. I mean, when it comes to arrogance, who can ever forget Phil Hogan at his glorious peak?

I can only presume, from observing his general disposition, that when Pat Rabbitte woke up in the mornings, servants danced before him. I will remind readers too of Alan Shatter and Brendan Howlin, men with egos that could be donated to science. And a ‘Highly Commended’ award could surely go to the ultra-smooth Communications Minister Alex White.

Oh well, this sometimes insufferable arrogance must go with the territory, I guess; it certainly possesses many, if not all, of our political ‘masters’ once they get called to Cabinet.

My current favourite is the rapidly-rising Paschal Donohoe, Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, and a politician who is fascinating to watch in full flow. Marvel as this man displays his incredible self-assurance and feel suitably guilty as he gently but firmly explains what should have been obvious to us from the beginning: that Paschal is always right.

On a serious note, I think we should abandon the General Election for now and experiment with Minister Paschal Donohoe running the country on his own for a fortnight. With the very earnest Simon Harris answering the phone for him.

Saturday & Tuesday

It’s not like we’re always dining out or anything, it just happens that we had two such experiences in recent days – and I am happy to give readers ‘food for thought’ or, more accurately, ‘thought for food.’

On Saturday night we were in The Wineport in Glasson with very good friends, and on Tuesday evening we called into the re-opened ‘Moma’ restaurant in Roscommon with our children (also very good friends).

We hadn’t been to The Wineport for a few years. It really is a most stunning setting, a fabulous restaurant overlooking Lough Ree. The meal was excellent, the service was top class and the setting and décor is such breathtaking. Then on Tuesday evening we called into Moma in Roscommon Town.

It’s an Italian restaurant that recently reopened. The food was beautiful, the service was perfection and changes made to the interior of the restaurant work really well too. It was a fabulous experience.

It’s great to see restaurants, as it is with all businesses, surviving in these challenging times. I wish the new management the very best.

Hands off our IRISH Talent!

Saoirse Ronan is one of our own, and a talented one at that…so back off Britain!

The wonderful Ms. Brenda Fricker, a talented and much-respected Irish actress, a lovely lady and an animal lover who helped me out when I worked in animal welfare in Dublin, giving generously of her time at a major awareness and fund-raising event I organised, once famously remarked during an interview…in a jocular manner I have to say, “When you’re lying drunk at the airport, the papers say you’re Irish. When you win an Oscar, they claim you’re British.”

  And so, when your columnist, a proud Irish woman, heard those scandalous and treacherous words…“We can take her as one of our own,” declared by Sky journo Richard Suchet earlier this week as he name-checked IRISH actress Saoirse Ronan (who already has a Golden Globe nomination under her belt), during an announcement where the BAFTA candidates were nominated for ‘Leading Actress’ in a film, of whom this fair and talented cailín is one; I angrily spun in circles round the sitting room like a very confused one-legged river dancer.

  Er, no I think you’ll find that you absolutely won’t, because Saoirse is NOT British, she is IRISH!

  This claim has become an all too frequent ‘mistake’ by some factions of the British media who continue to claim our Irish talent to be ‘one of their own.’ However, missing the enormous opportunity to apologise and then shut the hell up and go away, even when our national broadcaster RTE rowed in on the debacle by saying ‘@SkyNews you can’t be claiming our #SaoirseRonan as a British actress #Brooklyn #BAFTAS;’ Sky’s Suchet, who was now about to fall off Mount Ego and drop into a massive puddle of his own smugness, while the conversation continued and he agreed that yes, Ms. Ronan is indeed Irish, then disgracefully came back like a petulant two year old with ‘@RTE_TEN of course she is. But many Brits will see her as one of their own. It’s a consequence of geography. A compliment I’d say.’ A compliment???  Cheeky fecker!

  Do some British hacks and journos feel their country lacks a local, home grown, pool of raw talent they need to claim ours as their ‘own’ or is it just a case of there are two types of people in this world…those who are Irish and those who really, really, really, wanna be Irish and does Suchet fall into the latter category?

  Look, to be perfectly technical here, Saoirse (meaning Freedom, and, depending on what region of Ireland you come from is pronounced either Sir-shuh, Sear-sha, or as the lady herself helpfully displayed on a sandwich board sign she wore whilst appearing on the Ellen DeGeneres show Sur-Sha) is a beautiful name whose pronunciation has been massacred across the world, was in fact born in New York to Dublin parents (for the purpose of educating Mr. Suchet, Dublin is in Ireland), and, as mammy and daddy Ronan returned to Ireland (again not Britain), when Saoirse was but a toddler, she was raised in Dublin and Carlow, (again, Ireland, not Britain).  

  Ah yes readers, it seems everyone wants a piece of the Irish action, sure wasn’t it only last month that the London Critics’ Circle was forced to make a hasty change to their film nominations following their claims that Saoirse, Michael Fassbender and Colin Farrell were all ‘British.’ Now ok, technically folks, Fassbender is half-German; he was also born there and his mammy is from Antrim but he’s grown up in Killarney, which is in Kerry and his accent is distinctively Irish so he’s ours Mr. Suchet…ya hear me, OURS!!!

  In addition, it was only a mere short while ago the BBC outrageously jumped on Dubliner Conor McGregor’s bandwagon when a report stated that ‘McGregor, 26, won in Las Vegas to become the first UFC champion from the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland,” And there’s more evidence, when, back during the 2012 Olympics, the Daily Telegraph asked the question: “Can anyone beat Britain’s Katie Taylor, the most technically proficient attacking boxer in the world?” Now I have to say the Daily Telegraph, upon being taken to task by annoyed Irish fans, did graciously apologise for their faux pas but still, I have to ask doesn’t anybody school the Brits in the clear difference that is the geographical border between Ireland and the UK? Seriously lads, where can I send the map?

  Look, at the risk of repeating myself this week, but for the benefit of Mr. Suchet, this year we, the proud and patriotic Irish, celebrate the centenary of our Rising; yes, you remember that tedious little Rebellion that took place back in 1916 when you chappies were bogged down fighting in Europe? You promised us Home Rule but had to put it on hold due to the outbreak of WW1. Ah yes, now the penny drops. Well Richard…or may I call you Dick? After all, according to you we’re all cosily, warmly, er, related; despite the fact we both love Sir Terry Wogan, (who is an Irish TV and radio broadcaster, but who has, I’ll give you, worked and lived most of his life in the UK), we divorced you a long, long time ago yet you’re still making out that we’re an item! We’re not; get over it!

  Now don’t get me wrong here, not all British people like to lay claim to Irish talent and success stories as their own, it’s just the odd few…Mr Suchet (Dick), being one of them; and I really do like our UK neighbours and have huge respect for them, they’re genuinely good and nice people. In fact I’m very much in love with one particular Brit, I also have many wonderful British friends, some of whom I have made right here in Roscommon; so please don’t think I’m being critical of all UK citizens living in our fair and green land or living across the globe or indeed in the their own country, because I’m not. You’re fabulous people. A great nation.

  I just hate it when Irish citizens appear to be summoned (by a few), to the Union Jack when indeed it’s the sole right of Ireland alone, our nation, our country, to summon her men and women to the Tricolour, which, by the way, (and here’s a little history lesson for ya Dick), was first publicly flown in Waterford City in March of 1848 by the then leader of The Young Irelanders, Thomas Francis Meagher.

  So please, for the love of God and St. Patrick and all the generations of proud Irish men and Irish women; celebrity, military, civilian or otherwise, while we know the British media likes to be all inclusive, I would request that they stop showing their ignorance, do their research and kindly desist from stapling their Union Jack to our people!

  I’m sure Mr. Suchet thinks it’s quite flattering and we thank him most sincerely for his kind interest in us, go raibh maith agat Dick, but, how can I say this with a stiff upper lip…back off will ya!

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