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Festival fever strikes again in Ballygar and Castlerea

There has always been something special about the August Bank Holiday Weekend, and indeed the entire month of August, and if you were to meet my long suffering wife, Carol, she would tell you that I usually go a little bit mad, and I suppose it probably traces back to my very young days when the annual carnival in Creggs used to start on the 15th August.

Our carnival would last for a fortnight, which would be unheard of nowadays, and while the carnivals have all faded away over the years, it’s remarkable to tell you that our neighbours up in Ballygar are still going strong, and as I write this on the Bank Holiday Monday (wonder if that’s double time) I’m delighted to say that after 70 years it’s still packing them in, and drawing absolutely huge crowds to the East Galway Town.

However, on the other side of us, Castlerea, too, have their Annual Rose Festival over the weekend, and, so, on Thursday night I decided to take a trip down to see what was going on and listen to the open air music being provided by Declan Nerney and his band.

Now, as you know by now, I am one of the great jivers in this vicinity, and could have been the Champion at the Harvest Festival in Creggs in 2011 (actually I think that might have been The Waltzing Competition) if I hadn’t fallen as I did a doing a particularly difficult manoeuvre, but I’m told that when it comes to dancing the Nerney Band is out on it’s own.

I have to admit that I wasn’t fully prepared for the crowds in Castlerea that night, as no matter where I looked there were cars parked everywhere and, along with the huge crowds at the Declan Nerney Show, the amusements, in Patrick Street, were absolutely buzzing.

We stayed until the rain came, sometime around 10 o’clock, and on the way home paid a visit to the beautiful bar that you will find in Tommy Dowd’s in Glinsk, where everyone was looking forward to the Slave Auction which was due to take place on Sunday night.

Apparently every member of the Glinsk Football panel were being auctioned off, all thirty of them, and whatever lucky ladies bought them (I suppose fellows could bid as well) would have their services for whatever task might be put to them, for a whole day to be taken any time in the next 12 months.

It was all as a fundraiser, and I have to say it sounded like great craic, and, as with everything that happens in Glinsk, I’m certain there would have been a great crowd to support it last night, and I look forward to finding out who bought who!

Meanwhile in Mikeen’s

Anyway onto Sunday night in Mikeen’s (I was unable to get to Sean Connaughton’s 60th Birthday party on Saturday night, but I’m told there was such a large attendance they certainly didn’t miss me, but, happy birthday and congrats to Sean), and PJ Davis was playing to a very happy and enthusiastic audience when the chat turned to the remarkable resilience of the Irish People.

The reason of course, was the totally abysmal summer that we are getting, with almost constant rainfall, and yet, as one of our group pointed out, people are going around with smiles on their faces and showing no sign of any gloom, or misery.

Again we talked of all the festivals that so many hard working committees were putting on, all over the region, and how it would be half reasonable to hope for some good weather at this time of year, and you would almost think that due to the terrible weather, they would all be suffering badly.

Thankfully that doesn’t seem to be the case, and I met a few hardy mountain folk who told me that, rain of nor rain, last Sunday was the best day they have ever had at the Donamon Open Day – I was delighted to hear it, and it show that when we the Irish want to have a good time nothing will stop us.

Festival Fever

And so it’s now Bank Holiday Monday, and I’ve just come home from The Fair Day in Ballygar, and no words of mine will do justice to the incredible crowds, atmosphere, and sheer enjoyment on the closed off Main Street – there were all kinds of stalls, lads on stilts, a pig being roasted on the spit, Cara Ceol were playing live on the open air stage, asses, ponies and horses all over the place and I have to say it was just magic.

I couldn’t try to figure out how many people were there, but I’d say it was thousands, and the craic was ninety – sadly duty called and I had to go home to write this piece (you are probably saying it’s a pity he didn’t stay) and so I missed out on having a piece of the gorgeous looking pig!

Maybe next year. Anyway, thank God (not the weather one) Ballygar, Castlerea and I’m sure Loughglynn have proved once again, that nothing will stop us from having a party, and long may it last.

Rough Justice

Changing subjects entirely, and sometimes we read or hear of an incident that would literally sicken us to the pits of our stomachs.

Such an incident occurred last week when we read of the actions of a certain Liam Dowling, who killed his daughter’s Jack Russell dog,by swinging it overhead with it’s lead and repeatedly, (up to 30 times) smashing it’s body into the ground.

Now I don’t deny that when I heard of Dowling’s act, and that then he avoided jail, when Judge Martin Nolan said he would make him do 200 hours of Community Service in lieu of a two year sentence, I was totally amazed and disgusted, and, yet having seen an interview with him, I now believe that he was out of his mind with drugs at the time and he is genuinely remorseful and ashamed at what he did to a poor defenceless dog.

And of course that leads us to a debate on whether such an occurrence should be allowed to make us part of the defence, as time after time in assault or murder cases we are told that the perpetrator has no recollection of anything due to too much alcohol, or drugs or even a cocktail of both.

Obviously I have no real knowledge of the law, but it does lead one to believe that in a lot of cases, people get away with lesser sentences because they claim to be “out of their minds” – is it an easy cop out or is it a genuine situation!

I don’t know but as the proud minder of a young Jack Russell called “Hope”, I can’t think of a more lovable or loving breed of dog, and it’s awful to think of the terrible death Liam Dowling’s pet dog suffered.

Finally…

Finally for this week those of us who grew up with the pop music of the sixties, were very much saddened by the death yesterday of Cilla Black- she was a Liverpool lass, who graduated to a TV star from her pop career, and she was one of the best loved and most popular TV presenters for more than three decades – she will be missed.

Till next week. Bye for now.

Why does my dog bark? It’s simple, he has something to say to you!

Our animal-loving columnist offers some expert and simple-to-follow advice to readers – at least to those who are dog-owners – on how to deal with their pets’ noisy behaviour....

It never ceases to amaze me the amount of queries I receive concerning nuisance dog barking.  People even stop me on the side of the road to ask “Why does my dog bark?” The answer I give them is straight forward; your dog barks because barking is his way of communicating with you!

  Dogs don’t bark to annoy you or to spite you or just because they can…although it may often appear that way if it’s driving your poor neighbours insane! I decided to write about this matter due to the recently reported case of a dog in Strokestown who is now, sadly, the subject of a court order following complaints  of ‘excessive barking,’ by neighbours who must surely be at the end of their tether. And, as this is being dealt with in a legal capacity, I will not comment on it further, but I will try to give readers who are dog owners a little bit of advice regarding their pets’ noisy behaviour.

  First of all there are different types of barking, and you, as a responsible pet parent really need to familiarise yourself with them.

  The Alert Bark: This is the normal, expected barking to alert you there’s an intruder in the house, or the kitchen is on fire or the baby has fallen out of the cot.  It’s perfectly natural for your dog to bark if he senses there’s a threat to his family or to his territory. This is usually a loud, sharp bark and if you hone in on his natural, nurturing canine instinct with proper training you can help your dog protect your home and your family.

  Barking at other dogs: A dog down the road or across the field suddenly barks and before you know it your own pet, along with every other dog within earshot is involved in a dawn chorus. Very annoying for you and your poor neighbours.

  Playful, excited barking: This is more common in puppies who bark when playing. My own dogs bark excitedly when they know a car trip and a walk is imminent. This type of bark normally sounds upbeat and is totally different to the one your dog uses to alert you to danger.

  Then there’s the biggie: The behavioural problem or as I call it, the nuisance bark: This usually signals boredom, loneliness or miscommunication between owner and pet. If this type of barking is a problem, you need to recognise the triggers and you need to eliminate them by considering the following: When does it occur? Is my dog left alone for long periods of time? Is he getting enough exercise? Is he in pain? Is he hungry? Is he anxious about something he hears or sees? (Neighbour has a new lawn mower and the noise is scaring him; neighbour’s child is tormenting him); as was the case with one of my dogs when I lived in Dublin where the teenager next door continuously threw stones at my dog. I investigated it, identified the problem and following a strongly worded conversation between me and the brattish teen; calm was once more restored.

  However sometimes it’s a bit more difficult and in order to address nuisance barking, you, as the pet parent will require plenty of patience and I would suggest you invest in some training for both you and your pet with a specialist dog trainer. This will help you understand his ‘doggy’ language, so you can correctly ascertain why he is barking and at the same time express what it is you, as his pack leader, wishes to communicate back to him.

  Modern training techniques are based upon the dog receiving a reward for the desired action. My dogs are my family and are all trained and socialised but we have only achieved this by showing them patience, love and respect and by giving them rewards and by never, ever hitting them.

  So, for example, if your desired action is “stop barking,” gently; and I stress gently,  hold your dog’s muzzle or squirt him, again very gently, with a child’s toy water gun filled only with clean water; (do NOT hurt your dog). This gentle squirting action will momentarily distract him and hopefully make him stop barking.  When he stops, use the command “quiet.” Immediately after saying “quiet,” if your dog remains silent, reward him and walk away. When he starts barking again, repeat the process. Eventually he will learn to associate “quiet,” with a meaty reward.  Because he’s smart, your dog will stop barking without the need for the water gun and only the use of the word “quiet,” will be a sufficient command. It may sound easy enough but believe me, it will not happen overnight so be patient and remember it is up to you to determine the cause of your dog’s excessive barking and as a responsible pet parent you need to do your utmost to remove any potential reasons so that you can keep his behaviour under effective control. In addition, it will help your dog if you give him better things to do to prevent and distract him from nuisance barking so that everyone, including your adored pet can live happily and in peace and harmony.

  While I’m on a roll, here are some of the things you should never, ever do when it comes to parenting a dog:

  Never: Comfort, feed or pet your dog when he barks for attention or out of anxiety; this is simply rewarding his behaviour.

  Never: Shout! This will cause him to bark more and louder. Never: Allow your dog to bark constantly outside regardless of the reason – this is the best way to make enemies of your neighbours.

  Never: Use a shock collar to control barking; they are inhumane and painful for your dog. Never: Allow your dog to become lonely or bored and never leave him to his own devices for long periods of time.

  So it’s up to you; develop that ‘barking ear,’ and find out exactly what your dog is saying when he woofs, howls and growls.  And yes, it requires a lot of time and patience but it’s well worth it because if you train mans’ (and woman’s) best friend properly then you’re embarking on a lifetime’s investment for you and your pet.

  However, I am not a vet and my tips are intended to simply help and inform my lovely readers and should never be used in place of professional veterinary advice. If you have concerns regarding your pets, please call your vet immediately.

 

Paul Healy's Week

Every day

People say ‘any news?’ and you kind of instinctively say ‘no, nothing new’ or ‘not a thing.’ But there is news if you think about it.

For a start, there’s lime in our water, and I haven’t ordered lime (okay, it’s a different lime) since I used to combine it with Harp back in the late 1980s.

So, my starting position is that I don’t want lime (or silt) in anything. But here we are, in 21st Century Roscommon, with the unpleasant reality of lime in our water at a time when countless millions of euro are being approved for water services in the county and ‘boil water’ notices are being lifted – amidst scenes of joy and jubilation (in Irish Water and the offices of Government backbenchers and spin doctors).

Actually, according to the always-reliable Roscommon People, ‘water problems’ are back with a bit of a vengeance.

We’ve noticed lime in our water, but so too have many other householders, in Roscommon, Castlerea and adjoining areas. And some complaints have emerged from South Roscommon too, where a ‘boil water’ notice was recently lifted.

Given that commitments (and funds) have been provided by Minister Alan Kelly/Irish Water, I suppose we should remain patient on this saga for a little longer.

But not for much longer, because the very least we should expect at a time when we are seeing the introduction of water charges is that we have a water supply of the highest standard.

As for ‘other news,’ well, what is the story with the broadband service? It too is very poor of late; frustratingly slow and basically inadequate.

As for the mobile phone signal in Kilteevan (where we live), it’s moodier than Basil Fawlty in his heyday.

What to do about it all? Well, I could ring in to complain about the mobile phone service. This will involve me wandering around the garden (no reliable signal in the house) in the summer rain as I am put on hold and told that my call is very important – much to look forward to there.

As for the water, we’ll wait and see.

Actually a nice man did call to our house two weeks ago in his role as a sub-contractor for a sub-contractor of Irish Water.

He was quick to point out that he wouldn’t be doing any installing of meters; he was a freelancer whose job it is to detect our water point.

Turns out he could talk for Ireland. He was happy to stay a long time (we made him a cup of coffee with our less-than-perfect water).

So we sat back for a long chat, water source detection man and I. We didn’t resolve Roscommon’s water woes but we made a fair bit of progress in discussing this year’s All-Ireland Football Championship.

He couldn’t understand what went wrong with Roscommon/is unsure about Donegal/wouldn’t write off Kerry or Mayo but thinks the Dubs are the team to beat.

As for the home computer or whatever they’re called these days, I know grindingly slow broadband isn’t really his area of expertise, but the next time that Indian chap phones us to urgently advise that there’s something wrong with our computer, I might fill him in on the broadband, the mobile phone signal and the water.

And maybe find out who his tip is to win the All-Ireland.

Virtually every day

We need to have a debate about the weather. We never seem to talk about it in this country!

Maybe we should have a weather inquiry, because the banking inquiry will yield nothing. I suggest a weather inquiry, where we call various key ‘witnesses,’ including the prone-to-being-smug Evelyn Cusack and the prone-to-being-incredibly-irritating Martin King.

We could also summon in the amateur forecasters from Donegal, Australia, etc. plus a few folk from Met Eireann and the odd farmer or two. And call Enda and Micheal and Joan and Gerry in too, just to annoy them.

It must be the wettest July in living memory. We’ve a Spanish student staying with us (a very nice young girl who it was a pleasure to host) and almost everything she’s seen of the Emerald Isle has been through a wall of water.

We’ve almost taken to wallpapering the rooms with images of sunshine. It’s embarrassing, this dreadful wet July, but we are assured that ‘Spanish students’ and visitors to Ireland in general don’t expect good weather and aren’t concerned about the rain.

As for the rest of us, who aren’t visitors or Spanish students, we’re sick and tired of this wretched summer. We feel cheated, with no barbeques on long sun-drenched evenings, no scorching days at the races and hardly a chance to cut the grass.

I felt sorry for the organisers of local festivals (and the Family Open Day in Donamon) as I watched the rain fall relentlessly on Sunday.

Still, if the Rooskey Heritage Festival (see coverage on pages 28-29) is anything to go by, people defied the elements and came out in large numbers to support their local communities.

We brought our Spanish student to the festival and boat rally in Rooskey on Sunday so that she could see a bit more water before she goes back.

Bureacracy frustating businesses – and a ‘dead cheap’ bargain

In last week’s piece I talked about the programme that was recently shown on telly about the old traditional pubs still left in Ireland, and I suppose the overwhelming feeling was that we were lucky to still have them, and that it would be in everyone’s interest to keep them open.

Most of those featured were family-owned, and in many cases had been handed down from generation to generation, and while there is no doubt that times have been tough for all businesses, they were still open and carrying on the very important pub tradition in their respective areas.

And so the inescapable conclusion is that after suffering so badly for the last number of years in all areas of retail, and as we now are told recovery is on the way, you would think that everyone in authority would do their best to help and support long-suffering businesses.

Then I heard a lady on the radio from Waterford City who runs a business which has been 50 years in existence, Dunphy’s Shop & Hardware, and she told a tale of bureaucracy and political correctness that you would find hard to believe.

Dunphy’s have a big open yard frontage where people can drive in, pick up a bale of briquettes, or a bag of coal, or just park while they were inside in the shop getting their bits and pieces, and that particular area was invaluable to their business.

Now the Town Council have slapped a compulsory purchase order on the yard because they are setting up a new cycle lane for the many people who have now taken up the sport of cycling.

Now I’m not like George Hook, who makes no secret of his contempt for cyclists, and all they stand for, but I feel sure that the council could bring their cycle lane elsewhere.

The lady from Dunphy’s was in no doubt that the loss of their parking area will have such an adverse effect on their trade that sooner rather than later their 50-year-old business will be forced to close with the loss of several jobs.

She said they are now competing with all the multi-nationals like Aldi, Lidl, Tesco, Dunnes and SuperValu, and even though all those (and more) have opened in the last 15 or twenty years, Dunphy’s have had to adapt and are still ‘going strong.’

How sad and ironic, if, after all that and the recession as well, it was the action of their own City Council that was instrumental in bringing them down.

Let’s hope sanity and reason will prevail and there will be somewhere else found for all the budding Sean Kellys and Stephen Roches to enjoy their ever-increasing (in popularity) sport, but it can’t be at the cost of losing a local institution.

Unusual sale

Sticking with the sunny south-east, but moving sideways to Co. Wexford and website Donedeal has an unusual item for sale where a Lovely Oak Coffin, with one careful owner from new, is on offer for the paltry sum of €99.

There are one or two scrapes (so the owner mustn’t have been that careful) – the casket is very comfortable, although when the seller tried it out he said his legs were sticking out, which would appear to be a bit of a problem, but as he said it’s Dead Cheap, and it’s looking for a good home.

I’d say it’s a bargain, but somehow, I can’t see a huge rush to buy it! I know we’ll all need one some day, but knowing your coffin is waiting out in the shed for you wouldn’t be that good for your mental health.

Many years ago a coffin magically appeared on the roadside near Creggs – investigations confirmed that it had been ‘borrowed’ from Chrissie Kilby’s and left on the road for a ‘good one’!

Could it be that it has once again come to life and is now back on the market in Wexford? Anyway I’ll keep an eye on the sale and see how it goes!

Magical May

Changing to a less morbid subject and one of the national pastimes is to give out about home-produced television programmes, especially comedy and light entertainment ones, and, in truth, a lot of the times they do leave a lot to be desired.

Last night, Friday, I tuned into Imelda May’s new TV show on RTE and I have to say I thought it was just fantastic – I think she herself is an amazing artiste but the line-up she had on last night, musically, was absolutely top class…the Hothouse Flowers, The Lost Brothers and some band with apes in the name, were all excellent, but my new musical heroes, Kodaline, stole the show.

I’m so sad I missed them in Galway last weekend, and have said I’ll catch them the next time, but sadly I’ve been told that old grey-haired men who remember The Stones, The Beatles, Manfred Man, The Shadows, Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich (not many remember them), and all the greats of the sixties, should stay at home and listen to their vinyl LPs.

Be that as it may (no pun intended) but Imelda put on such a good show that I’m looking forward eagerly to the rest of the series – the good start will make it difficult to keep up such a high standard, but here’s hoping for a few weeks top quality entertainment on Friday nights.

Yesterday, Sunday, I had to miss the Open Day in Donamon due as they say to unavoidable circumstances, but as I drove towards Galway City at around mid-day I couldn’t but reflect on the various festival committees in our area and how they must be looking in horror at the ongoing downpour.

Now I have no idea whether the bad day affected any of the attendances at the Heritage Festivals in Ballintubber and Rooskey, the Pattern Festival in Brideswell, the Environmental one in Lanesboro, the Vintage Day in Mountbellew, or the Open Day in Donamon, and I hope that it didn’t, but it’s sad to think that on the last weekend in July we can’t rely on having any summer weather.

I had met Fr. Pat Hogan on Friday evening and he told me all was set for the Big Day, but he was hoping the weather God might look down favourably on Sunday – sadly he didn’t, but there’s always next year.

And finally…

Finally for this week, I have told you in the last few years of Gortnadieve native Delia Hegarty, as she celebrated her 100th, 101st and 102nd birthdays – sadly she wasn’t to make 103.

At the weekend she passed to her eternal regard. She was a truly remarkable woman, and my heartfelt condolences to her family and friends. May she rest in peace.

‘Till next week,

Bye for now

The perils of sharing too much online!

I’d imagine private investigators and family law solicitors across Ireland will probably be rubbing their hands with glee as they gear up for lots of new clients…whose other halves have been indulging in late-night emails and ‘phone calls or are doing a spectacular amount of overtime with no evidence of financial remuneration showing in the joint bank account…

Well folks, the ‘tsk, tsk, nudge, nudge, wink, wink’ gossip brigade was left salivating last week following revelations that the world has a new breed of cheater and he/she is a user of Ashley Madison, the website that boasts it has over 38,015,000 members, (over 40,000 of which are reputed to be Irish) whom they very helpfully assisted to cheat on their partners! However, last week this Ashley Madison site, whose disgraceful tagline is ‘Life is short. Have an affair’ was sensationally hacked, putting thousands of its married members’ personal information at risk with details of profiles, names, addresses, credit card data, nudie piccies and secret sexual fantasies out into the public domain.

 

  In short, the dirty, rotten, lying, deceitful, two-timing cheaters have been outed, rendering the ‘dating’ site’s PR people to immediately morph into damage control mode assuring their scared sxxtless clients that they were taking “every possible step toward mitigating the attack." Oops, too little too late I’d say.

  Now, bear with me, and I’m not judging here; no, really I’m not, but I kinda see a trend; don’t you? I mean, desperate situations often need desperate measures and if someone, let’s just suggest a middle-aged, paunchy and bored husband; one whose pacemaker makes the microwave ping every time he sees yer wan down at No. 3 doing the gardening in a sexy apron and Marigold gloves, wishes to indulge in, ahem, let’s say, a colourful, so-called designer sex life by enjoying kinky seven-hour Tantric sex marathon sessions with slappers who use their immovable parts as bait; well then that’s the emotionally-stunted cheater’s business. And, for the record, most busy wives, me included, can’t even manage to summon up the energy to sleep for seven hours, never mind indulge in other more strenuous activities, but I digress. However, last week, thanks to the unlawful, disgraceful work of ‘cyber terrorists,’ cheaters of the world have been hacked and outed and I’d imagine private investigators and family law solicitors across Ireland will probably be rubbing their hands with glee as they gear up for lots of new clients with suspicious and worried wives, whose other halves have been indulging in late-night emails and ‘phone calls or are doing a spectacular amount of overtime with no evidence of financial remuneration showing in the joint bank account suddenly seeking their expertise.

  You see readers, when you think about it, these weasels have stupidly joined Ashley Madison; (and other similar sites); have gone ahead and given their personal details and credit card info because they’ve actually sat for hours, days even, and contemplated having a bit on the side. They’re not the sorry sods who’ve mistakenly indulged in a drunken, impulsive, highly regrettable and shameful one-nighter – which I do NOT condone, nor would I ever forgive, by the way – and I have to say, even though they have now been illegally hacked and are in an impossible situation, I find my sympathy is non-existent. You see, in trying to have their cake and eat it, I feel these men don’t have the liathróidí or the integrity to face the fact that there is clearly a problem with their ‘real life’ relationships and they have failed to do the manly thing, which is address it and try, with all of their might, to fix it.

  As I write, I can only imagine the bombshell and impact these revelations are now going to have on those thousands of once-happy, once-ignorant Irish families whose entire lives will now be thrown into a cataclysmic crisis due to someone’s selfish infidelity and all because he/she could hear the loud ticking of their biological clock igniting their insatiable urge to indulge in a higher form of sexual experience rather than simply stopping off at the supermarket for a bunch of flowers, buying a bottle of wine, booking an intimate dinner or even sending a saucy text, which by the way I’d bet would have gone a long way towards getting them lucky with a late-night grope or three from a very tired, but I’d imagine, grateful wife when the dog’s been fed and the kiddies have been packed off to bed.

  But no, ya couldn’t do the simple thing could ya? Ya wanted to be in da zone, and now your decision to act out your sexual fantasies outside of your marriage has led to your membership of what is essentially a high class brothel, and is now threatening to destroy your family’s entire world.

  Look lads, while I am truly sorry for your situation, and even more so for your families’ devastation, and while I am extremely concerned regarding the blatant, illegal invasion of privacy, which is unacceptable and very worrying, I have to try and open up your horny eyes and enlighten you. The fact is, these online temptresses may have a cutesy pie figure now, but you listen to me when I say, the Roman Empire fell and so will her boobs and tight little butt cheeks, d’ya’ hear me, and then what’ll ya do? Expect your loving wife, the mother of your kids, the woman with real curves, ones so defined and comfy you could probably sit on them, to take your sniveling, cheating ass back? Well little man…will ya?

 

Shell-shocked Sligo – and an ‘electric shock’ for my ‘ticker’

It’s Friday morning last, and at the unearthly hour of 6.45 am I am boarding Tommy Forde’s bus in Ballyhard, near Glenamaddy, and heading for the University Hospital in Galway, where the good people in the cardiac unit are going to give me another electric shock to get my old ticker back on its right track.

I’m a great fan of public transport (maybe public transport only applies to state companies, I’m not sure) and in little more than an hour Tommy had me safely deposited outside the hospital door, and ready for my minor procedure, and I have to say it’s the only way to travel.

No hassle, no delays as you tip along the bus lanes, pitying the poor drivers who were already stuck in the Claregalway traffic jams, although Tommy told me that nowadays, Friday mornings are by far the best ones to be going to Galway on.

Apparently, a lot of factories and businesses (I’d love to work in one of them) only work the four days, Monday to Thursday, and as a result many employees don’t have to report for duty at all on Fridays.

Anyway, down to the cardiac unit, and even though it was just after 8 am, it was in full flow.

While I waited for my turn, there were four people called for angiograms, until I heard my name called at exactly 8.30 am, which was my actual appointment time.

I had great craic with the two nurses who were taxed with the duty of getting me ready for the shock treatment, although, as usual, I didn’t want to give them any blood!

For some reason I always seem to want to keep all my own blood, and it can be quite difficult to get any of the red stuff out of me.

Eventually I must have had everything in place, because the last thing I remember is a young lady cardiologist telling me she was going to give me an injection, which would send me off to sleep.

It must have worked immediately, as the next thing I remember was waking up a few hours later to be told that all was well, and my ticker was now beating normally again.

On then to Sunday morning and I headed into Roscommon, some time around one o’clock, without realising that, as it was Connacht Final Day, the town might just be a little busy.

Even at that stage the place was buzzing. Every supermarket carpark was full to the lugs, and it seemed to me that everyone from Sligo must have been in Roscommon – I of course forgot that the two Sligo teams, minor and senior, were in action, and as that hadn’t happened for many, many years on Connacht Final Day, it was no wonder that the entire Yeats County population had come across the Curlews.

Driving up the town it was great to see the huge crowds having a few drinks outside the town centre pubs, and it was uplifting to see and feel the wonderful atmosphere that was building up.

The Sligo support was bright and cheerful, and while not necessarily confident, they were certainly hopeful and in very good spirits.

Fast-forward to a few hours later, and those same supporters must have gone home shell-shocked, confused and utterly demoralised, and in common with most sports lovers, I was genuinely sorry for the Sligo players, management and followers – it was a painful experience for them at the hands and feet of a very good Mayo team, and it will take a great amount of willpower and commitment to have them ready to face Micky Harte’s Tyrone in a week or two.

Before I leave the footballing world, as a Galway man it’s nice to see the wearers of the maroon and white still in the mix, but it’s sort of sad that in order to be competitive, they have had to buy into the modern ultra-defensive style.

As someone who grew up with the great team of the 1960s, and indeed, later admired the wonderful attacking skills of Paraic Joyce, Michael Donnellan, Ja Fallon and Derek Savage – amongst others – it’s hard to see the way the game has changed and has now almost become a game of chess, and how teams now play sideways and backwards just to keep possession.

However that’s the way it is, and I suppose if we could beat Donegal, Kevin Walsh’s first year in charge would be a relative success.

The Irish Pub

Changing subjects entirely, and last Monday night there was a really nice programme on the telly called

The Irish Pub, which featured a number of old traditional pubs, which were largely unchanged through the years, and which yet again showed us all how important a part the local pub plays in particularly rural communities.

Among the pubs shown was Simon Coyle’s in Four Roads, and I’m sure his appearance on the programme will do his business no harm at all, and the lasting impression I had from the 90-minute show was that I would like to pay a visit to every one of the featured pubs – they all oozed character, had their own character, and were what a local pub should be.

I doubt if I’ll get around to them all, but it was great to see that we, as a nation, still have an abundance of our traditional, famous Irish pubs, and even in these tough times they are all still holding their own.

Bertie & Brian

Talking of holding their own, although most of us wouldn’t agree with them, I have to admit that I was impressed with the demeanour of both ex-Taoisigh Brian Cowen and Bertie Ahern at the recent banking enquiry.

Each of them were unfazed by the experience, and neither was prepared to give an inch, and, like them or hate them, neither one was going to admit any wrongdoing or accept they had anything to do with the crash in our country’s economy.

I suppose all politicians must have thick skin, and to get to Taoiseach you probably need the thickest skin of all, and it seems to me those two boys got it in abundance, so, maybe it’s not so surprising that it was impossible to derail them.

And finally…

Finally, for this week, don’t forget the big Open Day in Donamon this coming Sunday! I told you all about it last week! It kicks off with Mass at 12.30 pm and there will be every kind of entertainment taking place for the following five or six hours.

I’ll see you all there, and look out for The Curny Bun Stall – can’t wait.

‘Till next week, Bye for now

Oh I think we have found ourselves a Cheerleader…NOT!

Attention-seeking celebrities with disgusting habits should perhaps think of the day when their suitably mortified children get to the stage where they want to ‘google’ their mammy…

It’s rare you’d see me watching daytime telly; after all, as I did work on it for so long you’d imagine I wouldn’t miss an opportunity to tune in every now and then. But, you see, productions like The Jeremy Kyle Show (insert yawn) whose audience somehow manage to come across as thinking their presenter, who freely admits he’s probably “the most hated man in the UK,” is one smart cookie when in fact his entire performance often gives the impression he’s a self-serving self-publicist with an insatiable appetite for power as he smugly tries to do what all the shrinks and ASBOs in the UK couldn’t… attempt to reform Britain’s expanding army of social sadists who believe they’ve still got it but sadly nobody wants it, into cleaning up their act. Not exactly TV’s most complex and compelling show now is it; however I suspect that Kyle is possibly a very nice man in private.

 

  Then we have Loose Women, a panel show often comprised of a gaggle of cackling, nasty has-beens, who, instead of supporting and empowering the sisterhood, usually end up managing to attack it! Remember Judy Finnigan’s incendiary comments regarding the conviction of disgraced footballer Ched Evans for the rape of a 19-year-old woman saying the rape was “unpleasant,” but “not violent,” adding “he didn’t cause bodily harm.” Of the victim, snoozy, sorry Judy, disgracefully comments, that “she’d had far too much to drink.” OMG!!!

  However, there is one bright, well brightish, light at the end of the TV tunnel and that’s Lorraine Kelly and her ‘Lorraine,’ show; clearly the ‘creative name’ researcher was on leave the day they came up with the title.   Filled with fashion, beauty, health and celebrity guests, ‘Lorraine’ is fun, it’s frivolous, it’s cosy and it’s a show presented by one of TV’s most likeable ladies. I know, I’ve interviewed her myself. So, you can imagine my surprise last week when this inoffensive, veteran presenter was accused of ‘grilling’ and ‘bullying’ former Celebrity Big Brother winner and Geordie Shore ahem, ‘star,’ Charlotte Crosby over her very public bed-wetting antics and on her propensity to pee in her wetsuit (yeuch) when she appeared in ‘Ex on the Beach.’

  Seriously, what did this wannabe, whose entire life and drunken antics have been happily played out for the world to witness, and who was on the ‘Lorraine’ show to flog her ‘really light hearted’ tome ‘ME, ME. ME’ expect? Of course there was going to be some form of backlash; you’re making your living by performing a very intimate, private and personal function, i.e. peeing in public and laughing about it! Dear God love, I can’t even pee if one of the dogs are watching me!

  Look, Lorraine Kelly is one of the nicest, most professional presenters in TV land, so when she was labelled a ‘bully,’ I have to say I laughed so hard my face nearly broke out in a Rave!

  Now first of all, I watched the segment and by my standards, it was hardly high octane drama and it certainly didn’t warrant some of Crosby’s two million Twitter followers going into meltdown. In my opinion it was a fair and balanced interview, and ok, maybe Lorraine came across in a kind of disapproving mammy-like way when she asked Crosby “are you embarrassed?” to which she replied ‘”No”, prompting Lorraine to quite rightly respond with “why not?” It’s a reasonable question because if a healthy 25-year-old, who isn’t experiencing bladder problems or has any other medical reasons that would render her to pee herself on cue every time someone shouts ‘action’ then I feel Lorraine’s line of questioning was highly justified and hardly the type of torture doled out at the Salem Witch Trials.   

  I mean Crosby appeared not to care one iota, nor did she appear to have any sense of shame, in fact, incredibly, she seems to feel  it’s ok, nay, socially acceptable to wet herself in public, telling Lorraine and the viewers  “there’s nothing I wouldn’t do on camera, even giving birth on camera.” How unfortunate. How crass. Mind you, Crosby did concede her mother wasn’t ‘happy’ when she “did it in the house!” Really? I should think not, and I’m glad to see mammy disapproves because if one of my girls displayed such a disgusting and malodorous habit in the name of earning a crust and showed scant regard for personal hygiene, not to mention their self-respect, I’d be screaming at them like a demented hyena.

  In fact Ms Crosby is probably blessed it wasn’t me asking her the questions; now that would have been a ‘grilling’ because as you know readers, I don’t like to mince my words. In fact I would have asked her about that cringe-worthy song she recorded. I won’t publish its name in my column, it’s unpalatable; but it has a line in it that says ‘I’m out on the town, I pull me pants down, this is the highlight of me night.’ Draw your own conclusions; but classy or wha’?

  Now look, while it’s impressive to see how self-sufficient these young reality stars can be, and while Ms Crosby is probably a very nice young woman – personal habits aside – I can’t help but feel that one day her antics will somehow negatively boomerang back on her in later life; say, when the kids arrive and want to ‘google’ their mammy! Ouch!

Keeping the home (bon)fires burning

The first time I took notice of the local tradition of bonfires at weddings, was at my brother Peadar’s wedding to Theresa, which must be close to forty years ago, when I got such a surprise to see one, as I came round a corner a few miles out of Creggs, that I very nearly lost control of my new 12-year-old car and almost drove straight into the massive blaze.

Thankfully I avoided the fire, but, as that was the first wedding I had ever been invited to, I took it for granted that bonfires must be part of the tradition all around the country.

I found out that I had made an incorrect assumption, on the occasion of my own wedding to Carol 35 years ago, in August, when friends who had travelled from different parts of Ireland couldn’t get over the sight of bonfires all over the place – I remember some of them wondering at how dangerous they were and they couldn’t understand how they were allowed at all, but at the same time thought it was a lovely local touch.

My late neighbour in Crosswell Bernadette Keany, who had a little shop just down the road from me, was the woman who kept the bonfire tradition going year in year out in our little village, and hail, rain or snow, Bernie always had her fire lit – occasionally the cavalcade mightn’t be passing our way at all which would disappoint her greatly, but nothing deterred her, and for every local wedding out came The Bernie Bonfire.

Fast-forward to last Friday morning and if you had passed my house from 12.30 onwards you would have seen a strange looking man (me) lovingly tending a fire that, at times, looked like an out of control forest fire but, at other times, looked as if it was on its last legs, as myself and my neighbour, Gibby (Jacinta Hanley) piled on papers, magazines, bits of timber and turf, and even handfuls of wet hay in an effort to keep our bonfire alive.

The occasion was the wedding of our neighbour Julie Keegan to Kilmore man Aidan Brennan, and I have to sadly admit that, after our herculean efforts, by the time the wedding parts passed by, our fire consisted of just a few fading wisps of smoke – it didn’t matter however, we had kept Bernie’s tradition alive, and, for all future weddings I promise to do better.

A quick change after the shower to try and get rid of the smell of smoke, and off with us to the Country Club Hotel in Glasson outside of Athlone. Now I’m working in Athlone for ten of twelve years, but I never realised that such a gem existed and I confess that I was totally amazed at the wonderful facility – the adjoining golf club looked brilliant and the scenery, looking out over the lake, was truly spectacular.

The reception inside was just as good as the outside had suggested it might be, and the almost 300 guests had a superb meal, and yet again, yours truly surpassed himself at the dinner table. I missed out on the wonderful music of The Busy Fingers band, as, sadly I was pencilled in for work on Saturday morning, but according to all reports it was a great night’s craic.

To Aidan and Julie we wish you a long happy and healthy life together, and I’m off to enrol in a bonfire-lighting class.

Open Day at Donamon Castle

Sticking with The Busy Fingers band, and Sean Beirne tells me that the Donamon Castle Open Day is on next Sunday week, 26th July and The Busy Fingers are among the many musical acts, which also includes The Conquerors, The Heebie Jeebies, Patsy McCaul and The Castlerea Brass Band.

The Duggan School of Dancers, who are stars of TG4 and The World of Dancing Championships and who were absolutely fantastic in Donamon last year, are back again, and whatever you do, don’t miss them. The whole thing kicks off with Mass at 12.30 pm.

Castlerea legend Danny Burke is MC and parking and entry is still free – for the children there is face painting, bouncy castle, pony rides, and Bozo the Clown, while you can also see some lamas and eagles.

A big draw, with €1,500 as first prize, will take place on the day. Tickets will be on sale and the very popular book stall will also be open for business, you can go on a guided tour of the castle itself, and for the first time the Inland Fisheries Board will have a display of the fish that can be found in the River Suck. It’s an amazing day’s entertainment with free parking, and free entry, so pencil it in, and I’ll see you all there.

No tie-break for Lewis at Wimbledon

Changing subject slightly, and on today’s papers it’s interesting to see that no matter who you are, if you don’t tog out properly when you are invited to The Royal Box in Wimbledon, you won’t get in.

World champion motor racing driver Lewis Hamilton was among a select group of guests invited to watch the Men’s Singles Final from the exclusive Centre Court area, but, unfortunately he didn’t dress properly for the occasion, and he was simply not let in.

Apparently you have to wear a tie, a jacket and shoes (no mention of trousers but I’d say you should wear a pair of them as well) and our man Lewis didn’t have either a jacket or tie, although he had a hat, and so there was no way in.

I am surprised that a man of his wealth couldn’t have a tie and a jacket delivered fairly quickly, but maybe it wasn’t possible! Anyway it proves that, in Wimbledon, you had better toe the line, which is appropriate enough if you think about it.

And finally…

Finally for this week, it was a good weekend for our local footballers who beat Ballinameen in the Junior Championship in Tulsk on Saturday evening! Also for Galway who went to Armagh and won, and for all those who want John Evans out in Roscommon – I’d say they might just get their way.

‘Til next week,

Bye for now

Drinking alcohol when pregnant…why risk it?

Pregnant women should make their own informed choices – but they need more support, understanding, information and education on this issue

Go anywhere in the world and tell people you’re Irish and they’ll fondly say things like “Aah Mrs Brown” – however, following last week’s staggering revelations that suggest nearly 80 per cent of Irish women expose their unborn babies to alcohol with around 45 per cent actually binge drinking during the first trimester, I imagine the next time I manage to go abroad and introduce myself as being a proud Irish mammy, the thorny subject of consuming alcohol while pregnant may raise its ugly head. 

 

  Now this could be due to a recent study, led by Dr Linda O’Keefe of Cambridge University and published in medical journal BMJ Open, which revealed that Irish mothers-to-be are more likely to drink than their counterparts in the neighbouring UK or far-flung Australia and New Zealand. In fact readers, our little country actually emerged with the highest rates of drinking at 90 per cent prior to getting pregnant and 82 per cent while actually being pregnant.

  Now I don’t know about you, but as someone who has twice given birth, I find these revelations worrying and I have to ask myself why this is happening. You see, while there are both medical and government guidelines designed to advise and educate women regarding the dangers of consuming alcohol during pregnancy, I wonder if they’re clear and concise enough to get the message across? I also wonder if different doctors are taking a somewhat more realistic and personal approach with their individual patients.

  You see, a few weeks ago TV presenter Maia Dunphy, whom I would regard as an intelligent mother-to-be, someone who is in the public domain, someone that women would look up to and someone who is excitingly expecting her first child with her hubby, comedian Johnny Vegas, got rather annoyed when people made comments regarding her taking an alcoholic drink during pregnancy, saying “I’m not taking heroin, I’m having one drink,” adding, “I’m not drinking drinking, but I’m probably having one or two drinks a week, like a glass of wine with Sunday lunch or a beer.” Hmm. Interesting.

  Now this comment took me by surprise because it came from a lady with brains to burn and who presented a documentary on RTE called ‘Merlot and Me,’ where she focused on her own relationship with alcohol and while my first thought was – why risk it love – my second was well now, Maia is not the type of woman to put her child at risk and I’m sure she’s sensibly consulted with her obstetrician. Maia is a responsible woman, who, like me, researches and analyses all of the facts before making a decision.

  Now, while I believe all mothers want to do what is right for their child, please don’t think I’m on an awareness crusade here. That’s Leo Varadkar’s job as Minister for Health and maybe he (and his Department) needs to up their game when it comes to educating women, because it seems they’re getting mixed messages; but, having done my own research (while pregnant), on the worrying effects of alcohol on an unborn, which can include heart defects, poor muscle tone and problems with movements and balance, learning difficulties, problems with thinking and speech, etc., and, despite my doctor at the time saying an odd glass of wine or beer was ok, I decided that if, as an expectant mother I couldn’t, for the sake of my precious unborn’s health, go on the dry and stick to sparkling water or fruit juice for the nine months, then it was utter thoughtlessness on my part.

  But I stress that was me and I abstained because, having also read further literature on the subject, I concluded that perhaps those few beers or glasses of wine may expose my babies to Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) because that aul gargle was going to travel down through my bloodstream and straight into my unborn babies’ tissues and organs, breaking down slowly in their fragile bodies, making their blood alcohol level increase, possibly rendering them harm and leading to lifelong, mild to severe damage. As I said, it was just a ‘risk’ but one I personally wasn’t prepared to take.

  Now I’m not campaigning for sainthood here because I actually do have a dirty little secret and it’s this…now that my child-bearing years are behind me I adore nothing more than winding down with a few drinks; I looovvvee my vodka, I looovvee my Jack Daniels, and, at this stage of my life, I’d imagine my official blood group is probably AB Smirnoff, but I have to stress that during both pregnancies, and even in the six months leading up to daughter No 2’s conception, not a drop of the hard stuff passed my lips. Swear to God! Oh, ok, I did have the odd swig out of the gripe water bottle. I didn’t say I was Mother Teresa!  

  However, while I believe tackling the consumption of alcohol in pregnancy is critical, I most certainly do not agree with some scaremongers who insist that drinking whilst pregnant should be declared a crime; nor do I believe humiliating, annoying or berating pregnant women is the way to go either. And, for the record I don’t support those who want to control the minimum price of a bottle of wine saying it’s the only way to achieve zero tolerance in pregnancy. 

  Instead I would strongly advocate for more support, understanding, information and education for parents-to-be, because let’s be honest, pregnant women should be afforded the right to make their own informed choices but they can only do this if they’re given all of the facts. I mean, c’mon, no mother wants to look at her precious new born infant knowing their future has been severely damaged by what was possibly her own irresponsible behaviour; now does she?

 

Paul Healy's Week

 

Any day

You collect the clutter, not thinking you’re collecting it – you’re just not throwing it away. How long are you meant to keep bank statements for, or indeed bills?

How long are you meant to keep documents relating to house insurance or the car for? Into folders they go…for when you need them again…when they’ll be easy to find and handy to have. Yeah, right. It never quite works out that way.

Then, when junk is being sorted, perhaps once a year – the big clear-out – the turmoil in your head as you wonder whether or not you should hold on to certain items. ‘We got that on holiday in such and such a place.’ ‘Keep that, it could come in useful.’ ‘There’s another part to that…I think it’s in the attic…we’ll keep it, just in case.’ ‘That would look nice in the hall.’ (No it wouldn’t).

So we keep the stuff, relentlessly building up the clutter, week on week, month on month, year on year. Not letting go, but perhaps demoting them…from the ‘good’ rooms to the lesser rooms to under the stairs and eventually to the shed. Keep the stuff, throw nothing away, in a way we’re saving money, aren’t we?

Then, the day inevitably comes when you ring up and order a skip – again. Hire the skip, pay for the skip, fling everything into the skip, including the paint cans with tiny quantities of paint, the bits of utterly useless timber, the broken toys and discarded lamps and ornaments. You keep filling the skip, you’re going well, and then… ‘Oh, look what I’ve found! Haven’t seen that in ages. Will we keep it…? It might come in useful some day…’

Sunday

So we were at a very enjoyable family Christening celebration, and then, at the appointed time, we tuned into Willie and Donie from Brewster Park.

The early updates were encouraging enough; then it got better and better, and by half-time Roscommon were in a great position, five points in front. Fermanagh started the second half well, but Roscommon steadied the ship.

Willie was sending greetings to listeners all over the world and Donie was tut-tutting about the referee; but Roscommon were on the cusp of a great championship statement of intent, because any win away to Ulster opposition in the championship is a superb afternoon’s work.

I left for seven or eight minutes to impart the good news of Roscommon’s healthy lead, returning to the radio just as Fermanagh were awarded a penalty. Or ‘not a penalty” as Donie would have it. (And replays that night on ‘The Sunday Game’ seemed to support Donie’s view).

Roscommon were leading 0-14 to 0-8, but Fermanagh converted the penalty and now we got that old familiar heart-in-the-mouth feeling. A run-of-the-mill story was turning into a drama.

Yet Roscommon steadied the ship again and led by five points with seven minutes remaining. Now drama turned to horror.

Listening to the final minutes on radio was like having a horror story read to you, where you know there’s a gruesome new twist waiting to be discovered on each turning page. As we willed time to move faster there was a sense of grim inevitability about events as Fermanagh relentlessly dismantled Roscommon’s lead, point by ruthless point.

We were in Paddy Finn’s in Kilteevan. Our pain was being shared in America, Australia, Asia and Europe. And in Keadue, Tulsk, Ballaghaderrren and Ballyforan. You could almost touch the shared sense of helplessness now linking Rossies all over the world.

Fermanagh just kept scoring, ripping our lead to shreds, undoing over an hour’s good work by Roscommon in a few minutes. Not even the clock would save a sinking Roscommon. When they levelled, we thought Roscommon can’t realistically win in extra-time, as all of the momentum has switched, and Fermanagh players and supporters know they have their prey trapped. But there would be no extra-time.

The suffering was brought to an abrupt end, with Fermanagh’s sixth point in eight minutes. It was an epic win for Fermanagh. We can’t deny that what unfolded is one of the very reasons why we are so attracted to sport. We congratulate Fermanagh on their victory.

For Roscommon, it’s been a rough championship ride in 2015, a season of heartbreak. But we’ve a fine young, developing team and there will be much better days ahead. In the meantime, anyone for cricket?

Monday evening

I popped back into the office for a moment at about 7 pm, checked my emails, and there it was, a statement confirming that Fine Gael Deputy Frank Feighan will not be contesting the next General Election.

Intentionally or otherwise, he made his announcement four years to the day since the fateful closure of Roscommon A&E. Notwithstanding my anger over the A&E closure and his misguided and ill-fated refusal to stand with the people of Roscommon at the time, my first thoughts were to feel some sympathy for Frank Feighan on a human level.

As I’ve often written before, Roscommon Hospital is, at the end of the day, all about the people – but there’s always been this utterly fascinating political dimension to it too, with the short-term ‘health’ of political parties locally and the fate of individual politicians in this county at the mercy of whatever twists and turns the saga takes.

While the Roscommon People campaigned aggressively on the hospital issue when the ‘war’ raged at its peak a few years ago, and while I’ve had my strong differences with Frank Feighan on the issue over that time, I believe it’s only right to express some sympathy for the Boyle man this week on both a human and a political level.

Feighan has talked a lot about standing by the Government and the country, yet he has now, to all intents and purposes, had to sacrifice his political career. He may end up in the Seanad in the future, but the cold truth is that a Dail career that might have continued for the next fifteen or even twenty years has come crashing down because of the Roscommon Hospital fall-out.

Frank Feighan has, in the end, paid a big political price. Consultant Liam McMullin told Health Minister Leo Varadkar that the people of Roscommon had been thrown to the wolves; in some respects, Feighan, who can take a fair share of the blame himself, has been thrown on the political scrapheap, ending up there because of the calamitous handling by his party of the A&E issue.

Leaving aside the premature ending of his Dail career, I also feel some sympathy for Frank Feighan this week on a personal, human level; the hospital war bruised him, isolated him and changed him. He must surely feel a weight off his shoulders this week. I hope he does.

All of this said, I haven’t changed my view that Frank Feighan could have done things differently; he made fateful decisions, he defended what I consider to be indefensible, and while one could acknowledge (admire is too strong a word) his loyalty to his party and to his own lonely position on the hospital, on every step of his journey since 2011 he was moving closer to his own political demise.

This journey-end was pretty much inevitable despite the fact that Feighan can undoubtedly point to having delivered on a series of projects to the benefit of County Roscommon and the wider constituency.

From the development of the marina at Lough Key, to the Ballaghaderreen Bypass, to funding for water and any number of other smaller projects, Feighan certainly got through a body of work. There was big investment for the hospital too. But his relentless claims that the hospital was safer – and busier – than ever before were met with scepticism by most people.

In the end, Feighan, for all his endeavour, could not shake off the shadows of 2011. Without question Frank Feighan part-authored his own downfall, but he was assisted by ghost-writers – two that spring to mind are Enda Kenny and James Reilly.

Had Feighan gone before the people, he probably would have lost his seat. He just could not shake the hospital ghost away. In reality, the decision not to contest the election was probably taken several months ago. That’s why, in 2014, FG HQ unearthed, groomed and continues to promote Cllr. Maura Hopkins as the Boyle man’s anointed successor.

I have no doubt that, contrary to the public pronouncements, this was not Frank Feighan’s decision alone. The ghost-writers who, in grim instalments these past four years, helped pen his downfall, also helped write his resignation letter.

Before the hospital war, Frank Feighan was a dream candidate for Fine Gael; personable, sociable, well-known, a vote-puller who, such was his popularity in North Roscommon particularly, could even attract support from Fianna Fail households.

When Hospital-gate happened, the political fortunes of Fine Gael’s dream team – Denis Naughten and Frank Feighan – dramatically changed.

Naughten is now an ex-Fine Gael TD and Feighan will be an ex-Fine TD within a matter of months. Fine Gael’s folly on the hospital destroyed the dream team just when it looked set to dominate Roscommon politics for a generation.

Something of an irony in this entire saga is the fact that Feighan hadn’t paid much attention to the hospital issue in the build-up to the 2011 General Election. Naughten was the top man on that issue and dealt with the HAC and with the Fine Gael health spokesperson, James Reilly. What subsequently unfolded when Reilly and Enda Kenny got into power is now history.

Naughten made the decision to resign; he could hardly have stayed, having made the running on the hospital issue and effectively drafted the letter which James Reilly so irresponsibly sent to the people of Roscommon.

Feighan made his own fateful call. Some will say there is merit in Feighan’s argument that he was better of “in government” working for the constituency than leaving Fine Gael over the hospital debacle. But ultimately Feighan could not escape from the hospital shadow.

The betrayal (by Fine Gael and Labour) over Roscommon Hospital had been too big. The hospital ghost stalked Feighan since 2011. The party could not contemplate Feighan going before the people (private FG polls indicated their best chance of winning a seat was with another candidate). Feighan had to be sacrificed.

Ultimately, the political dimension is interesting, even dramatic, a soap opera, a sport, real life too. But the hospital is about the people. The people were let down. The A&E closure should not have happened. It was a fiasco and a tragedy. Frank Feighan has paid his price.

I think, looking back, he was naïve and he was used. Also bruised by the war, and with an election imminent, the people of Roscommon wait to see if anyone will address the deficit on emergency services here. Who will stand up, in a meaningful way (not idle promises) for the people of Roscommon? We were thrown to the wolves, Liam McMullin said.

What political party or parties or individuals will save us from the wolves? And a word to ghost-writers everywhere; the people of Roscommon have long memories.

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