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Frankly Speaking

Frankly Speaking

Hefty insurance costs are a threat to local businesses

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Tipp are tops as Cats are licked

 

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

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

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

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

 

Big Tom tribute night in Glenamaddy

 

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

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

 

Dance the night away for Cancer Care West!

 

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

 

Till next week, Bye for now!

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

 

 

 

Two memorable documentaries…

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

Sky’s the limit for lovable Bobby

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

Fundraiser for Glenamaddy Day Care Centre

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

And finally…

 

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

 

 

 

Till next week, Bye for now!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Fun (and buns) at the fair!

 

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

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

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

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

 

(A few minutes later…)

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

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

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

 

And finally…TC’s great birthday gesture

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

Till next week, Bye for now! 

 

Forget work…I’m applying to join Love Island!

 

 

 

It’s another Monday morning and even though I don’t watch it and have no interest in it, I am well aware that tonight is the last night of Love Island, and that Ballymahon girl, Maura Higgins, is still there and in line for the first prize of £50,000.

  The amazing thing is that some people are predicting that the prize-money would only have been the tip of the iceberg for Maura, and that she has untold riches waiting around the corner as a result of her Love Island adventure.

  In fairness to her, I really hope all the good things that we are told are coming her way do so. It seems, however, that reality TV is the key to unlocking doors, with many former reality stars now multi-millionaires and celebrities in their own right. Love Island has made me realise how fortunes can even be made without having to actually work at all!

  In all the papers this week we can read about Maura and her romantic interest, dancer Curtis Pritchard, but there is also a fair bit of coverage for a 15-year-old lad called Jaden Ashman, a teenager from Essex in England, who scooped €1,000,000 by finishing second in an online ‘Fortnite’ gaming competition, where the first prize, a mindboggling €3,000,000, was won by 16-year-old American Kyle Giersdorf.

  Sadly, I don’t have a clue how to play this game as Super Mario is the only game I ever saw close up, but apparently 40 million people worldwide took part in the 10 weeks while the competition was on, and in total there was a prize fund of $30,000,000!

  At one time, young Jaden’s mother threw out his Xbox and even broke his headset, because she was so anxious that the young lad would do some homework. However, earlier this week she admitted that even though she thought he was “wasting his life”, she now realised there was some point to spending so much time glued to his computer!

  Anyhow, as someone who has worked all my life but never figured out how to make money, maybe there’s hope for me yet – I don’t  think I’ll ever figure out how to play online games, so I’d better get the application form for Love Island! I’m told all the men have six packs so I’m off to the off-license and I’ll post off my form in the next few days. If my application is successful I’ll keep you posted!

 

A great day out in Donamon

 

Finally for this week, I made it to the 25th Annual Open Day in Donamon Castle last Sunday, and even though I couldn’t stay for the full day, I was there long enough to enjoy some great music and a lovely bun and cup of tea. I met lots of happy people who were thoroughly enjoying themselves and managed to see plenty of the attractions on offer including having my picture taken with the most beautiful bird – the fact that it was an owl was only incidental – and she, or he, was really a sight to behold!

  It was later that evening when I heard that Fr. Pat Hogan is taking leave of Donamon, as his nine-year appointment is up, and I can only say I was very sorry to hear the news.

  Fr. Pat is a true gentleman, a lovely priest, and a great supporter of this area, and, while I wish him well in all he does in the future, we will miss him greatly, and hope that some day he may find himself back amongst us. We wait in hope!

 

Summer Cabaret Show next Wednesday

My good friend Annette Griffin tells me that the renowned Summer Cabaret Show, in association with Western Care, returns for one night only to the McWilliam Park Hotel, Claremorris, on Wednesday, August 7th, with doors opening at 8 pm and the wonderful show starting at 9 pm sharp.

  This year’s unmissable show is produced by Annette and John Staunton, and features some of Ireland’s top talent including Gerry Guthrie, Brendan Shine, comedian Shaun Connors, fiddler Billy Condon, the Turley Duggan dancers, the beautiful voice of Annette Griffin herself, along with the McWilliam Park House Band. Tickets are only €25, and they are available from the hotel itself, from Western Care, and from Crann Mór Centre Ballinrobe. I highly recommend it.

  Sticking with entertainment and Julie Healy tells me she is organising a Big Tom tribute night in The Oaklands Hotel, Glenamaddy, on Friday, September 27th, featuring a huge line-up of Irish musical talent, topped off with special guest, John Rex Reeves, nephew of the late great American singer, Jim.

  I will tell you more as the time approaches but now you have two great nights to look forward to, so keep both dates free!

 

Tag fundraiser scores with the locals!

 

Now that I have finally figured out how to secure my financial future, I can reflect on the weekend just past, which saw two unbelievable senior hurling All-Ireland semi-finals, but which also saw a very enjoyable tag rugby event, which took place in Creggs Rugby Club on Friday evening. The proceeds of the event (€1,500) went to the Sunshine Room in Creggs National School.

  Sometimes it is easy to take for granted the amazing developments that have taken place at our local school which have turned it into one of the most talked about schools in the west of Ireland. Creggs now has something we are all so proud of complete with a hydro pool, an AstroTurf pitch, and the Sunshine Room, which caters for students with special needs from as far away as Ballaghaderreen and Athlone.

  It was great to see so many enthusiasts turn up on Friday evening, helped in no small way by the beautiful weather. After a terrific tournament the winning team was Brian Diffley’s ‘Pink Ladies’, who collected fabulous trophies, sponsored by our new Club President, Aidan Farrell.

  My lad, Paul, had cobbled a team together and they acquitted themselves well considering most of them had little experience of tag or indeed any rugby, weren’t too fit, and one or two of them were coming to the end of whatever you come to if you hadn’t had a rugby career! But whatever they may have lacked in skill, they more than made up for in commitment and effort.

  I have to say it was terrific fun and everyone really enjoyed it, so well done to Ger Dowd and his organising committee. The overwhelming reaction was that everyone would love to see it repeated, and maybe even become a regular feature during the summer. Like my probable appearance on Love Island, if there are any developments I will keep you informed, but for now it was great craic and a very worthwhile fundraiser for a very worthy cause.

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My immense pride in Creggs as community excels

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And finally…

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

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

 

Til next week, Bye for now!

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 Wimbledon wonders!

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

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

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

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

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

 

Pride update!

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

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

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

And finally…

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

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

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

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

 

Till next week, Bye for now!

 

 

Pride of Place very evident in Creggs

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Meanwhile, in Donamon…

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

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

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

 

St Stephen’s Day Walk

 

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

 

Off the Laois…

 

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

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

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

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

Till next week, Bye for now!

Chilling cruelty in our greyhound industry exposed

 

I have to say that generally I am not a man who watches television programmes that expose different types of abuses and wrongdoings, although I am aware that over the years RTE’s investigative reporters have exposed all types of corruption…involving everything from dishonest politicians to unregulated ESB environmental damage, to health care standards, to the misuse of steroids, to the over-prescription of tablets and so on.

  However, the other night I had the misfortune to tune into a programme investigating the treatment of underperforming greyhounds, and I can honestly tell you I have seldom been as disturbed as I was by what that hour of television revealed. Up to 6,000 greyhounds are killed each year in Ireland, just because they are of no further use, racing-wise.

  Footage of a knackery in Co. Wexford where a poor dog was shot in the head, and could be seen writhing on the ground for a few seconds after the barbaric act, chilled me to the bone.

  That was bad enough, but later we saw a greyhound thrown into a barrel of boiling water in China and being boiled alive. Whether or not that particular poor creature came from Ireland I don’t know, but the programme alleged that Irish greyhounds are ending up in China, a country we are not allowed to send our animals to, and where there is apparently absolutely no consideration shown to the animals, and where unspeakable cruelty seems to be the norm.

  Now I am well aware that we have loads of perfectly genuine greyhound trainers and owners out there who care properly for the animals’ welfare, but there are also unscrupulous people involved in the industry (as in everything) who just couldn’t care less.

  For me, as I’m sure for lots of viewers, this programme was highly disturbing. It was one that I didn’t really want to watch, yet I just couldn’t stop doing so. It truly proved that when it comes to barbaric and inhuman acts, the human population is hard to beat.

There’s almost a sting in this tale…

It’s summertime and in my opinion one of the nicest things about this time of year is the great stretch in the evenings. For huge numbers of people, it’s an opportunity to spend some quality time in the garden, and at least for a while we become experts on flowers, plants, greenfly, slugs, moss, and compost, and all kinds of things that make up a gardener’s life.

  Everything is vibrant. The roses and shrubs are in full bloom, and the hedge needs to be trimmed to keep it (sort of) tidy. The birds are singing, and, as they say, everything in the garden is rosy, and life couldn’t be better.

  And so it was on Wednesday of last week, when I was slaving (a definite lie) away at work, that my good wife Carol decided to trim the aforementioned hedge, got to work on it, and inadvertently disturbed a wasps’ nest. She was immediately surrounded by (according to her) hundreds of angry hornets, but thankfully she took off like a scalded cat and managed to make the safety of the house without receiving any stings. She also got our little miniature Jack Russell safely inside.

  Now there can scarcely be anything more terrifying than being attacked by a swarm of angry wasps, so when things settled down, we decided to have a look, and lo and behold, we discovered another nest just a bit further down the hedge. By now alarm bells were ringing, and we decided it was time to call in the experts, so I rang former St. Joseph’s footballer (don’t hold that against him) Alan O’Keeffe, proprietor of AOK Pest Control, and asked him to sort out the wasps for us.

  It is now Friday morning, I am once again slaving at work (another lie), and the good news is that Alan came, saw, and conquered, and we are now a wasp-free zone again. I can’t thank him enough for getting rid of those dangerous visitors, and Carol can now finish trimming the hedge.

  Now it’s easy to trivialise these things, but even though these nests were the size of an average bird’s one, we hadn’t noticed either of them. Alan told us one of them was there for quite some time, and had a huge amount of eggs, and he reckoned by September we would have been completely overrun – not a nice thought.

  All I can say is, keep your eyes open – obviously hedges are places of interest to these little pests.  Above all, remember they are extremely dangerous and will attack in numbers, so take no chances, call in the experts and get rid of them once and for all –and enjoy your garden for the rest of what will hopefully be a long, hot (not too hot) summer.

 

Centenary celebrations as legend Eddie
Kehir to guest

 

It’s hard to believe it now – when teams like Clann na nGael, St. Brigid’s and others dominate the club football scene in County Roscommon – but give or take a century ago, down the road in Donamon we had a team that won the County Senior Championship in 1918/19/20 and ’25.

  Oran’s Mikey Monaghan tells me they are having a Centenary Celebration this weekend for the team that achieved all those wonderful victories.

  In 1925, Donamon defeated Boyle Army Barracks – which was called the 3rd Infantry Battalion. A Battalion that still exists, it’s based in Kilkenny City, and accordingly Oran are playing the 3rd Infantry Battalion football team in Rockfield on Sunday next, 7th July at 1.30 pm.

  Now Mikey sent me loads of stuff about Donamon and Oran, material which would nearly take up a full book (now there’s a thought for you, Mikey). There were loads of names involved with those Donamon teams that kept cropping up with Oran teams through the years. Among the players that played back then were Stephen Keher, father of the legendary Kilkenny hurler, Eddie, and Stephen’s brother Bertie. Stephen was subsequently transferred to Kilkenny, where his son made such a name for himself, and is still regarded as one of the all-time greats of hurling. The good news is that Eddie Keher will be the Guest of Honour at Sunday’s proceedings. I wonder if Stephen had stayed in this area would Eddie have had the hurling career that he had? I suppose we’ll never know.

  Admission on Sunday is free, but a commemorative match programme will be on sale for only €5. After the game everyone is invited for a cup of tea and a chat, and from there on to Kenny’s in Rockfield, where a relation of my own, DJ Cush, will be providing the entertainment. Knowing some of the older Oran lads like I do, I can guarantee the craic will be ninety, so don’t forget, 1.30 pm on Sunday in Rockfield  – and I hope to see you all there.

Till next week, Bye for now!

Why we need minimum pricing to tackle alcohol woes

 

 

One of the regular readers of this column often gently chides me over my occasional mention of Mikeen’s pub in Creggs, and of the social happenings that take place there. This man feels that I am promoting the use and abuse of alcohol, an accusation that I of course totally deny.

  Now I make no secret of the fact that I like an odd pint of the black stuff, and certainly hold the belief that a quiet pint now and again can actually be a good thing – for a number of different reasons. But I have for a good while now been completely against the modern culture of drinking cheap alcohol at home, a practice that I believe can lead to all kinds of problems, including mental health illness and domestic abuse. The ridiculously low prices that supermarkets charge for slabs of lager or beer, or even bottles of wine, has led to this massive increase in home drinking, and successive governments here have done nothing to tackle the problem, probably because of the huge tax revenue such sales generate.

  Over in Scotland, where there are 22 alcohol-related deaths every single week, in May of last year they introduced minimum pricing, targeting cheap high strength ciders, spirits and fortified wines, and already there has been a 3% drop in alcohol sales. Now you might say 3% isn’t a lot, but in human terms that alone would save just under 80 precious lives a year.

  In Scotland, where there is an average of 683 alcohol-related hospital admissions per week, there are, obviously, families, friends and communities who are also indirectly affected by such alcohol abuse, and I say well done to the Scottish Government for taking action. They are the first country to do so, and as a result alcohol sales were the lowest for twenty-five years, so come on you Irish politicians, follow their example and do something about this scourge in our society.

  At least any responsible publican will stop serving someone who is obviously intoxicated and send them on their way. There is no such restriction at home where you can drink yourself into oblivion if you want and nobody, except your family, knows or cares. It’s time to tackle the problem – and minimum pricing would be a start.

 

Slings and sparrows

 

One of the unwritten rules of nature, human and otherwise, is that a mother will always protect her young.

  This morning, as I sat at the kitchen table trying to do justice to the full Irish (which by the way I did), I saw a perfect example of a mother doing exactly that.

  In the cavity blocks on my shed out the back, a family of little sparrows have set up home. The chicks are still in the nest, and daddy and mammy sparrow are in and out all day bringing food to the babies.

  This morning, for some reason, a group of bigger birds – about ten in all – seemed to be attacking the nest, but every time a big bird came to the opening in the wall, the much smaller mammy sparrow (maybe it could have been daddy) literally flew into the attacker and sent it on its way. When I realised what was going on, I took a hand myself and got rid of them, hopefully for good.

  So far today they have not come back, so let’s hope the little bird’s heroism paid off, and the chicks will make it safely into the big bad world. As long as they keep away from our adjacent clothes line they will have a good chance of survival, but if they dirty the clothes, they had better watch out. Just in case you think I mean that, I’m only kidding, and I hope that my intervention, along with that of their parents, may help them have a long happy life, flying round the countryside. Yes, I’m a real man for the birds!

 

Should society protect identity of young killers?

 

Occasionally, even in a world where we are accustomed to terrible, unmentionable deeds, something happens that is so extremely violent and debased that it shocks normal society to the core. There can be no doubt that the murder of 14-year-old Ana Kriegel in a derelict house in Lucan just over a year ago is one of those events.

  The two accused boys have been found guilty of the heinous crime.

  I have to say that I am concerned about the law which prevents identifying young offenders. I appreciate of course that it is the law, but I for one would be in favour of that law being changed.

  It baffles me as to why children who commit murder should be protected. Many people will feel that children who kill are capable of consciously planning what they do. We have seen in other cases where convicted killers (children) are, on release, given new identities, set up in jobs, arguably never publicly associated with their crimes, etc.

  Obviously the law is as it is, and a key aim is to protect the children in question, but I would argue that there should be some exceptions to the rule. Many people will question why murderers, whether aged 13 or 30, should be treated with kid gloves, indeed treated with more sympathy than their victim(s).

  I happen to believe that teenagers, because of the influence of social media and the Internet, are every bit as educated as adults are, and therefore they should pay for their crimes the same as the rest of us. Maybe the biggest revelation came after the trial, when we were made aware of the fact that Boy A had two mobile phones with thousands of images of violent pornographic acts. It would seem to me that the widespread accessibility of such material by a 13-year-old also needs to be addressed.

  In the meantime, nothing can bring back young Ana, so all I can say is how sorry I am to her parents and other family members, and may she rest in peace.

 

And finally…

Finally for this week, as a man who plays a little golf on Castlerea’s lovely course, I watched in wonder as a totally unknown Australian golfer, 22-year-old Hannah Green, won her first ever tournament – and a major at that – when she led the world’s top lady golfers from pillar to post.

  Even after three rounds nobody mentioned her anywhere as a potential winner, as everyone expected her to bow to the last-round pressure and wilt, but she held her nerve, played a flawless 18 holes and won the Major. I have to say it was a most uplifting win. Who knows, maybe there’s a Captain’s Prize in me yet.

 

Till next week, Bye for now!

Black weekend for maroon men…but congrats to Roscommon!

 

For as long as I can remember, Monday has always been regarded as the most depressing day of the week, and as I sit at the kitchen table on this cold, wet, miserable June morning, I have to admit that this Monday certainly lives up to that reputation.

  For all of us who have the maroon and white blood of Galway flowing through our veins, this weekend was as demoralising and disappointing as any in living memory, with the hurlers bowing out of the Leinster Championship on Saturday night – after going down to the Dubs – to be followed by a pathetic footballing performance when losing to the Rossies in Salthill on Sunday.

  In fairness to the hurlers they owe us nothing, and apparently they went down, as they say, with their boots on in a super game of hurling, but sadly the footballers seemed to totally lose their way when a really strong Roscommon team put them under pressure.

  Now it goes without saying that all players go out to do their best, and sometimes when things start to go wrong it can be very hard to rectify matters, but I make no apology for saying that for a long time now I have had no faith in the football philosophy of the management team.

  ‘Negative’ and ‘defensive’ would be the two adjectives that I would use to describe the Galway set-up. Why they continually slow everything down and go backwards when in attack beats me, and on Sunday, even when down by two or three points towards the end, they still played to their so-called system, going sideways and back instead of going bald-headed for the scores they needed.

  The long ball which the Rossies used to great effect – although they too got loads of men behind the ball – could easily have yielded some dividends, although there can be no doubt that the better team won, and well done to Anthony Cunningham and his very committed men. I believe they will be very hard to beat in the Super 8s, and nobody will look forward to meeting them.

  As for Galway, they have a shot at redemption through the qualifiers, and I sincerely hope the management let them off the leash and encourage them to have a go. They have some decent footballers, although physically the wearers of the primrose and blue seemed to be much stronger and better built, and, maybe (although unlikely) they could still make it to the Super 8s.

  It is somewhat ironic also that the managers of the Dublin hurlers and Roscommon footballers are both highly regarded Galway men, but each of them has a job to do, and fair play to both of them for a job well done.  

  However, with all that being said, the real reason I’m depressed this morning is that I told everyone who would listen to me last week that Kilkenny and Wexford would draw, that Dublin would beat Galway and the Rossies would do the same – but I never put one cent on those results with the bookies.

  I am not a gambler as such, with a very occasional flutter only, but for some reason I never even thought of wagering a few bob and as a result I am thoroughly deflated this morning. It’s not often that I could beat the bookies, but this was a lost opportunity. The good (or bad) news is that I’m off to Kilbeggan Races later today, so maybe I’ll make up for missing out. I doubt it, but hope springs eternal.

 

On my tourism bucket list…

 

At the moment we are slap-bang in the middle of concert season, and acts like Elton John, Bon Jovi, Michael Buble, Metallica, and the Spice Girls, amongst others, have all performed in Ireland recently. One of our premier concert venues is Malahide Castle, where there are 270 acres of beautiful parkland, along of course with one of the oldest and most historic castles in the country.  

  A week or so ago I paid a visit to the castle, and just as with our own Forest Park, it really is a spectacular location, and a wonderful amenity to have in the area. The day I was there was one of the lovely summer days we had recently, and the park was packed with tourists…families having picnics, children, dogs, walkers, runners and cyclists, and the atmosphere was just so lovely and relaxing.

  The gardens are vast, and full of all kinds of exotic plants and flowers, and while I would be fairly lukewarm about such stuff, my wife Carol was totally immersed in all things horticultural, and I nearly had to call security to get her out of the gardens.

  The area where the concerts are held is really just a big open field with loads of room, and I’m told George Ezra is performing to a sold out crowd there on Friday night. Sadly I won’t be there, but I’m sure it will be a fantastic night in what is a fantastic venue. It’s funny how we can know so little about places. I was totally unaware that Malahide has an amazing beach, which sadly is not safe for swimmers, but great for walking or sun bathing, and that it’s a village full of interesting pubs and restaurants, as well as having the renowned Grand Hotel, where, while the pint of Guinness was €5.60, the opulent surroundings made it worth it.  Anyway, it made me realise that it’s no wonder this island gets so many tourists, as there are so many wonderful areas to visit, and so much beauty to see. In truth, even though we live here, a lot of us have never got to see most of our famous attractions.

  For me, the Giant’s Causeway remains on my bucket list, while closer to home I have never got to Clonmacnoise, The Hill of Tara, the Arigna Mine experience, or even Athlone Castle. Better get on my bike or time will pass me by, and I’ll leave this world with a lot still to see.

And finally…

Finally for this week, I have to admit that I have no interest whatsoever in the TV show Love Island, and have never watched it and never will. But I can’t avoid the major impact Longford girl Maura Higgins has made in her short time on the show.

  All the papers are reporting on complaints that the programme has received about her amorous advances towards Tommy, the brother of heavyweight boxer Tyson Fury, with hundreds of viewers unhappy with her allegedly predatory behaviour.

  Now correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that what this show -– and other such reality shows – are all about? Hasn’t this programme the express aim of, as they say, finding love – and if there’s a bit of how’s your father thrown in that’s all the better (and certainly better for the ratings). I also seem to remember that our Longford lady laid her cards clearly on the table when she joined the show, by saying that she would do whatever it took to get her man, so it seems to me she is simply doing what she said she would. So what’s all the fuss about?

  However, I can tell you that no matter what comes down the line, I will not be tuning in. Give me Blue Bloods and Magnum P.I. any time.

 

Till next week, Bye for now!

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