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Frankly Speaking

Frankly Speaking

An afternoon with Hurricane Ophelia

 

It’s Monday afternoon in Crosswell, Creggs, and thanks to Hurricane Ophelia, it’s a very unusual and abnormal afternoon. I find myself – along with the vast majority of the Irish people – staying indoors, looking out the window at the extreme weather conditions, and wondering at 3.30 pm whether or not the worst has yet to come.

  So far, fingers crossed very tightly, we still have the electricity, but you’d have to wonder how long that’s going to last, as there are now nearly 400,000 ESB customers without power, and we are hearing of loads of local areas who are already out, and we also know that there are trees down in our immediate vicinity.

  As I say, it’s unusual insofar as everyone who should be at work are all at home, and as I am writing this the fire is lit, the dinner is eaten – because we were afraid the power would go – and we are simply on the doss, looking at the brilliant coverage of the hurricane on RTE television. By now we know of at least two storm-related fatalities, so the idiots who went swimming or walking along the storm-hit coastal areas, despite a multitude of warnings, should be fined for being so irresponsible, and for putting their own lives and the lives of emergency workers in danger. A number of youths went swimming off Salthill and emergency services had to be called due to concerns over their welfare, while a pair of windsurfers had to be rescued by the Carlingford lifeboat, and you would have to wonder what kind of brains, if any, they have.

  Anyway, as I write on Monday, that’s the up to date story with us in Creggs, and from the sound of the storm outside, my gut feeling is that we are just about to get the worst of it, so let’s hope we survive in one piece and live to tell the tale.

Loving ‘Living with Lucy’ (to my surprise)

I have to confess that when it comes to DIY, I remind myself of someone like Mr. Bean, or my namesake Frank in ‘Some mothers do have em’ – and like those two heroes, I happily admit that I am completely useless around the house, and the only thing I am any good for is keeping the lawn mowed during the summer.

  However, when we have the long bright evenings of the Irish summer (‘what are they?’ I hear you ask) there are always little jobs that need to be done, and so, in a peculiar way, I sort of like when the dark, cold and wet winter evenings close in, because then there is no reason not to go into the sitting room, light the fire, and put the feet up; safe in the knowledge there is no wall, window sill, or anything else that needs to be touched up in any way.

  And so I have found myself watching a bit of telly lately, and to my own amazement I have become quite a fan of Lucy Kennedy, or more specifically, of her show – ‘Living with Lucy.’

  Up to now, I found that I could take her or leave her, but the three shows I have watched – featuring Davy Fitzgerald, Katie Hopkins and Michael Healy-Rae – have all been extremely entertaining. Credit to Lucy –especially when with the likes of Katie Hopkins – she’s not afraid to express her own opinions and ask the hard questions. Davy Fitz and Healy-Rae were pretty much exactly as you would expect – great company and great craic, each bursting with energy and enthusiasm – which I’d say made the experience just as enjoyable for Lucy herself. Katie Hopkins, on the other hand, who is pretty much acknowledged as Britain’s most hated woman, surprised me, and seemed a lot more normal than you would think.

  Anyway, I’m sure there are a few more shows still to come, and all I can say is try to catch them as they are well worth the watch.

  Sticking with the telly, I am also following the fortunes of the Ice Road Truckers, and for the life of me I can’t figure out how anyone would take the risks these drivers take in driving massive trucks across frozen lakes, and in a lot of cases not knowing if the ice was strong enough to hold the weight!

  Last night we saw a driver who was on what they called a private road – which had no maintenance whatsoever – and he really had no idea where the ice road went, or how thick the ice was, and you could see the strain on his face as he drove across the frozen surface, not knowing whether or not, in his own words, he would end up “swimming with the fishes.” I have to say he was mighty relieved when he made it across and onto land – no more than myself!

   I don’t know how much money these lads and girls get, but whatever it is it cannot be enough.

 

Heroic stuff from Irish in Cardiff – roll on the play-offs!

 

In February 2007, more than ten years ago, the Roscommon People hit the streets and the first piece that I wrote for it concerned the Irish soccer team and their abysmal performance in the European qualifiers against the part-time footballers from San Marino.

  I wrote about the highly-paid Irish players, a number of them from top English Premiership clubs, and how they showed little pride, application or commitment to the job and how they were blessed to get a 94th minute winner (2-1) against the fishermen, bankers, builders, and other odd job men who were playing for San Marino, a team that a few weeks earlier had conceded 13 goals at home against the Germans. The last-gasp winner was scored by Manchester City midfielder, Stephen Ireland, a man who ended up with more grandmothers than sense and who later claimed he “feels nothing for the national team, and couldn’t care less whether they win or lose.”   

  On Monday night in Cardiff, an Irish team that had no player from any of the top clubs, a few from teams who would be classed as poorer top level clubs, a good few from championship clubs and missing their one true superstar, Seamus Coleman, gave one of the great performances of my lifetime, and, while no-one could claim that it was a technical masterclass, it was full of all the things that were missing all those years ago in San Marino. Guts, pride, total commitment were all on show and the bravery that everyone involved exhibited in a hostile environment was great to see.

  I always struggle to figure out why our soccer pundits are so against Martin O’Neill and his tactics, as I believe he is a total realist and realises the limited talent he has at his disposal. He plays the game to the team’s strengths. What is unquestioned is the fact that his teams give everything they have for him, and I for one, rate Monday night’s win right up there with the great sporting moments. What the play-offs hold God only knows but one thing’s for sure: this team won’t fail through lack of effort.

  I have sat in the sitting room on many a great sporting night, but the roar that went up last night when James McClean hit his wonderful goal surely ranks with the highest decibel levels ever recorded in Creggs. Roll on the play-offs and who knows, the Green Army might make it all the way to Russia.

Brexit hits Ballinasloe…

It’s one of my big regrets that I have never gone to the Ballinasloe Horse Fair, and as the dust settles on yet another year of the annual extravaganza, I am putting it on top of my to-do list. Next October, God willing, I will make it my business to go for a look.

  For a long time now it has been known as the biggest horse fair in Europe, and year in year out we have had thousands of visitors flocking to the Galway town from all over the world, but especially from the European mainland, and the United Kingdom.

  Buyers from England, Scotland and Wales were the very welcome additions to our own Irish buyers, and they snapped up a huge number of our horses over the last few years. After a few bad years, the market was showing signs of a timely revival. But I’m told that this year the UK buyers stayed at home, and as a result the trade in Ballinasloe was pretty subdued – and it seems it’s all down to Brexit and the falling sterling rate.   

  For a while sterling was so strong that it paid the British buyers to come over here, buy our horses and bring them back across the Irish Sea. Now with the gap in the currencies almost closed, it simply doesn’t pay them to come and as a result a large number stayed at home.

  Funny enough, even in the shop in Athlone, I used to have a few horse fair regulars from across the pond, but this year they never showed, and everyone I met told me that the number of both horses and people in attendance was well down on previous years. I only hope that the writing isn’t on the wall for one of our greatest national institutions, and that when I finally pay it a visit, it won’t be on its last legs.

Meanwhile, back in Creggs…

On now to matters local, and back to the recent fundraising dance, and we are delighted to confirm that thanks to your never-ending generosity, we have the brilliant sum of €5,130 to divide between Cancer Care West and the Lourdes Invalid Fund.

  We are handing over the bank drafts in Dowd’s, Glinsk on Wednesday, 18th of October at 9 pm and all are welcome for a cup of tea and a chat.

  Also, Bina Harris has asked me to let you know that the Craft Fair during the Harvest Festival will take place in the school on the Bank holiday Monday from around 10 am.

  Finally for this week, Paddy and Maureen Lally’s daughter Sinead has just opened her own hair salon in Castlerea. Congrats Sinead!  We wish you well in your big venture, and I might just drop in for a short back and sides.

Running for ‘Join Our Boys’

My good friend Jack the Lower (Hegarty) has asked me to tell you that his daughter, Aoife, and loads of her friends are taking part in the Dublin City Marathon on the bank holiday Sunday in October, and they are all doing so to raise funds for the Join Our Boys campaign. Sponsorship cards are available now, and I would urge everyone to support this amazing cause.

  On Sunday, Aoife and about 40 others did a run from Athlone to Roscommon to highlight the upcoming marathon, and it was a great success.

  A few ladies pushed young Archie all the way in a buggy, and I’m told they intend to do the same at the Dublin run. It’s a great effort by the girls, and  especially young Archie.

  So congrats to all who will be taking part on the day, and if you are asked to make a contribution, just remember how lucky you are – and please give all you can.

Dunne deal for Paul, but ‘Tullow Tank’ is thrown to the Lions!

 

It’s Sunday afternoon – and after my limited exertions on the dance floor in Dowd’s of Glinsk the night before – I am relaxing in front of the television, and in truth I am missing the excitement of the GAA Championships. As I find it hard to watch the antics of vastly overpaid soccer players, I begin to flick through the many sporting channels in the hope that I might find something worth looking at.

  I stopped and looked at an English Rugby Championship game between Bristol – who are now coached by former Connacht boss Pat Lam – and Ealing, and it was an exciting all-action game, won by Lam’s men in the final minutes with a fantastic match-winning try.

  Then, by sheer accident, I was lucky enough to tune into the extraordinary first victory on the European golf tour by young Greystones golfer Paul Dunne. The 24-year-old had to withstand ferocious pressure from former world number one Rory McIlroy – who came with a late run – but the young Wicklow lad held firm and produced an outrageous winning last round score of 61 strokes. It truly was nail-biting stuff, and when Dunne stood over a difficult chip on the last hole, I have to say that I was praying that his nerve would hold and that he would not make a mess of it. When he holed out that particular chip, pandemonium broke out and the imaginary roof nearly lifted off the golf course.

  One of my abiding memories will be the sight of an absolutely delighted Shane Lowry – who also finished in the top ten – celebrating Dunne’s win at the end of it all.

  At a time when we have so many world class golfers from our little island, it is great to welcome another one to the top tier. Where he goes from here is anyone’s guess, but there is no doubt that Paul Dunne can be one of the foremost golfers in the world.

  Sticking with sport, and one of the big things about golf is that it is effectively a loner’s sport…in that most of the time you are on your own – and in that respect it is very different from a team sport like rugby. Usually in team sports, what happens in the dressing room stays in the dressing room, and it is very unusual for an individual to come out and be critical of management and coaches after – as in the case I am referring to – a Lions rugby tour, but that is exactly what the Tullow tank Sean O’Brien has done, and reaction to his comments has to say the least been mixed.

  Over in Wales, legends like JJ Williams have roundly criticised the Irish international for being so forthright with his views – and once upon a time I would have agreed with him.

  However, since the advent of professionalism, with everyone getting paid, I think a professional player has every right to talk about the way a team is prepared, and if he disagreed with the process, as O’Brien clearly did, why should he stay quiet? After all, he will never get to tour New Zealand again as a Lions rugby player, and if he thinks they were badly prepared by their management team, thereby impairing their chances of making history, then he is fully entitled to make his feelings known.

  Back in Wales, they too are entitled to back their men – Warren Gatland and Rob Howley – who took the brunt of the Tullow man’s criticism, and I would say it will add a fair bit of needle to our Six Nations battle with the Welsh in the Aviva Stadium early in the New Year. I just hope O’Brien, who has had a lot of injury problems over the years, is fit and well to take on the Welsh, and that we at least send them home nursing a bit more wounded pride. 

Don’t forget the pensioners!

As our senior citizens, of which I am now one, react to the speculation that our planned increase of €5 a week in the next Budget is going to be delayed by several months, we are told of pay rises for our TDs from the 1st of January, 2018 of €3,600 a year (€89,965 to €93,598), while the Taoiseach will see his salary go from €190,233 to €211,588, an increase of more than €21,000 a year.

  Now I fully accept that our public representatives work very hard for their salaries, but it seems a bit harsh to me that I, and thousands like me, will have to forego my fiver because the country can’t afford it, while people on massive salaries will still get their increases – I suppose because there’s not that many of them, they’ll say it doesn’t cost that much.

  It seems that as we recover from the effects of the recession all public servants are in for new pay rises – and more power to them – just don’t forget all of us who have made it as far as the old age pension.

And finally…

Finally for this week, on Saturday last we had a fantastic crowd at the big dance in Dowd’s. The Lancers were, as promised, on top form, and the dance floor was filled from start to finish. We had loads of great prizes in the raffle, along with the door prize of a meal for two in the Abbey Hotel, and the whole thing was a tremendous success.

  I would like to thank all the people who went door to door the last few weeks with our tickets, the many people who donated all our prizes, the people who sold and bought the raffle tickets, Tommy and Dolores Dowd for their hospitality, Jimmy Kearney and The Lancers for their wonderful entertainment, and particularly all who bought the dance tickets and all who went out of their way to attend on the night.

  Cancer Care West and the Lourdes Invalid Fund will benefit equally from the funds raised, which, at the moment, looks to be close to the amazing total of €5,000 – all thanks to the kindness and generosity of all of you!

 

 

Reader’s worrying review raises concerns over rail safety

 

It’s Wednesday evening of last week, and a couple of us are going door to door with our tickets for the upcoming dance, when we call to a house somewhere in the Creggs-Glinsk area. The lady who answers the door is slightly apologetic because she is wearing her wellies, and when we are in the kitchen (she did invite us in) she tells us that she is just home from the ploughing, and hadn’t time to change her footwear.

  Out of curiosity, because Wednesday was one of the wettest days that ever came our way, I asked her what it was like for traffic and parking, and that kind of stuff, and she told me that she had travelled by train from Roscommon to Tullamore, and there was a shuttle bus running out to the event itself.

  I made the remark that that was a great idea, but wasn’t prepared for the reaction I got. She said the train journey was a total nightmare…completely overcrowded, with people standing up, sitting on tables, some sitting on floors – and that there was no room to move in any direction.

  It was her next comment that made me sit up and take notice, when she said that in her opinion if the train had to brake suddenly for any reason, there could have been carnage in the carriage. In her opinion many lives would have been lost if such a simple act took place. Then she said to me that if I sat into my car to drive to Creggs, and had no seat belt on, if I was stopped by a Garda I would be fined and would receive a few points on my driving license.

  As it happened, my own ticket-selling partner had gone from Longford to Dublin for the Roscommon-Mayo matches a few weeks ago, and she had a similar horror story about her experiences on the train. And so it begs the question – is there no regulation, safety-wise, over the rail network, and is overcrowding, which seems to occur very often, acceptable, even though it is a form of public transport?

  Some years ago, as a hackney driver, I had a minibus which was licensed to carry eight people. One night I was stopped by a Garda when I had one too many people on. I was warned if it happened again I would lose my license, and, while I was let off on that occasion, I had to dispense with one passenger and continue on my way with the legal number of eight. I think the overcrowding issue on my minibus was to do with insurance, and by carrying nine people, I wasn’t covered; surely the same rule must apply to a train – and if it is meant to carry a certain number of people that should be the number on it.

  The stories I heard suggests this thing happens on a regular basis and I wonder, God forbid, if an accident did occur what would be the insurance situation if the train involved in this hypothetical accident was drastically overcrowded? The Road Safety Authority are doing great work highlighting road safety and careful driving, so why should Iarnrod Eireann be any different?

  Time after time, on the national and local airwaves, we hear the Iarnrod Eireann spokesperson, Barry Kenny, come up with various explanations for all kinds of failings in the rail system – including breakdowns, late arrivals and overcrowding. But the problems don’t seem to go away. Let’s hope and pray that my woman’s prediction of carnage in a carriage doesn’t come true, but, I, for one, wouldn’t bet on it. 

Pride and joy despite defeats

Those of us who follow the fortunes of the local football and rugby teams had a tremendous day last Saturday, when the footballers took on Oran in the quarter-final of the Intermediate Championship at 4 pm in the Hyde, and the rugby lads played host to Castlebar, under lights, in The Green at 8 pm.

  I had to close the shop at 3.30 to be in time for the football, and even though the lads went down by a point, as always they gave everything they had, and can look back with pride on two amazing years of championship football in which they remained unbeaten until last Saturday.

  One of the great things about Creggs footballers is they can handle defeat with the same grace as when they win, and if a stranger ventured into Mikeen’s on Saturday night they might well have been forgiven for thinking Creggs had won the All-Ireland, such was the level of craic and fun that the team and management were having.

  The rugby lads also went down by a small margin, but they too played very well and it was great credit to Tom Fleming, who played all of both games, and Mark Brandon, who played all the rugby and was involved in the football for a while, that they played so well in the two contests.

  A number of the rugby lads from the old days were in the village, and it was great to have a pint or two in Mikeen’s with Liam Callaghan and Barry Kilcommons and reminisce of fun and games in days gone by.

* Sticking with local matters, and we are almost ready for the dance in Dowd’s this Saturday night. We are making our last door to door calls so hopefully we have got to you all. If not, try to get to Glinsk on Saturday night, where Jimmy Kearney and The Lancers will have you hopping the whole night long. It’s all for Cancer Care West and the Lourdes Invalid Fund.

And finally…

Finally for this week, it’s great to have a positive story to finish with, and the handful of volunteers in Creggs Tidy Towns who have laboured so hard for so long – with very little support – have finally been rewarded with a major national award in this year’s competition.

  The new leisure walk route in Creggs was recognised with a special €1,000 Sustainable Development Award, and it is fit recognition for Carmel O’Roarke and her few loyal hard-working volunteers.

  It was great to see our little village listed among the national winners on the front of the Irish Independent, so, congrats to all who give up so much of their time to make Creggs a better (and nicer) place to live in – and very well done.

 

Watching Mayo’s latest heartbreak, in beautiful Sligo

 

It’s All-Ireland Football Final Sunday, and Carol and I are heading off to Enniscrone, (now, thanks to some genius in some office somewhere, known as Inishcrone), to meet up with a couple of friends who are ‘holiday-making’ in the beautiful County Sligo town.

  We take a route that I used to take years ago when I was working in Ballina, and naturally enough, there was a sea of red and green all the way down. Ballyhaunis, Knock, Kiltimagh, Foxford and Ballina were all at their most colourful, and even passing through those towns, you couldn’t help but sense the optimism and the belief that this time, Sam Maguire would finally make it back across the Shannon and into the adoring arms of the long-suffering Mayo people.  On we went, and with about 15 minutes to throw-in, we pulled into the large car park that serves the Diamond Coast Hotel. In we went to the bar to meet our friends, only to find a huge crowd assembled there, a big majority of the watching throng all supporting the men from the west, although one young hardy lad –  who was there with his girlfriend – was brave enough to be wearing the blue of the Dubs.

  The atmosphere was terrific, and we found out later that a number of the Mayo followers, all of whom were fully togged out, had been at a wedding in the hotel the day before and were continuing with the celebrations, and – fair play to her – the bride of the previous day was clad from head to toe in the Mayo colours. The outfit that had most certainly been got for the next day ‘hooley’ never got to see the light of day – no harm done, she can wear it on the honeymoon!

  Everyone knows how the game went – Mayo, once again, had it in their grasp, only to lose it so cruelly that it makes you think maybe there really is a curse. In the Diamond Coast, the Mayo supporters were practically dumbstruck, and when the final whistle went all was deathly quiet – even the lone Dub couldn’t find it in himself to celebrate, so sorry was he for the heartbroken Mayo followers. 

Time to get those dancing shoes out…

Kevin Kelly has asked me to let you know that on Friday night, the 22nd of September, there is a super ceili taking place in Kilbegnet Hall, with music by the excellent Duntally Ceili Band, with dancing from 9.30 pm to 12.30 pm.

  These dances are always great craic, well attended, and indeed worth attending, so on your bike, or even your car, and get to Kilbegnet Hall on Friday night. Tell Kevin I sent you, and you might even get a cup of tea and a bun.

  Sticking with entertainment, and there is less than a fortnight to the dance in Dowd’s for Cancer Care West and The Lourdes Invalid Fund, so we are trying to get tickets to you all. If we miss one or two of you, don’t worry! You can still visit us on the night, Saturday, 30th of September, in Dowd’s, Glinsk.

  (All who turn up in person, as well as being able to buy raffle tickets for various prizes, will automatically be in for a special door prize, which is a €100 voucher for dinner and wine at the Abbey Hotel).

  Looking forward to seeing you all, having a good night’s fun, and raising a few bob for two very worthy causes.

* On my journey with the dance tickets on Tuesday night, I met Mickey Ward, and he asked me to tell you all that the renowned Roscommon Solstice Choir are putting on a concert in the Hodson Bay Hotel on Sunday, 24th of September at 8 pm. The admission is only €10, so for a night of fabulous musical entertainment, get to the Hodson on Sunday night (See feature in this issue).

‘Till next week, Bye for now

 

Taking heart from Tribesmen's victory

 

Taking heart from Tribesmen’s victory

 

It's Monday morning and I find myself heading off to NUIG Hospital in Galway, a place that has almost become a second home to me over the last few weeks. On my way, I tune into Galway Bay FM and thoroughly enjoy their fantastic coverage of the morning after the night before from the City West Hotel, where Galway hurling teams had celebrated their brilliant All-Ireland winning double success, with a banquet attended by 1,700 supporters.

  I cannot explain what it was like to be a Galway man on this most wonderful of days. As I made my way to the ticker department it was just magic listening to great Galway hurling legend, Joe Connolly, along with a host of other well-known Galway men, talking about how much the All-Ireland victories meant to them – and if my heart didn't already have enough problems of its own, I think it could have burst with pride.

  I realised, maybe for the first time, that the Galway hurling team is for all of Connacht and people from all the other counties, who would normally stick you over a football match, were all shouting for the Maroon and White and praying that the Liam McCarthy Cup would make its way, once again, across the Shannon.

  In fact, on Sunday morning I got a text from a Roscommon woman, who when the footballers were playing each other a few weeks ago would probably have looked the other way if we met, wishing Galway all the best and hoping that they would win.

  I know thousands of words will have been written about the match and the victory but three events mean that I will never forget the day as long as the old ticker holds out.

  The first was the Keady factor and the obvious enormous regard that the late Tony was held in by everyone, not only in Galway, but also in the entire hurling world.

  The second was the fact that Joe Canning finally got his All-Ireland medal on the day that his nephew Jack was named man of the match in the minor final.

  Finally, the third was the superb speech given by the Galway captain, David Burke. I have always felt that there is no bigger opportunity for someone to either make a total ass of themselves or else cover themselves in glory than when making a victory speech after a major win, and David Burke did the latter. His words proved why he was such an inspirational leader and captain to a superb group of hurlers.

  The party will go on long into the next weeks and months and, after twenty-nine years, why not!

 

Golfing for

Haitian kids

 

A good Galway man, Michael Nolan from Ballygar, recently sent me a letter that would make you realise that we are very fortunate to live where we do.

  Michael has been doing volunteer work in Haiti, where a massive earthquake in 2010 left quarter of a million people dead, 300,000 badly injured and one and a half million homeless. In truth, conditions there are still inhumane with half the population trying to survive on the equivalent of less than €2 a day.

  Michael and his friends have organised a fundraising golf classic in Roscommon Golf Club on Friday, 8th and Saturday, 9th of September. All funds raised will go to ‘Our little Brothers and Sisters Orphanage, Haiti’, where there are 435 children, aged from 3 years to 18 years, all of whom told stories of starvation, isolation, and abandonment before they were rescued by the orphanage.

  If you can, get to Roscommon Golf Club this Friday or Saturday. A team of 4 is only €100 and if you can’t make it you can sponsor a tee box for €50 and your kindness and generosity may make all the difference to some young, unfortunate and desperate human beings.

  As I watched all the kids in Pearse Stadium this evening (Monday) enjoying the homecoming of their heroes, it was hard not to think of their counterparts in Haiti; children who haven’t seen anything except hardship, poverty and deprivation. Please help Michael and his friends in their fundraising efforts.  

 

Tea Party,

American style!

 

Finally for this week, two items of local interest; firstly, Mary Kelly tells me that there is an American Tea Party in Kilbegnet Hall on September 15th at 8 pm. All proceeds will go to towards funding the annual senior citizens' party.

  The senior citizens' party is one of the great social occasions of the year with all food, drink and music supplied free of charge. However, it takes a lot to fund it and the organisers need all the financial support they can get.

  We are also taking to the highways and byways this week with tickets for the dance in Dowd's on Saturday, September 30th – so we hope to see you soon.

 

 

Reflections on Mayo, Mayweather – and McGregor’s millions!

 

 

On Saturday night in Mikeen’s, sport was high on the agenda with the wonderful win for Mayo footballers in the All-Ireland semi-final over Kerry (which I forecast rightly) and the following day’s Dublin v Tyrone battle (which I got hopelessly wrong) – both being discussed but overshadowed by the eagerly-awaited Mayweather and McGregor multi-million dollar world championship boxing match.

  The overwhelming feeling I got was that my generation and those a little younger had very little interest or support for the Dublin fighter, but the youth were completely on his side, and that he is a modern-day hero to thousands of the young Irish all over the globe.

  I was totally convinced that there was no way that I would watch the fight and after the few pints of Mikeen’s best porter, I headed off to my bed.

  Miraculously, I woke at 4 am and made my way downstairs to where four or five family members were having a mini-boxing match/party and against all my intentions –and even principles – I watched the whole thing and didn’t even fall asleep.

  The result was perfect for both fighters –Mayweather kept his unequalled unbeaten record and also preserved the little remaining integrity that boxing has, while McGregor performed well enough to justify the whole charade, and each of them made hundreds of millions of dollars from the exercise.

  Even if it had been fixed, which of course I am not insinuating, it could not have turned out any better.

  My niece Aoife, and my nephew Matthew, made it to the weigh-in and it was just savage. So who am I to show any cynicism towards the whole thing? The end result for McGregor is that according to today’s papers, he has a book deal and a film deal signed, which will make him a billionaire. Not bad for a lad who was a trainee plumber only five years ago. 

 

Why everything’s Rosy in Tralee

 

It was more than thirty years ago when Carol and myself found ourselves on a little break in the lovely Kerry seaside town of Ballybunion. We went into the then iconic pub called Sean J D’s, and by accident ended up watching one of the early televised editions of the Rose of Tralee.

  I have to say that I actually enjoyed that first viewing of what is now one of the late summer highlights on the national television station and over the years I have generally managed to tune into at least one of the two nights that the show is broadcast over.

  A few years ago, I thought the whole thing was getting a bit tacky and for a while we had to listen to loads of bull from some of the Roses who all seemed to be dedicated to saving the planet from all kinds of environmental disasters and who all had highfaluting notions of “making a difference.”

  Thankfully this year, I thought the girls were extremely natural, all very grounded and comfortable in their roles. They were very confident, capable and talented and in my humble opinion, by far the best group of girls that I have ever seen in the competition. In fact if I was a judge (which, sadly I don’t think I will be) I would have been happy to pick any one of the thirty-odd girls – or probably any of the thirty or so who didn’t make the live show – confident that she would be a thoroughly perfect Rose of Tralee and a good representative for the festival all around the world.

  I am aware that not that many men admit to watching the Rose, but having been bitten by the bug all those years ago in Ballybunion, I still enjoy it – and not even Daithi O Se can wean me off it. To have such an international festival, which stretches to every corner of the world, is some achievement and, like it or not, the Rose of Tralee brand is a massive money-spinner for Ireland and especially the Kingdom of Kerry.

Weather woes

If you remember last week I had a bit of a rant at having to spend a week or two living in what I regarded as one-room bedsit conditions, but after what happened to so many unfortunate people in the north-west of this country and also in America, many of whom lost their homes entirely due to extremely abnormal torrential rainfall, I realise my predicament wasn’t so bad – and I take all my whinging back.

And finally…

Finally, a reminder to readers that the big fundraising dance in aid of the Lourdes Invalid Fund and Cancer Care West is coming up. Music is by the hugely popular Lancers. Ticket sellers will shortly be calling to your doors and hopefully we will raise loads of money to help both wonderful charities and we look forward to having another great night in Dowd’s of Glinsk.

Till next week, Bye for now! 

 

Memories of those bedsit days!

 

 Back in 1968, as a very young innocent country lad, I headed off to the bright lights of our Capital to start work in the Bank of Ireland. Like almost everyone who came up from the country, I ended up staying in a one-bedroomed bedsit in Rathmines.

  Now a one-room bedsit was, as they say, exactly what it says on the tin – a tiny room with a cooker, a bed, a small little wardrobe, an even smaller table and one chair – and basically that was it. The toilet was a communal one, in the hall, serving maybe the three or four bedsits that were situated on each of the respective floors. All was grand until some of my friends would call and then the bed, table, the only chair and oftentimes the floor, became emergency seating areas, and if one person needed to visit the toilet, it was like musical chairs – everyone had to move around to enable the ‘afflicted’ person go to the loo.

  Even when I was on my own, which was most of the time, I had to be very careful moving around and I often think it was a blessing that at that time I weighed in at a miserable eight stone. If I was my present portly sixteen plus stone, I would surely have left half my belly on the sharp corners of the kitchen table.

  Funny enough, from the time I left Dublin, I never again inhabited a bedsit. In Listowel and Ballinrobe I was in excellent digs where I was well fed and had the use of all the home facilities, while in Sligo and Ballina I shared houses with a number of other lads, and I also spent a few memorable years in the lovely Quarry House in Roscommon.

  Anyway, the bedsit days all came back to me this last week as, thanks to a bit of work we are doing on the house in Crosswell, we found ourselves more or less living, cooking and eating in the sitting room. Now we still had the bedrooms – but with no kitchen, downstairs toilet, or any of the ordinary utensils.

  It has been an interesting few days and at the weekend when we had a good few family members home it certainly tested our patience and resolve. No cooker means we have been living on imported food, readymade dinners, takeaways, eating out, etc. – and it has been awkward – but as I write this on a horrible wet Monday morning, the worst may be over and please God we will be back to normal – whatever that is – in a couple more days.

  Anyway, even though we live in a pretty modest home, I think we will appreciate it a bit more when we can say goodbye to our bedsit living.

Full-blooded GAA action!

Sunday was a great footballing day and I was at a real rollercoaster of a match; the third round intermediate championship game between Creggs and St. Dominic’s. After a titanic battle our lads just edged it by a point, 0-11 to 1-7. The non-stop rain made for a full-blooded contest and no matter what they say there is nothing like championship football to stir the blood of players and spectators alike. This game had everything that is good (and some bad) in club football, with total commitment from all the players. After a start in which they had a goal and three points on the board before Creggs scored, Dominic’s must be wondering how they lost this one –and, in truth, they were in hard luck.

  For us however, it was a big win and having secured our place in next year’s O’Gara Cup, we can look forward to another couple of championship matches at least, and hopefully they will be as entertaining as yesterday’s one, though I would say my old ticker couldn’t stand many as tight as that one.

  Later in the afternoon I saw the wonderfully competitive All-Ireland semi-final clash between Kerry and Mayo, and yet again the Mayo men proved that for heart, commitment, effort and resilience, they are in a league of their own and I just pray they didn’t leave it behind them. I felt coming in that they had the measure of the Kerry men and nothing I saw yesterday has changed my opinion, and so I believe we will see the green and red in Croke Park again in a few weeks’ time. Whether they can beat either the Dubs or Tyrone is another matter, but please God they will get the chance.

  Before I leave the game, what a performance by 33-year-old Andy Moran. His display was one of the best I have ever seen by a corner-forward, and in this age of super-fit non-stop running forwards, he fairly flew the flag for the older player, proving that age really is only a number.

And finally…

We are getting excited about the big dance in Dowd’s, Glinsk on Saturday, 30th of September for Cancer Care West and Lourdes Invalid Fund.

  Once again, we will have our usual committed team of ticket sellers out calling. As with last year, the reigning parish personality of the year, Tom Connolly, will be visiting you in the near future, while hopefully I will have my usual gang on duty. We will try to call to you all over the next few weeks.

  The Lancers will provide their normal fabulous entertainment, we will have the usual raffle and spot prizes and we hope to have a special door prize for those who turn up on the night.

  Looking forward to seeing you all and I know that, as always, you will support two wonderful charities!

Till next week, Bye for now! 

 

In praise of Phoenix Park – and can Galway hurlers rise like a Phoenix?

 

One of the things I’ve learned as I get older is that there are not that many advantages to being old – but the free travel is definitely one of them. It surprises me that apparently very few of those entitled to it actually make use of it.

  Up to now, after qualifying for it more than four months ago, I too had made very little use of it, but on Saturday evening after work I boarded the direct bus service to Dublin, which left Athlone shortly after 5 pm, which had me in Bus Áras sometime before 7 pm. I was going up to visit my daughter, who lives in a place called Carpenterstown, an area I had never heard of before this – but it certainly exists – and shortly after 8 pm I found myself in the appropriately named Carpenter pub, which was already absolutely buzzing.

  We had excellent grub and a few sociable drinks in the massive public house, which had at least four large bars together with a function room, which was hosting an 80th birthday party, and, not for the first time, I realised that Dublin and its surrounds is a very different animal to what lives out in rural Ireland.

  Sunday afternoon, and I was heading back to the bus station when we passed through the Phoenix Park. While I have spoken in glowing terms about the Park in a previous article, it wasn’t until Sunday that I realised how much of an asset it is to the citizens of the Capital city. There was an enormous number of people roaming round the thousands of acres and the freedom it afforded dog owners and parents of young children was just brilliant. Everywhere there were children of all ages running through the long grass, and it was marvellous to see.

  Dogs could safely be let off the leash and were free to run around the place. There were football games and soccer matches and I even caught a glimpse of cricket players looking resplendent in their whites, while families were happily having their picnics in the beautiful surroundings.

  We meant to visit the zoo but time was against us, but the next time the zoo will be on the agenda and I will have a chat with my relations, the monkeys and the giraffes and all the other zoological stars, and hopefully it won’t be too long until I once again visit the big city.

  As I got into the city centre I couldn’t but notice all the Cork supporters in their red and white jerseys milling round the place, and even though I had no idea who had won the hurling semi-final I correctly assumed that Cork had lost and that these supporters had to have left Croke Park long before the final whistle. I was actually hoping they would win as I believe Galway will struggle big time against Waterford, who seem to have the Indian sign on us – but I suppose this would be the best time to get a win over the Deise men and please God, the wait since 1988 will come to an end.

  Talking of 1988, little did I know as I talked about the wonderful half-back line of that team in last week’s piece, that one of them, Tony Keady, would pass away just as the paper was being printed. I didn’t ever meet him but as a hurler he was one of the best ever to wear the maroon and white, while as a person, he was obviously just as special, and the fact that more than 15,000 mourners, including very many former teammates and opponents, went to his funeral speaks volumes as to his standing in both the game and the wider community. May he rest in peace.

Big annual fundraiser is coming up

It’s hard to believe that it’s almost time for our annual fundraising dance – with all proceeds going equally to the Lourdes Invalid Fund and Cancer Care West.

  This year once again we are in Dowd’s, Glinsk, with music by The Lancers on Saturday, 30th of August. Admission is optional.

  I don’t have to tell anyone in the general area about the wonderful work both of these charities do and it’s been a privilege to be involved in this fundraising venture for quite a few years now.

  As in other years we will be calling door to door with the tickets over the next few weeks, and as always we rely on your generosity, which has always been amazing. I look forward to seeing you all, and hopefully we will have the usual team on the road, starting – for me at least – next Monday night.

 

 

Tipp-ing my cap to Joe and Co. – ‘Are you watching, Neymar?’

 

It’s early Sunday morning and once again all my Saturday night plans have come unstuck. I had intended to get to PJ’s in Castlecoote to hear the Luke Kelly soundalike, Jim Gallagher, who I’m told played to a full house and was just brilliant, and then I was going to go to Nathan (like Elvis – no need to mention his surname) in Ballygar, but I ended up going nowhere.  

  Anyway, I’m up early on Sunday morning when I get a phone call from a friend of ours who is travelling on the motorway outside Athlone. She is actually heading south but she can’t get over the number of cars on the road that are flying Galway flags. She wants to know if Galway footballers are playing in the All-Ireland final in Croke Park (she is not that well up in sport), and I tell her that hell will have frozen over before that happens again, that Donald Trump will be Pope, and that Elvis will have made a comeback, and many other crazy things will have occurred, but that today the Galway hurlers are once again heading to the Capital hoping to get to the final and have another shot at ending the almost thirty-year wait for the McCarthy Cup.  

  During the week, Neymar, the Brazillian superstar footballer, moved from Barcelona to Paris St. Germain for €222 million, and after getting a paydeal worth more than €575,000 a week, told us that he didn’t move for money; that he felt he needed new challenges and that he felt a spell in Paris would provide those challenges. His arrival in the French Capital might also be to do with his reputation for partying, as rumour has it that he likes to burn the candle at both ends.

  Also during the week, the hurlers of Tipperary and Galway were going about their ordinary daily chores in whatever jobs they have as they prepared for their All-Ireland semi-final meeting for the third year in a row.

  It is now Monday afternoon, and almost twenty-four hours later, I am still buzzing at the unbelievable game of hurling that unfolded in Croke Park yesterday and while Galway’s victory makes the buzz even better, the fact remains that it took two teams, almost forty players, every one of whom left everything on the pitch, to serve up a contest that absolutely fizzled for the entire game. Sure, there were loads of mistakes, and the Galway first touch was not so good (as a player who once got to a Junior County Hurling Final with Creggs, I’m more than qualified to pass judgement), but the sheer intensity, the quality and power of the hits, the manliness of all the players, and of course, the outrageous score that Joe Canning produced to win the match, meant that this was an epic contest that will never be forgotten by this maroon and white scribe.

  All of these players are amateurs who will be back on the day job this week and as I thought about Neymar’s more than half-a-million a week, I wondered what price Joe Canning or Seamus Callanan or Galway’s man mountain Gearoid McInerney. As all of us who followed the great team of the 1980s know his father Gerry was a member of one of the greatest half-back lines of all time – alongside Tony Keady and Pete Finnerty – and it’s some tribute to his son that he seems to be just as good as his father.

  Anyway, I rang my friend after the game to tell her not to go on the motorway on the 3rd of September, as all Galway will be heading to Dublin that day.

 

Appalling murders

Yet again last weekend we have seen two more knife deaths; a homeless Polish man was stabbed almost 40 times before his body was dumped, while in Kilkee, 25-year-old father-of-one Karl Haugh was fatally stabbed in what a senior Garda said appeared to be a fight that got out of hand. Now that latter fact alone is a very worrying state of affairs, as it seems now that protagonists have no hesitation in producing and using dangerous weapons. I have said before that in our young days, fists were used to settle differences that eventually moved on to kicking and uncontrolled use of the boot, and presently the use of the knife or the gun.

  Whatever happened in Kilkee, neighbours say several young men went door to door looking for the eventual victim, so obviously there was something brewing. All I can say is I hope the thugs that murdered both men firstly get caught and secondly get the proper sentences their appalling crimes deserve.

McStay graceful after Rossie exit

I have no doubt the sports pages will dissect and analyse every aspect of the big Mayo win on Monday. For me the biggest thing was the realistic approach that Roscommon manager Kevin McStay took to the result. His interview immediately after such a disappointing defeat, was sensible, calm, realistic and graceful, and in my opinion, a credit to him in difficult circumstances.

  As for the Rossies, while it was a sad end to a great year, the challenge for them is to build on their Connacht final win. The challenge for all counties is to close the gap on the big four (like Elvis and Nathan I don’t need to name them), and I have to say that it will take an enormous effort from those who make up the rest.

And finally…

Finally for this week, Dowd’s in Glinsk is the place to be next Saturday night, when Caislean Oir are holding their big fundraising dance with the mega draw for the car or €10,000 taking place, so make sure you get your ticket because if you’re not in, you can’t win.

 

Till next week, Bye for now!

 

 

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