It’s Monday morning – and out here in Crosswell, the telly is on the blink, and so we are listening to the radio. One of the big talking points is the “very frightening” protest that took place on Sunday afternoon outside the home in Co. Wicklow of Health Minister Simon Harris.
Now the dogs on the street know about the controversy the minister finds himself embroiled in, i.e. over the massive overspending on the new Children’s Hospital, and the misinformation he provided to the Dáil regarding when he found out about the spiralling costs…but no matter how angry people are over the huge mess, there surely can be no justification in targeting a politician’s home.
What makes it even more disgusting is the fact that Harris’s wife, Caoimhe, and their three-week-old daughter, Saoirse, were in the house at the time. While we all have a right to protest, we do not have a right to impinge on a politician’s private life. There is nothing wrong with approaching the minister in public places and telling him that you don’t agree with him or his performance, and of course the ultimate place to protest is at the ballot box. And judging by all the controversies that are flying around the place, including the never-ending Brexit saga, the political analysts are predicting that a chance to vote in a general election may be coming sooner rather than later. That’s where we should be making our protests.
As for the Children’s Hospital, not only is the cost of the project causing major problems, but in my opinion the location – on the site of the old St. James Hospital right in the city centre – is totally ridiculous.
As someone who experienced the problems my daughter had when working in the hospital with regard to parking and accessibility, I pose this question: how much worse is it going to be when parents and relations from all over the country are turning up to admit, and visit, their sick children? If there is no parking available there now, what will it be like when the new facility is eventually up and running? I shudder to think.
Rainy day in Knock…
Last Tuesday, despite the slightly inclement weather, Carol and myself decided to make our more or less annual visit to Knock. So we hit off a little before midday in the newly ‘NCT passed’ Volvo, looking forward to the peaceful walk round the lovely Marian Shrine. However, as we headed off in the general direction of the renowned Mayo village, the weather took a decided turn for the worse, and by the time we got there the rain was literally pelting down on top of us.
In all the years we have been going there we had never seen it so deserted. A handful of hardy pilgrims was all that could be seen…a couple of old women (probably younger than me) making their way, despite the downpour, between the different Churches while clutching tightly to their wind-blown umbrellas; a few men saying their prayers where the original apparitions took place; and a mother and her young child sheltering in the doorway of the Basilica.
Even the stalls, which hold a huge attraction for me – especially the one that has one of the biggest ranges of Irish country music DVDs, CDs, videos and tapes anywhere in the country – were closed, and only the three or so traditional shops on the Main Street were open for business, selling their thousands of different religious products. Although on last Tuesday they too were unusually quiet. We were on the trail of a big Sacred Heart picture – as a present for a friend of ours – and thankfully we managed to get one.
Before we left the rain-soaked village, we went for a much-needed lunch in the Old Ground Restaurant, the only place that seemed to be open. In contrast to the rest of the town, it was quite busy, and we enjoyed a lovely meal as the rain outside got heavier and heavier.
Funny enough, as we passed the Day Care centre near the Basilica on our way back to the car, the music was blaring out all around the place and it seemed to be wedged with people of all ages – but tempting as it was to join them, the weather won and we (almost literally) set sail for our own little village.
I am not the most religious person in the world, but, rain or no rain, we enjoyed our visit, and it won’t be as long again before we are back.
Ploughing bound for Hanley farm
On to local matters: a few years ago (in 2014), the Hanley farm, just down the road, put Creggs and the surrounding areas on the map when they hosted the International Sheep Dog Trials. More than 20,000 people flocked to the fine Roscommon farm, and this week I hear that the County Roscommon Ploughing Championships are coming to the same place in the early part of the month of April.
The National Ploughing Championships is now the biggest social event that takes place in the entire island of Ireland, and the County Championships are similarly well supported in all the individual counties. It is a great news story for our area to hear that it is set to host this year’s event. The exact date and more details will be announced in the coming weeks, but for now we are more than happy to invite you all to Creggs for an early April day out.
We look forward to seeing you all, and please God Marty Morrissey won’t be here to show us his great skill as a ploughman, or to show off his dancing skills! Maybe Willie Hegarty might get the gig.
Till next week, Bye for now!