It’s Saturday evening, and after a busy enough day in the shop, I pull the door behind me. I have only one thing on my mind – and that is rugby – because the eagerly-awaited showdown in Cardiff between Wales and England has just kicked off, and I can’t wait to see if the Welsh can put a halt to the English gallop.
It’s five o’clock, and I decide to watch the game in the newly-refurbished bar in the Sheraton Hotel, but it was absolutely jammed, and even though there were two televisions showing it, it was difficult to either see or hear it.
Funny enough, very few of the big crowd seemed to be watching the action, as they all were eating or drinking, and – even at that early hour – they looked as if they were out for the night. I headed just up the road and settled on a welcoming high stool in Carey’s bar. It too was well crowded with a few early starters from a hen party, but most of the clientele were engrossed in the rugby, and all seemed to be supporting our Celtic brethren. It’s amazing how we all like to beat the English. If we can’t do it ourselves we delight nearly as much when someone else does.
It’s now Monday afternoon (as I resume writing) and it’s well documented how we all got our wish, and the English Chariot was derailed. Everyone in Carey’s was delighted. Once it was over I headed down to the Buccaneers rugby ground where our lads (Creggs) were taking on the local team in the penultimate league match of the season. Now the result didn’t go our way, but all of us who were lucky enough to be there witnessed a terrific encounter, with some top class rugby played by both sides.
As I watched from the sidelines of the main pitch, I couldn’t help but think that taking away the U-20 internationals from Dubarry Park and moving them to Cork was a big mistake. Maybe I am being a bit selfish, but in recent years I attended a number of U-20 matches in the Midland venue, and they were great occasions, the games played in splendid surroundings. There can be no doubt that for accessibility alone, Athlone is far and away the more convenient.
Earlier in the day, the Buccs had beaten St. Mary’s in an All Ireland League game, and our own Bill Flynn, a former fearsome prop forward, had taken in that match, watched the international in the Bounty, and then watched our lads in the evening – so he surely had a feast of top quality rugby. As a well-known student of the game, I’m sure he had a lot to discuss later on in the night.
Danny’s big night
Staying with Saturday night…I have to admit that I find watching any game that I have an interest in more demanding than when I actually used to play, and so by the time I made it home, I was only fit for a siesta on the couch in front of a nice warm turf fire. That’s why I missed out on a great night in Mulvihill’s in Castlerea, when my good friend, and one of the greatest people of all time, Danny Burke, had a surprise (to him) 80th birthday party.
I’m told that the Castlerea Brass Band led Danny up Barrack Street (from his home) to Mulvihill’s, with great crowds looking on, and the night that followed was one of song, laughter and great craic, just as the one and only Danny would have wanted and deserved.
I have had the privilege of knowing Ireland’s most renowned postman ever for nearly fifty years, and no words of mine could do justice to the contribution he has made in so many different ways to so many different organisations and communities. All I can say is I really regret not making it on Saturday night, but heartiest congratulations Danny, and, if we’re both still around in 10 years’ time, I will make your 90th. Happy birthday Danny, and here’s to many more.
Brexit is something that I have seldom if ever mentioned, but as someone who remembers being asked to get out of a car along with four other young (at the time) men who were going to play rugby for Corinthians up in Belfast, and having all our gear bags opened up, with stuff literally thrown around the road by British soldiers, I, along with many others, would not like to see a return to those bad old days.
However, there are many other little things that may cause problems, and one of those is the fact that a British driving licence may no longer be valid in Ireland. Two people that I know of who moved back here from England some years ago, and who have driven quite legally here since then on their British licences, are now frantically trying to get Irish licences before the dreaded No Deal comes to pass.
I have no idea if they will be successful, as I’m sure they will have to do a test, and I keep saying – although in truth I haven’t a clue (nothing unusual there, says you) that the No Deal won’t happen – but the people involved are scared they may find themselves in a licensing limbo which could invalidate both their licences and their insurance – and so they can’t take the chance. It’s just one very minor problem that a hard border may bring, so for all our sakes, let’s hope something can soon be sorted to prevent such a scenario.
Finally for this week, Jimmy Kearney of The Lancers’ fame has asked me to remind you all that the Roscommon Deanery fundraising dance in aid of the Lourdes Assisted Pilgrims Fund takes place on Friday, 8th of March in the Abbey Hotel, with dancing from 9 pm to 1 am.
Music will be provided by three of the best local bands…Frank Nelson, Patsy McCaul, and The Lancers themselves. It is for a great cause that helps so many individuals and families. There will be loads of spot prizes, and a raffle too. It all only costs €10, so if you can at all, get out the cowboy hat and the dancing shoes, saddle up your old horse, and get to the Abbey on Friday night, 8th of March, where you are guaranteed a top class night of music and dancing. See you there.
Till next week, Bye for now!