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Berkeley tragedy touches a nation

Featured Pictured at the launch of new playground facilities at Caisleán Oir Child Care, Glinsk were Eva Smyth, Bina Harris, Karen Devaney and Olivia Smyth. Picture: Andrew Fox Pictured at the launch of new playground facilities at Caisleán Oir Child Care, Glinsk were Eva Smyth, Bina Harris, Karen Devaney and Olivia Smyth.

I know it’s almost a week since the terrible accident in Berkeley, San Francisco (I am writing this on Monday morning), but even after all that time it is still hard to take in the enormity of the tragedy and the lifelong effect it will have, not only on the families of the six deceased, but also on the friends and families of the seven students who are, in some cases, still fighting for their lives.

Parents everywhere will be familiar with the small gnawing worry and pain that we all feel when our kids (although adults by then) are away, which is really only tempered with the realisation that we have to let them go – and thankfully in the vast majority of cases they come home again safe and well and all the better for the experiences they have gained in very many different parts of the world.

In 2001, on the occasion of 9/11, two of my children were in the USA and, even though they were well away from the actual impact points of the four hijacked planes, we were very glad when they finally managed to get out of America and it was a source of great relief when they were back on our own little island.

One of the many articles I’ve read this week talked about how most new parents think that all their worries about their children will disappear when they grow up! Nothing could be further from the truth, as at least when they are young, parents can protect them, keep them safe and generally know where they are. It all changes when they get older and even when they go out at night to discos or whatever, in their local towns, many mothers (particularly) will tell you they don’t sleep a wink until their son or daughter is safely tucked up asleep in their own beds.

To go through what all those families have in the last week or so is unimaginable and I certainly haven’t got the words to describe their pain and desolation, so all I can do is say a few prayers and hope that sometime in the future they may in some small way come to terms with their loss.

Please God, the injured will make good recoveries, although it will obviously take time and for the six deceased all I can say is may they rest in peace.

Gun law in America

Staying in America, surely something must be done to soon put an end to the sale of guns, which seem to be almost as easy to get as a packet of sweets, but which in the wrong hands so often result in terrible massacres, such as happened in a Church in South Carolina last week.

I am not a psychologist, some would say I might need one, but it’s impossible to figure out what goes through the mind of someone like 21-year-old Dylan Roof, who sat in the Church for a full hour before opening fire and killing nine black members of the South’s oldest African-American congregation. Roof was a hate-filled white supremacist, who wanted to start a race war, but at a service in the reopened Church on Sunday morning, which was a celebration of faith, love, dignity and courage, the overwhelming message was that his warped objective had failed.

Still, it’s just one of several such multiple-killings in America over the years – at least 70 in the last 20 years – and despite loud protestations from the gun lobby activists, it has surely now come to the stage that something must be done.

Barack Obama himself made reference to the fact that such mass killings do not take place on anything like the same scale in any other parts of the civilized world and he said it’s something that must be faced up to sooner rather than later.

I don’t understand how it can be right that practically anyone can buy a gun, or several guns, without any real vetting or monitoring in the US, but it doesn’t take rocket science to figure out that if you give weapons to everyone that wants to buy them, you are looking for trouble.

I suppose, as after every other incident, there will be an outcry for a few days and then all will be forgotten and nothing will change. We’ll wait and see.

Enjoyable trip to Carrigaline

Changing subjects, and going to nicer and better things, Carol and myself found ourselves spending the weekend in Carrigaline in County Cork and yet again it proved that when the weather is nice, it’s hard to beat our own country.

We were staying in an amazing place which seemed to be slightly off the beaten track, the Fernhill Golf and Country Club Hotel, a couple of miles outside the village of Carrigaline – and I can only tell you that if you ever find yourself down that way, you could do worse than give them a call.

The staff were extremely friendly, food was both good value and good, the pints of Guinness got a triple A rating and, to top it all off, the weather was amazing! I don’t do many weekends away so it was great to hit on such a beautiful place and thanks and well done to all in the Fernhill, especially barman Gerry.

It’s unlikely I’ll ever be back down that part of the world, but if I am I’ll certainly sample your hospitality again.

On the way home, in I think it was Buttevant, I saw a pub called Maureen’s and it reminded me of our own Maureen, who ran a most wonderful bar, Pigott’s, in Creggs for years and years. If I had time I would have gone in for a look but as I was trying to get home for the Creggs-Kilglass Junior Championship match in the Hyde, which Creggs won, I had to keep going.

However it was nice just to see Maureen’s and who knows, maybe sometime in the future I’ll be back.

By the way, I often hear people talking about places with strange names and as I passed through the village of Newtwopothouse, I thought to myself that it should be included, so Newtwopothouse is my entry in the strange names competition!

And finally…

Finally for this week, back in the 70’s and 80’s, Jury’s Hotel in Dublin ran the most amazing summer cabaret season, with all kinds of popular entertainers performing.

You had top singers like Tony Kenny or Red Hurley headlining the show, with comedians, Irish dancers and all sorts of musical artists completing the line-up.

The shows were always a sell-out and I myself went to see them a time or two when I was a young lad – and I thoroughly enjoyed them. Well, apart from one night when I was evicted, but that’s for another day.

The great news I have, is that the wonderful singer from Ballymoe, Annette Griffin, informs me that, starting on 8th July a similar summer cabaret season is coming to the McWilliam Park Hotel in Claremorris and it will be on the lines of the old Jury’s Cabaret.

Next week I’ll give you all the details, but this a most exciting development, so promise yourself you’ll take in at least one show before they end in early September and I can assure you, you won’t regret it.

‘Til next week

Bye for now

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