A very long time ago, when I used to spend a lot of my school holiday time on my uncle’s farm in Tipperary, the only television set in the area was in George Johnson’s house about a mile and a half away, near the little village of Barna. If the Tipp hurlers were playing in an All-Ireland final, or maybe even a semi-final, myself and Uncle Mikey would head off and join twenty or so other locals to watch the match in the Johnsons’ kitchen.
It’s funny how times have changed, because those visits were nearly an event in themselves. The Johnsons would have all the chairs laid out neatly like you would see in parish halls nowadays when plays or concerts are taking place. There was an unwritten rule that you must be seated in good time well before the match started, and on the odd occasion when someone would arrive late, they would be well and truly chastised.
At half-time, Mrs. Johnson, the woman of the house – a lovely jolly lady – would bring out plates of ham sandwiches and cups of warm tea, and all would be devoured while the events of the opening half were discussed. There were no panels or pundits back then, so you did all the analysis yourself, or at least all who went to Johnsons did. When the tea and sandwiches were done for, everyone settled back and got ready for the second half. When the game was over, the same thing happened – more tea and sandwiches – and no-one rushed away until the whole thing was thoroughly analysed. It could be well into the evening before Mikey and I made the return journey home.
I hadn’t that much interest in Tipperary hurling back then, but I used to love the ham sandwiches, and the Johnsons had a great big farmyard where a young lad who had no iphone or any other type of modern gadget to curtail his imagination, could spend hours on end just messing round and making his own fun. Oh how things have changed in the countryside, where most of us hardly know our next-door neighbours now, and where no-one ever calls to visit any more.
I suppose of all the things that have changed since those happy days it’s unlikely that anything has changed as much as television. At first there was no daytime television at all, with programmes only starting in the evening, and of course then we only had RTE 1, which launched on New Year’s Eve 1961, until RTE 2 came on board seventeen years later in 1978.
Nowadays we have hundreds of channels. Daytime television is an accepted part of our modern society, there are more and more sports channels appearing almost weekly (all of which we have to pay for), every act on a pitch is examined in minute detail, and reality TV, which I cannot stand, has nearly cornered all the light entertainment market. Throw in a myriad of quiz shows, never-ending series’ of cookery shows – which have made household names of chefs like Neven Maguire, Darina Allen, Gordon Ramsey and loads more – and what we now have is an extensive range of unwatchable stuff on our TV screens, with only an odd decent show like Blue Bloods or NCIS to keep me occupied.
Nothing is sacred now in the television world, and two programmes in the last week made me think back to the days when it all started out. The first was on one of the early morning shows (actually more like mid-morning) and if I didn’t see it myself I would not have believed it. Among the guests were a wedding planner (another modern phenomenon) and her client, which, normally enough, was a young enough lady. What wasn’t so normal was the fact that the lady in question was going to marry her duvet, which she explained she was head over heels in love with.
Pascale Sellick is having a “lavish ceremony”, on February 10th in Devon, England. She is not telling anyone what the groom, i.e. the duvet, will be wearing, and everyone, including me and you, is invited to a free wedding party afterwards. I have seen and heard many a daft thing on telly down through the years, but that, in my opinion, took the biscuit. I’m looking up the flights to Devon at the moment, as I would imagine it should be some craic – can’t wait for the groom’s speech!
The other thing that made me think back to the early days of television was the coverage of the Mayo-Roscommon football match last Saturday night in Castlebar, when the wind was so strong that the camera could not be kept steady. As a result it was almost impossible to keep watching the game.
It was strange to realise that even with all the improvements in technology and with the most up to date cameras, the weather can still affect the quality of the production. In truth, the shaky pictures would give you a headache. The wisdom of playing the game at all in such conditions would have to be questioned, but I suppose with almost 11,000 turning up, it had to go ahead. Back in the 1960s, when there was probably only one camera in use, it wasn’t uncommon to have shaky, grainy pictures, and nowadays while it is a bit unusual, it was reassuring, although also a bit worrying, to realise that nothing can neutralise the power of the elements.
As for the game itself, the nasty side of me would say that it was a blessing to miss some of it because of the bad coverage, but in fairness no-one should have to try to play in such barbaric conditions, and judgement on either team should not be made on the back of such a contest.
The Rossies have a really big game next Sunday in the Hyde against the ‘Dub beaters’, Monaghan, and that should give their supporters a better idea as to where the team is at. The only definite so far is that we are going to see a much more defensive set-up from the Rossies this year, and, in view of the results in the Super 8s last year, that can be no surprise. But I wonder will the performances lose the undoubted excitement of the last few years? We must wait and see.
In an overall assessment of the opening National League football weekend, it seems that we still have a lot of really negative set-ups in place, with Galway, sadly, still playing with everyone behind the ball. As someone who got no enjoyment out of following the maroon and white last year – because of the defensive tactics – I think that this year I will again be relying on our hurlers for any entertainment.
Can we beat the Auld Enemy?
This weekend the Six Nations rugby tournament kicks off and I am anticipating the battle to beat all battles when Ireland and England lock horns in the Aviva on Saturday.
Much as I hate to say it, there is no guarantee that we will win. The opening game in any tournament can be tricky, and so while I am confident that we can see off the Auld Enemy, I will not be rushing into Paddy Power with much of my hard-earned money.
One thing for sure is it will be no place for the faint-hearted, and I only hope that in World Cup year we escape without any serious injuries.
And finally…Super Sunday at The Green
Finally for this week, out here in Creggs we are looking forward to our own rugby battle on Sunday afternoon, when, in what may be the biggest and most important game held here for almost thirty years, we host our old enemy Connemara in an encounter that may well have a decisive bearing on the outcome of this year’s Connacht Junior One League.
I won’t go into the breakdown of the league table, but Connemara and Creggs are so close in every way that we could be twins, and should our visitors win on Sunday they will open a gap that may well be uncatchable.
However, I am quietly confident in the ability of our very young team, and with the backing of the huge crowd that I expect to see in Creggs on Sunday afternoon, I believe we will take a huge step towards bringing a long-awaited league title back to the village. I hope to see you all there on Sunday. Please give our lads the support they need and deserve. I can’t wait!
Till next week, Bye for now!