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Frankly Speaking

Frankly Speaking

Elections were better in the good old days!

 

 

 

 

Sometimes I wonder, as we look back at events that took place many years ago, whether the passage of time colours our memories and if subconsciously we dramatise or romanticise certain things when they were not nearly as dramatic or romantic as we would like to think.

  Was the weather as good as we older folk always claim it was? Were the never-ending sunshine filled summer days of the fifties and sixties, during which the farmers saved the hay and turf and later the corn, with the minimum of fuss, actually real or was it all just a figment of childish imagination?

  Were the local carnivals, which every village held for a week or a fortnight during the summer, really as exciting as our ageing minds like us to think? Or were the dances simply an excuse for filling up with a bucket of porter, and pushing and shoving for an hour or two in the hope (usually forlorn) of meeting a pretty girl before heading home in the early hours fortified by a cup of tea and a slice of cake, compliments of the ladies committee?

  All these thoughts came into my head last Friday evening when I headed off to my local polling booth, in Lisaniskey National School where there was some excitement missing. Once again, my mind drifted back to the scenes at Creggs NS on election day when I was a young lad. Back in those days it was pretty much a head to head between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, with an odd Labour candidate thrown in here and there.

  All the parties would mobilise on Election Day and cars would spend all day bringing people who had no transport into the village. Folk who wouldn’t be seen for the rest of the year would magically arrive into town courtesy of the local Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael driver. On occasion the driver would make a deliberate mistake, and pick up a voter who should be voting the other way but, of course, by giving them a lift in and out of town they would have a good chance of changing their mind! This practice often led to jostling and pushing and shoving at the door of the school, which to a young gasun was manna from Heaven!

  The other big difference was that most of the candidates would appear during the day, making a last ditch attempt to win over some undecided voters, whereas last Friday I saw no posters outside the school and, at least while I was there, not a candidate in sight. I did, however, run into a great Rossie, Padraic Whyte, and the next I saw him was on the front page of Monday’s Irish Independent as he celebrated Roscommon’s big win over Mayo in Castlebar on Saturday evening!

  Anyway, the elections are over and done with, congratulations to the winners and commiserations to the losers, but for me the excitement simply wasn’t there. No inter-party local row to report on, no pushing and shoving at the door, no punches thrown and not even a cross word spoken. Maybe, just maybe it’s a sign of a more mature Ireland. But I’d really have preferred to have had a good scrap outside Lisaniskey National School to tell you about…maybe next time!

 

Lough Key is a real gem!

 

Back in the days when our children were young, one of our favourite places to visit as a family was Lough Key Forest Park, outside Boyle. With its wide open spaces and beautiful walks and parks, it was the ideal place for kids to play football or do whatever young children do, in a completely safe and idyllic environment.

  Last Wednesday afternoon, my wife Carol and I decided to pay the park a visit for the first time in many years. I have to say we thoroughly enjoyed it and it is an absolute treasure to have it less than an hour away from us. The County of Roscommon should be so thankful that it has such a wonderful tourist attraction inside its boundaries.

  Since we were last there many big changes have taken place, with all kinds of activities available for both adults and children and there is also a fine new marina. All of these new attractions seemed to be busy on the Wednesday afternoon, which fortunately happened to be a lovely, bright, sunny one.

  However, the things that endeared the park to us all those years ago were still there and all around us kids were kicking ball, throwing Frisbees and generally enjoying themselves. We sat out on the balcony at the restaurant, over a cup of coffee and a bun and thought back to the days when it was our children that were playing out there. We wondered, not for the first time, where have all the years gone.

  Eventually it was time for us to head off home but not before buying a jar of the most beautiful homemade honey in the garden shop. All I can say is, if you want to experience total peace in wonderful, natural surroundings, then hop in the car and head for Lough Key Forest Park…you will not regret it!

 

I missed the social event of the year!

 

Finally for this week, last weekend I had to travel out of town for a medical appointment and as a result I missed one of the biggest social events held locally for quite a long time last Saturday: the sixtieth birthday celebrations of the former Personality of the Parish, Tom Connolly at Mikeen’s.

  I’m told it was one of the “best nights ever”, with a huge turnout, great music, food and craic, and as Tom is one of the great characters around the area, it is no wonder so many people turned out to join in the celebrations.

  The whole thing was a big surprise for the man himself, as he had no idea the party was taking place at all but one thing’s for sure, nothing fazes him and I’m certain he would not have been at a loss for words!

  I’m sorry I missed it, but heartiest congratulations to Tom and if I’m still around for your seventieth (doubtful, enough I’d say) I’ll make sure I’m there!

 

Till next week, Bye for now!

Living with a litigation culture

 

 

 

It’s Saturday morning, and I am at work in Athlone. One of the things I like to do (hope the boss doesn’t get the Roscommon People) before it gets busy is read the morning papers, and this morning I am struck by the number of reports there are on various (and totally different) types of lawsuits.

  ‘Solicitor to the Stars’ Gerald Kean won a libel case against The Star newspaper, and a payout of €160,000, in a case that (funnily enough) merited a big feature (including photos) in The Daily Mail, but doesn’t appear to have been covered in The Star itself!

  Meanwhile, a lady who sued after falling from her horse during a Hunt, lost her damages claim. As someone who has had minor involvement with Hunts people, I would have to question why this young lady was ever advised to go down the legal route, as to my untrained legal mind her case seemed to have very little chance of success.

  In a nutshell, she sued the Hunt and the landowner after she suffered severe injuries when she had a fall. However, the Field Master of the Hunt had inspected the obstacle and advised the riders not to jump it, deeming it to be too dangerous. Apparently the young lady had fallen too far behind and didn’t hear his instruction, but the Judge ruled she should have kept reasonably close to the Hunt Master (to be in a position to receive such advice).

  In other cases, a stores worker sued after bruising her eye, but she too lost her case as an award of more than €31,000 was overturned – the High Court Judge found it “was her own fault” – and a former amateur boxer who claimed €60,000 damages for injuries received in a car crash also had his claim dismissed. He had said the only sport he had taken part in since the accident was swimming, but social media had footage of him taking part in boxing, so he too lost his claim.

  The overall conclusion that I have come to is that we now live in a ‘sue environment’ but thankfully judges are at last showing some sense in dealing with these cases, and no longer dishing out ridiculous awards. My advice to you is, if you decide to follow someone for anything, stay off social media, or your every move will be documented and followed.

  Now it goes without saying that I am not in any way condoning this new culture, but like it or not it seems to be here to stay, and everyone and every organisation is fair game, so we all better be on our guard or someone will find a reason to make a claim.  

Is it time to call time on Eurovision?

I managed to miss the Eurovision Song Contest at the weekend, but I see on all the papers that Madonna’s appearance, and performance, was a complete disaster. One critic in the Daily Mail described it as a nightmare of a performance, while The Guardian simply said it was excruciating.

  Thankfully I missed it all, but it seems to me that it’s time to consign this contest to the scrapheap.

  Britain’s entrant, Michael Rice, who finished last with only 16 votes, said the vote was totally political, with everyone against Britain for leaving the EU, and there can be no doubt that by now the actual song is of very little consequence, and it’s all down to politics.

  However, the huge extravaganza generates so much money that there is no way it will ever come to an end. The Netherlands will host it next year, and  once again Ireland will fail to make the final, and Britain will come close to the bottom (they have been last four times in the last sixteen years), and the truth is even if we had the best song ever written, it would make no difference. We don’t have enough political pull.

  Despite putting big money into the contest each year, thereby keeping them out of the semi-finals, the UK has never been in the top 10 in the last decade. If things stay that way the day might yet come when ourselves and Britain simply say ‘what’s the point?’ – and we both pull the plug.

Two major golfing achievements…

This weekend the golfing world is celebrating two monumental achievements. The first one is I will refer to is probably the better-known one, and that is the history-making win for American Brooks Koepka, who became only the fourth man to win four majors in only eight attempts when he won the USA PGA title on Sunday.

  He joins three of the biggest names in golf – Woods, Nicklaus and Hogan – in doing that, and his name will forever be immortalised in golfing history.

  The second major feat may not be quite as well covered in the international media, but on Friday evening, in the Castlerea Golf Classic, a hitherto unknown player had the huge honour of getting a birdie at one of the two new holes that were in operation, competitively, for the very first time.

  That player was of course myself, and one of my playing partners, Alan Devine, (my brother Duff, and my publican Mikeen were the other two) took a photo of me as I celebrated my own history-making moment.

  I don’t know if it was the first ever birdie on this hole, but it doesn’t matter, as it was definitely on its first day of play. Anyway, Alan got it developed and framed, and on Saturday evening at the presentation of prizes in the clubhouse, I was presented with my own memento of my big moment, and in case you don’t believe me…the picture is printed right here for your pleasure.

  The Classic itself was a huge success, with more than forty teams competing over the two days. Liam and Valerie Callaghan, people with a very strong connection with Creggs Rugby Club, claimed the first prize along with two team-mates.

  The presentation night was really enjoyable. There was great music and craic, and all the speeches highlighted the huge effort put in by the club members, volunteers, and others to have the course in such pristine condition. The overwhelming feeling is that Castlerea Golf Club is in a good place and facing the future with confidence.

  As for me, I will never forget the day I made my own golfing history, and I thank Alan for recording the photographic evidence. I had intended to frame the ball I did it with, but unfortunately I sent it out of bounds at the next hole – and sadly I failed to find it. Such are the joys of golf at the highest level, but I can console myself with the thought that even Koepka had a few wobbles before he clinched his record-breaking win.

 

And finally…hurling heroics

Finally for this week, as the Roscommon footballers prepare for their big Connacht semi-final against Mayo in Castlebar on Saturday, what about the achievement of the hurlers, who, after two unexpected victories, over Kildare (home) and London (away), have made it through to the semi-final of the Christy Ring Cup.

  After the difficulties the hurlers had last year, it’s great to see them bounce back in such a positive way, and as hurling is confined to a relatively small area in the county, it must be a constant struggle to keep it alive.  

  As a result, any success is more than welcome, so very well done on their wins so far – and let’s hope they can keep up the momentum and maybe even win the Christy Ring. What a story that would be!

Till next week, Bye for now!

 

After rubbing shoulders with stars, it’s back to home comforts!

 

 

 

It’s another Monday morning, and I am once again sitting at the kitchen table writing away. The sun is splitting the stones outside, and you would be forgiven for thinking that I must still be in the beautiful sunshine of Spain’s Costa Blanca – but this time you would be wrong.

  I am down in Crosswell, home for the last couple of days, and like everyone else I am lapping up the unexpected but very welcome burst of May sunshine.

  Before I put our recent visit to Spain totally behind me, you might recall that last week I told you about the atmosphere all along the Strip, but especially in O’Riordan’s bar, for the Barcelona-Liverpool Champions League semi-final first leg, and how exciting it all was. Well, the return leg, when Liverpool produced one of the greatest comebacks ever – overturning a three-goal deficit – was even better, and the huge Liverpool support went stone mad.

  I hadn’t realised that Niall, the proprietor of the bar, is a huge supporter of the Merseysiders, and he led the many renditions of You’ll Never Walk Alone. I can only say it was a night I will never forget.

  Never one to run myself down, you might also remember that I was one of the few who predicted the outcome, and but for the fact that there is no gambling allowed in Spain, I would have had myself a little flutter, and a rare win. However, it was a mighty bit of craic, and when you factor in that on the following night we had Spurs’ own miracle when they brought off an even bigger comeback by scoring three away goals in a single half against Ajax, you really have to say that this made the two semi-finals probably the most exciting of all time. The all-English final should be very interesting and entertaining, and even though I am at best a lukewarm soccer supporter, I am looking forward to seeing another exciting battle.

  Also in O’Riordan’s, on one of the nights there we had the pleasure of running into one of our top actresses, Aoibhinn McGinnitty, a young Monaghan lady who is best known for a starring role in Love/Hate, and who was holidaying for a few days with her parents in the Cabo Roig area. She played the role of Trish, wife to the notorious Nidge, in the wonderful Love/Hate series. We got photographs taken with her. She was a lovely, friendly, pleasant young woman. We were the first to recognise her in the pub, but straight away the word got out, and before she knew it she was inundated with requests for photos and selfies, etc.

  Anyways, she seems to be still busy in what is a highly uncertain profession, but no matter what else she does, she will always be known for her performance as Trish, in what in my opinion was and is the best ever Irish-produced drama series. Why they didn’t knock another series or two out of it, I’ll never know!

  Still on the famous person trail, we also spotted the former world class snooker player, Willie Thorne, over the weekend, and he too had his fans. From what we could see he was thoroughly enjoying his visit to the little Spanish resort.

  Anyway, that’s it for another year (please God), and in truth it’s not that bad to be back, especially with the good weather, and the start of the hurling and football championships, and the return of The Sunday Game. It’s all to look forward to over the next few months.

 

Key role of local sports clubs

 

Looking back a little again, a couple of weeks ago I wrote about the importance of sport in the lives of our young people, and the way it can help to teach them the value of teamwork, sportsmanship and discipline, but I overlooked the hugely important roles that sports clubs play in the life – both economic and social – of our little towns and villages.

  We have often touched on the decline of rural Ireland, and there can be no doubt that places outside of the cities have suffered a lot over the last number of years, but can you imagine how much worse it would be if it weren’t for the GAA, rugby, soccer and other clubs that are continuing to help to keep our villages alive.

  All this came into my head on Saturday evening, when, if a visitor came to Creggs for the first time, he or she would think they were in a thriving, vibrant village – and certainly on Saturday last they would have been right.

  Earlier in the day, the Connacht Junior rugby team had a superb win over Munster in the Interprovincial series on our new 4G pitch, and after the Heineken Cup Final in which Leinster lost out to Saracens – not in Creggs, but over in Newcastle – the eagerly-awaited Mountain versus The Valley football game took place, and for most of the evening the village was literally bursting at the seams.

  Now I have to admit that I rarely miss out on the craic in Creggs, but my social exertions in Spain had taken their toll, and so I never got to Mikeen’s, where I’m told there was an almighty bit of fun, with a large number of rugby players and footballers mingling with each other and singing and dancing for hours on end.

  It all made me realise how vital clubs are to the life of every village, because, in fairness, while not every village has a rugby club, most of them – thankfully – have a football, hurling or soccer club, and the next time one of them calls to the door looking for support for a raffle or a draw, dig deep, give them a few bob, and remember they are the lifeline of your own community. Without them, and the support of the players, mentors and supporters, we would be very much worse off in every way imaginable.

And finally…

Finally for this week, the good people in Castlerea Golf Club, which as you know by now is one of my favourite places in the world, are holding a fundraising Golf Classic over this Friday and Saturday, the 17th and 18th of May. Teams of four, with food included, is only €160.

  There will be prizes for the longest drive, nearest the pin, and €1,000 for a hole-in-one. If the prize was for dropping it into the river, I’d have a great chance. Prizes will be presented in the clubhouse at 9 pm on Saturday night. There will be music and craic, and everyone is invited.

  There will be a timesheet in operation, so to book your place contact Catherine on 087-6182882 or Jimmy on 086-6071471. I have to work on both of those days, but with the long evenings in I should make it in time to try for the hole-in-one prize, and I hope to see you all there.

Letter from Spain: Climate change, Champions League…and craic

 

 

 

It’s Monday morning, and as I’m writing this, sitting at the kitchen table, it’s cloudy outside and I am thinking about global warming and climate change, and all that kind of stuff. I’m wondering what way they will affect our weather in the future – a future that my generation may not be around to see, but which our children and their children certainly will.

  Now the fact that it is cloudy outside on the Bank Holiday Monday would not normally register with me, but today I am on the east coast of Spain, in an area known as the Costa Blanca, where rain or cloudy conditions used to be very rare visitors. In all the years that we are coming here we have almost never seen a wet day…it would be a never-ending run of cloudless skies, glorious sunshine, and high temperatures, and if anyone went home as white as snow, well, it would be their own fault.

  And so last Tuesday night, as we took off from Dublin Airport, we wondered what kind of weather was in store for us. For the last few weeks curiosity had us keeping a close eye on the Spanish weather charts, and in truth it seemed to be raining almost non-stop over there.

  We had heard stories about beaches being almost washed away, and it was said that the Easter tourist trade was completely ruined. The taxi driver who collected us at the airport confirmed all that we had heard, but said the good news was that the worst was over and that all had settled back to normal.

  And as I write this, almost a week in, I can tell you that today is the first bit of cloud we have seen (it’s almost lifted now), temperatures are in the mid-20s (just ideal for us) and the sun will be back again in a few minutes. This is an area that relies entirely on sunshine to keep its thriving tourist trade alive, so any major weather change would cause enormous economic concern to the locals.

  Anyway, back to Dublin Airport, and as we finally got our place in the queue for taking off, we noticed a commotion at the front of the plane, where it transpired that a lady had taken ill. Credit to the Ryanair staff…it was all handled with total professionalism. We had to turn around and go back, and by the time we came to a halt, the ambulance had arrived, and medical personnel were on board in a matter of moments. After the usual examinations, the lady was brought off to hospital, and we later found out she had only fainted and will (please God) be fine.

  As for us, we took off ninety minutes late, but we were all glad to hear that the lady would be okay, and for an airline that gets a lot of bad press, I must say I was impressed with the way the staff handled it all, including, for a change, keeping us (the passengers) informed as to what was going on, and as to our possible departure time.

  The delay meant we were very late getting to Cabo Roig, and all we were fit for was bed. However, since then, we have caught up with the nightlife on the famous Strip, and I have to tell you tell you the craic is as good as ever, the Irish pubs are doing a roaring trade, and we have already bumped into a number of Rossies – and I’m sure we’ll meet a few more before we head back to the Emerald Isle.

 

‘Pool magic

 

Changing to sport, but staying in Spain, on Wednesday of last week I watched the Barcelona-Liverpool Champions League first leg semi-final in O’Riordan’s on the Strip – and it was a most interesting, enlightening and enjoyable experience.

  The place was absolutely wedged, but the support was just about even, with the Spanish supporting Barca, and a great Liverpudlian crowd supporting the Merseysiders. It lent itself to a great atmosphere. We were sitting beside five true Liverpool lads, and as the game went into the latter stages they were actually delighted with what was going on. Liverpool were by far the better team, and Lionel Messi had almost disappeared out of the game. And then the little magician woke up and turned the tie on its head with a couple of bits of Messi magic.

  When he scored his second and Barcelona’s third goal, to their eternal credit the Liverpool fans actually applauded. Funny enough, I thought Liverpool were the better side throughout, and I think they will score three or four in the home tie. The difficulty will be trying to keep Suarez and Messi scoreless, and that may be beyond them. But if I could put on a few bob (which you can’t do legally over here), I would have a little flutter on Liverpool. 

  By the time you read this on Thursday you will know how it went, and I will have to brave the large crowd again in O’Riordan’s, and maybe even drink a few pints of his good Guinness if I want to watch the second helping. It’s a tough life. 

Editor’s note: Frank’s column was submitted from Spain on Monday, as explained. Liverpool did score “three or four” – four actually – on Tuesday night, and they did keep Suarez and Messi scoreless. Frank’s flutter on Liverpool would have been a successful one. Well done Frank, and we trust that the atmosphere in O’Riordan’s was pretty special!

And finally…

Finally for this week, the excitement is building ahead of two big sporting occasions in Creggs on Saturday, 11th of May. We have the Junior Rugby Interprovincial game between Connacht and Munster at 2.30 pm on the fabulous new 4G pitch at The Green, with a number of our own Creggs players involved.

  Later that same day at 7 pm the big local football derby will take place – the Mountain versus the Valley in the Paul Devaney Memorial game at the GAA grounds. Both of these games are sure to draw huge crowds to the village, and if that wasn’t enough sport to keep you happy, the Heineken Rugby Cup Final between Leinster and Saracens is sandwiched in between. Sadly that is the day we return from our visit to the sun, so I might miss the lot of them. 

  Hopefully, however, you will be there, and if you come from either the Mountain or the Valley, bring your boots, (togs optional) and you might just become a local hero by scoring the winning goal or point. If you do either, you will be guaranteed free drink for an hour at least. As for me, I have a foot in both camps, so whoever wins will be okay by me!

 

Till next week, Bye from Spain!

 

Question: What’s good for kids? Answer: Sport ranks highly!

 

For a change I have my little tablet (the one I write on, that is) out on Saturday morning, and I am thinking about the hugely successful table quiz that my near-neighbour, Mary Keane, organised last night (Friday, as I write) in Mikeen’s.

  I am also thinking about the important part sport plays in the lives of our young children. In case you didn’t know it already, the quiz was to raise funds for the St. Ciaran’s local boys and girls GAA club, who are hosting a visiting team from Waterford (in Feile, I think) later on this year. The turnout was just amazing.

  I don’t deny that, with Storm Hannah due to pay us a visit (even though it was meant to be a fleeting, and not too powerful one), I headed off to take up my duties as quizmaster thinking that there would not be very many people there – and was confident of a quiet night.

  Nothing could be further from the truth, and the local support from both the Creggs and Fuerty areas was fantastic, and a credit to Mary and her team of volunteers, but especially to the parents of the children who came out in such numbers. And it all made me think of the huge number of unpaid local volunteers who give up so much of their time, especially at weekends, to coach, train and look after children – all over the country in a variety of sports – and of the role they play in framing the way the children turn out later in life.

  And even though not everyone will stay on the straight and narrow, there can be no doubt that the discipline and respect for authority they learn on the sports fields from an early age will stand to them in the future, and help them to lead a more settled and fulfilling life. Parents will sometimes complain that they become unpaid taxi drivers for years, as they bring their offspring here, there and everywhere, but it’s all worth it when they see the enjoyment the children get from whatever activity they are partaking in.

  Thank God, nowadays the competitive element is being taken out of really young kids’ games. However unlike the kids’ games, the table quiz was extremely competitive, with the lead, as in the English Premier League, changing hands several times. When the final results came in, the team led by John Hanley were declared the winners, and for the moment, they are the table quiz champions of Creggs. Let them be aware that those crowns usually don’t last long as they will be there to be taken down when the next table quiz comes around.

  The questions on the night were presented by our own Bert Curley, who put together an excellent mix of sporting, political, geographical and topical questions, which were very well received by all the teams – even the ones which didn’t feature near the top of the leader board. All told, it was a special night and I’m sure a good few bob was raised for the very good cause.

Gangland violence must be faced down

One of the disturbing happenings of recent days is the gangland violence that is going on in Drogheda, where, apparently, a war over the lucrative drug trade is causing enormous stress, worry and fear to the people of the Co. Louth town.

 

  Now it may be because I have a family member working up there that I am concerned – although thankfully she doesn’t live there – but nonetheless, when shootings, petrol bombings, stabbings, and assaults of every kind are now commonplace, it’s no wonder everyone in the town is petrified.

  I know it’s said to be confined to a few specific areas, but footage of an attempted murder by a gunman showed a total disregard for the safety of passers-by.

  Funny enough, all those elements were present in the North of Ireland back in the time of The Troubles, so for everyone’s sake let’s hope the Gardai get on top of the situation and restore law and order to the Drogheda estates and streets. Drugs and drugs’ proceeds have caused so much trouble and hardship all over the country, with the ‘big players’ having no regard whatsoever for human life, so please God this one will be nipped in the bud before it escalates into all-out murder and mayhem.

 

And finally…

Finally for this week, out here in Creggs thoughts are turning to Saturday week, May 11th, because on that day we have not one, but two big sporting events taking place in our little village. Firstly at 2.30 pm the Connacht Junior rugby team, with a number of our own local players on the panel, take on Munster on the new fabulous 4G pitch, and later on that evening at 7 pm the big local football game between the Valley and the Mountain throws in at 7 pm.

  This year the match is in memory of the late Paul Devaney, a man who gave a lot to the Creggs footballers in his playing days. All the proceeds will go to the Danny Browne Fund, and I will givae you all the details next week. One thing for sure is that you may have the Manchester, Liverpool, Madrid and Glasgow derbies amongst others – the results of which can affect supporters for months – but this Creggs derby is no different, and may even be the biggest derby in world sport today (maybe not) as whoever wins will have the bragging rights in the area for quite some time, and it’s possible the losers could sink into a depression from which they might never recover!

  Some people have even taken to the drink after a local derby defeat, although others have taken the even bigger step of giving it up, (not too many) so a lot is riding on this massive local fixture. It’s all happening on Saturday, May 11th and next week I will fill you in on all the proceedings.  

 

Till next week, Bye for now!

 

 

Local charity working to tame a growing problem!

 

 

 

 

As you may know by now, every so often my long suffering wife, Carol, and I head across to Cabo Roig, a nice little place on the far side of Spain, where we can relax in the sun for a few days and enjoy what is a really friendly seaside village. It is a place that has everything that we would want in a holiday destination; fabulous scenery, great walks, top quality beaches, and any amount of golf clubs, as well as the obligatory selection of good pubs and restaurants, and fine weather.

  So what’s the catch I hear you ask? In truth, there is none, and yet, for the last few years, you could hardly fail to notice the ever-increasing numbers of wild cats that seem to have sprung up overnight. Now I freely admit that I am fan of cats, but, while I would remark on the large numbers and indeed on the tourists who feed them, if I had not been contacted by a reader of this column about a similar problem in this country, I would probably never have thought about them again!

  Wild or feral cats are now very plentiful here in Ireland, and because the female is such a prolific breeder, who can have three litters a year with an average of five kittens per litter, it doesn’t need Einstein or any other mathematical genius to figure out that, without some intervention, we will soon have a major problem on our hands.

  The end result of uncontrolled breeding is large numbers of wild cats roaming the countryside, hungry, possibly disease ridden, and impossible to handle or tame, and many of these will be poisoned or trapped and killed by people who get fed up of their constant fighting, yowling, or just their very presence around a house.

  Fortunately however, an organisation called TNR South Roscommon (Trap, Neuter, and Return) is in existence in this area, and its aim is to keep the feral cat population under control, by doing exactly what it says on the tin, and by raising public awareness of the necessity of spaying and neutering stray cats.

  TNR is a non-profit registered charitable organisation, formed by Orla Hanley some years ago, and Orla has coordinated the veterinary care, professionally offered at Cloverhill Veterinary Surgery. In simple language, if you want to get a stray cat that you might be feeding, spayed or neutered, you can contact TNR and they will organise everything for the discounted sum of €10. When everything is sorted they will return your feline friend and you will have played your part in keeping the wild cat population under control.

  As with a lot of these organistions they rely almost exclusively on public donations to keep them going, and so they have two fundraising efforts coming up - this Saturday (27th), they are having a bucket collection at SuperValu, Roscommon, while the following day (Sunday 28th), there is a Sale of Work in the Courthouse, Ballygar, from 10 am to 2 pm., with all kinds of everything including jewellery, clothes, ornaments, and toys, all generously donated by members of the public, available for purchase.

  Orla and her loyal team of volunteers are doing an amazing job in a very important area, so if you happen to be shopping in Supervalu, Roscommon on Saturday or if you can get to Ballygar on Sunday dig deep, and give them any help you can. I’m also told they also have an online shop so you can support them that way as well.

  As I said, I am not a cat man but, nonetheless, they don’t deserve to find themselves cold, hungry or homeless and a little kindness and compassion could help to make their lives, and ours, a lot easier. I wonder does Orla know anyone in Cabo Roig, who could sort out the problem over there?

 

Lyra’s murder casts a dark shadow

Normally at this stage I would be going on to matters of a lighter nature, but events in Derry on Good Friday cast a shadow over the entire country and the murder of journalist, Lyra McKee, by the New IRA has provoked a reaction of horror and outrage not seen since the murder in 1996, of another journalist, Veronica Guerin.

  Now I have no intention of moralising on the actions of these so-called ‘activists’, but it was so heartening to see the reaction of people who live in nationalist areas of Northern Ireland, and the total and utter condemnation of the cowardly murder of an innocent woman makes me think that all is not lost.

  I have to say that there can be nothing more cowardly than shooting from the shadows at human targets, whether they are police officers, or in this case, ordinary local residents, and if anything good is to come out of this, let us hope it’s that the local communities come together and show the gunmen that their day is long gone.

  I am writing this on Tuesday evening and it is highly significant that our President, Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, will both be in attendance at Lyra’s funeral. In doing so, they honour the memory of a young journalist, who, in every way, showed a lot more courage than the shooter who took her life. It is sadly ironic that her murder took place on the day the whole country and indeed the world was celebrating the 21st anniversary of the Good Friday Peace Agreement. The greatest testimony to Lyra’s memory will hopefully be the fact that nothing will be allowed to undermine that peace agreement. May she rest in peace.

Dancing with Odd Sox on Easter Sunday

Finally onto lighter matters, and surprise, surprise on Easter Sunday night I found myself in Mikeen’s where a young band, Odd Sox, were providing the musical entertainment. Even though I had heard a lot of good things about them, this was the first night I had the chance to see them live.

  Now I have to tell you they more than lived up to their blossoming reputation, and their lively music, aided by a substantial helping of Mikeen’s porter, had me, as they say, strutting my stuff on the dance floor. I even felt my dancing was good enough to get me a call-up to ‘Dancing with the Stars’ however on the night the award for the ‘Best Dancer’ went to Michael Fleming Jnr, who produced a dance that was impossible to describe but was mostly built around the splits. For content, style and entertainment value he was a worthy winner and walked away with the first cup we could find which was in fact the Tug O’ War Cup!

  Young Mike is heading for Canada in the near future so to be going as the Champion Dancer of Creggs is a great boost for him, and we wish him well.

  Odd Sox are definitely worth a look and despite my disappointment at not winning the Dancing Competition, I have to say we had a great bit of craic, and thoroughly enjoyed the night.

  Before I finish, this Friday night coming I am quizmaster at a table quiz in Mikeen’s to raise funds for St. Ciaran’s boys and girls who are hosting Féile later in the year. My neighbour Mary Keane is organising the event, and I hope everyone makes the effort to be there - it will all kick off at 9.30 pm and there will be a raffle with loads of nice prizes to be won. Hope to see you there!

Till next week, Bye for now!

 

Missing the point on the coldest Sunday in memory!

 

 

It’s a cold, wild, windy Monday afternoon, and believe it or not I am thinking about the weather, because as recently as Wednesday (of last week) I visited Castlerea Golf Club and played a few holes all by myself in the most beautiful weather imaginable.

  In a line I will always remember from my compositions in the national school, the sun “was splitting the stones, and there wasn’t a cloud to be seen in the sky”.

  Fast-forward to Sunday and our local footballers were to be playing St. Barry’s in the second round of the Tansey Cup in Creggs, but the torrential rain of Saturday night put paid to that as our pitch was waterlogged. Therefore, the match was transferred to the pitch of our neighbouring club, Fuerty, where I headed for the two o’clock throw-in.

  There is something special about club football matches and about the diehards that follow their local teams through good and (mostly) bad times, but the hardy souls who braved the elements on Sunday should get medals, because, weather-wise, it was sheer torture. I am going to matches for a long time now, but never have I been as cold or as miserable as I was on Sunday afternoon. When I got into the car to drive home, my hands were so cold I could barely feel the steering wheel. That’s my excuse for the Barry’s supporter in a red BMW that I pulled out in front of as I took off – and I do apologise.

  I also have to apologise to our scorekeeper Mary D, who never gets the score wrong – but this time she did, as I gave Barry’s a point that belonged to Creggs, and so as I headed home for a life-saving shower, I was sure the game had ended in a draw. The good news is that because of my mistake (if you follow) we had actually won by two points.

  Now I have to say that sometimes we are critical of our teams, and indeed of the match officials – and in the case of the latter, sometimes with good reason – but after watching a quite enjoyable contest which could have gone either way, I must say well done to everyone involved and I hope ye never play on as cold a day again.

  Out here in Creggs, it was a great weekend for such a small village, as on Saturday night, at a big gala event in the Galway Bay Hotel, Creggs RFC was named Connacht Club of the Year – an amazing but well deserved achievement. Then on Sunday the U-18 and a half (don’t know where the half comes from, but it’s there now) team won the Connacht League by beating a hugely fancied Corrib fifteen in the final. I’m told we had a good number of representatives at the Connacht Dinner, and it was a great night with the Connacht senior players in great form after their brilliant win earlier in the day over Cardiff.

  Continuing with Creggs wins, and huge congratulations to local lady Kathleen Coleman (formerly Keane), daughter of the legendary Bill, who, while living outside Ballygar now, is from just down the road. Kathleen won €70,000 on Winning Streak on Saturday night – well done!

 

Fond memories of Sean

 

A few years ago I wrote a piece in this newspaper lamenting my lack of success when it came to sowing daffodils, and I told you that not once but twice I had failed dismally to get any to appear, even though it is widely acknowledged that they are the amongst the easiest flowers to grow, as evidenced by the fact that they can be seen flourishing on ditches, by the roadside, and in the middle of fields.

  Anyway, a short time after I wrote it, I was surprised to get a phone call from Boyle’s Sean Young, advising me how to sow them. This was the same Sean Young who was manager of the Roscommon footballers during my short time with them back in the mid-1970s, and in truth, I had never spoken to him since then. However, it was so nice of him to take the time out to try to help me with my flower problem, and we had a long chat reminiscing about our (short) time together with the Rossies. I was sad to read on last week’s paper about his recent passing.

  There were many tributes to him for his work as a coach and a manager, but I will always remember him telling me when first I reported for county training, that as a forward, if I couldn’t put the ball over the bar from fifty yards, I had no right being on a county team! How right he was. If that criteria applied now, there would be very few forwards on any county team – scoring points from a distance is almost a lost art.

  As for the daffodils, they are now flourishing in the garden, so even if he couldn’t make a footballer out of me, at least Sean had some success in turning me into a gardener. May he rest in peace.

 

And finally…

Finally for this week, a little tale concerning Tom Connolly, a former Personality of the Year here in Creggs. A few weeks ago he was a passenger in a car coming down from Galway, when it pulled into a filling station for petrol, which the driver duly filled and paid for.

  As he sat back into the car he remarked to Tom that the Roscommon People was to be got in the shop, and that he was surprised to see it so far into Co. Galway. When Tom asked him was he sure, the driver said he’d run in and get one – he won’t admit it, but he couldn’t last the week without reading my piece!

  Anyway, he shot into the shop, grabbed the paper, and was just back in the car when two burly gentleman came looking for him – they thought he had stolen the paper, and were going to apprehend him. Thankfully they saw the funny side when he showed them it was, and is, a free paper, but if we had a Star of the Week Award, it would have to go to the man who was nearly arrested so he could read the Roscommon People!

  Well done Tom, it shows our readers will go to any lengths to get their weekly fix – even to getting one in the heart of Galway.

 

Till next week, Bye for now!

Living on the (cliff) edge in Bundoran…

 

 

 

 

 

I missed the very successful Ploughing Championships last weekend (see separate article) because a good while ago – long before we heard about the ploughing being held in the Creggs area – a group of us booked a weekend away in Bundoran. 

  So on Friday evening we duly arrived in the sun-kissed Donegal town, and I have to say we had a whale of a time. How many times have we heard about the extraordinary beauty of our own country, particularly when the sun shines? My God, the sun shone the entire weekend, and it was as if we were on holidays in some foreign resort…such was the wonderful weather, and such was the number of people around.

  There are a couple of spectacular cliff walks around the town, and while some members of our party did them all, I contented myself with a few trips on the shorter one, but even at that, it was just so beautiful.

  On Friday night we headed into a lovely pub called Madden’s, where we had great craic, met loads of like-minded ‘weekenders’, and enjoyed the renowned Donegal hospitality.

  Saturday was a day spent exploring the area. A few of us headed out to the famous Rossnowlagh beach, where we used to bring the children when they were a bit older. It was great to see it again. It must be one of the best beaches in the entire country.

  On Saturday (bear in mind it was only the 6th of April), it was thronged. The ice cream van was there, as was a chipper van, and both were doing a roaring trade. The ice creams looked so appealing that we treated ourselves to a load of 99s – and they were delicious.

  Later that evening we went for a bite to eat in a restaurant called ‘The Peak’, and it is hard to imagine any more beautiful setting for an eating house, as it is literally perched on the cliff face overlooking the sea. It is so close to the water that it looked as if you would fall straight in if you managed to fall out through a window. Thank God nobody did. What was even better was that the standard of the food more than matched the location, and everything from staff to service to quality could not be faulted. If I ever go back to Bundoran I will most certainly be going back to The Peak.

  Needless to say we couldn’t go home at that stage, so we hit for the liveliest bar in town (or so we were told). That recommendation brought us to the Crushin Bull, and it sure was lively. A band with the wonderful name of ‘The Bangin Yokes’ were playing, and to be fair they were very good, but a little too Bangin for some of us elder lemons. After a while we escaped to my type of pub, 51 Main Street, which had a one-man band, a much smaller crowd, great Guinness, and where you could hear yourself talk. So that is where I parked up until closing time. However, some of the younger members of the group went back to The Bangin Yokes, and said they were absolutely brilliant – so everyone was happy.

  Sunday was a very pleasant day too, but sadly we all had to hit back to all corners of the country. But as I write this on Monday evening, the good news is we all made it home safely, having thoroughly enjoyed Bundoran and its surrounds.

 

The feelgood factor was easy to find!

 

It’s not too long after noon on Monday, and already today my travels have taken me to Creggs, Brideswell and Roscommon town – and there is no doubt that everywhere I’ve been there’s a notable ‘feelgood’ factor.

  In Creggs, we have a few reasons to be positive on this fine April morning. Our local GAA club won their opening Tansey Cup fixture against Padraig Pearses on Saturday evening, and the club then ran a hugely successful draw over the weekend. Meanwhile, the Roscommon Ploughing Championships, hosted on Hanley’s farm on Sunday, was one of the most successful ever held.

  I couldn’t get to the ploughing (see separate report on our escapades in Donegal) as we were all away for the weekend, but I’m told the organisation and the support for the event was second to none – and that, as with the Sheep Dog Trials a few years ago, the crowds flocked in large numbers to what is a spectacular venue.

  A local lady told me this morning that the whole event was just fabulous, so well done to everyone involved.

  On then with me to Brideswell, and for me the feelgood factor there came from the fact that I was picking up our miniature Jack Russell, Hope, who had been on a three-night sleepover with Barra and Mary O’Brien in Lisbrock Kennels.

  In truth, we missed her an awful lot. It goes without saying that we were worried as to how she’d be on her own, but of course she was ‘the finest’ and well looked after. It reminded us of when the kids were small and we’d go away to a wedding or some other social occasion, and we’d be wondering if they were okay, when they would be ‘happy out’ to have us gone for a day or two.

  Barra was also in good form, because – and this goes back to the ploughing – he told me that the Sheep Dog Trials which were held in conjunction with the ploughing were among the best they’ve ever had. He too reckoned that the crowds last Sunday were the biggest he had ever seen at the County Championships.

  (As an aside, in relation to the organisation, I saw signs directing traffic to Kilbegnet as far away as Curraghboy, and I said to myself fair play to those people who had the foresight to put them up).

  Next I headed to Roscommon, and of course the wonderful victory the CBS had in the All-Ireland football final had the county town buzzing. I’m told that the reception the team got on Saturday night was just amazing, and reminiscent of the minors in 2006, when they brought home the All-Ireland trophy. What’s seldom really is wonderful, so congratulations to everyone involved – it was some achievement.

And finally…

Finally for this week, it’s back to Roscommon Hospital – and all the controversy over the last few years concerning the closure of the A&E Dept. seemed to overshadow the opening of the brand new Endoscopy Unit there. Indeed until last Thursday I had never given the new facility a second thought.

  However, on that morning I presented myself there for both a colonoscopy and an endoscopy, and I have to admit that I was very impressed.

  It’s a lovely new building, and as always the entire staff were just so wonderful, treating me really well. As it happened, I knew a good few of them, and they told me that the endoscopy unit is extremely busy with people coming from far afield for their examinations. I remember going into the examination area, but thanks to the wonders of sedation that was the end of it and I was back in recovery before I woke up again.

  All told, my impression is that this new facility is a great addition. The staff, as always, were great, and I actually enjoyed my visit – although, unlike Bundoran, I don’t plan to go back again any time soon.

Till next week, Bye for now!

Cowardly attack on cyclist reveals a disturbing trend

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Thursday morning of last week, and myself and the (mostly) trusty old Volvo are heading off to work in Athlone. The radio is tuned to Joe Finnegan on Shannonside, where he is interviewing a gentleman named Noel. The story Noel had to tell made me wonder about the type of world we now live in.

  Noel, who is a highly experienced cyclist and has been cycling competitively and recreationally around Ireland for more than sixty years, was out for a spin the previous Sunday afternoon and was within a few hundred metres of his home when, all of a sudden, he found himself on the broad of his back, having fallen off his bike. He was badly dazed but fortunate that he wasn’t too badly injured or even killed. A few people came to Noel’s aid and got him off the road before he was run over.

  A lady who was helping him told Noel what had happened. Apparently a black Passat was passing when someone opened a window and let fly with an Argos catalogue, which hit Noel and sent him flying off his bike. Noel said he believed the Passat hit him as well, but even if it didn’t, being hit by an Argos catalogue at high speed was an awful thing to happen, and an appalling, dangerous and cowardly act.

  However, according to Noel, this was anything but an isolated incident. It seems that cyclists are subject to all kinds of abuse while on their travels, including being pushed off their bikes by having car doors opened into them, having many types of missiles thrown at them, and occasionally even being physically assaulted. Apparently the ‘fun’ element in all of this is recording the incident, whatever it is, and putting it up on social media for the amusement of other like-minded, twisted people who glory in this type of unforgivable behaviour.

  The Argos catalogue is a huge book and anyone getting one flung at them from a moving car is in grave danger of serious injury. I am glad to say that Noel has reported the assault to the Gardaí and hopefully the horrible person or persons that did this will be caught and will be made pay a heavy penalty for their actions.

  I know that sometimes we all give out about cyclists on the roads, particularly when they travel in groups and take up the whole road, but everyone is entitled to be treated properly and to travel in safety. The lowlifes that think it’s funny to behave in the way they did to an innocent man should be ashamed.

 

 

Showband nostalgia, but also a grim reminder of dark days

 

For some reason in this country we seem to have a habit of trying to make stars out of people who have been popular on reality shows. So someone in RTÉ dreamed up the idea of giving us a Sunday night dose of Marty Morrissey and Bernard O’Shea, both of whom wowed the nation in last year’s Dancing with the Stars, on the assumption that their various escapades would draw the viewers in their hundreds of thousands.

  Now I don’t dislike either of them, with Marty being reasonably good as a GAA commentator and Bernard being okay as a comedian, but I just couldn’t bring myself to watch their first offering. Therefore, I don’t know if it was a viewer’s dream or nightmare!

  I do know that the programme I watched in its place was absolutely riveting and very disturbing in that it brought back, in full graphic detail, the horror of Northern Ireland back in the time of The Troubles.

  Ardal O’Hanlon brought us back to the showband phenomenon of the 1960s and ‘70s and it was thoroughly enjoyable. The programme itself looked at the extraordinary showband boom and the success of top bands and singers, like the Royal and Brendan Bowyer, the Miami and Dickie Rock, the Mainliners and Big Tom, and many more such as Margo and Eileen Reid, who all enjoyed unbelievable fame and fortune.

  However, it was the story of the Miami Showband massacre, which took place on July 31st 1975, as the band fronted by twenty-year-old heartthrob Fran O’Toole were returning from a gig in Banbridge, Co. Down, that made me realise, as the Brexit crisis continues, how bad things used to be and how welcome the arrival of peace more than twenty years ago now has been. The sheer horror of that night, when three members of the Miami were brutally murdered and two more seriously injured, was not glossed over in the programme.    

  One can only speculate as to how human beings could behave in that way to others, whose only ‘crime’ was trying to entertain people in a community that was crying out for something to allow them escape from the horror of violence and crime. No matter what comes down the line with Brexit, let’s all pray that sectarian violence and murder doesn’t make its way back to our little island.

  One of the programme’s interesting revelations came from Twink, who recalled a dancehall promoter filling satchels with cash after a successful night at the box office. She met him again some years later when he had become our Taoiseach. It was of course Longford’s own, Albert Reynolds. It’s sometimes funny where life’s path takes us. I’m sure as Albert filled his satchel back in those great showband days, he was unlikely to imagine that he would end up as the leader of our country, and that he would later be credited with being hugely influential in the bringing about of the peace process.

  Twink went on to be a successful singer, a TV star, a stand-up comedian, and a huge Panto Queen…but her greatest claim to fame is that she is Godmother to one of my children! It’s a funny old world.

 

Leinster can retain crown!

A quick word about the rugby last weekend. The two games involving Munster and Leinster were hugely enthralling affairs. The thing it really proved is that, even though they were both inferior to their respective opposition, experience is a great thing and both of them drew on the huge amount they have to see them through.

  It is unlikely to bring Munster any further, as they must now go to the best of the English Premiership sides, Saracens but Leinster, who have a home semi-final with former French giants, Toulouse, will fancy their chances of getting to the final and retaining their title. I think they will!

Praying for good ploughing weather!

Finally for this week, all roads lead to Kilbegnet, Creggs this weekend, when the County Ploughing Championships take place on Hanley’s farm this Sunday (7th).

  A large crowd is expected to see all the goings-on and as usual, it promises to be a big family day out, with all kinds of activities to keep young and old occupied.

  Barra O’Brien tells me there will be sheepdog trials as well. It all promises to be a great day’s fun and entertainment, and let’s hope the weather Gods look kindly on Kilbegnet on Sunday at least – and I hope to see you there!

 

Till next week, Bye for now!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even in defeat, cup final day was memorable

 

 

 

 

It’s Monday evening as I am writing this, and I have to say that  even though we (Creggs) lost the Connacht Junior Rugby cup final to Connemara in Galway on Sunday, it was one of the best and most exciting days that I have had for a long, long time.

  All week the excitement was building in the village, and I suppose after 26 years (since our last appearance in the final) it was understandable that some of us would be really looking forward to the occasion. While the result was a bit disappointing, the day itself was truly memorable.

  At around 12 midday, the bus – a big 191 registration vehicle – headed off for the Sportsground with the entire team, management, and a number of supporters on board, while the rest of us travelled by whatever way we could to get there – and boy did we get there!

  I would think that the occasion of the Connacht Junior Club Football Final a few years ago (against Louisburgh) was the last time I saw as many Creggs people together. Everywhere you looked you saw lads and girls who had been with Creggs right from the very beginning to now, some of whom had travelled great distances to be there. Quite a number of them I hadn’t seen for years, and it was great to catch up with all concerned. 

  As I said earlier, the result was not the one we had hoped for, but in a game that reminded me very much of the CBS one a week or so earlier, we were up against a very strong, physical team. Connemara certainly deserved their win, but – as with the CBS team – we never gave up, put in some unbelievably heroic defending, and left everything we had out on the field. No-one can ask for any more.

  The after-match ‘celebrations’, which took place in Donoghue’s in Abbey and in Mikeen’s in Creggs, confirmed what I have always known, and that is that, win or lose, our lads know how to party. Even some of us elder lemons gave it – as Jack Charlton used to say – a bit of a lash. All we can hope for now is that the lads and management stick with it and come back bigger and better next season. 

  It has always been said that you have to lose one to win one, and although it will be a tall order to get back again in a year’s time, I fully believe we can do it. If we do make it back again, this time I am going on the bus, and please God the long wait will finally come to an end.

 

Almost losing Hope…

You might possibly remember that I told you about our Christmas Week drama when the chimney in the sitting room decided to go on fire, and how brilliant the response of the Roscommon Fire Brigade was – and how efficient and professional they were in dealing with it.

  Well, the good news, as I write this bit on a lovely Tuesday afternoon, is that the chimney is finally being fixed. The lads are at it at this very moment in time. The only downside is the noise, with the sledge and the jackhammer going flat out, and so just there a while ago, I decided to take our miniature Jack Russell, Hope, for a walk – to give her (and me) a little break and a bit of badly-needed exercise.

  Now on the face of it, that shouldn’t be too much of a chore, but you don’t know me! The problem was that I had never put on Hopey’s harness before (Carol always does that), and even though it seemed to be a very simple contraption, it almost proved too much for me. To make matters worse, the dog knew the very second I took down the lead that she was off for a walk. She got very excited, whimpering and crying at the thought of her trip to the beautiful Lenamarla countryside. 

  20 minutes later, as I tried for the umpteenth time to get the yoke ‘round her neck, or wherever it was meant to go, I could see her big round eyes looking up at me – and if I could understand dog talk I know well she’d be saying to herself…what sort of an idiot is this fellow?

  However, perseverance eventually paid off, I got the harness into some kind of shape that didn’t strangle her, and the pair of us hit off. As we walked, I realised that this is, in my opinion, the nicest time of the year. Everywhere you look you can see the signs of the new spring life…the shrubs are all beginning to sprout, the daffodils are actually in some cases beginning to fade, but my favourite wildflower, the primrose, is in full bloom. On a nice day like today, it’s easy to be enthusiastic about living in the country.

  And then I thought of how wonderful the new, fully-lit walkway at the rugby club in Creggs is, and I realised (although I have yet to go on it) that even on the darkest winter nights we can go for a perfectly safe stroll there. So I said to myself (I would have said it to Hope, only she still hadn’t forgiven me for taking so long to yoke her up), that we really have no excuse any more for not getting in some exercise, and that Creggs is a great place to live in.

  Anyway I’m now back, writing away…the jackhammer is on a break, Hope is having a nap after her walk, and, all seems well with the world…well, except in the world of Irish soccer, where John Delaney appears to be running out of road. But, as the fellow says, we’ll wait and see what, if anything, happens there.

And finally…

Finally for this week, Dancing with the Stars produced an unexpected winner when Mairead Ronan and her professional dance partner, John Nolan, took the Glitterball. But, a year after Jake Carter took the prize, I wonder will it make a huge difference to the lives of the three finalists?

  Cliona Hagan is already a popular country singer, but will this recent exposure really push her career forward? Will Johnny Ward get much busier as an actor, or will Mairead become a more regular feature on our television screens?

  I don’t know the answers, but winners of such shows as The Voice of Ireland, Ireland’s got Talent, or You’re a Star, all seemed to disappear without trace, so I only hope these three entertainers can at least continue being a success in their chosen careers.

 

Till next week, Bye for now!

 

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