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!