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Frankly Speaking

Frankly Speaking

Happy memories: Why I’m singing the praises of the singing pubs

 

 

 

So I’m flat out killing myself at work, (that’s a big fat lie), when Joe, a regular caller for the chat (although I don’t know his surname) brings me in a box full of old tapes. As I go through them, I find myself back in the great days of the late 1970s and early ‘80s, when the ‘singing pub’ craze was at its peak, and when Bradley’s in Creggs, Dowd’s of Glinsk and Mrs Quinn’s in Glenamaddy were just three of the local ‘must go to’ places every weekend.

  As I rummaged through Joe’s discarded and unwanted tapes, I came across a couple of long-forgotten names…Two’s Company and Anna McGoldrick. They may not be known any more, but they, amongst many others, brought absolutely massive crowds to Bradley’s when they appeared there in the golden era of the singing pub, creating a level of excitement we can hardly imagine today.

  It was in 1977 when the singing pub arrived in Creggs. When Kevin Bradley opened his doors, we had never seen anything like it. Having bought Mrs. Tommy’s a little while earlier, he proceeded to build a state-of-the-art pub, capable of holding three or four hundred people. When Sonny Knowles performed on the opening night, it was the start of a few never to be forgotten years.

  Joe Cuddy, Mattie Fox and Misty, and the legend that was and is Brendan Grace – all of whom were among the top cabaret acts in the country at the time – all took to the stage in Bradley’s. For a period during those years it was not uncommon to have to park hundreds of yards outside the village, so big were the crowds that used to come to see the headline acts.

  A few miles down the road, Dowd’s was packing them in every weekend in Glinsk, and later we also had a slightly smaller but very busy singing lounge in Creggs, Seamus Keane’s. Further afield, Keane’s in Cloonfad, the Four Ps near Boyle, Bernie Mac’s in Ballygar and the Blu Kuku, near Kiltevna, were other singing lounges of great renown.

  Exactly when the craze of the singing pubs began to fade I’m not sure but, as with the carnivals, it’s an era that we will never forget. I know a lot of people will not believe it now, but on a summer’s evening it was not uncommon to have up to ten or twelve bar staff flat out in Bradley’s, making sure the large crowds were fully looked after. It has often been said that the other five pubs at the time in Creggs were all full as well. It certainly was a wonderful time for entertainment, and in fairness we enjoyed it to the full.

  I’m now full of nostalgia, so whether they like it or not, the next people into the shop will be listening to Two’s Company, Anna McGoldrick and Sonny Knowles – and I’ve just found a Brendan Grace tape, so they will have to listen to him as well.

 

Tribute Night for the late great Big Tom

 

Well-known radio presenter Julie Healy tells me of a big tribute night to the late great King of Irish country music, Big Tom, which is taking place in Mannion’s Bar, Glenamaddy on Friday, 28th of September.

  There is a huge night’s music and craic planned. This is just a sort of preliminary notice. I will fill you in on all the details over the next two weeks, but make sure you put it in your diary, and wherever you are you can take the four roads to Glenamaddy and pay tribute to the great man.

  Our own local Big Tom soundalike Mattie Clarke will, I’m sure, be practising over the next week or so, and getting ready to perform on the night, and you can look forward to hearing him and many more musicians and singers in action.

 

A story that reflects poorly on our society

 

A story in today’s (Monday) papers about an experience the Mayor of Galway had is unsettling. The Mayor came to the assistance of a young girl who was being assaulted by a man, who claimed to have a knife. The Mayor got a punch in the jaw for his trouble, but got no help from several onlookers. The episode asks serious questions about the type of society we now live in.

  According to Niall McNelis, there were many people in the immediate area, including a number of men, but instead of trying to help, they took out their mobile phones and started to film the incident. Only one woman made any intervention, by ringing the Gardai, who were on the scene within a few minutes. A man was later arrested.

  I know the general advice is not to get involved in any nasty altercation, but surely when there was only one attacker some of the men should have come to the assistance of the good Samaritan, and, instead of filming the incident, actually done something about it.

  The truth is that the men who did nothing, particularly if they were young and healthy, should be ashamed of themselves. As I say, it asks serious questions about the sort of society we have become.

 

And finally…

 

Finally for this week, we are almost finished with our door to door ticket selling for this Saturday night’s dance in Dowd’s in Glinsk, and as I reflect on almost three weeks on the road, two things stand out. Firstly, the wonderful welcome we all received on every doorstep and the support so willingly given by the people of the parish, for which we are all so grateful, and secondly, the number of people who either directly or indirectly have been helped by one or the other of the two chosen charities.

  Cancer Care West is there to help cancer patients and their families, and to provide every possible type of support including residential care in Inis Aoibhinn, its residential facility, in the grounds of University Hospital, Galway, and it’s amazing how many of our own neighbours and friends have availed of its services.

  The same applies to the Lourdes Invalid Fund which, every August, brings a number of pilgrims to the French Marian Shrine. For all those people, flights and accommodation are all paid for by the monies raised through such fundraising efforts as our annual dance.

  As I told you last week, Jimmy Kearney and The Lancers are rearing to go, we have a load of prizes for the raffle, and we have a very generous door prize – a dinner voucher for two to the value of €100, courtesy of the Abbey Hotel. So all we need now is for you all to come along, have a few trots around the floor, and make it a night to remember. Looking forward to seeing you there.

 

Till next week, Bye for now!

 

Won over by Pope Francis…and a visit that may help ease hurt

 

 

It’s about 11 am on Sunday morning, and I’m tucking into a slightly late full Irish, complete with a good bit of Kelly’s (Newport) award-winning white pudding. It’s late because I’ve spent an hour and a half looking at Pope Francis’ visit to Knock Shrine.

  I have to say that I found it all thoroughly enjoyable and strangely moving. I won’t deny that I was only a little lukewarm about the Papal visit, and unlike in 1979, when we couldn’t wait to go to see Pope John 11, the truth is that it never crossed my mind to look for tickets to either the Phoenix Park or Knock. And so it was with only minor interest that I tuned in to see the proceedings in the Mayo village.

  However, from the moment Pope Francis came down from the Aer Lingus plane, and interacted so well with everyone who came to greet him at Ireland West Airport, I greatly warmed to him. Indeed I began to regret that I hadn’t made the effort to go to the Marian Shrine to see him.

  Despite the rain, pictures from the shrine itself showed everyone to be in high good humour, which was some achievement given the early start everyone had to make to get to Knock in time. All we could see were happy smiling faces, and it was obvious that the Pope was going to receive a really warm West of Ireland welcome.

  Probably the most amazing part of the day’s events was the absolute total silence during the Pope’s minutes of silent reflection in the Apparition Chapel. It was just incredible – with the large numbers of children in the attendance – how they all managed to keep quiet. It was extraordinary.

  Now there has obviously been a lot of stuff going on around the Catholic Church. The hierarchy has been severely damaged, so clearly many abuse sufferers, in so many different guises, will have wanted more from Pope Francis’ visit than they got.

  However, on a personal level, as a somewhat disillusioned member of the Catholic Church, I thought the visit was well worthwhile, and maybe in time it might help to soften some of the hurt caused to so many innocent, vulnerable victims, hurt inflicted by those predators hiding behind the facade of religious authority.

  There can be no doubt that Catholicism and the Church face many obstacles in future, but equally the second ever trip to Ireland by a reigning Pontiff can only be a good thing, and I am glad it went off so well, even if the Phoenix Park crowd was a long way short of the half million predicted.

A memorable day at  Ballintubber Abbey

On Friday afternoon we found ourselves heading off to Ballintubber Abbey for the wedding of Michael O’Roarke, son of my local publicans, Mikeen and Carmel, to Anne Marie McDermott, from the West Roscommon village of Ballinagare.

  I have to admit that until Friday the only thing I knew about Ballintubber was that it was the home of the O’Connor brothers who play for Mayo, and that the even more famous Marcus Keane, formerly of the Bank of Ireland in Roscommon and Glenamaddy, lived there as well (and that it was somewhere outside Castlebar).

  We got to Claremorris, no problem, and hit across country towards the Abbey. Then, by some minor navigation error, we found ourselves going through the tiny village of Carnacon, home of ladies football’s most renowned player, Cora Staunton, and also home of the current All-Ireland club champions, Carnacon, who for some reason have fallen foul of the Mayo County Board and are banned from all competition, and  consequently are one of the most high profile clubs in the country at this present time.

  It was hard to believe as we passed through the tiny hamlet, that it could be the home to the All-Ireland champions, and hard as I tried I couldn’t see any sign of Cora. Later, in the pub in Ballintubber there was no-one inclined to cast any light on the reasons for the Carnacon expulsion.

  By now, we had discovered that Ballintubber Abbey is an absolute treasure and a beautiful wedding venue, and the ceremony, under the stewardship of Fr. Michael Donnelly, passed off without a hitch. A good few of us adjourned for a while to Curley’s pub across the road, where I have to say the craic was ninety. Then we headed to the Knockranny House Hotel in Westport.

  Everything about the reception was first class, and from food to service to the band and their music, it could not have been bettered. My day was complete when Fr. Donnelly, having read of my efforts to get a young man for Anne Marie (not the bride…the Anne Marie from Tuam that I met last week who was looking for a 19 to 22 year old, with money and road frontage) appointed me matchmaker for the day.

  From what I could see, my services in that department were not required, but I have to sadly admit that, so far, no-one has come forward to answer Anne Marie’s request. I was told the other night that I could be the new Willy Daly, the famous Lisdoonvarna matchmaker, but even I have to confess I need to do a lot better.

  Anyway, it was a great day and all I can do is wish the newly-weds a long, happy life together, and the health to go with it, and heartiest congratulations to themselves and their respective parents.

 

Annette’s reminder on summer sign-off…

 

I think I must be writing for the wrong newspaper (you probably do as well), as once again I am staying on Mayo matters…

  My good friend and amazing singer Annette Griffin tells me that the renowned Summer Cabaret is coming to a close in the McWilliam Park Hotel, Claremorris on Sept. 5th.

  The show features Roscommon legend Brendan Shine, Gerry Guthrie, fiddler Billy Condon, the McWilliam Park Irish dancers, comedian Frank Forde, and of course, Annette herself. Doors open at 8 pm sharp (show starts at 9 pm sharp) and admission is only €25. (More details on 094-9378000).

  As someone who has seen this show a couple of times, I can recommend it. It’s a throwback to the great cabaret shows we associate with venues like Jury’s Hotel in Dublin, and this one’s right on your doorstep, so do not miss this opportunity to see some of Ireland’s top artists in the one venue on the one night.

And finally…

Finally for this week, it’s full steam ahead with our own tickets (in Creggs) for the upcoming charity dance. So we hope to be knocking on your door soon – and thank you for your continuing support.

 

 

Till next week, Bye for now! 

Despondency for Galway hurlers – but there was a local link with winning minors!

 

It’s Saturday evening as I write and I am getting an old familiar feeling in the pit of my ample stomach. I’m a bit tense and uptight, and it’s all because, after nearly four months since our opening championship matches, we are welcoming Kilmore to Creggs for an Intermediate Championship game.

  As it turned out, I needn’t have been any way uptight, as our visitors were way too strong for us. Despite a late flurry in which we scored three goals, we were well beaten by a well-drilled, powerful outfit who might prove the biggest obstacle to Fuerty’s expected eventual victory in the Intermediate Championship.

  For us, all is not lost, as a lot of our players only came back from the US in the last few days. Unless things have changed a lot through the years, I doubt if they spent too much time on either the running track or in the gym! But they’re back now and I would expect a big improvement in the next short while…so who knows what the future might still bring.

  On a personal level it was great to meet –even for a few moments – one of the legends of Kilmore football, the great Joe McEvoy. He looked as fit on Saturday evening as he did when last I saw him!

  The other notable thing about the second half was the rain that fell in torrents. If ever the term ‘drowned rat’ was appropriate, it certainly was that evening, as when I got home I could have been wrung out. It all adds up to the joys of club football.

  It’s now Monday morning, and there is no denying that on the Galway side of the border there is a definite air of despondency and disappointment after the hurlers’ defeat in the All-Ireland Senior Hurling final.

  However, in Creggs, a village that hasn’t really been known for its hurlers – although the Keane brothers, Seamus and Martin Joe, were both top class exponents of the small ball game – we can take a small bit of consolation in the fact that two players, John Hanbury (seniors) and Diarmuid Kilcommins (minors) both have strong local connections.

  The young Kilcommins is a son of Creggs native Tadgh, and of Hilary Hussey from Oran, who herself was a top Roscommon camogie player. Her brother Michael was also a very good county hurler for Roscommon. Diarmuid had a superb game for the victorious minors on Sunday, scored a few outrageous points and had a major influence in Galway’s win. His grandfather Larry has long been a big supporter of the maroon and white, and he’s surely a proud man today.

  As for John Hanbury, his father Chris was a nephew of Sarah O’Roarke (nee Hanbury), who along with her husband Mick ran Roarke’s shop and pub, which is now run by his son Michael and wife Carmel, and which all my readers know as Mikeen’s. It has been in Creggs for a hundred years or more.

  A small bit up the road, Ballygar had corner-back Michael Flynn on the minor team, so congrats to him and the club. Despite the senior loss, which by the way was well deserved (sadly), it wasn’t too bad of a day for our immediate locality.

When I take my final bow… play this classic, please!

Many years ago, probably 25 or 30, myself and Carol headed off to the Braemor Rooms in Churchtown, Co. Dublin to attend the Red Hurley and Twink Christmas Show (along with a full supporting cast) and all these years later I can still recall having a great night and really enjoying what was a superbly presented and produced show.

 

  Carol and Twink were – and still are – very good friends, and so when the curtain came down we were invited into the inner sanctum, where we met all the performers, including the wonderful Red Hurley, who at the time was one of the biggest stars on the Irish circuit (as indeed was Twink).

  Anyway, fast-forward to today, and on Marian Finucane’s show this morning (Joe Finnegan was over), who should be interviewed – and singing live – only the aforementioned Red. He is now 68 years of age, but still singing as well as ever, and still recording and doing live appearances, and he seems to be as popular as ever.

  On the radio this morning one of the songs he sang was the classic ‘How Great Thou Art’, and in fairness he did a super job on it. However, as I listened to it, I realised that if anyone ever did one of those mini-interviews with me where they ask about your favourite places, and your favourite nights out and that kind of stuff, if they asked me what my favourite song of all time is it would be the Carrie Underwood and Vince Gill version of that very same song.

  In fact, even though I’m at work and flat out (probably asleep says you), I have just brought it up on my phone and listened to it, and I hope no-one comes in for a while as the hair is still standing on my head. What a marvellous performance. When I take my final bow from this earth, I will want that song playing as I hit the road – to wherever I might be headed.

  Whether I’ll be going up or down, or even if there is an up or down, I’m not sure, but either way I cannot imagine a better song to play me out.

Wanted: Young lad with money and good road frontage!

I’m taking my first venture into the social and personal world, for today in Roscommon I met Anne Marie, a regular reader of my column who comes from Tuam (don’t know if she still lives there, or if she’s somewhere in Roscommon). After discussing the demise of both the Galway hurlers and footballers, she asked me to do her a small favour. She is looking for – in her own words – a strong young fella between 19 and 22 years of age, with loads of money and good road frontage, and she is willing to travel to Mikeen’s to meet this lad (if he exists).

  I had a go at Dan Dooner for her, but he tells me he doesn’t qualify on any count, so if there’s anyone out there who wants to meet Ann Marie you’ll have to come through me; here’s hoping that Anne Marie hits the jackpot in Mikeen’s! 

And finally…

Finally for this week, it’s now time to hit the highways with our dance tickets, and as usual our regular crew will be calling –so please greet them kindly.

  The former Personality of the Parish, Tom Connolly, will be doing his rounds, and if there’s anyone who has any time to spare and would like to help, they will be very, very welcome. The two charities –the Lourdes Invalid Fund and Cancer Care West – are extremely worthwhile. The Lancers are all set to put on a brilliant show, so I look forward to visiting you in the near future and seeing you all in Dowd’s in Glinsk on Saturday, 15th of September.

 

Till next week, Bye for now!

 

 

The Pope and his Skoda…

 

 

 

It’s a pleasant enough Monday morning, and unusually for me, myself and the now trusty old Volvo are heading off to work in Athlone (just me, not the Volvo), and my mind drifts back to the days before electric window winders, and computers, and all the new-fangled gadgets that are part and parcel of the modern car.

  The reason it’s unusual for me to be heading for Athlone is that, nowadays, I only do three days – Thursday, Friday and Saturday – but as one of the lads (Paul) is off gallivanting round Latvia on his holidays, I am covering for him for this coming week.

  Anyway, as I’m driving to Athlone, I’m thinking of the fact that, even in the now trusty old Volvo, the teething problems that I had at the start were all due to problems with the computer, and apparently it was coming up with all kind of mixed messages, all of which meant that the car would decide to stop for no reason – or not start at all. Until I got it sorted I had a very frustrating and annoying time.

  Anyway, it all made me think back to the days of my first cars, one of the first being a Hillman Avenger that needed one wheel on the front to be bigger than the other three to compensate for the knock on the steering; a beautiful Sunbeam Vogue that I bought before I knew how to drive at all (it had the most amazing walnut interior); a Vauxhall Viva the driver’s window of which was held in place with a couple of blocks of wood…and an Opel Ascona, whose back door fell off while we were coming back from holidays in Donegal. My wife Carol had to hold it in place all the way back to Creggs.

  The funny thing about all the cars back then was that everything was so simple. There were no electronic yokes to worry about, and if there was petrol in them, more often than not they would go. If not, it was nearly always the starter, or the alternator, or the distributor cap, things you never hear about any more.

  Generally, no matter how big the problem was, our two (at the time) local garage men – Barry Harris and Jimmy Connelly – would have you back on the road in no time.

  It all made me think of an old friend and brother-in-law, Tom Bracken, who usually managed to have even worse cars than I had. Among his many bangers was what we, Tom included, agreed was the worst of all – a rear-engined Skoda that gave more trouble than the worst ever juvenile delinquent. 

  At the time, the Lada, as far as I remember a Russian-made car, was the supposed worst one on the road (and the subject of many jokes) but the Skoda was easily the next most denigrated.

  When Tom had it, it more than lived up to its woeful reputation. So to read in all today’s papers that Pope Francis is to be driven around Ireland in a Skoda, suggests to me that this must constitute the greatest of all comebacks – well, since Lazarus or Tiger Woods.

  No-one yet knows what model he will be driven in, but it is unlikely to have an engine in the back, and even more unlikely to break down. Sadly my brother-in-law is no longer with us, but if he was he would take great pleasure in telling us he was a great judge of a car, and if it was good enough for the Pope, it was good enough for him!

  It’s only a couple of weeks now ‘till the Pontiff arrives on our shores, and I just hope the visit goes well. While the excitement of 1979 is unlikely to be repeated, it should still be an occasion to be remembered.

 

Country stars and festivals: Are (some) prices too high?  

 

As the summer comes to an end, and all the local committees who ran festivals begin to tot up the figures, I wonder if it’s true that some country and western artists – who are capitalising on the new upsurge in popularity of country music – are in danger of pricing themselves out of what seems to be a very lucrative market.

  At least two local festivals that I know of have totally ‘downsized’ this last year or so, and I understand that a big factor was because of the prices headline acts are charging. Inevitably the prices being paid to artists are having a big impact on profits (for the festivals). I have heard reports of one artist (and band) allegedly costing €15,000.

  Now nobody is saying that these artists are not deserving of big paydays, but bearing in mind that there are only so many country music venues – unlike in the showband era when every crossroads had a carnival – surely there should be a limit on the percentage breakdown in favour of the bands, in order to give the local festivals a chance to make some money.

  Insurance costs for any public event are enormous and it would be a shame if any more of these local events were forced out of business. As a follower of country music, I am glad to see there are more and more artists appearing almost every week. That’s great, but don’t let greed kill the golden goose.

Walk the walk with Suck Valley Walking Club

On to local matters…the Suck Valley Walking Club are holding a Walk from Ballygar to Creggs on Saturday, 18th of August, with registration at the Heritage Centre in Creggs at 9.30 am.

  The distance is approximately 16km, transport will be provided to the start of the Walk, and there will be refreshments provided on return to Creggs. You are advised to wear appropriate footwear and clothing, cover charge is €10, and you will enjoy a nice chat, a bit of craic, and get yourself a bit fitter.

  Also, the Suck Valley Way website is being launched, and they would like to hear from anyone who would like to provide accommodation in the locality (for inclusion on the new website). Contact Kathy at suckvalleyway.com or text 086-8725445.

And finally…

 

Finally for this week, we have only five weeks left to the fundraising dance in Dowd’s in Glinsk. We will be out and about selling the tickets, so hopefully we will see you soon, and we look forward to your continuing support.

Till next week, Bye for now!

 

A weekend of sporting highs

It’s the bank holiday Monday, and as I’m writing this at the kitchen table, I can only say that it’s been one of the best sporting weekends that I can ever remember.

  It started off on Friday evening, when myself, my brother Duff, James Gavin and Jim Roarke met up at Roscommon Golf Club and played 18 holes in the Creggs Rugby Club Classic.

  While we didn’t get the call to go back in for the presentation ceremony (which presumably means we didn’t win), we had good fun and thoroughly enjoyed the outing.

  Roscommon is a long course, so by the time we played the last hole it was nearly pitch dark, and I spent several minutes looking for my ball, which by some miracle was sitting pretty in the middle of the green. There was some speculation that it might have been placed there by the hand of God, but I categorically deny any wrongdoing. It was on the green as a result of a brilliant shot that no-one, including myself, managed to see.

  As it was about the only time I got on the green in what they call regulation figures, I have now decided to play all my future golf at night. Maybe I will produce better scores that way.  

  Anyway, on to Saturday, and the bane of my life – work – meant that I was in the shop in Athlone while the Irish ladies hockey team were trying to pull off one of the greatest sporting achievements of all time by becoming the first Irish team in any sport to qualify for a World Cup Final. When they beat Spain in a penalty shoot-out, the radio – and Des Cahill – was pure radio gold.

  Within a few minutes of the match finishing and Ireland going through to Sunday’s final against the incredibly talented Dutch, we were listening to messages from a lad cutting silage somewhere on his tractor who told us he was crying his eyes out at the result (hope it wasn’t that he was broken down);  another visitor to the Clonmacnoise early Christian site rang to say she had spent the duration of the game praying for a win, and Des told us that in all his years presenting the sports show they had never seen a reaction like it, and the number of messages into RTE surpassed anything they had encountered before.

  In fairness, for an amateur team who were competing with several full-time professional players, it was a stupendous achievement, and in a small country where we have had outstanding female sportswomen – like Sonia O’Sullivan, Katie Taylor, Catherina McKiernan and the golfing Maguire twins, Leona and Lisa – these hockey players have elevated our status on the world stage and deserve all the praise and accolades that they will now receive.

  Their heavy defeat in the final in no way detracts from their heroic deeds, and if I had a tractor I too would have cried my eyes out.  

  By now I was on my way home, excited at the thought of watching Galway play Monaghan in the last of their Super 8s games, but if ever excitement was misplaced this most certainly was – and the stuff that was served up in Salthill should have carried a health warning –unless you were from Monaghan. But as Galway have a semi-final next Saturday against the Dubs, I will make no comment on last week’s effort, and will wish them well in a match where they will do very well to stay in touch with Jim Gavin’s men.

  The other semi-final will be a battle between Tyrone and Monaghan, and it would be a good man (or woman) who would predict that result. The popular verdict is that Tyrone will prevail, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the Farney men could spring a surprise.

 

A great trip to Croker

 

The Bank Holiday Saturday night passed off quietly and peacefully. I had a few, very few, quiet pints in Mikeen’s, followed by an early bed, as I was heading to Dublin on the Sunday morning.

  This was a long-planned visit to our daughter Lisa, who lives in Malahide, but as luck would have it (maybe luck is stretching it), myself and my son Mark were given premium tickets to Croke Park, where, in case you haven’t heard, the Rossies were taking on the mighty Dubs in what was the last of their Super 8s matches.

  Off we headed on Sunday morning – after the obligatory full Irish – and, having made it to Malahide, myself and Mark hit for Croker on the Dart, where I made friends with a true blue Dub supporter  who invited us to join him and some buddies in Maher’s of Ballybough for a few beers.

  Sadly, as we wanted to see the hurling replay between Galway and Clare, we didn’t take him up on his invite and instead made for the wonderful Croke Park stadium. We made it just as the sliothar was thrown in, and I have to say the premium ticket was just something else, as we watched the game on a giant screen that that was so big, yet so clear, that you would think you were playing yourself, that in a room that had several hundred people. It was just magic.

  We had the dinner there as well…a top class helping of roast beef for me (with all the trimmings – and a good deal more), and the only thing that annoyed me was that 90% of the support was for Clare and it was the Dubs’ supporters that were fairly roaring on The Banner. When Shane O’Donnell scored the goal in the second half, the roof nearly lifted off. I have to say it was one of the great individual goals of all time, but at the time I was fit to kill half the Dubs around me, and in truth the Galway lads were outrageously lucky to win by a solitary point.

  Out then to the hallowed ground to see the football game, and as I watched the Dubs in the flesh for the first time since I togged out against them for a league match back in early 1975, my mind drifted back to that day, a day that was to be the end of my wonderful(?) intercounty career.

  It’s only now, 43 years later, that I realise I should not have been there at all, as not having turned up for the previous league game against Offaly, I must have been dropped off the panel – but nobody told me. The penny didn’t drop, even though when myself and my good mate, Jack the Lower (who was my chauffeur) turned up at the team hotel before the game, there was no food for us, only for Gerry Beirne saving the day when he managed to get some tea and sandwiches for us.

  Then when we got to Croke Park we had to plead our case to be let in at all, with Jack nearly having to pay in, until finally, having togged out with all the other lads, I realised something wasn’t right when there was no jersey for me. It didn’t finish there either as there was no room for me in the dugout, and so I sat amongst the supporters, in my togs, on a freezing cold day. As no-one would have known me they must have thought I had escaped from some institution. Besides it being the end of my career at 23 years of age, the main thing that game is remembered for is the fact that it was the only time the great Dermot Earley was sent off after he hit Bobby Doyle with a haymaker that Muhammad Ali would have been proud of.

  Anyway, my day-dreaming over, I sat down to watch the present-day Dubs, and even though it was more like a challenge match than a championship encounter, it was an education to see them in action. Their athleticism, speed, power and ability was there for all to see, but it was their workrate that impressed me the most; their willingness to chase back, even when winning by a large margin, was amazing, and they truly are an example to all who want to excel at football.

  The Rossies played their part as well, and they tried to play their football right to the end, and despite getting a bit of a beating, they contributed a lot to a game I quite enjoyed.

  There were very few Primrose and Blue colours in view, as not too many travelled to the Capital, but those that did could be proud of their team and realise they have been terrific ambassadors for their county over the last couple of years.

  As for us, we went for a lovely meal in the Scotch Bonnet in Malahide. It was just superb. We followed that with a few pints in the renowned Gibney’s pub, which was absolutely hopping on the Bank Holiday Sunday night.

  All told it was a great day, and while I won’t be there next Saturday – due to that horrible thing called work – my heart will be with Galway, and I hope they do themselves justice. Let’s hope they have a go and take on the Dubs. As Mayo have shown several times, it’s the only way.

 

And finally…

Finally for this week, the posters and tickets have arrived for our annual fundraiser in Dowd’s, Glinsk, on September 15th. It’s in aid of the Lourdes Invalid Fund and Cancer Care West. We will be out and about from next week on calling to your houses, looking for your ever-generous support.

 

Till next week,
Bye for now!

 

 

 

Demi’s plight reminds us of need to fight drugs scourge

 

 

On August 20th, Demi Lovato will turn 26 years of age. Until about three weeks ago, I knew very little, if anything, about the American actress, singer/songwriter. Then one night I happened to see her when she was a guest on the Jonathan Ross Show, a show that was actually recorded almost a year ago (in October 2017).

  Now it turns out that Lovato is a very successful performer and has had huge successes in every facet of her career. But it was her struggles with depression, bulimia, drugs and alcohol – since she was 15 years of age – that grabbed my attention, and she was rightly proud that, in her own words, she was now sober for six years…sober in this case referring to both drugs and alcohol.

  As a guest on the Ross show, she was very entertaining, and I thought she was both interesting and attractive and, even though I knew almost nothing about her, I found myself captivated with her positive approach to her many problems.

  And so last week, in common with her many fans around the world, I was saddened to see in all the papers that she had overdosed on drugs, and was unconscious when found in her home, before being transferred to intensive care in a Los Angeles hospital. Thankfully she appears to be on the mend, and while I still wouldn’t know any of her songs, I do wish her well, and hope and pray she recovers from this hopefully temporary blip.

  As it so happens, here in Ireland the HSE has recently come under criticism because it has effectively accepted that our 15-24 year age group are amongst the highest users of drugs in Europe, and instead of sweeping the problem under the carpet they have issued instructions to users in an effort to keep them safe, and to try to ensure that we have no fatalities as a result of uneducated usage of contaminated and tampered-with substances.

  They have brought out a 10-point information leaflet, aimed at the thousands of punters who will attend the many festivals that will take place throughout the summer, and while some commentators are unhappy that there is now an acceptance that drug-taking exists – and say this leaflet actually teaches them how to use illicit drugs – I for one believe it’s a good idea. If it saves even one life, it’s a job well done.

  Every dog on the street knows that there is a huge drug problem in Ireland right now, and there isn’t a village or hinterland anywhere that isn’t affected, so any initiative to safeguard our youth has to be welcomed, and please God this one will make a difference.

 

A great day in Donamon

Last Sunday, along with a large number of people –a lot of whom were enjoying their picnics in the beautiful grounds – I found myself at the wonderful open-air concert in Donamon Castle for a while.  From what I could see, the attendance seemed to be at an all-time high. Everyone was having a good time, the music was just great, Danny Burke was doing a great job as the MC, and all told the Open Day really is a credit to everyone involved.

  All around the area festivals are popping up everywhere, and as the Bank Holiday looms, I would encourage you all to get out, support the hard-working committees who are putting the entertainment together, and show them their efforts are really appreciated.

  I remember back in the 1960s my father was secretary of the thriving Creggs Carnival, and even now looking back at it from more than fifty years, I can recall it being an all-consuming job.

  So, if you can get to Ballygar or Castlerea, or any other local town or village that is running a weekend hooley, get there and enjoy whatever entertainment they have on.

 

Extra-time periods asking too much of hurling stars?

 

As the country recovers from the excitement of the two amazing hurling semi-finals, after which Limerick qualified for this year’s All-Ireland final and Galway and Clare prepare to do it all again next Sunday, the absolute wonder must be how amateur players can get themselves into such unbelievable physical condition.

  Now I know most reports will focus on the wonderful performances and the quality and skill of everyone involved, but for me, in games that lasted 94 minutes and were played at such a fast pace, it was just extraordinary how enthralling and competitive the extra-time – particularly in the Galway-Clare match – was, and how players were still going as strongly at the end as they were at the start of the contest.

  The argument regarding the new arrival of extra-time in All-Ireland semi-finals will start again following these two games, and I agree with RTE pundit Donal O’Grady that the additional time is too much for amateur players. The two games should have gone to replays at the end of 70 minutes (anyway, the Galway match has gone to one regardless).

  The other huge question relates to the effect injuries will have, and on this Monday morning (as I write) the word from the Galway side is that both Joe Canning and Gearoid McInerney are unlikely to feature in next Sunday’s replay.

  If I was a betting man, if those two lads are missing I would have to think the pendulum has swung to The Banner, and much as I hate to say it, I fear we may have a Limerick/Clare showdown in the final.

  Just as an addition, I don’t like O’Grady as a pundit, as he’s sullen, highly critical of everyone and everything, and gives the impression that he knows it all. His own managerial career was mediocre at best, although he did steer Cork to an All-Ireland win in 2004.

  Changing to the Super 8s…this weekend should see a couple of really interesting games, and while the Rossies’ visit to Croke Park is really only a day out, at the same time I hope their supporters show up in good numbers, and I wish our own Creggs man Ger Dowd all the luck in the world (some will say he will need it), as he takes over the mantle temporarily vacated by the manager, Kevin McStay. Galway supporters will be torn between Thurles and Pearse Stadium, but I’m sure both venues will be well full. 

And finally…

Finally for this week, we now have only six weeks or so until our fundraising dance in Dowd’s, Glinsk, which is in aid of Cancer Care West and the Lourdes Invalid Fund. We will be hitting the highways and the byways pretty soon and, as every year, we look forward to seeing you and receiving your ever-generous support.

 

Till next week, Bye for now!

 

Facebook needs to face up to its responsibilities

 

 

On the 15th of March 2015, I must have had a fleeting thought of doing whatever it is you do to open a Facebook account, because when I decided this morning to look up what being on Facebook is all about, there it was in black and white: ‘You visited this page on 15/3/15’ – and so I gave myself a little pat on the back, because I obviously must have decided to keep my life (as much as you can when you write a column like this) to myself.

  Anyways, it said that I could keep up with my friends (that’s if I had any), faster and easier than ever, and I could share updates and photos and basically let the whole world know everything that I get up to.

  Then, as now, I couldn’t really think that anyone out there would give a damn about what time I get up at or what I have for breakfast – or any of the mundane stuff that people seem to like to share with all their so-called friends.

  However, the impression given would have been that it was all harmless enough stuff, and until the documentary that Channel 4 broadcast last week – following an undercover investigation by an investigative journalist – I would have thought that such a massive worldwide company would have the highest of standards in place.

  That clearly was not the case, as graphic images and videos of children – some as young as three years old – being brutally assaulted were uploaded and left on Facebook, as indeed was a video showing two easily identifiable teenage girls having a fairly violent fight.

  Amongst the other disturbing claims were that the reporter was told to take no action regarding a user’s age, even if they look under 13 years old, which is the minimum age for someone to have an account. The report also claims that hate speech can, in some cases, be permitted. All in all it doesn’t paint a very good picture of how Facebook does its business (apart from its financial business, which is enormously successful).

  As someone who knows nothing about Twitter or Snapchat or Instagram, or nearly anything to do with social media, it’s probable that I would never have bothered with Facebook anyway, but after seeing that Channel 4 expose I am glad I resisted the temptation to join in 2015. Like it or not, you’ll have to rely on the Roscommon People to keep up to date with my future very unexciting life.

Ridiculous stance by GAA on Miller game

Down south, in Cork, which they like to claim is the real Capital of Ireland, the problems that have arisen regarding the staging (or non-staging) of the Liam Miller fundraising match in Pairc Ui Chaoimh would almost be laughable if they weren’t so ridiculous.

  Even at this stage you would hope some common sense prevails and that the game gets the go-ahead. The outdated rules within the GAA, which, by some miracle allow, or have allowed, rugby matches, concerts, boxing and even American football to be played on Croke Park, but won’t let a soccer match take place in Pairc Ui Chaoimh, need to be revisited.

  The fact that the charity game is in honour of a young Cork man who started off as a GAA player but ended up reaching the highest level of soccer achievement by playing with Celtic, Manchester Utd. and Ireland, and who died at the very young age of 36 years, leaving a wife and young family behind, should surely be enough to get over any stupid rules and regulations.

  Bearing in mind that taxpayers pumped €30 million of our hard-earned money into the redevelopment of the venue, shouldn’t we have a say in whether or not it can be used? One of the arguments used is that Congress, which doesn’t take place until February, is the only vehicle that can change the present rules, so for me the quote of the week came from the Chairman of Monageer Boulavogue GAA Club in Wexford, who stated: “We will not be waiting on permission from Central Council every time our local primary school want to use our ground for an egg and spoon race, or every time Paddy and Mick want to play a game of racquetball in our handball alley”. Fair play to him!

  At the end of the day all it needs is a bit of common sense, and in truth the real winners would be the GAA itself, given the goodwill and positivity that it would generate. In the words of Tomas O’Se “It’s a no-brainer”.

  Let’s all hope it gets sorted and the big match between an Ireland XI and a Man. Utd. XI takes place in front of a 45,000 sell-out crowd in the new €70 million stadium.

  Staying with football, but of the GAA kind, as we suffered a humiliating first-half display in the Hyde against the Rossies in the Connacht final just over a month ago, if anyone told us at half-time in that match that Galway would now be in the All-Ireland semi-final we would have sent for the men in white coats and sought immediate psychiatric help for whoever had made such a ludicrous announcement, because, in truth, at that stage winning the Lotto or the Euromillions looked a good bit more likely.

  However, here we are towards the end of July, and it’s hard to credit how the fortunes of the two Connacht finalists have been so different. The Rossies, who in my opinion would still be very close to Galway if they were to meet them again, have had a difficult Super 8s, and still must take on the Dubs in Croker before their campaign ends. The Tribesmen, by virtue of two reasonably good wins, are only three games away from taking home the Sam Maguire.

  Now of course it looks like a foregone conclusion that the Dubs will do their four-in-a-row – it’s hard to see anyone stopping them – but by next Sunday evening only four teams will still be standing, and Galway and Dublin are already among them.

  So for me, the bottom line is that as a Galway man, I have to salute their performances. Having been highly critical of their style of play, I now have to eat a good deal of humble pie and admit that Kevin Walsh obviously knows better than I do. I would still like to see a bit more adventure in the game plan, but everyone else is at it…this blanket defence and backways and sideways passing…so, I suppose, like the old saying says, it’s a case of ‘If you can’t beat them, join them’.

  Also, my criticism of the Super 8s may have been a bit premature, as last weekend’s games were much improved on the first week’s efforts, and three of this weekend’s matches have a lot riding on them.

  As I came home from Roscommon yesterday evening I passed two neighbouring houses, one with a Galway flag and the other with a Roscommon flag. The Galway one was flying proudly in the wind, while across the road the Roscommon one was almost limp, and I thought to myself that they reflected the present state of the fortunes of the respective teams.

  Galway are flying high right now, but of course there is no guarantee that next year Roscommon or Mayo won’t be there, so for all of us who support the maroon and white, let’s enjoy it while we can, because in sport, nothing – even the dominance of the Dubs – lasts for ever.

Don’t miss Family Day at Donamon this Sunday!

Finally for this week, don’t forget Ireland’s biggest and best free concert is taking place in Donamon Castle this Sunday. It all starts with 12.30 Mass. Parking is free.

  As there is a full preview elsewhere in the paper, I won’t go into any more detail, except to tell you that Jake Carter and his band will be there, as will many more top entertainers.

  It’s always one of the best days of the year, and this year will be even better, so don’t say no-one told you, and make sure you get to Donamon this Sunday, 29th of July, and please God I will see you there.

 

 

Till next week, Bye for now! 

Super 8s not so super…yet

 

 

It’s Monday morning, and I’m sitting at the kitchen table with my tablet (that’s the mini-computer that I write this stuff on, not the many little pills that I have to take to try to stay alive) in front of me, and I am trying to figure out why the first weekend of the Super 8s has left me as deflated as a burst balloon.

  All week I was excited at the wonderful games that would take place over the weekend, and even with the inconvenience of having to go to work, and knowing the World Cup final was on, I had it all sorted so that I could see all of the football games, except for the first half of the Rossies’ outing with Tyrone. Unusually, everything worked out according to plan.

  I am not going to analyse the matches themselves, but as a Galway supporter, I should be much happier this morning after we put the men from the Kingdom to the sword for the first time in the championship since 1965, a full 53 years ago.

  Last night I found myself in Mikeen’s, and, to be fair the large crowd of maroon and white followers were in high good humour, and to a man they were happily celebrating the victory – and all, including Ballygar man Bernie Mongan, were agreed that we deserved our win, and that it didn’t matter how we won, as long as we won.  

  And so, this morning I feel like a spoilsport, because I thought it was a shocking match, completely devoid of any atmosphere or intensity, and I cannot bring myself to get excited at the modern game of football, where the ball goes backwards or sideways more than it goes forward – and where the handpass has far exceeded the kick as a means of moving the ball.

  The sad thing for me is that Galway are only doing what the successful teams are doing, and maybe they have to, as the All-Ireland champions (the Dubs) played ‘keepball’ for almost the last ten minutes of their win over Donegal, and simply ran down the clock –while having 14 or even 15 men behind the ball has become the norm at intercounty level.

  The other thing that the pundits in Mikeen’s were all agreed on was that these games should never have been in Croke Park, a venue where even 20 or 30 thousand people look lost, and where there is very little atmosphere…whereas even smaller numbers in provincial grounds would generate a top class atmosphere and maybe make for more intense competition.

  However, hope springs eternal, and I am convinced that we will have four rip-roaring games this weekend, and Clones, Omagh, Newbridge and the Hyde will prove once and for all that these games belong outside of Croke Park. Just like last week I can’t wait, and hopefully this week we will see the type of games the Super 8s should deliver.

  As for the World Cup Final, which we kept hopping over to, the French were probably deserving winners, but once again the feeling persists that in big games the big decisions always go against the minnows.

  In my opinion, the decisive penalty kick for the second French goal should never have been given. I genuinely feel the Croatians were hard done by.

  However, for me, the highlight was the presentation of the medals which took place in the type of an absolute downpour that Irish Water would pay for. It proved that, in Russia, only one person matters. Three presidents –Putin, (Russia), Macron (France) and Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic (Croatia) – were on the podium as the rain poured down, but the only one to be covered with an umbrella was the Russian president, while Macron, in his Sunday best suit, and the Croatian president, in her Croatia red and white jersey, were absolutely soaked.

  Eventually (much too late) a couple of brollies arrived, but by then the two Presidents were soaking! To be fair, they both took it with good grace and were highly enthusiastic in their greetings to both winners and losers.

  I could only imagine if Michael D was on the podium…there would have been brollies for everyone!

Open Family Day at Donamon Castle

My good friend, Sean Beirne, tells me that not only is the Donamon Open Day coming up on the 29th of July, but – and I don’t know how he managed it – Dancing with the Stars winner Jake Carter and his band will be there, and that alone should guarantee a full house of enthusiastic young (and not so young) ladies.

  Needless to say there is also a full line-up of further entertainment, and I will tell you all next week. Definitely appearing are The Conquerors, Crazy Corner, the Castlerea Brass Band, the Duggan School of Dancing, and a new unnamed traditional group who will perform a medley of Irish music.

  All the usual features including pony rides, face-painting, bouncy castle and the wonderful book stall will be there, and I’m sure so will my favourite, the refreshment stall, selling the lovely buns and teas and coffees. Also, the Monster Draw will take place, with a first prize of €1,500. Tickets will be on sale on the day. Make sure you get there on time…you can bring your own picnic or barbeque with you (keep an old sausage or a burger for me).

  It all begins with Mass at 12.30. Parking and admission is free, and it will be one of the great days of the summer. I remember a great TV programme called Jake and the Fatman, so if I make it to Donamon we can have a re-make of the ‘60s hit series.

And finally…

Finally for this week, now that we are back on the golf course in Castlerea, the big question I have to ask is – is there any blinder junction in the whole of the country than the one where the Glinsk road meets the Glenamaddy one? 

  It’s a t junction, and you nearly have to be fully across the whole road to see traffic coming from the left. I’m no engineer, but there must be a way of making it a bit clearer –and a bit safer.

 

 

Memories of Mattie, a superstar long before the Super 8s

 

 

It’s another beautiful Monday evening, and four of us have had a couple of very enjoyable hours playing golf in the gloriously peaceful surrounds of Castlerea Golf Club. However, because of the unusual rules that we play by, (nothing criminal, only unusual), myself and my partner find that, even though we won a few holes, drew a few, and only lost one (critically the last one), we are going home as the runners-up in our mini-tournament. And for some reason – maybe the lovely weather was also a factor – I found myself transported back in time to the days when the late Mattie McDonagh – still and probably for ever more  the most decorated Connacht footballer of all time with his four All-Ireland medals – used to host a regular soccer get-together at the back of his own house, outside Ballygar. In that mini-tournament, the ‘winners’ also only had to be ahead at the final whistle.

  I encountered the great Mattie at a number of sports…including golf, racquetball, tennis, rugby, hurling, football and soccer (both indoor and outdoor). His will to win was renowned, and in our soccer outings, at a certain stage, it always went to whoever “gets the next goal wins”, no matter what the score was at the time. We all knew that the game would carry on until Mattie’s team won. Many a Sunday evening saw the concession of a soft goal to ensure that Mattie won and we could go home.

  As Roscommon and Galway head off to the Super 8s and Croke Park this weekend, I just wondered is there anyone amongst them as focused on winning as Big Matt used to be. I really hope both western teams have a right go at it. Remarkably, I know the Rossies will attack the men from Tyrone – I just hope Kevin Walsh lets the Tribesmen off the leash and they take the battle to The Kingdom. I might be in the minority, but the Dubs showed last year how to play against the blanket defence, and I am sure Kevin McStay and his merry men don’t need me to tell them how to play, although if they want to call me I will gladly help. I believe the Rossies can spring an almighty shock on Saturday evening, and pour more pressure on Mickey Harte.

  As for Galway, last year they made no effort to take on Kerry, and let what at the time was a poor enough team beat them well. For us supporters, it was almost an embarrassment. This Galway team is well capable of winning as well, and, if both were to do so, wouldn’t it be great for the West?

  I don’t know anything about the politics of the GAA (some of ye would say I know nothing about anything). A simple mind, that’s mine, but it looks to me as if it would make sense to have both Western teams in Croke Park on Sunday. However, it is not to be, although I imagine a lot of people, me included, would like to make it to both games.

 

We’ll be calling!

 

It’s amazing how quickly the time is going, and how the years are passing, and so today I rang my friend Dave in Cancer Care West to organise the printing of posters and tickets for our Annual Dance in aid of Cancer Care West and the Lourdes Invalid Fund. It takes place this year on Saturday night, 15th of September, in Dowd’s, Glinsk, with music once again by the very popular Lancers.

  As usual we will be taking to the highways and the byways with the tickets, starting in two or three weeks’ time, so this is just a preliminary notice to let you know we will be calling, and we know you will support two very worthy causes.

 

Gearoid McInerney and Neymar…

 

The hurling last Sunday between Galway and Kilkenny was such a wonderful exciting contest that there can be no argument that hurling is one of the best, if not the best, field game of all.

  The effort put in by both sets of players was bordering on the heroic. When you compare that to the behaviour, particularly of Neymar, in the World Cup, you really have to wonder. Before I leave the World Cup – and obviously by the time this newspaper arrives in your door you will know if England have made it through to the World Cup final on Sunday, but on my way home from Castlerea on Monday night, and as I recovered from the disappointment of not being a champion golfer, I was amazed to realise that I could name the England starting eleven in 1966, without having to think twice.

  Banks, Wilson, Moore, etc…their names rolled off my tongue, and it nearly frightened me to think that as they get ready for this year’s semi-final, I would hardly know half their present team. Maybe I’m older (no maybe about it), but I think it’s also a reflection on how, personally, I have got fed up with the diving, moaning and cheating of the soccer multi-millionaires.

  Wouldn’t it be great to put one of them out in the middle of a serious intercounty hurling match, and see how they would get on – can you imagine Gearoid McInerney and Neymar going bald-headed for the sliothar! I’d say for a change the Brazilian superstar would have good reason to do a bit of rolling on the ground.

  Anyway, I’ve said all along that our neighbours can win it, and I certainly feel they will be in the final. After that, anything can happen.

 

And finally…

Finally for this week, we had an unusual treble in Mikeen’s, when three local people –  Bobby Jennings, Michael Griffin and Sylvia Lynch – all celebrated their 7th of July birthdays.

  I received a photo entitled the 7th July babies, but you will agree the two lads are a long way removed from their baby days, (you could say they are fairly hairy babies), and despite extensive enquiries I couldn’t get their exact ages.

  The only thing I’m sure of is that none of them were born in the same year, and the nearest I got was an admission from Mike Griffin that there was quite a bit of VAT to be added to the 21 that he admitted to. Sylvia’s mother said (note pun) nothing, and the best DJ in the west (Bobby) sang dumb.

  Anyway, congrats to all three, but if they think they are special, the 14th April gang one year  had four people celebrating their birthdays in Mikeen’s, so the 7th July crew need one more for next year.

  However, well done, and here’s to many more.

Till next week, Bye for now!

 

Water, water, everywhere but not a drop to waste!

 

 

 

It’s another gloriously sunny Monday morning, and everywhere I look – on the telly and in the papers – all I can see is that we have a water crisis in the country, and Irish Water is threatening to bring people to court if they waste the precious commodity.

  Usage of hosepipes is banned in the Greater Dublin area, and they now cannot be used for watering gardens, washing cars, and filling swimming and paddling pools. Irish Water have taken on extra staff to man their helpline where members of the public can report people for breaches of the hosepipe ban – though somehow I can’t see too many people picking up the phone and telling whoever is on the line that their neighbour is using too much water.

  Now, anyone that knows me will know that I am no scientist or engineer, and that I may well be the most useless DIY man in history and if anything around the house needs to be done or fixed, I am definitely not your man. However, I still can’t understand why a couple of weeks’ sunshine can spell disaster to our population – from farmers to gardeners to restaurant owners, and in fact to nearly everyone!

  I have told you before of a little place in Spain that we go to nearly every year, and the big attraction of the area is that they have, on average, only 30-odd wet days a year. Yet, in the 15 or so years that we have been going there, we have never experienced any water shortage.

  On the other hand, here in Ireland we are nearly always complaining about the rain and our almost constant downpours, and it mystifies me as to how, in this day of amazing technology, we have not come up with a way to harness all this free water and have a reserve built up for – forgive the pun – a rainy day.

  Heavy snow, heavy rain, and now too much sun all seem to be able to bring this country to its knees, and I can only say there has to be a way to deal with all of these weather events. Maybe we should set up a think-tank, comprised of the of the best brains in the country (I know you’d want me on it, but I’m too busy), and figure out a way to deal with our different weather extremities as other countries around the world already do.

  A few years ago, my daughter spent some time in Minnesota in the US, where temperatures hit minus 30 degrees, and snowfall was more than two feet deep. Yet, remarkably, life just carried on with no apparent disruption to normal living – roads stayed open, people got to and from work, and all was good. Some time later, we got 4 or 5 inches of snow and the country ground to a halt – shops (including the one I work in) were closed, in our case for two full days, and roads became impassable.

  All I can say is surely it doesn’t have to be this way. I realise occurrences such as these are not extremely regular for Ireland, and maybe that’s why we have no plans in place to deal with them, but isn’t it time we did? Anyway, I’m off to yoke up the hosepipe, and water the flowers (only joking, as I might well be under surveillance!).

In defence of the Leinster final…

It’s funny how different people can take totally different things out of the same event, and Sunday’s Leinster Senior Hurling Final between Kilkenny and Galway is a case in point.

  On one of the daily papers that I buy (the Daily Mail), their reporter thought it was a rubbish game, with Galway being particularly bad. Meanwhile, a number of reporters in the Indo agreed with my assessment that it was the type of game which separates hurling from all other sports, (except maybe rugby), establishing it as one in which courage, heart, fearlessness and almost manic commitment are exhibited by every single player on the pitch.

  Much was made of the relatively low scoring, but it was the heroic defending by both sides, with players ‘putting their lives on the line’, that kept the scores down. Apart from the fact that I was obviously supporting Galway, I thoroughly enjoyed what was a true battle, and hopefully we will get more of the same next Sunday.

  On a lighter note, isn’t it strange to have a Leinster final take place in a Munster venue with a Connacht team taking part? It could only happen in Ireland, and whatever happens in the replay, I expect both of these teams to have a huge say in the final destination of the MacCarthy Cup.

And finally…

Eddie is an Internet sensation!

Finally for this week, out here in Creggs for a good few years now we have known Eddie Gavin as a County Council foreman (now retired), a hard-working farmer, a renowned horse man, a great character, and a good neighbour and friend, but never in our wildest dreams (or his, I’d say) did we think he would become an Internet sensation and a film star at this stage of his life.

  However, this week we have seen the release of a beautiful documentary by filmmaker Donal Maloney called, ‘Up the Mountain’, which tells us of Eddie’s struggles to deal with the death of his beloved wife, Teresa, a woman he freely admits he loved to bits, and how his love of, and for, horses helped him to rebuild his life.

  The filmmaker spent a few days with Eddie on his farm up the mountain and at the horse fair in Ballinasloe – and while I don’t want to spoil your enjoyment of the finished work, it gives us a great insight into the life and times of Eddie, who, at the end of it all, is primarily a horse man whose love of family comes shining through.

  Usually documentaries like this are made on some type of famous celebrities, and generally they are lightweight tributes to their subjects. This one is different in that it’s about an ordinary everyday man, and doesn’t sugarcoat the trials and tribulations of a man who is just like you and I and who lives in the real world. I think the film is to be found on Facebook, so if you can, make sure you have a look at it. And as a lad whose father came from the Newbridge side of Mount Mary, all I can say is well done Eddie, and ‘Up the Mountain!’

Till next week, 

Bye for now!

 

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