Log in
From the kitchen table

From the kitchen table

Would you snoop through your partner’s phone messages?

 

 

We’re officially in the middle of ‘break-up season’ folks. Yep, apparently January sees more divorce applications than any other month, with those unhappy people who’ve agonisingly managed to spend the festive season and the New Year barely managing to keep it together, now secretly plotting their great escape routes before Cupid gets an opportunity to fire his arrow in time for Valentine’s Day!  

  Of course there are many reasons why couples break up immediately following Christmas. It could be she’s bought him a year’s membership to a premium gym, even though his ass spends 24/7 keeping that sofa on the floor. And, no matter how much she tries to preen and buff him, he’s never going to morph into Mark Wahlberg and greet her with six pack abs and hulking biceps. Then again, he could have bought her some risqué lingerie, and no matter how much he fantasises, she’s got no desire to look like a Babestation bimbo now has she?

  However…and I don’t want to be the prophet of doom, but if Ireland’s Got Talent Judge, the gorgeous Denise Van Outen’s relationship with partner Eddie Boxshall goes bust, it won’t be due to those January blues, it’ll probably be due to the fact she’s given him the password to her phone, enabling him ‘to read her messages whenever he wants’. Denise says she often exchanges ‘flirty banter’ with her male friends, and she wants Eddie to be certain they aren’t ‘inappropriate’. Okay, nothing wrong with Denise’s intentions; she’s obviously happy to be open and honest with Eddie, and that’s a positive attribute. However, when she added, her partner of more than three years ‘is yet to give her the passcode to his phone’, I thought that was peculiar.

  Now, while I’d imagine readers might agree with me that transparency and honesty are important traits to have in every relationship, privacy and trust are also essential and that’s why both myself and hubby don’t have access to each other’s phone, email, social media or bank passwords. We don’t need them. We’re not saddos constantly wondering who the other is texting!  

  Besides, when you trawl and snoop through your partner’s messages you’re not only proving how insecure you are, you’re invading their privacy and the privacy of those who’ve sent them personal information. Let me tell you, being a suspicious snoop (while normal) will not reassure you if you don’t trust your partner and secretly ferreting through his/her phone is really a sign of something more serious. You see, while it takes time for trust to build, remember that faith, that belief you once held, will disappear faster than air from a burst balloon, and having access to their personal details will not prevent infidelity. 

  Now while the goal of our marriage is to blend into one unbreakable unit, our individualism is extremely important to us, and when couples begin to breach certain boundaries they should know that the trust, the conviction and the respect they once held dear is now gone and it’s time to get out of Dodge for your own mental wellbeing. That said folks, if hubby asks me for my password I’ll happily give it to him, and I’ll fully expect that if I ask for his he’d immediately reciprocate …otherwise we’ll both have major problems.

Just my opinion…but…

Donald Trump is ‘a stable genius’. And, he’s ‘like, really smart’. That’s his opinion. Mine is that when a powerful, influential individual can publicly denigrate fellow human beings (allegedly) saying they come from “s**thole countries” and think it’s acceptable, it’s time to tell it like it is…POTUS is a RACIST!

Brace yourselves for peak flu pressure

‘HSE: We’re ready for flu outbreak,’ claimed The Irish Examiner’s headline last October, quoting Director General Tony O’Brien as saying “Our community healthcare organisations, and our hospital groups have been planning for this winter since before the summer”. Well you didn’t prepare fully now did you Mr. O’Brien because, as I write, while AH3N2 or ‘Aussie flu’ continues to sleigh us, another B Yamagata strain of the deadly virus is wreaking havoc; with responsibility for 60-70 percent of confirmed flu cases, but your penny-pinching organisation didn’t see fit to shield us by making available a second, expensive vaccine which could have protected us.

  So tell me this… as the virus peaks, what part of confining your stocks of vaccine to the trivalent, standard flu jab is being ‘ready’? I mean, has anyone with a discernible brain cell made an accurate assumption as to how our already over-crowded A&Es would cope in the event of a major disaster, i.e. possible terror attack? Has anyone (Simon Harris and Tony O’Brien I mean you) given any consideration as to how the people of County Roscommon, (who have no A&E facilities) would survive in the event of a national emergency occurring…or do you consider us as not being worthy of receiving even the most basic of healthcare?

 

We’re suffering from happy holiday hangover syndrome!

 

Earlier this year, hubby and myself decided to spend New Year’s Eve abroad…well I decided, hubby, bless him, finds life’s easier if he just goes along with my little plans and schemes. And, once I’d worn him down, I found myself chatting with what must be one of the most patient women in County Roscommon, Anita in East West Travel, who expertly booked us on a holiday in South Tenerife’s resort of Los Cristianos. 

  As usual, I’d already done my research and decided that the year round sunshine of South Tenerife would give us the ideal opportunity to relax and unwind, something I personally needed having just hosted a very busy but wonderful Christmas for our entire family where Santa visited our home for the first time since we’d arrived in Roscommon. I also decided that the more grown-up and sophisticated resort of Los Cristianos would suit our personal needs for a quiet, get-away-from-it-all break; and I was correct!

  For readers who may be forward planning a bit of winter sun, rest and relaxation I cannot recommend Los Cristianos highly enough; especially if you plan to visit in December/January for its glorious weather, its abundance of restaurants, shops, markets, bars, and of course  its array of family focused activities, such as the spectacular fireworks display on New Year’s Eve and the flamboyant Los Reyes Magos (the three kings) who paraded across every town in Tenerife kicking off what was a magical night of entertainment to celebrate Spain’s Christmas Day which occurs on 6th January. 

  Now while there are a multitude of family/couple focused day trips on offer to water parks, theme parks and so-called zoos etc., the problem I have with these attractions is the fact that animals are held in captivity and then forced to perform against their will in the name of entertaining unsuspecting and naïve  tourists. You see, as someone who doesn’t agree with using animals for our entertainment purposes I will always steer clear of such ‘attractions,’ however, everyone to their own and all that.

  We did go quad biking two thirds the way up Mount Teide’s spectacular 3,718-metre summit, which is said to be the highest point in Spain, attracting approximately three million tourists each year. And, despite the fact there were rumours as recent as last November that Mount Teide’s volcano could be about to erupt at any time given a series of 22 earthquakes had hit the little village of Vilaflor, we still decided to don our helmets, jump on our quads and give it a go. It was expensive but it was fab; and, for all the world, felt like we’d just landed on Mars. Be warned folks, this trip is not for the faint hearted or for anyone who may have mobility issues.

  We also booked ourselves on other sight-seeing tours and shopping trips; all of which we thoroughly enjoyed and we went out on an educational, controlled, sensitive and totally humane whale watching boat trip with an amazing guide. I was so moved by these innocent, stunning and spell-binding creatures (who are constantly under threat from abusive humans), I cried like a baby as I realised our need to protect them has never been greater.

  All in all, we arrived home from our New Year break exhausted but happy (even if we’re now both suffering the effects of the holiday hangover due to excessive eating and drinking).

  So, if you’re thinking of heading off to the sun next Christmas/New Year, seize the opportunity and start planning it now. A big thanks goes to the extremely well organised and always efficient Anita for her professionalism. For me, peace of mind is priceless when booking a holiday, that’s why I’ll always choose my local travel agent.

 

Get ready for the ‘against-all-odds’ freak fest extravaganza!

 

Not sure about you folks but I’m looking forward to TV3’s or should I say Virgin Media Television’s, (given last week’s announced re-branding initiative) Ireland’s Got Talent reality show; one of the new additions to the station’s 2018 roster. 

  Now a biggie for me is the fact my aul pal the fab Louis Walsh is part of the judging panel, (love Louis), as well as the drop-dead gorgeous diva that is Michelle Visage…OMG readers, give me a second while I just…Aaaaggghhh! Ms Visage may describe herself as “a drag queen” but she’s not a man, nor is she transgender, in fact she’s a 100 per cent cis-gender woman. Confused? Don’t be, the phrase simply relates to those whose sense of personal identity and gender corresponds with their birth sex…but it sounds very exotic doesn’t it.

  Anyhow, the show starts on Saturday, February 3rd, and it’s bound to be a freak fest of ‘against all odds’ sob stories, egged on by the initial  bloodthirsty hissing and booing studio audience who’ll suddenly morph into lighter waving drunks on a hen/stag beano while some eejit humiliates themselves live on stage. Oooh I’ll be glued to me telly. Seriously, the only low point for me will be the boring, robotic and perfect cure for insomnia, Lucy Kennedy, who’s hosting the show.

 

The Pope is welcome, but I won’t roll out the red carpet!

 

2018 is going to be a bumper year for devoted Irish Catholics and I for one am absolutely thrilled for them; I mean it’s not every day the leader of our Church pays us a visit; (the last time was September 1979), and of course I have no doubt once again the Phoenix Park will be the venue of choice for the Holy Father’s historic Mass. As a young teen member of the Dublin branch of the Civil Defence, along with my dad and other volunteers, I was on first-aid duty, meaning I was included in the one million plus devotees who attended Pope John Paul II’s Mass back in 1979.

  Afterwards, relieved of duty,  I rushed to Galway to sing, along with my parish folk group, at the Pontiff’s youth Mass, and oh how I cheered beside my fellow about-to-lapse Catholics, who were all desperate to find a reason, any reason, to hold on to our faith. You know I actually cried when the Holy Father passionately told us “Young people of Ireland…I love you.”

  But alas, that was then; and this is now, and, while I make no apologies whatsoever folks, nor do I mean any disrespect, I confess I have absolutely no plans to set out at daybreak looking like an extra from Close Encounters of the Third Kind with my torch, spare torch, back-up spare torch and batteries in my handbag, and attend any of this Pope’s August 2018 events.

  Now my reasons are many, for example one would be the absolutely appalling abuses carried out in Catholic Mother and Baby homes, another is the shameful amount of tax payers’ money that will be spent on the much hyped World Meeting of Families’ week-long event which apparently is to be themed The Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World; which, according to Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, "will cost over €20 million," due to “the complications of just gathering people together, and the security and technology that is needed to do that”. Fair enough, security and technology come at a price, but that €20 million could house our homeless and cut our HSE waiting lists!

  Look, to be honest, for many years now I’m happy to say I’m no longer a slave to the power and mass (sorry for the pun) hysteria and terror that once gripped me for not saying my daily prayers!  

  In addition, it doesn’t, nor will it ever sit well with me that we are a nation who hand-picks small children to attend our schools based solely upon their religion…etc., etc., etc., D’ya get my drift?    

  Now I’ve nothing personal against an 81-year-old religious gentleman visiting our shores; just as I’d nothing personal against an equally elderly Queen Elizabeth when she visited in 2011… but I didn’t jump on her welcome wagon either.

  However, I do take it personally when Leo Varadkar pledges our government is "very much at (the) disposal" of the Catholic Church and "will assist in any way to facilitate Pope Francis's visit,” so I want to know why our leader can find funds in his deliciously deep pockets to host the Pontiff’s lavish PR junket but can’t find any small change to help the very people of Roscommon who democratically elected his party to power? 

And…five, six, seven, eight!

Well readers, I sincerely hope you all had an amazing Christmas and are now fully recovered from your New Year celebrations. And, as we’re  soooo over 2017, the time has finally arrived to look forward to 2018 and…you’ve guessed it, the much hyped Dancing with the Stars and its host of, er, famous faces as they cha, cha, cha their way into our homes.

  Yes, it’s true, I’ll be glued to d’telly to watch what’s clearly going to be RTE’s one and only cross-generational ratings winner of 2018.

  However, I personally think some viewers shouldn’t be allowed to vote this year given the 2017 finalist; the fabulous, and, in my opinion (as a former dance champ myself), the performer of the series, Denise McCormack’s loss to what was clearly a less skilful trouper, former Kerry footballer and Garda Aidan O’Mahony. 

  Remember folks, this is a talent show, not a popularity contest. And yes, Aidan is a lovely man and I’m sure a great sportsman/guard, but when the viewing public is swayed by a spectacularly tanned six pack, a pair of painted on trousers showcasing some eye watering hip action and a handsome face, all adding up to what was a lacklustre ‘meh’ performance, then it’s clear many of last year’s voters were about as bright as a lava lamp!

  Let’s hope this year’s winner shows the proficient professionalism displayed by last year’s runner-up.  Denise…you were robbed love! Now, I wonder, can we add that robbery to the long list of 2017 Garda scandals? No? Right so!

Thank you!

Happy New Year folks. Let’s hope it’s gonna be a healthy and successful 2018 for every single, much valued and loved Roscommon People reader. I look forward to bringing you more of my musings and thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the love, appreciation and support you’ve shown to me and mine during 2017.

‘Tis the season to be jolly...not perfect!

 

It’s days before Christmas and, highly-organised festive fairy that I am, despite the fact I’ve been plotting, planning, decorating, shopping, wrapping, making lists, checking them multiple times, fretting if my gang will all fit comfortably around the table (or if I’ll need to break out the uneven emergency chairs), since October, I’m still not fully ready for ‘the most wonderful time of the year.’ And why? Because I’m an obsessive, compulsive, control freak who probably needs to undergo a psychiatric evaluation…that’s why!!!

  You see, if hubby, who is so laid-back I often feel the need to check his pulse, would spend just a few minutes a day worrying (instead of rummaging through the selection boxes searching for Crunchies) I might, (only might, no guarantees) take his advice and “relax” a little bit.

  However, as I neurotically check the presses for my stock of the good bedclothes, the fancy Christmas towels and the posh soap, hubby’s only concern is whether or not I’ve ordered a large enough ham! I’ve ordered two, one for him ‘to pick at’ on Christmas Eve and one for the big day…as well as planning to prepare other carnivorous festive meats and treats, which is considered ‘highly unusual’, given I’m vegan. But hey, I believe people should be allowed to eat what they want, and I’m okay cooking for them so long as I can source the products from an organic supplier. You see, when I host an event, I send out an email asking everyone what they’d like to eat and I happily prepare their requests, meaning I’m running around like a blue-ar*ed fly trying to cater to their whims as well as sourcing ingredients for my own vegan nut loaf…nut being a noun often associated with my animal-lovin’ self! The guilty know who they are!

  And so, in order to try and prevent losing the plot, (‘cos if I do who’ll cook dinner?) I’m going to take advice from my good friend Lyn, who messaged me saying ‘remember your psychology training; sit back, take a deep breath….’ Mind you, she added…’Accept you’re a control freak.’ Cheers pal. Then directed…‘You can't change everything but you can control your own stress. Lecture over.’

  With Lyn’s guidance in mind, I’m offering some of my own advice to readers who may, like me, be occupying the driver’s seat on the runaway Stress Express; and, as I click ‘snooze’ on my ‘phone diary’s daily reminders of my impending work deadlines, my dad’s hospital appointments, my granddaughter’s nativity play, my dogs’ annual boosters and, most importantly, my bikini wax appointment, I’m gonna tell you all to sit up, listen up and remember this…stop the madness; it’s ruining Christmas – not just for you – but for everyone around you!

  Instead, try to chill out and acknowledge your strengths, celebrate your achievements and realise that nothing, no matter how much effort you put into it, is ever going to be perfect. Oh, and while you’re shopping for everyone else, as this is a time for giving, don’t forget to give yourself a little treat.

Personally, I’m going to buy myself a nice bottle of Lancôme La Nuit perfume because, despite the fact I’ve left plenty of clues and dropped hundreds of hints …not one miserable fecker will pick up on them and get it for me!

Why I love RosMas!

Last Friday evening I did some shopping in Roscommon town. And, as I went about my business, I found myself singing along to the sound of Christmas favourites being gently streamed through a series of speakers dotted about the bustling streets.

  As I admired the imaginative and tastefully hung fairy lights creatively displayed around the shopfronts, I felt myself beginning to unclench and, deciding to have a bit of ‘me’ time…(yep, to hell with those dirty, snow-stained windows, I’d wash them later), dropped into one of the town’s fine restaurants for a well-earned coffee. While I was there, I struck up a warm conversation with two delightful ladies; regular readers called Helen and Eimear, who told me they came from Four Mile House. And, as we enjoyed our respective lunches, we chatted about life in the county and the gorgeous Helen, who oozed movie star glamour and old school charm, confessed to having a long-time love for all things Chanel.

  You see, readers, this is one of the benefits of living in this county…you get to exchange chit-chat with complete strangers, in this case two friendly women sitting at the next table, whom, along with myself, agreed that had we met under different circumstances, perhaps in a big city, we may not have given ourselves permission to be so free with sharing our life experiences. In fact, we may, in another environment, have been slightly suspicious of each other and instead, closed ourselves off, missing the banter and the interaction that only comes when three random women, united in understanding how difficult it can be for us to go Christmas shopping, what with the amount of

presents we’ve got to buy and party

frocks we’ve got to try, sure it was a wonder we’d time to gossip. Ah ya gotta love RosMas!

  Feicfidh tú an bhliain seo chugainn.  Nollaig Shona!

 

We all need a hero like Jack Brennan

 

 

I’ve said it before; I’ll say it again, there are some amazing people living in this county…Jack Brennan, a carer from Frenchpark is one of them.

  OMG, I was in shreds watching his interview on RTE’s Prime Time last week. My eyes were raw from crying, especially when I realised that, according to Census 2016, the number of carers aged 85 years and above has rocketed by 35 per cent.

  We should all be lucky enough to find a soulmate so dedicated, so thoughtful and so loyal that, when the going gets tough, and we need them most, their devotion, like Jack’s, knows no limits.

  However, it’s tragically sad that, as an ageing population, many of those caring for elderly relatives are themselves seniors who are not just frail, but also have some chronic condition such as arthritis, diabetes or even heart problems, meaning they too need help. Yet, like Jack, they plough through. Why? Because, as this amazing gentleman told Miriam O’Callaghan, he refused, (at the time of filming) to even consider placing his beautiful wife Bernie, (who sadly has Alzheimer’s disease and cannot perform the most basic of tasks for herself), into a home, insisting: “I’ve got to keep her beside me and that’s it, because I love her, simple, I just love the woman”.  

  Jack, your beautiful Bernie may have, through no fault of her own, locked you out of her life, but she will never, ever lock you out of her heart, my darling.

  Viewers were sadly informed that, since filming, Jack had suffered a minor stroke and his darling Bernie is now being cared for in a nursing home.

Ask some relevant questions, Adam!

As Sky News anchor Adam Boulton defended his interview style regarding what has been deemed as an “arrogant” and “condescending” tone when questioning Tánaiste Simon Coveney with the childish ‘Some of you Irish need to get over yourselves,’ tweet, I have to respond that some of you Brits need to climb down out of your own backsides!

  You see Adam, if you, (the Brits) want to hold onto any political legitimacy in the eyes of the Irish people, your government needs to at least have a short term (never mind a medium or long term) plan. I mean, you’d be a far more effective journalist in my opinion if you asked Theresa May and that comedian, sorry Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis, some relevant questions, such as why they’re exiting the EU without forseeing the devastating consequences to your own country. It’s sad when professionals like Adam (whom I respect) are too lazy to do their research and see the big picture and instead use emotional blackmail to take cheap shots at Ireland, which is, by the way, probably the only friend the UK has left.

  I mean, while we, (the Irish), have been discussing and worrying about the obvious financial outcomes of your ‘leave’ vote, it appears you, (the Brits), had not even managed to produce any forecasts on the likely impact Brexit will have on your economy. So isn’t it time to stop verbally attacking your neighbours and instead start focusing on the fact that the lives of British citizens, i.e. workers and consumers, may not only depreciate, but may also wane and weaken? Tweet that why don’t ya!

Keeping it local!

Now, more than ever, the local, family-run, family-owned, and community-oriented newspaper is vitally important; and I’ll tell you why. It’s working for you…the reader, the business person and the local sports club and community group, etc.

  It was announced last week that, pending regulatory approval by The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and The Environment and The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, The Irish Times have agreed an exciting deal to buy the publishing and media interests of the Landmark Media Group which, owns a number of media assets, including a regional title in this area, and I wish all involved every possible success and goodwill.

  However, readers, remember this…when it comes to building a brand in the fast-paced, ever-changing world of meeja, the internet, with its cute kitten videos and so-called social network ‘influencers’ (who by the way are paid to plug products, so don’t get suckered in) and the all too often misleading ‘fake news’ items, etc., the relationship you build with the local friendly newspaper editor/owner is likely be your most important one.

  You see, some of the time (not all, I hasten to add), nationally-owned news organisations may (may not) take a local news story and, due to constraints, (no fault of their own), are not always in a position to afford it the full in-depth attention it so richly deserves. That is why it’s important to be loyal to your local independently-owned newspaper which is not trying to make a statement on the national market, and please everybody, rather it’s concentrating one hundred per cent on its readers’ issues, trials and tribulations, meaning it will always be the fastest and most effective way to reach the people you need to reach.

  Yes folks, while the local newspaper may not often seem like the most glamorous route to choose when conveying your message, an editor/owner who has the last word, the final say, and who doesn’t have to call a round table board meeting and get special dispensation from the big-wig bean counters, but who can make a decision regarding content on his/her own, at a moment’s notice, can never, and should never, be underestimated. Just sayin’.

 

Dear Santa, bring me a Tánaiste who won’t blindside me

 

Leo Varadkar got out of the leaba very early last week, and, as he filled the dishwasher he enjoyed a Barista-style double espresso ‘cos, let’s face it, he needed that extra boost pumping through his veins in order to help him keep his logical and grown-up head on when asking Santy to bring him a new Tánaiste, which, as we know came in the guise of Simon Coveney.

  #shrewd move Leo especially as Simon was the people’s favourite during your leadership battle.  And, as you’ve fielded a lot of poo in the past weeks, you’ve clearly recognised that Fine Gael needs the stability he appears to bring to the party and made a decisive and grown up appointment.

  Added to Leo’s request were a couple of surprise  #stocking fillers with new Ministers Josepha Madigan (who?...exactly!) being bestowed the  Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht portfolio and Heather Humphreys netting the Minister for Business prize!

  Well whatever you feel about the two ladies’ appointments readers, (much deserving or filling gender quotas, etc.,) we’re all familiar with newly-elevated Minister Madigan’s view on life in rural Roscommon in relation to us ‘not facing the same sort of pressures’ as her constituency of Dublin-Rathdown. Aw bless her, is the poor little, sharp-dressing princess slash racy novel writer protesting she (and her minted constituents) are being forced to pay too much for their ivory towers? Never mind, the fact Josepha’s leapt straight from the backbench directly into a comfy chair at the Cabinet table will ensure, given her minister’s salary, she’ll be well able to segue with great ease through her financial woes while she rebuilds and rebrands herself as a serious politician. And while I wish her well, I would advise her, as a newbie, not to make the same errors as Frances Fitzgerald.

  You see, despite her not having done anything incorrect, (apart from blindsiding her Taoiseach), Frances Fitzgerald’s mistake was to do nothing at all. I mean, if I were in her shoes I’d have looked at the advice I was given, taken it on board, pulled up my big girl panties and made an executive decision as the boss lady and left no stone unturned, and, using my powers as Minister for Justice, ascertained why a man, a member of An Garda Síochána, was being continuously discredited; mercilessly having his good reputation annihilated. Frances Fitzgerald had a function. She did not perform it. She had to go…end of! Okay, yes, she’s “a good woman,” as Leo says, but equally Maurice McCabe is a good man who tried to act in the public good…this is more than Frances Fitzgerald has done in relation to the whole ‘emailgate’ controversy.

  And before I climb down off my soapbox, as the Department of Justice is the most sensitive Department in the State, I worry nothing will change following the last few weeks’ bruising revelations. I mean, there’s clearly a culture of secrecy involving a handful of senior civil servants (not all, there are good people working in this department), who generally don’t necessarily have to answer any direct questions being put to them, and who, for some strange reason, appear to be exempt from being held to accountability. Yes folks, I have a query…are so-called ‘career civil servants’ running our sensitive State department and country and can they retire comfortably on a fat pension, never to be heard from again? Is this the case? If so, is Leo the chief or not? It’s a head-scratcher alright, but remember readers, ministers come and ministers go…the career civil servant will be around forever!

 

‘Tis the season of giving, not swindling

 

Just thought I’d throw it out there readers and ask if any of you are planning to morph into Scrooge this Christmas and charge the rellies for their festive feast? Anyone? I only enquire because British lady, mother-of-four Gemma Andrews, charges guests £30 (€34) to chow down on her festive fare – and I think that’s contemptible! Christmas is a time of giving, a time for families, and, as our house is always full of visitors coming and going, I wouldn’t dream of missing the magic of the season (or at any time) and ask visitors (let alone family) to contribute to their meal or drinks; even when my lot sometimes shop in my fridge! “Dat’s interesting Mam, where’d ya get it? Oooh, I’ll just throw a sliver into a container and bring it home to taste it.” A sliver means the entire item, but who cares, they’re my family. I adore them. I’m d’mammy!

  Besides, spreading joy and happiness is what Christmas is all about and maybe I “simply missed” the email…sorry Charlie Flanagan, but when did it become normal to start making the season of giving the season of making a profit on friends, families and neighbours? How can anyone justify turning what should be a family occasion into a commercial enterprise when hosting Christmas Dinner? ‘Tis the season of giving, ‘tis not the season of swindling!

Do we now need to use a universal gender-neutral pronoun?

 

According to the UK Department for Education’s (DfE) former mental health advisor Natasha Devon, we should all be using gender-neutral language when talking to children, and teachers should “never walk into a room in an-all girls’ school and say girls or ladies” because to do so is  “patronising.” Yes, believe it or not readers, Ms. Devon (whose TV interview I watched…open-mouthed) told a Girls’ Association’s annual conference in Manchester that rather than addressing children as “boys” or “girls,” teachers should instead use gender-neutral terms such as “pupils,” “students” or “people.”

  Oh give me a break will ya love…sorry neutrally-gendered person! And by the way, if this is the level of advice you’re dishing out, I’m no longer wondering why you were let go after only nine months in the job!

  Now, in the interest of balance here, (and while I do think, given her questionable viewpoints, of which she is entitled, Ms. Devon’s grasp of biology is highly questionable), I can also fully understand that some students may be transgender, or may wish to self-define as neither gender, as in  they’re gender-nonbinary, and we must absolutely empathise and strongly advocate for an all-inclusive and equal environment for everyone. And I do. But OMG, if this terminology is now set to become part of the new school and workplace vocabulary, then I’m afraid many, including myself, are going to struggle, and I’m kinda glad I’m no longer an education officer working in secondary schools because I’d be petrified I’d offend anyone.

  You see readers, while feminine and masculine pronouns have always been used, it now appears (if we are to believe Ms. Devon), they carry oppressive connotations leading to people’s mental health being “damaged,” as well as promoting negative stereotyping that can cause anxiety. Okay, as a journalist and an experienced training facilitator, I’ve always worked hard to broaden my language and keep it as neutral, and as respectful, as humanely possible. However, here’s the thing, on a personal level, what do I do when I’m wrapping my granddaughter’s (sorry Natasha, grandperson’s) Christmas presents? I mean, should I rip up the cute pink ‘girly’ Disney princess gift boxes I’ve specially sourced for her and instead cover her presents in dull, neutral, insipid grey paper as an acceptable alternative? I mean, I don’t wish to blur the PC lines here. Nor do I wish to “damage” my granddaughter-non-specific-person’s mental health by creating future narratives and ideas around her gender and the way in which she feels about herself as an individual… now do I? Oh well, I’ll just add this to my list of ‘reasons to be confused,’ and move on.

 

Sleep well Biddy, you will be deeply missed

 

I was saddened to hear of the passing of one of Ireland’s TV favourites Biddy White Lennon aka Maggie from RTE’s The Riordans. It was back in 2009 that I had the absolute pleasure of working briefly with Biddy, whom I found to be a warm, friendly and very funny and entertaining lady. I was working on RTE’s The Afternoon Show and I interviewed Biddy for a guest appearance where we featured an entertainment segment reviewing the TV documentary ‘Tea, Taboos and Tractors’ which marked the 30-year absence of the then iconic show; which, even though it has been credited with making rural Ireland sexy, was unceremoniously axed by RTE, causing a nationwide outcry back then.

  Biddy – who was also a founding member of the Irish Food Writer’s Guild – and myself had previously enjoyed a bit of good-humoured banter and history together, when, as a writer for the Evening Herald one of the many roles I had back then was to strive to capture the dining and travel experiences of my readers, and deliver a fair and honest review of my findings when visiting hotels, gastro pubs, restaurants, cafes and eateries, etc. Yeah, I was also once a food and restaurant critic…but I digress. At the time, myself and Biddy would have enjoyed a good old laugh about her now famous and most controversial episode of The Riordans, i.e. ‘the contraception dilemma,’ when her character Maggie went on the pill for ‘medical’ reasons as she (Maggie) was advised not to have any more children with screen hubby Benjy.

  This particular cutting-edge episode of The Riordans unleashed a critical backlash from the ‘family values’ brigade. It also, in my opinion, positively pushed an agenda that highlighted the conflict between so-called traditional Catholic Ireland with the liberal ideas being bandied about by those of us living up in the big shmoke. Indeed when I viewed this very episode in the RTE archive’s editing suite, (I didn’t see the original back in the day because I was only a little nipper), I came to my own personal conclusion that this particular piece of writing and acting singlehandedly raised awareness of the social injustice being faced by Irish women back then; and I suddenly realised just how important this series was to viewers of my parents’ generation. May the ground-breaking, much-loved, respected and very beautiful Biddy White Lennon rest in peace. She will be deeply missed and I feel privileged to have made her acquaintance.

Why I won’t be seeing Daddy’s Home 2

 

 

25th November to 10th December marks the annual 16 Days of Action campaign aiming to raise awareness of violence perpetrated against women. This year’s theme is Change the Conversation and it will hopefully highlight what needs to improve in order to ‘increase safety and protection from abuse,’ as well as challenging the victim blaming-culture that disgracefully exists in this country.

  And so readers, last week, as I sat preparing my annual Christmas gift hamper for a brave mammy who, through no fault of her own, is planning to spend Christmas in the sanctuary of a Women’s Refuge, I was sick to my stomach at the plamas-ing levelled at so-called ‘A list’ actor Mel Gibson during his guest appearance on The Late Late Show alongside Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg and John Lithgow. For God’s sake folks, has someone deleted the cookies that stored Gibson’s historical wife-beating charges from our brains? In case they have…let me remind everyone.

  Back in 2011, Gibson, according to USA Today (and other media outlets) ‘pleaded no contest to one count of misdemeanour spousal battery of his former girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva.’ At the time, he was sentenced to three years’ probation, domestic violence counselling and two days of community service. He completed the terms, and in 2014, the sentence was vacated in a Los Angeles court. However, Grigorieva had claimed Gibson punched her “more than once” in 2010, allegedly ‘breaking her tooth, knocking out a veneer and giving her a concussion,’ revealing “I thought he would kill me.”

  Back then Gibson, (referring to a portion of a leaked tape where he allegedly appeared to acknowledge he’d battered the mother of his baby…and more), pathetically attempted damage control by…yeah, you’ve guessed it…blaming his victim. Keeping his comments focused on her behaviour rather than his own despicable wrong-doings, the coward of the county (Longford links as it happens), allegedly wretchedly whinged, “It’s not like I knocked her out” – and all this while his victim was holding their baby. Delightful individual. 

  And yet, bizarrely, Gibson is deemed the perfect choice to cast as a grandfather in the big budget Christmas family movie…Daddy’s Home 2…not! Seriously folks, is this latest move by Hollywood symptomatic of the world’s inappropriate, appalling and unapologetic mistreatment of battered and abused women? It certainly appears to be Ireland’s and RTE’s approach; why else would they give this toxic abuser the red carpet treatment?

  I tell ya Mel, a handsome face, a wink, a smile and an Irish mammy who called you “Mel Colmcille Gibson after two churches in Longford,” won’t erase your past offences or redeem you in my eyes. In my opinion you’re charmless, you’re irrelevant and your ‘no contest’ plea tells me you’re a pathetic wife-beater.

 

Will home care scheme be equitable and fair for all?

 

The proposed government backed scheme whereby elderly people will face a means test, forcing them to make a financial contribution towards their home help, is causing some controversy; and rightly so. However, (playing devil’s advocate here), the benefits will lead to a statutory requirement that those who need care will have to receive a certain minimum amount of hours each day as an entitlement, and sure that’s got to be a positive move.

  We know the system as it stands isn’t working; and sure it’s a bit of a postcode lottery, isn’t it? I mean, for example, if you’re a vulnerable or elderly person living in a rural blackspot in this county, with no family to care for you other than say an hour a day’s home help, well, that’s just not good enough. Nor is it acceptable for you to be placed on a waiting list, so hopefully this new system will improve your level of care.

  We have an ageing population in Roscommon so it’s a good thing the State is finally planning for this, especially for seniors who want (and have a right) to stay in their own homes. However, the devil is in the detail, and we must know how the government will measure the cost, what system they’ll use, how they’ll draw comparisons and if they’ll look to other EU countries for guidelines…and importantly, will this new proposed scheme be fair for all. I’ll be keeping my eye on it for you readers.

 

Beware Killer Grandparents

 

The boffins at the University of Glasgow have had a breakthrough and suddenly my role on this earth makes sense…woo hoo…I’ve been put here, along with other doting grandparents to, er, harm our grandchildren!

  Yes, apparently the worst thing about getting older is not the stiff joints, nor is it the grey hairs, nay, it’s the fact we’re clearly deemed to be so moronic, we’re now being maligned as ‘indulgent’ and ‘misinformed’ eejits who use unhealthy ‘food as an emotional tool,’ to get our grandkids to love us! Hmmm, somehow I didn’t see myself as an evil chocolate-pushing baddie who insists my granddaughter wears ‘I love Nana’ t-shirts in return for her junk food fix! Thanks for setting me straight –and by the way, boffins are boring; grandparents are fun!

* Women’s Aid National Freephone Helpline Ph: 1800 341 900. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

 

Moral police line up to regulate our recreation

 

 

Forgive me readers for I have sinned; it’s been a week (a very long one) since my last glass of alcohol! So, last Saturday, having endured a stressful day up in the big shmoke, on my way home I entertained the allure of a quiet night with himself and the dogs spent in front of d’telly watching a bit of comedy, gorging on a homemade curry, and sipping on a little drinkie or three. And so, taking every ounce of courage I possessed, I popped on my oversized sunglasses, and, like a thief in the night, slithered into the supermarket where I would try my damndest to anonymously make my illicit and shameful purchase…an inoffensive bottle of Merlot! Oh, and pick up some Naan bread to enjoy as a side with our curry.

  If only Mary Poppins, sorry Independent Senator and self-appointed Minister-for-Misery Frances Black was on hand to keep me focused on the bread aisle, stop my madness and ‘denormalise’ my inner multi-headed beast, the very one that was, at this crucial moment, forcing me to act with devil-may-care brazenness and buy the ‘two-for-one’ offer of a bottle of Merlot and (somebody stop me) a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc!

  You see readers, I’m an adult, and (I’d like to think), an educated one; I’m also a responsible wife, mammy and nana, and yet, if we’re to listen to Mother Superior Frances, we are now living in frightening times. My simple act of buying Naan bread and picking up a ‘visible’ and ‘strategically placed,’ bottle of booze, (okay two bottles), which were ‘targeted (probably) at young mothers,’ apparently makes me a hopeless slacker who cannot be trusted to drink alcohol responsibly. Oooh if only I’d brought hubby in to create a distraction while I legged it to the check out!

  Look, personally I’m sick of compulsive nosey parkers running my life as if I’m some uneducated lunatic starring in their pitiful little docudramas. You see folks, in my confusion, I thought when I became old enough to work, pay tax, marry, raise kids and vote, I’d somehow have a pretty good understanding of how life works, meaning before Ms. Black and buddies circled like vultures –coming up with the perfect reason for us all to be pessimistic about the state of our futures, i.e. guilt us into believing that purchasing alcohol would plunge us into a wrenching moral crisis – I genuinely thought I had the adult thingy pretty much sussed.

  But no, by desperately smuggling through policies that devour (what is for the majority of us) a simple act of grown-up relaxation and socialisation, i.e. responsible alcohol consumption, Ma Black is lambasting my ‘down time.’ Well thank God for her, because somewhere along the line I became so engrossed in ill-advised behaviour and over-indulged in foolhardy recreation that I clearly sailed right past  responsibility, and now, if it weren’t for the do-gooder blameless brigade, I’d probably be left forever hopelessly and aimlessly spinning on the delinquent hamster wheel of happiness! Cheers Fran!

 

I want to see Leo wearing an Easter lily with pride

 

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar divided public opinion regarding his decision to wear a controversial shamrock poppy badge last week, commemorating those who died on the battlefields during WW1. That’s his choice, however there is, and always will be, a debate around whether or not to wear a commemorative poppy, and in my opinion we simply cannot airbrush those fallen Irishmen whose families lived in poverty and who only enlisted to fight because the British dangled a promise we’d be granted Home Rule if we supported them.

  However, I do hope Leo is as openly supportive of our own struggles, and, come Easter Sunday he proudly wears an Easter lily to commemorate our unshakeable, indomitable 1916 heroes; brave soldiers like Collins, Connolly, Pearse and others…i.e. the proud Irish men and women who sacrificed their lives in order that we could live free of British rule.

  Next year, as we mark the centenary of the end of WW1, I’ll expect that as Leo was happy to wear what is essentially seen as a British symbol, (and while we mustn’t forget our young Irish men who valiantly fought in the great war), he should never ignore nor forget our fearless, courageous and noble inspirational champions, the true patriots who fought and died so that we could be free.

Dear John…get a clue!

Attracting more meeja attention than a dodgy off-shore tax scam, Minister of State for Training and Skills John Halligan’s excuses regarding his discriminatory “genuine mistake” job interview comments are farcical! First he entered Stage 1, denial…can’t remember! Then Stage 2, Girl Interrupted…confusion when dealing with the gruelling hurly-burly of reality; and finally Stage 3…The charming party guest … I’m only extolling a ‘family-friendly environment,’ by obligingly accommodating ‘the people who work’ for me. Bless him; if only all bosses were so innovative and attentive to their female employees’ private family situations.

  Seriously folks, for an insignificant little minister, with what appears to be no discernible government powers whatsoever, the moustachioed one’s lack of insight is remarkable…and that’s as kind as I can be regarding this ridiculously overpaid and confused individual whose crass questions and hiring practices have managed to highlight the cataclysmic effect this discriminatory culture is having on women in the workplace.

 

 

Forget multinationals – focus on indigenous Roscommon jobs!

 

As Facebook confirmed it’s set to expand, creating over eight hundred new jobs in Ireland, which is an increase of more than one-third to its already 2,200-strong Irish workforce, nobody can deny this is a major jobs’ boost for the country and indeed to the economy overall. And, as my immediate reaction to this news was, “in yer orange face Donald Trump! How does it feel to know a US multinational is providing enterprise in l’il ol’ Oire-land and not in your Silicon Valley? Na, na, na, na, na…” (I know, how immature), you’ll be pleased to know my second response was slightly more sagacious and befitting of my age.

  You see, as I watched Leo Varadkar and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg play best buds at the company’s HQ in Menlo Park, Silicon Valley, with An Taoiseach showcasing his signature ‘this is boring yet necessary’ smile as he declared the news as “very positive” – because apparently it means Facebook is “very committed to Ireland” – my blood began to, well, not so much boil as simmer a little, and this is why.  

I began to wonder why is it that we tend to focus an awful lot on these multinationals and their job opportunities (which, by the way will be based in Dublin). I mean, nothing screams ‘low corporate tax rates’ so loudly as the sound of foreign enterprises either moving in, or increasing their workforces in Ireland…but isn’t it terribly unjust that neither our Government (who pass out funding opportunities to them like snuff at a wake), nor ourselves, the put-upon taxpayers who rejoice in the great news, ever focus on those indigenous little businesses on our doorstep who provide local job opportunities? For me, that’s scandalous.

  Why is it that we never have a big meeja bells and whistles fanfare and photo opportunity around equally ‘very committed’ local businesses that provide local jobs and services to their own communities? Okay, these small commercial practices may not be creating eight hundred jobs, in fact they may only be offering to employ five or six individuals, but why don’t we have the big headline story around their initiatives? Don’t they deserve the same recognition, especially as the jobs they’re providing are permanent ones which are hugely important, in fact, probably more vital than the Government-supported Facebook ones. But I suppose there’s no political prowess to be gained from visiting a local Roscommon business, especially as it doesn’t actually involve an alluring transatlantic travel junket, now is there? Yet, in my opinion, our local strategies and dynamic enterprises have the same right to be celebrated just as much as those filthy-rich foreign multinational ones!

  Look, while I applaud the whole Facebook news, because it’s always fantastic to hear about job creation as opposed to job losses, I just want to tell Leo (and his other junket-lovin’ Ministers) that next time they’re planning a ‘goodwill’ pressing-the-flesh photo op visit, not to discount the good people of Roscommon. Just drop down for a visit and bring the cameras along, because ya know wha’, if you look closer, I think you’ll find there’s oodles of the good stuff held in this rural Piñata to keep yez all interested! Just sayin’.

Off on a beano with  Larry, Curly and Moe

Sooo, the Three Stooges, Larry, Curly and Moe, aka Ministers John Halligan, Shane Ross and Finian McGrath, want to go off on a beano, sorry, a kick-ass  peacekeeping mission to North Korea in a bid ‘to calm nuclear tensions.’ Now seriously folks, I thought this was a joke, especially when John Halligan said “we have nothing to lose.” First of all, Kim Jong-un is a nuclear weapon tottin’ despot who has built his dubious reputation on defying international norms; so why do the Three Amigos, who clearly see themselves as high profile international cheerleaders of peace, think he’ll listen to their whiney little opinions? And second, shouldn’t Mickey, Donald and Goofy be focusing on the jobs they were elected to do here, in Ireland? Starting with Shane Ross and this rail strike!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

You know you’re about to experience the magic of a Roscommon Christmas when you see signs dotted around the various towns’ roundabouts advising motorists, (especially those driving large vehicles) of the fairy light height restrictions. Wooo hooo! Love it! There’s nothing like the sight of a rural town’s or village’s enchanting display to spread joy and encouragement to families and neighbours to come together as a united community.

  Now, while the likes of the big cities put on major displays, (and they are wonderful, but they do have the money behind them for this extravagance), it’s the fabulous, small-town flair appeal, as well as the  enthusiasm and the festive spirit of local business chambers of commerce, the families and the shoppers that really should be celebrated and supported.

  So please folks, (and I know I’m like a parrot here, always repeating myself), but do try to help and support local enterprise this Christmas, and keep the home fires burning by spreading the cheer and decking your halls with home-grown decorations, presents and produce.

 

Subscribe to this RSS feed

Roscommon