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Why I’m lovin’ Oíche Shamhna Roscommon style




Hi, my name is Miriam and I’m a recovering Hallowe’en hater! Now don’t get me wrong, it’s got nothing to do with scary movies, nor has it got anything to do with dressing up; I’m a big drama queen who loves nothing more than trowelling enough slap on her face to cover an entire RuPaul Drag Race Convention. Besides, what mature woman in her right mind would pass up the opportunity to morph into shape-shifting Mystique…yep, still trying to wash that blue body paint out of my orifices and my unmentionables. 

  So you get it; I’m a fun girl, well, a fun aul wan in denial, who likes to go a little crazy at Hallowe’en.

However, if you’re a former animal welfare officer working in Dublin, as I once was, then Hallowe’en and the build-up can be a living hell. Let me explain…

  The areas in which I worked turned into war-zones with the ‘traditional’ bonfire stockpiling beginning in September. This gave a licence to gormless thugs, (and, strangely, some of their parents, who were usually filthy drunk) to build towering inferno skyscrapers next to houses, cars and sheds, and then set them alight. If that weren’t destructive enough, many would throw (unlicensed) fireworks and bangers onto the blaze for good measure, before rejoicing in perverted hysteria! 

  Now you may well call me a waspish aul killjoy, trying to pour cold water on the poor kids’ fun, but when you’re passionate about animals and are heartbreakingly tasked with rescuing (or retrieving) a poor innocent dog or cat who has been walking around their own garden, (because their owner has ignored public pleas to keep them indoors),  and who instead, has, through no fault of their own, strayed into the uneducated cretins’ path, and then is, let’s say for the sake of decency, ‘horrifically abused’ and you, (as I have) are called to clean up the mess, then I’d imagine, you too would hate Hallowe’en.

  I can tell you readers, I bore witness to sights that broke me. In fact, so horrendous and endemic was animal cruelty in certain ‘hot spot’ areas around Hallowe’en that I refused point blank to allow anyone adopt a cat, in particular black kitties, for the simple reason, through research and experience, the organisation I worked for found there was a strong predilection for sadistic individuals to use them in certain torture rituals. Due to this, I worked in tandem with members of Dublin Fire Brigade and An Garda Siochána promoting positive animal welfare and the responsible enjoyment of the spooky season.

  However, I did say I’m a former Hallowe’en hater because, since we relocated to rural Roscommon, the run-up to Oíche Shamhna, and indeed, the night itself has passed without incident, i.e. it’s stress-free and as quiet as the grave, and I’m thoroughly enjoying the whole experience, even going so far as to try and keep up with the Addams’ family; (for those scratching their heads, they’re TV’s fictional scary bunch), by decorating the house two weeks beforehand with pumpkins, seasonal wreaths and swivelling skeletons etc., And sure who doesn’t adore drinking delicious pumpkin lattes and downing Roscommon’s finest restaurants’ spooktacular eats and treats so  indicative of this ghoulish gore-fest!

  Now don’t get me wrong, I do love my native Dublin, and will always stand up for it. But since moving to Roscommon, where I keep my hand on the tip of my car’s steering wheel ready to wave and acknowledge my fellow friendly motorists as they pass by; where the reassuring aroma of turf  (as opposed to the scorched stench of someone’s torched property) creeps up your nostrils at Hallowe’en, where everyone knows everyone meaning teens are unlikely to cause trouble and step out of line, and are instead, likely to be a lot more respectful, possibly for fear their parents (and the local community guard) would get wind of their antics; I’ve now warmed to the supernatural season.

  Of course I’m not suggesting that Hallowe’en Roscommon style passes without incident, (I’m sure the poor Gardaí and the emergency services are kept on their toes); however, from my own personal experience, in this neck of the woods,  you’re less likely to see an out of control gang of kids, (some as young as 11-years-old) discharging  incendiary objects in your direction while others, only slightly older, get high, neck bottles of beer and hurl aerosol cans and other explosive devices onto bonfires…all done in the name of a celebration!


Leave the diesel alone Paschal!

Readers will know that traditionally, up to 2014, Budget Day would land during the first week of December; just in time for the Christmas shopping splurge…or not, depending on the outcome.

However, ahead of next Tuesday’s big budget reveal, (well, it’s hardly a revelation, considering the government’s  been drip feeding us carefully stage-managed titbits for months now), Paschal Donohoe, (the owner of what is possibly Ireland’s most irritating voice), is fully expected to implement a few paltry cuts to our Income Tax and our USC levies.

  However, I’m sure in true spreadsheet-bulimic style, (give, take, give, take), Paschal will snap his fiscal wallet shut and slap a big juicy increase on the excise duty on diesel meaning those of us who drive diesel cars will see our weekly outgoings ballooning even higher than they have over the past few weeks. Has anyone noticed how expensive filling up for a journey has become? Sure it’s enough to make me choke, because, and here’s the kicker, while I’m no tree hugger, I am one of those eejits who fell for the manipulative spin that switching from petrol to diesel was a positive step towards saving our planet.

  However, in hindsight, in a clear case of daylight robbery Irish style, I realise the government didn’t actually want me to be environmentally conscientious; they just wanted me to possess something they could tax, and then strip me of my ability to use it! If you want to take the knife out of my back Paschal love, please leave the diesel alone!

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