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John hoping for a ‘break’ for the border



Roscommon resident John O’Beirne knows a thing or two about the Irish border. As a potato inspector for the Department of Agriculture in 1963, John would regularly visit Northern Ireland in order to inspect the crop before it was exported from Derry.

  Later on he would work closely with the authorities in Northern Ireland as they attempted to encourage cross-border cooperation in the 1980s. By then, things had changed dramatically in the North because of the Troubles.

  “I was a young fellow during that period and I used to go down to dances in Dublin and come back at all hours of the morning. The customs would be closed of course when you’d come back so the following morning the first thing you’d have to do was to go down to the customs and get stamped out – otherwise you’d be in trouble because you had been stamped in!

  “The other important thing you had to watch out for was that you had your white bulb working under your number plate. That white bulb was the most important thing they looked for so they could keep an eye on you! Back then there was no problem other than the hassle of going through customs,” he said.

  Things had changed when John started his work with Northern Ireland’s agriculture department on the late 1980s.

  “A survey was done to figure out how to get Catholics and Protestants together without the violence. There were three things: music, horses and fishing.

  “There was a twelve-county cooperation between north and south and into that went money from the International Fund for Ireland,” he said.

  John was a liaison officer for some of the equine schemes involved in the programme and had to travel across the border regularly.

  “It was not nice. When I had to go up to Belfast to meet officials I wasn’t allowed to park my car. A porter there would park the car for you and any time you left the office for lunch or whatever, you signed out and you signed back in. Things were completely different in the late 1980s.

  “I became a target of the paramilitaries, and when meeting officials I had to go to the Killyhevlin Hotel outside Fermanagh, but that was blown up. We moved then to Mahon’s in Irvinestown and there was a big bomb there too. It came to the stage where I would not travel. I was working officially for Teagasc but there was a secondment whereby I worked for the Department of Agriculture in the North,” he said.

  John said the return of a hard border to Ireland would cause huge problems both in terms of sectarian tensions and the movement of goods and that he hoped both sides could come to some sort of agreement.




New Face, Same Place: Golden memories of the Golden Grill!




For many years, there were only two cafes situated in The Square, Roscommon town. One was owned by the O’Reilly family. The other one, located on the site now occupied by ‘Newsround’, was the ‘Emerald’ cafe, owned and managed by the late Finola McCrann. 


  The opening of the first tourist office in the Old Jail (now Stonecourt Centre) in 1967 brought an influx of tourists to the town. However, it was in January 1972 that the people of Roscommon were suddenly transported into an exciting and innovative culinary world with the opening of a new restaurant in The Square, Roscommon.

  The story begins at ‘Lisheen’ Guesthouse, Castlecoote. At about 8 pm on a warm summer’s evening, tourists arrived by car asking for B&B accommodation. “And could you give us an evening meal now” the driver kindly asked. “We stopped in Roscommon but there was no restaurant open”. Nonie Golden, proprietor of the guesthouse, began preparing the evening meal. In a hushed voice and nudging her husband, Jimmy, she said: “We can’t going on doing this – why doesn’t someone open a restaurant in the town?” She added: “If no-one else will do it, we’ll have to do it!”

 Entrepreneur Nonie was no stranger to business undertakings and suddenly found herself catapulted into a new venture. Nonie and Jimmy Golden wasted no time in making enquiries about a suitable premises and quickly spotted the small advertisement in the Champion newspaper advertising Miss Finola McCrann‘s premises, on the site of what is now  ‘Newsround’.

  Negotiations for the premises completed, Nonie – now eager and excited – travelled to locations she had researched within the hospitality sector. “I travelled to top hotels and restaurants in order to see what was on offer and get a sense of what the public were looking for. I gathered up some information and together with my own ideas soon had plans for the type of restaurant that the public would want to dine in”.

  Nonie discussed her ideas with Terry Leyden, who at that time was a dynamic architect. Together they focused and worked on a multitude of ideas, finally emerging with a plan of what they envisaged would be the most futuristic restaurant which would captivate the masses.

  That first late-night restaurant, the ‘Golden Grill’, stood as a beacon in The Square in Roscommon town. It was full to capacity most nights, with advance bookings for celebratory occasions. A popular dining venue for the local community in Roscommon town and county, it also attracted diners from other locations. It became a tourist attraction, with buses pulling up in The Square constantly throughout the day and evening, their occupants’ destination being ‘The Golden Grill’. Buses stopped on the way to Knock Shrine on Sundays for 7 am breakfast, including a hearty breakfast for the driver, and on the return journey for an evening meal. There were rave reviews and it became a regular household question – ‘Shall we eat at the ‘Golden Grill’ tonight?’

   And so the remark made by Nonie to her husband Jimmy on that summer’s evening, in their ‘Lisheen’ guesthouse, resulted in many years of enjoyment and success within the walls of the first late-night restaurant in Roscommon town.

  Nonie was born Nonie Mannion, into a native Irish speaking family in the Gaeltacht village of Lisheen na Heilta, Glenamaddy, Co. Galway. Consequently she speaks fluent Irish. She had three daughters – Marie Therese, Annie, Flaney (twins) and one son, Seamus – and is a proud grandmother to Armand, Laura, Annie Lee, Alanagh, Jamie, Honor, Gearoid, Chloe, Kayleigh and Colin, and a great-grandmother to Coran. She has left behind the rush of the business world, living a contented life in the beautiful village of Castlecoote, Co. Roscommon, happily surrounded by her family.

  Newsround in The Square, Roscommon town, situated where The Golden Grill restaurant was, is like a ‘STOP’ sign. Barry O’Connor has being operating here since 2009, after taking over from his uncles, Noel and Christy. They had originally opened Newsround in 1986. Barry says this is how it all began for him…

  “I suppose it was a natural progression through the family business. I always loved Roscommon, coming down from Dublin every weekend and holiday when I could. When I finished college it was never in question but that I’d move West!”

  Conducting a business retailing books, newspapers, stationery, plus a range of gifts takes much effort and planning. It is a very competitive business within a changing landscape and one which you have to be ready to adapt to.

  Newsround has expanded and changed over the years to reflect buying trends and the changing needs of the people of Roscommon. Wedding gifts and toys have reduced over time, to be replaced by stationery and books in recent years.

  The premises is large. There’s a daily supply of local and national newspapers. It is more than just a newsagent’s; Sarah, the book expert, is selective in her choice of books, particularly frequent offers for adult fiction and an expansive choice of children’s books.  She will also order any book customers require (if not available on the shelf), with prompt delivery.

  Upstairs there is all manner of school supplies, from folders to pens, diaries and writing materials, complementing an eclectic and unique selection of personal gifts for birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, etc.

  I asked Barry what his aspirations are for the future for this very popular outlet in what is a fast-moving market. He said: “We just want to keep the customers happy, with the right products at the right price and a smile from our staff. If we can keep doing that, I’d be very happy”.




Hip, hip…hurray!




Tommy wins €33,000


A Roscommon farmer won €33,000 on the National Lottery Winning Streak game show on RTE One last Saturday – just seven weeks after having a hip replacement operation!

  Tommy Durr, from Ballinagard, Roscommon, never bought a scratch card in his life, but was gifted his lucky Winning Streak scratch card from a family friend after his release from hospital following his hip surgery.

  Tommy had just returned home from Mass and had made a cup of tea when he tuned into Winning Streak two weeks ago to see his name being called out to appear on the show.

  Tommy’s five children – Padraig, Hughie, PJ, Rosemary and Suzanne – and eleven of his fifteen grandchildren were in RTE to cheer him on in the Winning Streak studio last Saturday. He is delighted with the support he has received from his family, neighbours and friends.

  Tommy is looking forward to getting back to work on the farm. He enjoyed his recovery time in Fearna Manor Nursing Home and is so thankful to the staff there who helped with his recuperation.

  With his winnings, Tommy will “look after his family” and also wants to take a pilgrimage to Medjugorje in Bosnia and Herzegovina later in the year with a group from his parish.

Second annual Craig Connolly Memorial Walk later this month


The second annual Craig Connolly Memorial Fun Run and Walk will take place on Saturday, February 23rd at 2 pm from Full Body Workhouse on the Lanesboro Road in Roscommon town.

  The event which honours the much-loved family man and local businessman, who died suddenly in 2017 at the age of 35, is organised by Craig’s wife Tracey and his former business partner and friend Cathal Dineen, who co-owned the Full Body Workhouse gym with Craig.

  The 5K/10K run/walk is a family event, which will be staged in a loop around Roscommon town. The whole family is welcome to participate including kids and buggies. Times will also be available for those wishing to run the 5K or 10K circuits. All proceeds will go to CROÍ, Crumlin Children’s Hospital and Join Our Boys this year.

  According to organiser, Cathal Dineen, last year’s event raised a whopping €25,000.

  “Craig’s wife Tracey and their three boys were delighted with the success of the event last year and it would be great if we could match the amount raised this year. It is providing awareness for these worthy causes and of course much-needed funds,” he said.

  The organisers have said they are deeply grateful to the dozens of businesses who have shown their support in recent weeks and said that it is not too late to get involved. Sponsors’ information including logos will feature on social media in the run-up to the event and also on event t-shirts which will be worn by participants.

  Those who register online prior to the event will be guaranteed an event t-shirt and registration will also take place from 11 am on February 23rd ahead of the 2 pm start time. Entry fees: €25 per individual, €15 per student/OAP and €40 per family. Children are free.

  For more information, call 085-7348000, check out the Craig Connolly Memorial Walk Facebook page or use this link: https://craigconnolly.clr.events/event/127772:craig-connolly-memorial-walk-run



Funding boost for Arigna Mining Experience – Feighan




Senator Frank Feighan has congratulated Arigna Mining Experience which is among thirteen organisations nationwide awarded a total value of €65,000 under the Geopark Grant Scheme.


  “This Geological Survey Ireland funding programme supports the development and publication of educational and outreach materials.

  “The aim of the fund is to encourage the telling of the Irish geological story, improve the understanding of geoscience and to engage with groups throughout the country.

  “This funding is also great recognition of the work invested by everybody involved in developing and promoting the Arigna Mining Experience”.

  The funding was announced by Sean Canney TD, Minister of State for Natural Resources at the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

JJ’s shortlisted for Live Music Venue award



JJ Harlow’s in Roscommon town has been shortlisted in the Irish Music Rights Organisation (IMRO) Live Music Venue of the Year Awards.

  The awards recognise Irish venues which deliver the very best standards in live music entertainments and JJ Harlow’s has made the final 25 venues in Ireland.

  The IMRO Live Music Venue of the Year Awards will take place on Tuesday, February 26th at IMRO Headquarters in Dublin. Along with one overall award for National Live Music Venue of the Year, awards will be presented for the leading live music venues in regions nationwide, including Connacht.

  To vote for JJ Harlow’s, Market Square, Roscommon town, log on to www.surveymonkey.com/s/imrovenueawards.


Barstool boyos - Endangered Species



Metabolic, that’s it…that’s the word I was trying to think of. Metabolic. I found it on my mobile. 

Mr. Google!

Mr. Google is right! So anyways, they must have done a ‘celebrity’ slot on Operation Transformation…and Leo was on it.

You don’t watch that rubbish, do you?

Ah sure you know yourself, sometimes these things are just ‘on’ and you get hooked…it’s all about losing weight.

Yeah, I find Operation Transformation mighty for losing weight…‘cos every time it comes on I’m out the door in a flash for a long walk!

Ha ha. Anyways, they had Leo on it…now I didn’t see the episode myself…but they did a test on him to find out what his metabolic age is. Like, compared to his actual age.


Now bear in mind that Leo is only 40…so anyways, they announce that his metabolic age is 53! You should have seen his face!

I thought you didn’t see it…

Ah sure I saw it afterwards. On the Internet. He got a right land…

But I thought Leo did a lot of jogging…

Well, I dunno, maybe he’s been sitting on the fence a bit too much!

I suppose he eats lots of fine dinners, what with all those meetings with EU leaders and so on…

True. Come to think of it, he should never have left that group he was in with Gerry Adams.

Leo was in the IRA?

No. Sure Gerry wasn’t even in the IRA! Well, that’s according to Gerry…

Okay, Sinn Fein then…Leo was in Sinn Fein with Gerry?

No! Pilates. Gerry and Leo were in the same Pilates group. Do you not remember that?

Oh yeah. Maybe he’ll go back to the Pilates.

Maybe! Anyways, Leo, being Leo, he only went and questioned the findings of the test. Said something about doubting the science behind it…

It’s a wonder he didn’t set up an inquiry or a tribunal!

Bit of a blow to the ego, but sure he’ll be grand. Like the rest of them, he’s well fed and well paid.

Yeah, we’re the ones under real pressure. Our metabolic age is probably 100!

It will be if we keep meeting up here.

Ah sure you have to have the odd pint and the bit of craic.

Exactly. We’ll have two more…now will you be watching Operation Transformation next week?

You must be joking. Load of metabolics…

Love is in the air at Castlecoote Lodge!





Love is in the air at Castlecoote Lodge this Valentine’s weekend so bring the love of your life along to a fantastic Trad night this Friday night (15th).

  A great night’s entertainment is guaranteed with traditional music, song, dance and tall tales to gladden any heart.

  As always, new entertainers are very welcome – so come along and take part! You’ll be very welcome!


‘Explore & Restore in Roscommon’



Takes place on 16th & 17th February


Explore & Restore in Roscommon is a health and wellness weekend organised by Roscommon Town Team. The third Explore & Restore in Roscommon will take place on Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th February 2019. Free health and wellness events will take place in many locations within the town and local surrounds. 

  Healthy Ireland, through Roscommon County Council, make grants available to community groups in order to fund activities that empower communities to take action for their physical, emotional and mental health. 

  Roscommon Town Team had an open call for local health and wellness providers to express their interest in participating in Explore & Restore. The result is a diverse schedule of workshops, classes, talks and events that highlight what is available locally for the community. Explore & Restore allows you to sample classes and hopefully inspire you to start something new such as yoga, mindfulness, pilates, spinning, barefoot walking, kayaking, or Capoeira.   

  The range of events on offer cater for age groups from 4 years plus. Children can go to a workshop to learn about oral health, mindfulness or Tae-Kwon-Do, while teenagers can attend spinning and movement workshops, and adults have a range of options including a vision board workshop, or an introduction to mindful moving meditation. Adults with mobility issues may like to explore chair yoga, or take part in music, dance and games run by Roscommon Sports Partnership.

  This year Roscommon Town Team have collaborated with local activist group Plastic Free Roscommon to host a number of sustainable living events as part of Explore & Restore. If you are interested in learning more about recycling, green living, green cleaning, zero waste shopping and sustainable diets then check out the sustainability events taking place in Gleeson’s Townhouse. 

  Explore & Restore highlights the natural amenities we have in Roscommon and the relaxed pace of life we can all enjoy. It also displays many of the talented health and wellness providers and for one weekend, the community can sample their classes free of charge! Roscommon Town Team would like to thank Roscommon County Council for their support and Healthy Ireland for their funding. 

  Brochures (printed on 100% recycled paper) with a full schedule of events and booking details are available from Roscommon Tourist Office and local cafes, restaurants, shops, and health centres. 

  For more information please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or telephone 087-2483877.




Top tourism award for Lough Key Forest Park




Lough Key Forest Park in Boyle scooped the Best Ireland’s Hidden Heartland Award (greater than 50,000 visitors) at the Irish Tourism Industry Awards 2019 in Dublin last week.

  The Awards, organised by the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (ITIC), Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland, gathered the ‘crème de la crème’ of the Irish tourism industry, announcing 15 winning companies as best in their category from 75 shortlisted finalists.

  The event encourages, recognises and celebrates excellence in the tourism sector. Presenter Kathryn Thomas hosted the gala evening, which took place in Dublin at the Clayton Hotel and was attended by Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross, who presented the awards.

  Speaking at the event, Minister Shane Ross said: “I am delighted to acknowledge the hard work and success of all companies at this evening’s event. Our successful tourism figures go hand-in-hand with the quality of the Irish tourism and hospitality industry. My congratulations to all the award winners and continued success”.

  Louise Fitzpatrick of Lough Key expressed delight with winning the award: “This is a great achievement for us and we are delighted to be recognised as winner – tourism is vital for the national and regional economy and we are so pleased to play our part in such a key sector”.


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