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The Establishment’s message to Rural Ireland…We’re at your (lip) service!

 

Moments after leaving the Shannonside Radio studio on Friday morning, I was kicking myself. So to speak. I’d been ‘talking to Joe’ – but there was something I hadn’t said.

  Minister Heather Humphreys was also on the panel, also reviewing the week that was. When the chat came around to the sacking of Kevin Myers (over a controversial column published in the Irish edition of the Sunday Times), Joe and I vented our opposition to the herd mentality – Joe particularly. Joe more or less said that he didn’t have an issue with what Myers had written. I said I accepted that some of the content of the column had been objectionable, but I absolutely didn’t believe that The Sunday Times was right to sack Myers on the spot (or at all).

  Asked for her view (which she’s obviously entitled to), Minister Humphreys said it straight. And entirely predictable. More sheep mentality. Blah, blah, blah. Baa, baa, baa even. The minister’s view? The Sunday Times was right to sack the outspoken columnist. Taoiseach Varadkar had been right to jump in with his tuppenceworth. Safe to assume most or all ministers would have sung from the same hymnsheet that day. It’s amazingly coincidental how often they adopt similar positions. Whatever about actual Garda numbers, the politically correct police will never want for support as long as our play-it-safe politicians are around.

  The question I wished I’d asked? ‘Hey, Minister…if one of your colleagues stereotyped the Jewish community or made offensive comments about women – and ‘on mature reflection’ was quick to apologise for offence taken – would you jump in and demand that they resign or be sacked?’

  (I’m no particular fan of Mr. Myers, but it’s easy for ‘playing it safe’ politicians to kick a journalist when he’s down, and in the knowledge that it’s populist. When was the last time an Irish politician lost their well-paid job due to making a few loose remarks?).

This time last year, they talked about new politics like we had discovered something special or like our old politicians had suddenly experienced some sort of epiphany. Truth is, there is no such thing as new politics – just new reality. All that was new after the 2016 General Election was the new look to the Dáil seating arrangements. There was no big beast in the corner (Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael), instead, a fragmented landscape.

  The people had delivered a troublesome verdict, a verdict so awkward that the politicians had to think outside the box for a few weeks and then package their self-serving behind-closed-doors talks as some alleged fresh new concept. We are told that the confidence and supply arrangement (whereby Fianna Fáil, while still in opposition, props up a Fine Gael minority Government) is new politics, and maybe it is in one sense. But it is more pragmatism than pioneering.  

  A long-standing lack of courage and leadership in Irish politics remains. While politicians are quick to wade in with populist views (‘Myers had to be sacked’ arguably being the latest example), familiar problems and challenges remain unaddressed by a decidedly unimaginative political establishment.

  Priests are in the business of saving souls, not banks (or, more accurately, villages) but here in County Roscommon, the lines have been blurred again, as in the past. Fr. Francis Beirne, PP in Four Roads, and a great community champion whom I’ve known for many years, has spoken out on plans by the Bank of Ireland to withdraw services in rural areas. Well said, Fr. Beirne, but how damning of our political establishment than the clergy and the wider community have to resort to this. Over thirty years ago bishops in the West of Ireland began a campaign to try and prevent the decline of the West. Then, and now, the people of our towns and villages have often been left with very little support from central government as they too fight for the survival of rural Ireland.

 

Individual politicians are well meaning, hard-working, genuine in their aspirations for our society. But there is no collective willingness to seriously address rural Ireland’s needs. Central Government merely pays lip service. The ‘permanent Government’ – our friends high up in the civil service – barely even bother with the lip service. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and we’re being fed tripe.

  In Roscommon town the other day, I noticed three new businesses in a row. A pub, a ‘nail bar’ and a barber’s. It is heartwarming. It is also thanks to the sheer courage of individuals.

All over Roscommon new businesses are popping up, while others are closing because their race is run. They have swam heroically against the tide but have had to abandon their dreams. Those SMEs who have started up are brave and deserve our support.

  We cannot really give any credit to central Government for these entrepreneurial flourishes. In Roscommon town and county we are patiently awaiting decent jobs initiatives, but they are not forthcoming. Most of the employment comes from heroic small businesses.

  Meanwhile, the crass destabilising of rural Ireland continues. Our banks simply cannot be trusted to stay in our towns and villages and maintain the fight. The banks are driven at local level by good people, but their faceless masters are busy behind the scenes planning withdrawal from the rural front. Our post offices are under long-term threat. The establishment ruthlessly pulled bus services from some of our rural areas and have had their eyes on train services too. Hammered by commercial rates and lack of incentives, many shops, pubs and other businesses have closed their doors. In terms of infrastructural investment, we have been victims of discrimination. Our A&E departments have been either closed or turned into places of chaos, heroic staff forced to fight almost impossible odds. Planning laws have been, shall we say, less than conducive to bolstering dwindling towns and villages. Numbers involved in farming and manufacturing are falling. In Roscommon, we are largely ignored on the tourism front, left to fight our own corner, as Roscommon businessman Eamonn Gleeson recently highlighted.

  The decline of rural Ireland isn’t all the fault of our politicians or civil servants, but they are certainly negligent. There is either a deliberate bias towards the east and urban areas, or else – just as bad – careless negligence. Every now and again a new report on rural Ireland and ‘the regions’ is launched. When the cameras have stopped clicking and the coffee cups have been put away, the process of breaking promises begins.

  Of course there are all sorts of reasons why rural Ireland faces challenges, including due to huge social and cultural changes. But the great communities in these challenged areas have received little enough meaningful help from successive governments, state agencies and (in some cases) big businesses.

  Now we live in the Leo era. So Leo, make a real difference. Give us less soundbites and more substance. I won’t be holding my breath.

  As for the politically correct police, that’s one area where we could do with redundancies. We live now in a society where people are almost afraid to open their mouths and where minorities rule. Will ‘the Establishment’ only finally be happy when all old traditions have been turned on their heads and when all rural towns and villages have been stripped of their facilities, when we all think and act the same and dance to the tune of our faceless masters?

  And, if I’ve offended Minister Humphreys, I guess I’m sorry – but I won’t be resigning.

 

 

An Chistin opens at The Hub, Castlerea

 

A unique kitchen space which will act as a training centre for chefs and business support for those in the catering industry has opened in The Hub in Castlerea.

  ‘An Chistin’ is the first phase in a two-phase plan being developed by Enterprise Castlerea and will be used as a training facility for the catering industry, a business support and mentoring service and a space for cookery lessons and demonstrations.

  The kitchen space is part of Enterprise Castlerea’s broader plan to develop enterprise units on lands adjacent to The Hub. The land was purchased from Roscommon County Council.

  An Chistin was officially launched by Martin Lydon, Director of Services for Planning and Enterprise at Roscommon County Council last Sunday afternoon.

  The facility has already led to the creation of two jobs with Una Fannon appointed as Coordinator and Cathy O’Rourke as her assistant.

  Mr. Lydon was effusive in his praise for local businessman and Chairman of Enterprise Castlerea, Benny O’Connell and said that the opening of An Chistin was just the beginning and that Sunday’s opening was “the first major step on the way to Castlerea becoming a prime food development centre in the region.”

 

Roscommon pianist set for National Concert Hall

 

Roscommon pianist, Peter Regan, has enjoyed a busy summer schedule, spanning an exciting performance programme in Toronto, to delighting audiences in Biel, Switzerland.

  Luckily for audiences closer to home, Peter is in Roscommon for a few short weeks and will give two solo performances.

  Winner of both the Hamilton Harty Cup 2017, and the Mabel Swainson Pinaoforte Award 2017 in Electric Ireland Feis Ceoil, Peter has been selected to participate in Clandeboye, one of Ireland’s premier music festivals, under the artistic direction of Barry Douglas and his orchestra Camerata Ireland.

  This Saturday (12th) will see Peter perform in the prestigious Clandeboye Festival in the magnificent surrounds of Clandeboye Estate in Bangor, Co. Down.

  Peter has also been invited to give a recital in the National Concert Hall, on Tuesday, August 15th at 6 pm where audiences will be delighted by the spellbinding music of Messiaen, Beethoven, Rachmaninoff and  a piece by Irish composer, Jonathon Nagle – definitely a musical treat!

 

Helen a finalist in International Art Portrait Photography Exhibition

 

Helen Maloney (right) of Ardkeenan, Drum, Athlone, Co. Roscommon was chosen as a finalist in Expressions International Art Portrait Photography Exhibition. She is pictured here (with her finalist photograph) with chairperson Shelley Corcoran and committee member Angelika Florkiewicz. 

  The exhibition was held in Longford and this year the town was turned into an open-air gallery with photographs enlarged and hung on lampposts, buildings and railings, which covered the town.

  With entries from all over the world, Helen was delighted to be chosen as a finalist in 2017.

 

Annual Duck Race in Castlecoote

 

The annual Duck Race run by Castlecoote Tidy Towns will take place on Sunday, the 20th of August at 4 pm. Ducks cost €5 each and are available at all locations in the village so come along and enjoy all the fun at the River Suck with delicious burgers and sausages sponsored by Castlecoote Stores in aid of Tidy Towns to help defray the costs of maintaining the village to its high standard.

  For the children there will be ‘duck dress-up’ and some novelty games as well as a mystery prize for the last duck home. After the duck race there will be music by Billy Garvin and a BBQ in PJ’s to round off the evening so a great day’s entertainment is forecast.

  Tidy Towns would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Orla Leyden on becoming Cathaoirleach of Roscommon County Council recently and wishing her every success for the coming year.

  For National Heritage Week there will be a Castlecoote Looped walk on Sunday, the 27th of August from 3 pm to 5 pm meeting beside the phonebox at Castlecoote Stores. This walk is organised by the Suck Valley Development Cooperative and Castlecoote Tidy Towns. You are invited to discover the River Suck, walk along lanes and fields to the Derryhippo River, cross the river via a bridge into the forestry near beautiful Stoneham’s Lake with its ancient Crannog and continue to Black’s Lake then back to the picturesque village of Castlecoote. For a relaxing walk, come along and enjoy the rural landscape of the area.

 

Clued up songs and poetry in Strokestown

 

What do Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith and WB Yeats have in common? They’re all poets whose work features in an exciting orienteering event at Strokestown Park House.

  As part of Heritage Week, ‘Orienteering Meets Poetry’ takes place on Saturday, 19th of August when families will be challenged to find hidden clues dotted along the paths in the grounds of Strokestown Park House. The trail is around 1.5km long and suitable for wheelchairs and buggies.

  Participants will receive a map and clues to navigate their way around the course, with snippets of poetry and words from popular songs hidden at various stops. An adult must accompany children, although the challenge is suitable for everyone and is untimed, so you can walk, jog or take your time to enjoy the lovely surroundings. 

  ‘Orienteering Meets Poetry’ is a free event, taking place between 11 am and 1 pm (you can start at any time between those times) on 19th of August. Successful orienteers will go into a draw for poetry-inspired prizes. Booking on 087-4110293.

 

 

A guide to promoting happiness in the classroom

 

In a world where we place so much emphasis on results we tend to forget that the classroom environment is not just for learning it’s also a place where happiness and a sense of belonging should be promoted. And so, if you’re a teacher/facilitator/lecturer preparing to return to your students, we’ve got a few teaching strategies that might help you transform their response to learning and promote their sense of well-being. You never know, it might just encourage them to pay more attention in class.

Get to know your students: It’s not enough to know their names; teachers should also understand their kids’ personalities and family situations and be sensitive to any additional emotional and physical needs they may have.

Inject a bit of humour into their day by telling a joke: Make sure it’s appropriate for their age group. You could also provide some light relief by playing music and having a bit of a singsong. Alternatively you could set aside some time to let them lead the way regarding what subjects they want to learn on a specific day. This not only promotes independence and encourages students to have their say and make decisions; I’ve also found that learners become more engaged and retain more knowledge if lessons become relevant to them.

Allow students a couple of brain breaks during the day: As someone who lectured for many years in schools, colleges, universities and correctional facilities, I found injecting a few humorous brain teasers into my classes kept students energised and motivated. Mind you it didn’t prevent two members of An Garda Síochána once falling asleep during a PowerPoint when I used to train them regarding animal welfare and its link with domestic violence. I’m sure they were tired…or bored!

  It’s up to the teacher/lecturer to promote and ensure they establish a positive environment, meaning students should know there are certain behaviours that will not be tolerated. Both teacher and students should be respectful, fair, and at all times act in an appropriate manner towards each other.

Reinforce positive behaviour by way of giving little prizes or certificates to students: They’ll quickly make the connection between their performance and their rewards and how it makes them feel good about themselves.

  It’s important that teachers also look after themselves. Have a support system where they can laugh (or rant) with colleagues. Remember, teachers not only have a duty to care for their students, they must also place emphasis on their own physical and mental health. This means not trying to be perfect, and instead, trying to be human and accept that sometimes they may need to do things differently. It’s no secret that if we cannot manage our own positive well-being we cannot be expected to help others manage theirs.

 

 

People Platform - August 11th

 

Far from being downhearted by Roscommon’s crushing loss to Mayo on Monday,
TONY FALLON says we should concentrate on the positives from an encouraging season – after all, we are Connacht champions! Tony sent us this poetic reflection on Roscommon’s season….

The Rossies: We love you still

By Tony Fallon

I know you are coming home from Dublin in a bit of a daze
But by God, we love you still and you deserve a lot of praise
Our history has never been great when it comes to replays
We are proud of what you did, there were many great displays

Does it matter who won or lost but how you played the game
You filled the jerseys with pride and sullied no-one’s name

You burst upon the scene when it was least expected

And with your youth and vigour, we all became infected

In those first three games, you really put on a show

But when you had the chance you should have put away Mayo

If Jamesie, Gerry and Dermot had been up there in the crowd

They would have cheered wildly and have been very proud

We Rossies walked a little prouder and we talked a little louder

We banished from our midst those who doubted

And anyone who criticised or those who even pouted

You have no idea the hope you set in motion

At home and in many places far across the ocean

So as you walk the streets you should never be harassed

You have brought back great longings and memories of the past

 

‘We could be kingmakers’

 

Reader wants rural Ireland to elect a group of like-minded TDs

We received this interesting proposal from a Galway-based reader who feels a ‘rural platform’ could be formed by electing of group of rural TDs…

Cill Chiaráin,

Conamara,

County Galway

Dear Editor,

The deal struck between the DUP and the British Government has a clear lesson for the people of Rural Ireland. (By Rural Ireland I mean all the areas outside the cities as outlined by the CEDRA Report, which was chaired by Pat Spillane). We, living in these areas, need a similar strategy to wring concessions from a system which is unduly centred on Greater Dublin.

  In April, Paddy McGuinness highlighted the enormity of the problem when he announced he would not be seeking reappointment to the chair of the Western Development Commission after four years in the post: “I believe strongly that there is absolutely no commitment at either political or administrative level to balanced regional development, nor is there any worthwhile plan do address rural decline,” he said.

  I spent two terms as an Independent on Galway County Council, three terms on the Board of Údarás na Gaeltachta, as well as being a member of the Western Regional Authority and of the Border Midland and Western Assembly.

  Early on I realised that most of our efforts were in vain. Indeed, at one meeting of the Western Regional Authority I suggested that we should all resign together to expose the whole charade.

Pessimists amongst us say that the power is in Dublin and that we can do nothing about it. Yes, but the balance of power could be in Rural Ireland. Imagine if we organised a movement and got 10 committed TDs elected on a carefully crafted rural platform.

  The days of majority Government in Ireland are gone. Our 10 TDs could very well be the kingmakers after the next election.

  If any one of your readers is interested in the idea please put forward your views in this newspaper or contact me per email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Yours sincerely,

Seosamh Ó Cuaig

Tom Kelly Memorial Lecture in Curraghboy

Noel Hoare has been in contact to tell us about an important Memorial Lecture which is coming up in Curraghboy.

  Tom Kelly was native of Grange, Curraghboy, Co. Roscommon, who passed away seven years ago having reached the age of 93. All who knew him fondly remembers him and his knowledge of local heritage was truly remarkable. He contributed to local publications and others often cite his contribution to the work of the Irish Folklore Commission during the 1960s in preserving local heritage.

  People frequently visited Tom’s home trying to find answers to their family roots and because of his exceptional knowledge of families who lived in the area, he was able to help them with their queries. Tom Kelly also had a deep appreciation for past generations of peoples, which was evident from his understanding of archaeological monuments and his reading of historical sources. 

  As part of Heritage Week 2017, a lecture in his memory will be held on Thursday, 24th of August starting at 7.30 pm in the Handball Complex, Curraghboy, Co. Roscommon. This talk is organised by the Dysart Rural Men’s Group, which is run under the auspices of Roscommon LEADER Partnership. 

  The lecture will concentrate on the archaeology and history of Lough Croan and will be presented by his friend Noel Hoare with whom he shared so much information. As part of this talk, a number of images that have never appeared in the public domain will be shared for the first time. 

  This is a free event but donations can be made in support of the ongoing work of the Dysart Rural Men’s Group and we hope you can share in the remarkable work people like Tom Kelly have done in preserving our heritage for future generations to enjoy. Access to this site is with permission of landowners.

 

Why we shouldn’t  ‘Repeal the 8th’

We received the following letter from a Ballaghaderreen reader…

 

Dear Editor,

Before I watched the documentary ‘A world without Down’s Syndrome?’ (shown on RTE 1 last week), I had never heard about the horrifying statistics surrounding the abortion of babies with Down Syndrome around the world.

  I didn’t know, for example, that in England and Wales 90% of babies diagnosed with Down Syndrome in the womb are aborted, or that 100% of those babies are aborted in Iceland. This is truly horrific – and it’s something that we have to think about much more in Ireland. People look to us as an exemplary country when it comes to encouraging people with disabilities – they only have to witness the Special Olympics where Irish people bring so much to the table in terms of volunteering and commitment. Are we now going to end this respect for people with disabilities by repealing the Eighth Amendment and introducing abortion?

  I very much hope that all those who think ‘Repeal the 8th’ is a campaign worth fighting for will reflect on how the removal of the Eighth Amendment would do untold harm to the protection that people with disabilities rightly receive from our laws.

Yours faithfully,

Pat Cummins,

Ballaghaderreen,

Co. Roscommon

 

 

On your bike to support Childaid!

 

Cycle proceeds will go to two charities

The annual Childaid Cycle Challenge is due to take place in Roscommon on Sunday, August 13th. The 100km and 50km events will be leaving Rosbowl at 10 am on the day and proceeds will go towards children’s charity Childaid and the Roscommon Cancer Support Centre.

  Childaid was granted its charitable status in 2001 and is run by a five-person board of directors, all of whom are volunteers. The charity supports child-orientated projects both in Ireland and overseas, and raises funds by organising group treks to places such as Mt. Kilimanjaro, Everest base camp, Ben Nevis and Carrauntoohil, among other destinations.

  Castlecoote woman, Mary Clark, is a Childaid volunteer and told the Roscommon People about one of Childaid’s Tanzanian projects.

  “We coordinate a programme in Tanzania where we bring volunteers to an orphanage called ‘Msamaria’, which Childaid started supporting last year.

  “This project is part orphanage and part halfway house for street children aging from infancy to 16 years old. It hosts up to 50 kids and Childaid funds rent, education and food,” she said.

  Childaid runs a programme whereby sponsors can send a child to school and Mary has also contributed to this.

  “I am currently sponsoring children in this programme who live in Nairobi and are in their second year in secondary school. I get to see these children on my return visits to Africa as Childaid also supports projects in Nairobi.

  “As a volunteer you get to spend time with these children, listen to their hopes and dreams and help them with their school work. They love this. They feel so special and it’s a very rewarding experience for volunteers.”

  Mary, whose husband John also supports Childaid and has climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, is currently training to climb Annapurna in support of Childaid. Closer to home, she highlighted the importance of another local charity however.

  “This is my fourth year organising the charity cycle in aid of Childaid and this year we have also decided to support Roscommon Cancer Support Centre in Roscommon town. Like most families, I have had experience with the disease this year and I feel it’s good to give back.

  “The people of Roscommon have been great in supporting these charities and the Childaid Cycle over the last few years and we are really looking forward to this year’s event and continued support,” she concluded.

  If you would like to donate to or volunteer for this year’s Childaid Charity Cycle or indeed volunteer with Childaid worldwide, contact Mary Clark on 086-1084536 or Secretary Graham Tobin on 087-6886101.

  The Childaid Charity 100km and 50 Cycle will take start from Rosbowl on Sunday, August 13th at 10 am. Entry costs €30 from 9 am on the day or €25 online at www.eventbrite.ie. The first 100 to register will receive a free cycling jersey and there will be free refreshments on the day.

  

 

 

‘Tis the season to be silly…

 

As the so-called ‘silly season’ kicks off, a tongue-in-cheek PAUL HEALY recalls some suitably silly journalistic experiences…

 

Typical of Donald Trump, he ignored the big day. How could he? Well, I guess he could. I am writing these words on Tuesday. Tuesday, 1st of August. Some people will credibly argue that it begins in July, but to me the silly season really kicks off at the beginning of August, or certainly it peaks during this month. The silly season? That’s the media’s rueful label for the season of ‘no serious news’. The season when, if we don’t quite make up news, we are forced to trade in the daft, obscure, eccentric, and….well, silly.

  Anthony Scaramucci might reasonably have thought that he’d survive the silly season. After all, he was only appointed as successor (as White House Communications Chief) to Sean Spicer thirteen days ago. A quiet August during which to find his feet in the job? Nah, not in Trump-land. Donald’s not going to recognise the silly season, it seems. Scaramucci got the sack on Tuesday, 1st of August, just eleven days after he got the job. Breaking news in America: No silly season when Donald’s ‘in charge.’

Back home in Roscommon, I’m a veteran of the silly season at this stage. In Roscommon and throughout the country, media folk are bracing themselves for the great month of no news, or little enough news. It’s never as bad as is initially feared. Of course there will be some news. But Plans B, C and D will be required. So, old tried and trusted ideas are revisited.

  Of course it’s the politicians who are to blame. Yes, we give out about them all year, but their conduct in August is particularly objectionable. They bugger off, away from the Houses of the Oireachtas at least. They will insist they are still working, but it’s not the same. Watch now as your television and radio become politician-free zones. It might sound appealing, but you will miss those tetchy exchanges and rows after a week or so.

  Replacing the usual fare on Prime Time, Tonight With Vincent Browne, The Week in Politics and the various radio programmes, will be some of that usual ‘filler’ material that gets the media through the silly season.

  Watch out for reporters sneaking up on tourists on Grafton Street/Dublin Airport/English Market in Cork, asking mundane questions. 

  Await the features in print, on radio and on television, on those giant vegetables at the show, Ireland’s biggest potholes, unusually shaped trees (is that the face of Jesus?), advice on what to bring with you to a concert, advice on what not to bring with you to a concert, and Marian Finucane’s thrilling guide to how to keep your children entertained during the summer holidays.

  Watch out for the festival specials, and the certainty that some reporter will be cycling around Ireland with a microphone.

  Do you recall a radio reporter doing a piece a year or two ago on where in Ireland you can get the best 99? I do.

  Meanwhile, in newspaper offices nationwide, photo editors will desperately seek out celebrity weddings, beam on receipt of pictures of C-list celebrities at the races, and insist on one more photo of Bertie Ahern/Brian O’Driscoll/Ryan Tubridy walking amongst ordinary people into Croke Park/the Aviva.

  Prepare too for grossly excessive coverage of incredibly dull uterrances made by serious looking people at summer schools in quaint places. 

 Anyways, I’m not sure if my own silliest journalistic endeavours all belong to the silly season – a quick recap in my mind suggests that I have been capable of silly season type stuff even when it’s the normal season.

  One ‘story’ that I did enjoy working on had a silly season feel to it but was actually an April Fool’s Day inspired effort.

  It was the early 1990s and the late Sean Doherty was happy to go along with the idea. We reported that the then Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, was on the look-out for a holiday home in North Roscommon. Mr. Doherty, a prominent politician, ‘confirmed’ to the Roscommon Champion (where I was working at the time) that he had arranged for a top secret house-hunting visit by the Duchess to Rooskey. Eanna Brophy, in the Sunday Press, picked up on our April Fool’s story and was very complimentary about it.

  Was it a silly season story when photographer Gerard O’Loughlin and I decided to ‘doorstep’ a psychic called Madame Lisa, who was meeting clients in a hotel in Roscommon, again, back in the early 1990s?

  We were both very cynical about this fortune-telling business. We arrived in the Royal Hotel, introduced ourselves to ‘Madame Lisa’ and proceeded to conduct a cynical ‘interview’ along with photos. Madame Lisa didn’t like us. We parted on less than wonderful terms. ‘Surely she should have seen us coming?’ was our rather dry view of that episode.

  Frank Chisum, Ireland’s greatest ever Elvis impersonator, surely saw us coming – but couldn’t escape in time – when we doorstepped him in his dressing room after a concert in Ballyforan. We’d had a few drinks earlier in the evening, and now Frank/Elvis was going to be bored/interrogated by the Champion team. More silly season stuff. Still, we got a nice feature from it before Elvis (hastily) left the building.

  In Longford and Cavan (where I worked before coming to Roscommon) there was always the risk of being cornered by some character who was a bit mad (can I still use that word?)/media obsessed/annoying/eccentric. The same ‘risk’ remains in Roscommon! Typically, these well-meaning people assume that (a) their ‘story’ is of great importance and (b) you have all day to listen to them. Approached by such people in the silly season or during the non-silly season, the poor journalist has to call on all their diplomatic skills, unless of course the first defence – ‘Tell them I’m not here’ – has actually worked.

  Of course the greatest silly season saviour of them all is the old reliable ‘vox pop,’ where the reporter and photographer will take to the streets to ask unsuspecting members of the public some rivetting question (Who will win the match? Do we need an election? Is Donald Trump mad? Can I still use that word?).

  Back in 1987 I was on vox pop duty on a sunny July day in Cavan. Cavan were due to play Monaghan in the Ulster Final. With vox pops, you really never know what you are going to get. Continued on page 25 –>

 

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