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Back in the Principal’s Office at Creggs NS



Granted, it wasn’t the first time I’d ended up in the principal’s office for a chat – but thankfully it turned out to be a far more pleasant experience this time around.

  Ger Dowd is quite a remarkable man, but then again he must be. The Roscommon selector did after all succeed the legendary four-time All-Ireland winner Mattie McDonagh as principal of Creggs NS.

  “Mattie and myself were very close. I started teaching out in Gortnadieve, where Mattie began his teaching career in 1957. His first year in Gortnadieve they won their first All-Ireland (1956 title). He stayed there until I think the mid-70s and in about ’75 he came into Creggs and replaced Bill Brandon, father of the Brandon brothers, who was principal at the time,” he said.

  Ger’s own career path was to follow an identical trajectory, which would eventually lead to him working closely with the late Galway football legend.

  “I started a long time ago now – 1980 seems like such a long time ago – in Gortnadieve. There were lots of amalgamations taking place; the smaller schools were being amalgamated into the larger schools.

  “I was two years out there and then we moved into what was a new school in Creggs at the time in 1982. That was my first introduction to Mattie and we built up a great friendship, both of us were mad interested in sport – the GAA, rugby, all sports really.

  “Mattie was a legend of the GAA of course; four All-Irelands as you know and ten Connacht titles, and we were at many different events and played a lot of golf, racquetball and snooker together”.

  The week of a Connacht final between Roscommon and Galway is something Mattie would have enjoyed. He played minor hurling for Roscommon and later took over as manager of the Galway football team in the early ‘80s. 

  “Hopefully we learned a lot from him; above all he was a gentleman as well as everything else. He was a lovely man to be with, a very honest, generous man, and a great man for Creggs and for the school here. He was a great teacher and gave a lot to this area,” Ger said.

  Mattie played for St. Brendan’s and of course Ballygar, but before he hung up his boots the great centre-forward togged out for Creggs.

  “At the end of his career he came down and played a couple of years for Creggs, and in the late ‘70s I had the honour of playing with him. I was only starting out at that time playing for Creggs at intermediate level.

  “Then later, when he retired, I ended up taking over from him as principal here. We’d great banter at this time of year with Roscommon and Galway and Mayo or whoever was in the Connacht final. He was a great man to go to the matches, himself and Johnny Hughes, a great friend of mine and a friend of his too. This type of Connacht final revives those memories of Mattie”.

  The current principal of Creggs National School is a Creggs sporting legend in his own right, having starred on the football and rugby pitches of the half-parish.

  His impressive background in rugby and that of Liam McHale’s in basketball have in some way helped to shape their coaching of this Roscommon team.

  “With all these field sports we can learn a lot from each of them. I think there’s a lot of crossover with basketball as well in terms of attack and defence. Liam has brought a lot of that to the coaching and I’d like to think I’m bringing some of my rugby knowledge into it as well in terms of how we might defend and how we might look for space. In a lot of these games it’s always a fight to try to find where there’s space on the field and how we might exploit it to get scores and also trying to get mismatches between defenders and attackers to create situations where it’s two on two or three on two”.

  Ger has scaled back his involvement with teams recently having been manager of the Creggs team which won the county junior title in 2016 while simultaneously working with St. Brigid’s and Roscommon. This year his focus is solely on helping Roscommon to retain their Connacht title.

  “It is a bigger challenge this year to try and get this second title back-to-back. It’s something that hasn’t happened since I think 1991 and then before that you have to go back to the great side of the late ‘70s. It’s a new challenge and that’s what we’re trying to do; to push on and improve from what we did last year.

  “You could be right in saying we caught Galway cold last year but we did prepare well and we were confident going up to Pearse Stadium and we’d like to think we’ve improved since then. We’re one year older, one year wiser, we have some extra players in our panel and we’ve had a very enjoyable year so far”.

  The Tribesmen must travel across the border for this year’s decider and Ger believes home advantage will spur on this Roscommon team.

  “You’d have to think home advantage is going to help in some regard; we love to have the Roscommon support behind us. It was very important to get the match in the Hyde. There was a lot of talk about it but now that it’s done I think it’s good for the GAA community in Roscommon, from youth level all the way up. Everyone’s looking forward to it and I think there’s a bit of a buzz in the town.

  “The U-20s too, a great win there and congratulations to Shane Curran and Eddie Lohan and the management team. It’s never easy to go up to Tuam and get a result. That in itself gives the senior team a lift and then playing in front of us lends to the support and the buzz on the day”.

  The Creggs man was enjoying the build-up to Sunday’s showdown and being an important part of Kevin McStay’s backroom team.

  “I’ve really enjoyed my time with Kevin and Liam and the rest of the management team. The lads themselves are putting in huge sacrifices, every time we go for training – the backroom team, the players, everyone. The amount of work that’s going into it is unreal nowadays.

  “I think we (management and coaching staff) respect each other’s opinions, there’s always difficult and tough decisions to be taken. We try to do our best and try to take into account as many factors as we can. I have to say that Kevin and Liam are both great coaches and great people to be involved with. They have a wealth of experience; they’ve played in a lot of Connacht finals themselves as players and managers. I’m learning from them all the time and we’re all learning from each other, I’d like to think”.

  The border parish of Creggs is always an interesting place to be ahead of a big match between Roscommon and Galway and tensions have certainly risen recently. Local bragging rights are at stake for the third time in as many years and Ger says it’s all part of the summer buzz.

  “We’ve a nice balance here between Galway and Roscommon in the school so we’re not completely outnumbered! It’s a lot of fun and there’s a lot excitement in the build-up to it – both from the kids and the adults around the village here.

  “Up until recently it was dominated by Galway v Mayo so it’s nice to get this Galway Roscommon buzz back again because it hasn’t been here for a number of years. It’s all part of the fabric of summer football and the GAA Championship,” he concluded.


Calling all female entrepreneurs from Roscommon!



Are you a female entrepreneur or business owner in Roscommon who wants to take your business to the next level?

  Would you like to win a career changing prize that will allow you to grow your fledgling business?

  Samsung Ireland is calling on female self-starters in Roscommon to take part in The Pitch, a new competition in partnership with IMAGE magazine which will see one lucky winner take away a game changing prize of Samsung technology as well as promotion for their business valued at up to €100,000.

  Samsung will kit out the lucky winner’s business with everything from the latest Samsung smartphones the Galaxy S9+ to facilitate flexible and mobile working, to its digital flip charts and monitors.

  The winner will also receive a multi-platform media package from IMAGE to promote their business as well as a digital workshop from award-winning agency Teneo PSG to equip them with hints and tips on how to maximise their business on social media.

  Entrants should be switched-on self-starters with expert business acumen, who have developed an innovative idea (either a new product or service) from initial concept to commercial success over the last two years.

  For further information on The Pitch or to view the terms and conditions visit www.image.ie/thepitch


Midsummer’s Day with the Stars is good for business!



Shannonside Northern Sound’s Midsummer’s Day with the Stars returns to Roscommon Racecourse for the sixth year on Sunday, June 24th with some of the biggest names on the Irish Country Music scene set to take the stage.

  The concert has become a major contributor to the local economy and according to organisers, is expected to surpass this Sunday’s Connacht Final in terms of attracting visitors and revenue to the county town.

  Chamber of Commerce President, Cáitlín McConn says the event is of great benefit to Roscommon town and the county as a whole.

  “It is a really good boost in terms of the hospitality sector in the town. It’s amazing for hotels, guesthouses, and B&Bs with all the accommodation that’s booked up for the event.

  “The real plus side, however, is that it brings people from all over the country to Co. Roscommon, particularly people who wouldn’t normally have visited the county. There’s a great spin-off with people coming back after enjoying the weekend.

  “It’s also great for Roscommon Racecourse, which is a wonderful venue overlooking the town. The knock-on effect for local shops and pubs is also fantastic and anything that showcases the town in such a positive way, the Chamber of Commerce is very happy with”.

  Finding accommodation near the venue has become an issue as thousands of music lovers flock to Co. Roscommon, and organisers have said they struggled to meet demand in the locality in 2017. This year, hotels in Athlone, Claremorris and Ballinasloe are being booked by concert-goers as the big day draws ever nearer.

  Local promoter, Joe Finnegan, says the local business community continues to be very supportive of the event.

  “I must say a special word of thanks to the Roscommon business community as well as the Chamber of Commerce and Roscommon County Council, who are, as always, very supportive of Midsummer’s Day with the Stars.

  “The Racecourse in my view is Roscommon town’s greatest asset and manager Michael Finneran and his staff deserve great praise for all their hard work.

  “This year’s event promises to be better than ever with the biggest acts in Country music set to arrive in Roscommon town on Sunday, June 24th.

  “Thousands of people are expected to descend on the town once again this year and we are very grateful to the local Gardaí, Roscommon Civil Defence and the emergency services who will again ensure that the event passes off safely”.

  This year’s Midsummer’s Day with the Stars line-up includes Nathan Carter, Mike Denver, Robert Mizzell, Patrick Feeney, Philomena Begley, Brendan Shine, Cliona Hagan and many more. Tickets are on sale in local outlets as well as shannonside.ie and northernsound.ie. Gates open at Midday and the show begins at 2 pm.





Roscommon schools get ‘Creative’!



Three County Roscommon schools have been chosen to participate in the Scoileanna Ildánacha/Creative Schools pilot programme. Launched earlier this year, the programme is a central initiative of Pillar 1 of the Government’s Creative Ireland Programme, which puts the arts and creativity at the heart of children and young people’s lives.

  The three Co. Roscommon schools are Gaelscoil De hÍde, Glanduff National School and Mount Talbot National School.

  Chosen from over 400 applicants, schools chosen to take part in the programme include primary schools, secondary schools, Youthreach centres, special schools, DEIS schools, co-educational schools, rural, urban, single-sex and Irish-language medium schools. Work will begin in September 2018 and run through to the end of the school year in 2019.

  Assistant Principal at Gaelscoil De hÍde, Ríona Nic Aonghusa, said: “This is an opportunity to engender a deep appreciation and lifelong love of the arts in the children, to show the value of the arts in ‘STEAM’ throughout the school community – both within and without. We are delighted to have been chosen to participate in a nationwide and forward-thinking initiative”.

  Principal at Mount Talbot National School, Laraine Brennan, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to avail of experience of an expert. Due to our rural location we don’t get to experience the arts like urban areas so we are delighted to have been chosen for the programme”.

  Schools selected for the pilot will be provided with a package of support which includes funding and expertise from a Creative Associate to enable them to explore the potential impact of the arts and creativity on school life. With the support of their Creative Associate, schools will develop a Creative School plan and design a unique programme that responds to the needs and priorities of their school.



Feighan pleased to see local schools chosen


Senator Frank Feighan has welcomed news that three schools in County Roscommon have been chosen to participate in the pilot Creative Schools scheme.

  “The scheme was launched by Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan and Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton and is due to begin this September,” he said.

  “I am very pleased that Gaelscoil De Híde, Roscommon, Glanduff NS and Mount Talbot NS have been chosen to participate in this pilot programme.

  “Art and music are a part of who we are as a nation. Through the programme, the Arts Council is engaging with children and young people, enabling their creativity and linking them in with the arts and creative infrastructure in their locality and nationally.

  “This pilot initiative will develop and celebrate the arts and creativity in our schools”.


My Father’s Day gift guide!




When you’re a parent, establishing certain agreed techniques regarding how to discipline your kids is very important; especially as one of you is always going to be the soft touch. When my girls were small, I was the easy pickings pushover parent, mainly because when I was a kid, (like a lot of us); I was raised by a woman who clearly missed her calling as an interrogator at Guantanamo Bay. Oh yeah, mammy was scary! 

  Due to that, when my beauts stepped out of line, I was guilty of sitting them down and giving them a lengthy lecture regarding all the reasons why their behaviour was unacceptable; with my eldest often pleading, “Ah Ma, will ya just give me a wallop or ground me like me friend’s Ma does to her; sure it’d be less painful than this feckin’ lecture!” To which I’d reply “G’wan; but you just wait till your father gets home…he can deal with you”.  

  Now I know I’m not the only mother who used this common discipline mistake technique, but you see, while passing the buck to dear old Dad wasn’t really fair, it was kind of easier, (in tricky situations), for us to use him as the  killjoy bad cop. Bless him.

  And so, for this very reason, this Sunday, as a sign of our appreciation for our children’s fathers, (and for our own fathers), we’ve put together a last-minute gift guide for that wonderful man who provided late-night lifts, bike riding lessons, who made up crazy bedtime stories, and whom, when it was needed, allowed himself to be ‘used and abused’ as mammy’s convenient bad guy back-up stooge. What a hero!

Here are our top five suggestions:

For rambunctious rocker dad: Does dad fancy himself as a bit of a performer? Perhaps he’s a frustrated head-banging, air guitar player; and, despite the fact you’d rather stick bamboo shoots under your nails than witness the aul fella reliving his ‘bat out of hell’ days, you know you’ll do ‘anything for love’…well, for the dad you love; so get him tickets to a local gig this weekend.

For retro dad: A unique set of anti-static record (or LP) sleeve covers to keep his favourite Led Zeppelin, Status Quo and The Beatles’ collections safe and pristine.

For techno dad: A portable charger to keep his smartphone and his smart watch charged and text ready for when he needs to send you that mortifying joke or embarrassing air guitar playing pic!

For master of malt dad: A whiskey tasting selection set will go down a treat.

For health freak dad: Does he love making the aul soups ‘n’ smoothies? If so, pick him up a nutri bullet blender; sure you never know, he may even graduate to mixing you a Margarita!

Happy Father’s
Day, Dad!




Famine Summer School returns to Strokestown


The Irish Famine Summer School takes place at Strokestown Park, Co. Roscommon from Wednesday, June 20th to Sunday, 24th and promises to be a fascinating mix of talks, performances, and film screenings, offering something for anyone with an interest in Irish history, particularly the Great Famine. 

  Singer-songwriter Declan O’Rourke will perform songs from his latest album ‘Chronicles of the Great Famine’ at 7.30 pm on Friday, 22nd and will also be in conversation with Professor Christine Kinealy of Quinnipiac University, Connecticut. All are welcome to this performance. (€5 admission at the door)

  The 2018 Famine Summer School will be launched by the Canadian Ambassador to Ireland on the evening of Wednesday 20th June. This year’s theme is ‘Irish Journeys: Famine Legacies and Reconnecting Communities’ and the programme promises to be an engaging exploration of the Great Famine and its impact on later movements for social and political change.

  International speakers from Quinnipiac University, the University of Toronto, Boston College and Notre Dame will be giving keynote papers and mingling with local historians who likewise hold a depth of local expertise. Strokestown Park House and the National Famine Museum provide a hub for visitors and scholars to experience a uniquely preserved historic house and explore the lives of rich and poor in their original setting. 

  “Strokestown Park has been recognised for its ground-breaking work in delving into the deep complexities of the Irish Famine,” said Caroilin Callery of Strokestown Park.

  “We are honoured to be welcoming descendants of Edward Neary from the Mahon Estate at this year’s Summer School. Jennifer Robinson will travel to Ireland for the first time and has a moving and harrowing story of Neary’s family who emigrated from Elphin in ‘Black ’47’. This story is now coming alive thanks to the ongoing Great Famine Voices Roadshow in the US and Canada, where we have been collecting stories and bringing together Irish emigrants and descendants from the Great Famine of Ireland,” she continued. 

  A selection of these family memories and stories will be made freely available on the Great Famine Voices online archive www.greatfaminevoices.ie.

  At 4 pm on Thursday, 21st there will be a performance by Syrian Refugees from Ballaghaderreen, devised by author Jessamine O’Connor.

  ‘Roscommon Connects: Community Building through Shared Storytelling’ is a follow-up to the visit of the Syrian Refugees who visited Strokestown Park in 2017 to hear the Strokestown Famine Emigrant Story.

  “Every year the Summer School goes from strength to strength in terms of the international and local scholars that it attracts and the research that is presented,” said Christine Kinealy, Director, Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University, Connecticut.

  “We are delighted to continue to partner with the Irish Heritage Trust in helping to host this biennial event and to launch the proceeds of last year’s conference – Children and the Great Hunger – edited by Christine Kinealy, Jason King and Gerard Moran, with a Foreword by Marita Conlon-McKenna,” she continued.   

  For the full programme or to make a booking, contact Strokestown Park on 071-9633013, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or click www.strokestownpark.ie.

Award-winning visual artist at arts centre



The recipient of the 2018 Roscommon Visual Artists Forum Award, Siobhan O’Connor, will launch her exhibition ‘Structural Process and Possibility’ on Saturday, June 9th at Roscommon Arts Centre.


  Castlerea-born artist Siobhan’s work explores architectonic construction and buildings or structures that are constantly been built, changed or shifted creating our landscape today. The exhibition will feature scultpural structures created using modern building materials such as concrete, metal and wood. Through these sculptural works, the material properties of these often unyielding materials will be pushed, reconfigured, resignified.  

  Process and materiality play a central role in O’Connor’s work where she is interested in the potentiality of building from simple lines, basic colours and simplified shapes. Her work considers how structures holds up one another; tension and suspension weight and balance. Her drawings are presented as almost procedural blue prints that can be executed and further used as a plan for works that don’t necessarily exist.

  This exhibition consists of a concrete and metal structure and a series of drawings. The structure is made of handmade concrete blocks, some of which are dyed a black and striking blue.

  Exhibition opens on Saturday, June 9th at 3.30 pm and runs until June 30st. All are welcome to attend the launch.

Wyvern Lingo set for Boyle Arts Festival



Music group Wyvern Lingo have been confirmed for the Boyle Arts Festival on Sunday, July 22nd at 10 pm in The Storehouse.

  Wyvern Lingo is Caoimhe Barry (vocals and drums), Karen Cowley (vocals, synth and bass) and Saoirse Duane (vocals and guitar). Three girls with young hearts but witchy old souls who perform sensual, beat-driven R&B flavoured pop and have their own private language – the wyvern lingo!

  Originally bonding over albums by Thin Lizzy, Led Zeppelin, Joni Mitchell and Simon & Garfunkel, then starting their own thread of music, which stitches together a rough but resilient tapestry of influences, taking in folk, hip-hop, rock and R’N’B, all united by the spectral chill triggered by their unique vocal harmonies.

  Of their debut album ‘Wyvern Lingo’, released in February, they said: “We were trying to find a title that would capture a glimpse into our world. W3hat better way than to self-title the album! This is us.

  “These songs are a collection of experiences, both separate and shared. Experiences that shape how we view the world, and how we’ve come to terms with the way our lives have unfolded”.

  Tickets are now available on www.eventbrite.ie. For more information, please visit our website www.boylearts.com.


Rosalie and reassurance: Someone order a pinch of salt!




Minister Denis Naughten says the HSE has provided reassurances over the future of the Rosalie Unit in Castlerea. Deputy Eugene Murphy is giving him and the HSE the benefit of the doubt. Senator Maura Hopkins says she’s far from convinced, and I’m inclined to share her scepticism.

  I’ve read enough HSE (and political) statements over the years to advise that the correspondence sent by the HSE to Minister Jim Daly should only be consumed if there’s a significant dose of salt on stand-by.

  It’s classic ‘commit to nothing’ stuff and in my opinion it by no means offers reassurance to Rosalie residents and their families.

  The HSE’s Tony Canavan begins by informing  Minister Daly that a Clinical Assessment process which is currently underway is expected to be completed shortly.  He adds that engagement between the HSE and local stakeholders should be maximised in the meantime.  The above statement offers no reassurance to anyone.

  Mr. Canavan goes on to say that no decision will be taken in relation to the Rosalie Unit until ongoing assessments have been completed and reviewed.

  That part of the statement should also be read with the pinch of salt nearby.

  Mr. Canavan does say that it is intended that the Rosalie facility will continue to form part of the service delivery of healthcare in the Roscommon area – but he does not rule out change, adding: “if any change should arise from its current use, it will be done in consultation with public representatives and relevant stakeholders for the area”.

  I’ve read a lot of HSE (and political) statements over the years – I fear that this correspondence from Mr. Canavan provides no grounds for optimism about the future of the Rosalie Unit.

  Hopefully my assessment about the HSE’s assessment is wrong!

  Having made this rather negative assessment, I will add that political will could yet save the facility.

  In this matter we have the usual ‘which comes first, HSE or Government?’ codology, with the public led on a merry dance. Sure, the HSE runs the health service, but surely the minister of the day and his or her Department has the real power?

  There is an onus on Minister Naughten and Senators Hopkins and Frank Feighan, and opposition politicians of course, to continue to fight the good fight for the future of this facility.


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