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International success for Ballaghaderreen Community Games






The Ballaghaderreen Community Games group has recently been recognised both nationally and internationally for its inclusiveness and integration of Syrian refugees living in the town.

  The group was shortlisted for the European Union’s Be-Inclusive award and also claimed the ‘Outstanding Achievement’ award, Best Area in Connacht, and Best Overall National Area awards at the National Youth Volunteer and Area Awards in Co. Cavan last Saturday.

  Area Secretary, Declan Regan, was understandably proud of the group’s efforts.

  “We were among nine out of 111 projects shortlisted for the European Be-Inclusive Sports Award. It was adjudicated on the basis of our integration of Syrian children over the past two years,” he said.

  The voluntary group had initially introduced the children to local athletics events in keeping with the spirit of the Community Games. At first, some of them competed in their bare feet and struggled with the idea of running competitively against other children. Thanks to the guidance of patient volunteers, however, they soon began to enjoy the sports.

  “We had 15 children in the county finals and then we had three relay teams with a high number of Syrian children involved at the national finals where there were 4,000 children competing,” Declan added.

  Ballaghaderreen volunteers were also taken aback at how proficient some of the Syrian children were at events such as table tennis and art.

  “We stumbled upon the fact that a lot of the boys were quite proficient at table tennis and it turned out that they had learned to play at refugee camps in Greece. They were runners-up in Connacht which was an extraordinary achievement.

  “There were also children who qualified for national finals in art and model making and one boy who went on to win a bronze medal in U-16s Model Making”.

  Declan paid tribute to local Community Games volunteers and Ballaghaderreen EROC resident Omar Jaffar in particular.

  “Omar, who is a refugee himself, spoke at the awards ceremony in Brussels about the welcome they had received in Ballaghaderreen. He recently won a national youth volunteer award for his work in translating and organising events with us”.

  The Ballaghaderreen committee had won the National Area Award 20 years ago and Declan was happy to report that two of the volunteers from that year were still actively involved with the group, Freda Waldron and Bríd Duffy.

  “The awards are a lovely acknowledgement but our goal remains, and that is to include all of the children in Ballaghaderreen and to introduce them to sport. There are many famous sports people in the town who first started with Ballaghaderreen Community Games,” Declan concluded.


Seanie and Stacy’s big engagement



Pictured at The Hub last Saturday were members of the Castlerea Kings basketball team with newly-engaged Stacy McGarry and Seanie McDermott. Back row (l-r): Michael O’Flanagan, Stacy McGarry, Sean McDermott,  John McHugh, Danny Doherty, and Thomas Callaghan. Front row (l-r): Josh McDermott, Garbhin Madigan, Joseph Henry and Sean Moran.



‘The Curse of the Button Accordion’ comes to Ballygar






Comedian Sharon Mannion (RTÉ’s Bridget & Eamon) brings her hilarious show ‘The Curse of the Button Accordion’ to the Ballygar Arts and Theatre Space this Saturday (December 8th) at 8 pm.

  Sharon’s play is based on her worries, fears and aspirations growing up in a Roscommon village.

  Sharon Mannion is a worrisome child. Will she live up to the expectations of her ex-showband star father and Midwest FM-loving mother?

  On receiving a shiny new button accordion, Sharon is thrust into the local limelight but things soon turn sour and she begins to think that accordion might have her cursed.

  Tickets for this Saturday’s show cost €12/€10 and are available from Louise Holian on 087-7437443. Check out Ballygar Arts & Theatre Space on Facebook or www.speckintime.com for more information.


Crooners bring Christmas to the arts centre!



If you are looking for a festive night out, Roscommon Arts Centre has just the ticket as they present Christmas Crooners on Friday, December 7th at 8 pm. The show is jam-packed with festive favourites including Christmas hits from Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole and ‘Ol’ Blue Eyes’ himself – Frank Sinatra!

  This fantastic cast of West-End singers is backed by the superb and talented swing band The Jazz All Stars as they perform over thirty well-known Christmas songs including: ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’, ‘White Christmas’, ‘Santa Baby’, ‘Rocking Around The Christmas Tree’ and many more.

  There will also be swing arrangements of Christmas hymns and songs such as ‘Silent Night’ and ‘Deck The Halls’. Staged in the warm and delightful style of the famous Andy Williams Christmas Shows, this brilliant production comes complete with Christmas trees, a rocking chair and of course a lovely warm fireplace; just right for roasting those chestnuts and toasting the season!

  The Crooners give the audience a show full of swinging Christmas cheer, and witty banter, a perfect show for the perfect season. It’s guaranteed to get you in the festive mood, so come and sing along to great songs from Christmas past with the Christmas Crooners.

  Tickets are available now from Roscommon Arts Centre on 090-6625824/roscommonartscentre.ie.

‘And Thank You’…Seamus returns to Roscommon


Seamus O’Rourke, a favourite of Roscommon audiences, makes a welcome return to the Roscommon Arts Centre stage on Thursday, December 13th at 8 pm with his new play ‘And Thank You’.

  The award-winning writer, director and actor  has previously entertained Roscommon audiences with performances of Dig, Victor’s Dung, Ride On, Padraig Potts’ Guide To Walking and Under The Bed, and he is renowned for capturing what it is to be quintessentially Irish in all of his works.

  And Thank You…is a play about an ordinary man living in rural Ireland who gets saved. Saved from a life of pub talk and prophesising.

  King John O’Sullivan used to be able to drink fifteen pints without needing the loo. Now it’s every nine! Going to the gents so often can wear a man out.

  The story is told by the Reverend Thaddaeus Clancy and O’Sullivan’s two sons, Larry O and Martin. The sons run the family shop while Daddy, the King of McKenna’s Bar, makes up the rules. It’s a story of hard work, success and dangling. There’s bad driving…and ice hockey…and falling down.

  Seamus will close his nationwide tour of And Thank You…in Roscommon and in usual Seamus O’Rourke style, it will be a night of theatre to remember. Tickets are available now from box office on 090-6625825 and from www.roscommonartscentre.ie.

Nobody should be alone on Christmas…unless they want to be!



For many Roscommon families, Christmas is a time when everyone gets together to tuck into a traditional turkey and ham, eat too many mince pies all washed down with copious glasses of champagne, while at the same time, deftly deflecting smutty jokes from a drunken relative or two. Sure it’s all great gas.

  However, for some readers, possibly those who’re separated from their partners and children, the elderly, the bereaved, or those working away from home, etc., Christmas spent all alone can be pretty upsetting. Then again, as we don’t like to generalise here, we certainly realise there are lots of people who’re sick of constantly being told how ‘tis the season to be jolly and who, instead of craving company for Christmas, actively look forward to enjoying a solitary yule parked in front of the telly with nothing more than President Higgins’ annual address to help them fall asleep. After all, we all know that, while the rest of the world was jingle belling, Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin’s character in Home Alone) was having a whale of a time on his tod; so nobody should feel guilty about shunning companionship this festive season.

  Nonetheless, if you’re reading this and are someone who is dreading spending this Christmas Day alone, we’d like to suggest that you may wish to develop a plan in advance and perhaps, (and it’s only a suggestion), volunteer with a local organisation. Below are some of the ways you could get involved.

  As there will be protocols for volunteering in place, including, in many cases, Garda-vetting procedures, why not contact your local charities and community groups now to see if they need an extra pair of hands looking in on a senior citizen or by delivering a hot dinner to a housebound senior who’d be delighted with the bit of company. 

  There are plenty of nursing homes/care home facilities across the county whose residents, whom, for various reasons, may not have visitors on Christmas Day. We’re sure the wonderful staff would be thrilled to hear from you with regard to possibly volunteering an hour or two of your time to pop in and share a piece of pudding, a pint, or to raise a Christmas G&T with their clients, who’ll likely appreciate a chat with a friendly new face.

  Contact your local SPCA or dog pound. I can tell you the people who run Roscommon’s Dog Pound do an amazing job actively trying to reunite/rehome all dogs that come through their doors. In addition, the local animal charities work selflessly all year round to help abandoned, abused and needy fur babies. So, why not see if these rescue organisations need help with feeding, watering, walking and cuddling homeless/sick dogs and cats on Christmas Day. 

  If you work in the hospitality sector/the travel industry/or in any of our fantastic emergency services like An Garda Síochána, fire and ambulance services/are a volunteer with the Civil Defence, or are working in a hospital or in a family medical practice, and you’re spending Christmas Day alone, (and dreading it), then here’s a thought…why not give a colleague who is rostered on, the gift of time to spend with their family and swap your shift with them. Now isn’t that a wonderfully kind Christmas gesture? 




Strokestown readers: Have you seen Hubsy the shop elf?



There are strange things happening in Strokestown in the run-up to Christmas! A visitor from the North Pole has been causing mischief and mayhem as he makes his way around local businesses in the town. Hubsy the shop elf is running riot, bestowing great value deals and offers upon the shoppers of Strokestown during the festive season. So far, lots of children (and some adults) have found Hubsy and availed of great value deals in shops throughout the town.

  In the week gone by, Hubsy has been spotted in Centra Strokestown, McHugh’s Gift Shop, Forget Me Not Photography and The Percy French Hotel and great value has followed the playful elf from business to business.

  The shop local mascot, Hubsy, was brought to life by the Hub Community Café in Strokestown as part of a ‘shop local campaign’ which has been orchestrated by Strokestown Town Team.

  They point out that Strokestown has a lot to offer, with a wide range of great bars and restaurants to be enjoyed in the evening time and shops to peruse in during the day. Strokestown is also home to several brilliant hairdressers and beauticians which is something a lot of towns of a similar size don’t have.

  This year, people who might not normally think of staying local for their Christmas parties or Christmas gift shopping are being asked to give Strokestown a chance. The businesses in the town make a genuine effort to ensure they offer great value to customers both new and old all year ‘round, but especially during the Christmas period.

  Hubsy the shop elf will continue his exploits around Strokestown in the coming weeks. So, if you are in Strokestown and see Hubsy in any of the great businesses, snap a picture and post it to the Strokestown.ie Facebook page, and join in the fun and excitement that is Christmas in Strokestown.


Children ‘languishing’ on waiting list – Murphy


Fianna Fáil TD Eugene Murphy has said it is “disgraceful” that 2,183 children are waiting for an orthodontic appointment in the western region, with almost one thousand of those waiting over two years.

  Recent figures released to Fianna Fáil show that there are 18,135 children in total on the waiting list. The figures were collated at the end of June this year.

  “This is disgraceful. These children are left languishing on a waiting list for assessment before they are even approved for treatment.

  “Last year we were told that an initiative was underway which would ensure that by early 2018 no patient was waiting longer than three years for treatment. These latest figures reveal that in mid-2018 there were over 1,000 patients waiting more than four years. This is yet another failure to deliver by Minister Harris and the HSE,” concluded Deputy Murphy

Portrunny picks up two prizes at Regional Tidy Towns Awards




This year’s SuperValu Tidy Towns awards for the North West and West region were presented on Monday, 19th of November, at a prize-giving ceremony in Castle Leslie in Glaslough, Monaghan. SuperValu Tidy Towns winners were presented with their awards by Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, TD, and Eoghan Jones, SuperValu Regional Manager, long-time sponsors of the competition.

  Portrun Development Association received the Endeavour Award for Co. Roscommon, achieving the highest points increases from the previous year’s result. The association had ‘double cause’ to celebrate as Portrunny was highly commended in the Waters & Communities Award sponsored by Inland Fisheries Ireland, Waterways Ireland and the Local Authority Waters & Communities Office.

  Speaking after the awards, Chairperson of the association Mr. Gerry Hanlon commented that these awards were only made possible with the help and support of the local community, volunteers and their partnership with Roscommon Co. Council, Inland Fisheries Ireland, Waterways Ireland, National Parks and Wildlife Service and the support of the Waters and Communities Office.

Chamber of…delights!




Business group all set for busy festive season




It’s officially Christmas in Roscommon town following the switching on of the Christmas lights last Sunday evening and President of Roscommon Chamber, Cáitlin McConn, is delighted with how the event went.

  “I think last Sunday’s switch-on was even more successful (than in previous years). I was lucky enough to be up on stage and looking out, it definitely looked to me to be the biggest crowd that I have seen over the last few years. Other people sitting beside me including Denis Naughten and Orla Leyden seemed to be saying the same thing.

  “The weather had a huge impact. Looking back at photographs of last year, everyone had umbrellas out and people came into town at the last minute and then were gone straight away. I don’t know how long people were waiting to talk to Santa last Sunday but they were happy to do it. It was a stunning night,” she said.

‘Amazing’ lights


Cáitlín, who is a joint-owner of JJ Harlow’s, reserved special praise for the town’s Christmas lights committee.

  “The lights look amazing and the people involved in the committee are all volunteers. They are all running their own businesses so Sunday is the only day that is kind of quiet for them. They’re out from October and meeting up even before that; they are just amazing. There was some fundraising done in the past and I know that money was collected where the free hot chocolate was being

 given out last Sunday but in general the lights are funded by the businesses in the town. The businesses are great for funding it and it’s great that members of the public contribute too,” she said.

  Ahead of a busy period in the town, the Chamber President said that using the town’s free car parks would increase the footfall in local businesses.

  “I know that our free parking is bringing people in from other counties because it’s so much easier and cheaper to shop here. In order to maintain that and to encourage visitors to stop off in Roscommon, people need to be using the council car park which can be accessed from the roundabout off Church Street/Abbey Street. It’s well lit and safe with CCTV and it’s so close to the centre of town.

  “The one-hour green spaces that have gone in are having such a dramatic effect on the businesses around them and it’s having a knock-on effect on the businesses around town. People are telling me that there is such a huge increase in footfall into shops. So we really want to encourage people that are coming into town for the day to use the council car park which is located behind Rogue & Co. and Gleeson’s and to keep traffic moving in the town centre.

  “Fair play to Roscommon County Council for the work they’ve put into parking in the town, they really have to be commended. The resurfacing work was badly needed too and the looks fantastic now,” she said.

  In terms of pre-Christmas promotions and events, there is plenty happening in Roscommon town once again this year.

  “I know the AIB are running their Christmas Window competition again and that really adds to the vibe around town at Christmas. That’s another reason we are encouraging everyone to have their windows done up and there are prizes there for those who take part. It also encourages people coming to town to go into shops.

  “The Roscommon Chamber is running its competition again with the Roscommon People and that has been hugely successful over the last few years. Interestingly enough the winners of that competition come from everywhere so it is drawing a lot of interest not only in Roscommon town but also in neighbouring counties too.

  “In the run-up to Christmas, most businesses will be open late and on Sundays so that should relive some of the stress in terms of shopping! The Roscommon Solstice Choir are also scheduled to perform a carol service on Saturday, December 22nd in The Square so that will really add to the Christmas feel that weekend,” she added.

  Ms. McConn expressed her thanks to local businesses who provided free hot drinks at last Sunday’s Christmas lights switch-on as well as all those who help to make Christmas magical in Roscommon town each year.

  “We had Rogue, Molloy’s, Gleeson’s, The Peppermill, Harrison’s Coffee House and Jackson’s providing free hot drinks and also Comfy Café who were doing the same from their window. They raised money from it for the lights, which is fantastic,” she said.

A safe town


Local businesses recently met with the local Gardaí to highlight safety and security measures ahead of the busy Christmas period and while a new CCTV system is in operation, Cáitlín says the Roscommon is one of the safest towns in Ireland.


  “We met with the Gardai as we normally do this time of year just to highlight the CCTV on Main Street and the fact that the text alert service between businesses is up and running. Everyone is doing their bit to make sure that Roscommon town stays as safe as it’s always been.

  “The fact that it’s such a safe town and the convenience of free parking really makes a difference. I would encourage everyone to shop local this year and to support the local economy. We have everything here, so why go anywhere else?” she concluded.



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