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Five things we learnt from ‘The Beast’




Last week’s Arctic weather conditions brought most of the country to a standstill while it also threw up a number of talking points…

1 A nation’s obsession with bread

Just when you thought the whole world had gone ‘gluten-free’, along comes a ‘once in a generation’ weather event to highlight our ongoing if at times well hidden, sliced pan addiction.

  Bread disappeared off the shelves of the local supermarkets quicker than a member of An Garda Síochána could shout “get out of that digger” as Ireland once again fell in love with the loaf.

  Don’t be surprised if RTÉ’s coverage of our next weather event is brought to you by Brennan’s Bread!

2 Farmers are a great bunch of lads!

Ok so we’ve all cursed them at one point or another as they’ve meandered along local roads at a snail’s pace. But by God, we were thankful for them last week as they cleared the highways and byways of rural Ireland and freed us from our icy prisons. Give it a couple of weeks and we’ll be back to cursing them again!

3 Lidl’s classy response to thugs

‘So err…anyone do anything nice over the weekend?’ The Lidl Twitter machine enquired on Monday morning.

  The retailer took the whole ‘looting and destroying’ thing pretty well in fairness. While the damage caused by mindless thugs last Friday in Tallaght could have put a number of people out of work, Lidl confirmed that 30 employees would be redeployed to local outlets. Nicely done!

4 We have the craic in a crisis

The country grinding to a halt was the perfect excuse to have the craic in fairness. Videos of shady back alley bread dealing did the rounds on social media while all manner of snow sculptures sprung up around the nation. Igloos were probably the most sought after property for a short time on Daft.ie last week. Just don’t ask about the BER Rating!

5 The Beast respected boundaries

Whether it was Northern Ireland or south Roscommon, the Beast from the East respected established borders. South Roscommon miraculously avoided the initial Red Weather warning issued to Westmeath and Galway and managed to stay safely in the Orange zone! I guess the five feet of snow which had gathered outside homes in the south of the county on Friday was just an optical illusion caused by the sheer whiteness of the snow down the road in Athlone then.





Let the drama begin!



Roscommon Drama Festival 2018 launch


The launch of Roscommon Drama Festival 2018, which runs for nine nights from Friday, 2nd of March to Saturday, 10th of March in Roscommon Arts Centre, took place in Áras an Chontae on Wednesday of last week.      

  Chairperson of Roscommon Drama Festival Committee, Caroline Egan, welcomed everyone to the launch. Ms. Egan thanked the Council Chief Executive Eugene Cummins and his staff for making the fine facility available for the launch and for their welcome and hospitality. She expressed appreciation to the sponsors of the festival, to Averyl Dooher and her staff at Roscommon Arts Centre, and to the local media for the publicity they provide.

  She thanked Declan Molloy of Molloy’s Bakery and Fine Food Emporium for sponsoring and providing the finger food. She had a special word of welcome for the children who had participated in the story writing competition, their parents and teachers and to Cormican’s School and Art Supplies for sponsoring prizes for overall winners.

  Cllr. Orla Leyden, Cathaoirleach of Roscommon County Council, said that she was delighted to be invited to launch the Roscommon Drama Festival 2018, which she said was one of the highlights of the cultural calendar in the county. She said that promotion of the arts was a priority for Roscommon Co. Council and she was pleased that visiting groups remarked on the fine facility in Roscommon Arts Centre.

  Cllr. Leyden commended Caroline Egan and her committee for their courage and commitment in organising such an important event year after year.


The following children were presented with their prizes – Best Overall: Heather O’Sullivan, Knockcroghery N.S.; 1st Overall (6th Class): Sinead Connerton, Cloontuskert N.S.; 2nd Overall (6th Class): Chloe McNamara, Lisaniskey N.S.; 1st Overall (5th Class): Rian Kingi, Roxboro N.S.; 2nd Overall (5th Class): Hazel Kelly, Lisaniskey N.S.

Best from each school

Ballagh N.S.: Lyndsey Gibbons; Ballymurray N.S.: Gavin Staunton; Cloontuskert N.S.: Oisin McDermott; Feevagh N.S.: Niamh McCarroll; Fuerty N.S.: Anna Higgins; Gaelscoil de Híde: Conor Pearce; Kilteevan N.S.: Ruth Cunningham; Knockcroghery N.S.: Faye Reynolds; Lisaniskey N.S.: Niamh Walsh; Roxboro N.S.: Izidro Ribas; Runnamoate N.S.: Natasha Shaughnessy; Scoil Bhride, Fourmilehouse N.S.: Adam Murphy; Tisrara N.S.: Brian Mannion.

* See the Drama Festival advertisement in this edition for full programme details.


Ciarán to launch new band in Tulsk!



Building on the feelgood factor created by his hit single ‘Willie’s Shoes’ and various top 10 album releases, County Offaly native Ciarán Rosney is delighted to announce the launch of his new five-piece band in March 2018.

  Ciarán, who lives with his wife and family just outside Castleblaney, Co. Monaghan, has recently signed with well-known promoter Joe Finnegan, and is launching his new five-piece band at the Tulsk Inn, Tulsk on Sunday, March 18th 2018.

  After becoming a full-time country singer in 2012, Ciarán has risen to great heights in the country music industry both in Ireland and abroad.

  He is fast gaining recognition for his unique songwriting skill, and much acclaim for his energetic live shows and impressive guitar playing.

  2017 was a great year for Ciarán. Not only did he sign his new management deal, but he also spent time recording his new album in renowned Spout Studios with award-winning record producer Jonathan Owens. He also toured and performed with the Three Amigos and Robert Mizzell.

  See Ciarán and his new five-piece band in The Tulsk Inn on Tulsk on Sunday, March 18th (doors open at 9 pm, dancing from 10 pm).


Mama Mia…here we go again



We know it can be difficult to choose a gift for the woman who has everything…I mean, she has you for a son/daughter doesn’t she, so you’d think her life would be complete. Think again! Last year on Mother’s Day, my own daughter actually informed me that the best gift she could give me was the fact that she, herself, had turned out to be so awesome due to my parenting skills that she didn’t need to get me anything! (In fairness she is, and so is her older sister, but I’m biased). Then the pair presented me with an actual present…whew!

  However, whether that special Mother or Mother figure in your life is a lady who likes to wine and dine, is a jet-setting, trend-setting dedicated follower of fashion or whether she’s someone who could do with a bit of pampering, the fact is, you need to put some thought into her present to make sure you show her just how much you love and appreciate her. And, if you’re stuck for ideas, we’ve got some pressie inspo just for you.


Here are our top ten!

Put a decent deposit on a holiday for d’mammy:  Perhaps a wine tasting weekend in Tuscany...Mmmm, I want that. Or what about Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance; now that particular one is on my bucket list if my girls are reading this!

Signature sunnies: Mammy may think she’s a radical dudette, but if you want to add a touch of style and inject a classic sense of cool into the woman who gave you life, why not get her some designer sunnies for that mini-break you’ve just booked for her.

Gym Membership/Personal Trainer: Yes, she made a New Year’s resolution to get fit but she hasn’t actually joined that gym so surprise her with a year’s membership and encourage her to get into shape for running around after the grandkids, or indeed, for walking through those romantic Italian streets.

Signature Scent: We all love our ‘go to’ perfumes, but perhaps mammy has been smelling of the same scent forever; and, while you love it, and it reminds you of your childhood, now that you’re earning a crust maybe it’s time to treat her to a more sophisticated scent. 

Just the two of us: Take her out on a dinner date and reconnect with dear, darling mum. What could be nicer?

Say it with gold: We all love a bauble or two, so jewellery should be high on your list this year and sure what Roscommon mammy doesn’t love getting an intimate and personal gift of a gemstone or three?

Put the focus back on the woman who spends all her time focusing on you: Get mammy a new mobile phone and prepare her for some scheduled pampering by adding some spa days into her planner.

A designer handbag or cute clutch: Free her from her Maggie Thatcher (esque) monstrosity of a handbag and treat her to a designer number that’ll help her to elegantly corral her perfumes and potions in style.

Tickets to a show: Every mother loves a good aul syrupy musical, a dramatic play or a belly laugh-out-loud comedy show, so get a pair of tickets and bring the woman out for the day; we guarantee you she’ll be great craic!

Make her a Memory Frame: If you’re on a budget, you could opt for something creative and thoughtful like buying a nice big frame and putting together a selection of pictures of you and mammy down through the years. Customise it by adding some butterflies or angels or dried flowers, etc., or even some crystals and present it to Mammy with a nice bottle of her favourite tipple.

Rural Ireland: Welcome to ‘Limbo Land’




A condition of prolonged uncertainty or neglect. See Rural Ireland

It’s official, Co. Roscommon has joined the rest of rural Ireland and crossed over into another realm: Limbo Land.

  Suspicions were raised in May 2017 with the startling news from Fianna Fáil TD Eugene Murphy that some homeowners had been caught in this frightening new dimension due to outstanding NPPR charges. Said homeowners could not be reached for comment this week.

  Two months later, Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice caused further alarm when he highlighted the plight of medical card applicants who also faced “being left in limbo”. At least the homeowners now had some company. Small mercies and all that!

  Since then, this limbo vortex has claimed the post office network following a modest Budget (October 11th 2017), as well as both learner drivers due to lengthy waiting times and women through pension inequality, according to Deputy Murphy (12th October 2017).

  And don’t think that just because you’re a fully-licensed male you managed to escape from this black hole – a lack of security in rural Ireland (Murphy, October 25th) even claimed the entire town of Tarmonbarry.

  Now, however, the entire county of Roscommon and the rest of rural Ireland is in danger and it’s all because of the National Broadband Plan.

  Both Deputy Murphy and Senator Maura Hopkins expressed fears recently that the withdrawal of eir from the bidding process has resulted in rural Ireland joining medical card applicants, women with pensions, learner drivers and Tarmonbarry in the dreaded ‘Limbo Land’.

  In the wake of Deputy Murphy and Senator Hopkins confirming our worst fears, Communications Minister Denis Naughten moved to reassure the public, however, saying that he believed the withdrawal of eir would enable contractors to get “shovels in the ground” much quicker.

  Assuming that is, they can find the 542,000 homes and businesses currently waiting for high-speed broadband
in Limbo Land first!





From field to meals at Drumanilra Farm Kitchen




Boyle native Liam Gavin met Devon woman Justina Cutting in war-torn Rwanda in the 1990s. Liam was involved in agriculture and logistics and his organisation required an office manager in Kigali, Rwanda. Justina had been working as a teacher in Uganda and had decided to extend her stay in the region in order to help with reconstruction efforts. She applied for and got the office manager’s job and the rest, as they say, is history.

  “I moved back to the UK following my time in Rwanda and we were engaged in 1998 and married in 1999. Liam had opened a chain of coffee shops in Dublin following his return from Africa and sold the chain in 2006. We moved to Devon and managed holiday properties for about ten years,” Justina said.

  Having been in business in the UK and Ireland for a number of years, the couple decided the time was right in 2012 to move back to the 200-year-old Gavin family farm in Knockvicar, where Drumanilra Farm Kitchen would come to fruition.

  “We had money to invest and this is what we always wanted to do. We wanted to feed our family with wholesome food grown by our own hands. We also wanted to generate a sustainable and independent income for the farm by supplying produce directly to customers,” Justina explained.

  The farm is in a beautiful location overlooking Lough Ree and the Gavins have constructed an impressive modern home on the land.

  The couple took their organic produce on the road in 2014, feeding the masses at various festivals nationwide. In the summer of 2015, they decided to park their ‘burger trailer’ in Boyle town and the Drumanilra Farm Kitchen has gone from strength to strength since. The entire menu, apart from the chicken and Angus beef, is supplied directly from the family farm.

  “We added a room in October 2015 and this is what you see now. The menu has grown too and all the vegetables are seasonal and we have salads all year round. The eggs we produce on the farm are also sold in the shop,” Justina added.

  Justina runs the Drumanilra Farm Kitchen while Liam runs the farm. The farm fresh menu and the farm shop produce have proven popular with locals and visitors alike.

  Ten minutes away, the Drumanilra Organic Farm boasts breathtaking views of Lough Key and is home to Liam and Justina as well as their three children, Fionn (12) and twins Emily-Anne and Aaron (9). The farm is also home to a variety of animals including a head of Dexter cattle,  Jacob sheep, pedigree sows and a flock of busy hens.

  When it comes to farming, Liam’s a ‘rare breed’ himself. He studied Agricultural Science at UCD and worked all over the work before inheriting thefamily farm from his uncle in 2012. He outlined his vision as he sat behind his laptop in the family’s modern kitchen.

  “We want to make it work to a certain scale, we’re not trying to be the next Pat McDonagh, we just want something that works well,” he said.

  The Gavins employ a total of ten part-time and full-time staff between farm and kitchen and Liam believes that the business just shows the potential for such ventures in Irish agriculture.

  “There is potential but I think the powers that be pay lip service to those taking part in alternative activities,” he says.

  Liam says there can be a lack of initiative and creativity amongst Irish farmers when it comes to finding a market for their produce or stock.

  “Most farmers will take their stock to the marts and that’s that. There is no ‘where will I go with my product?’ It’s usually ‘we are producers and we bring our stock to the factories’. I don’t think farmers are being encouraged to think outside the box”.

  Liam also believes that while it isn’t always easy to get a fair price, subsidies can discourage farmers from entrepreneurship.

  “No other self-employed business person can go to the Government when business isn’t going so well. I’m not saying farming is easy, especially when you’re not getting a fair price, but there should be more focus on exploring what farmers can do for themselves.

  “Having said that, there are guys out there that I would have great admiration for. In the environment we are in, it’s unbelievable to see some of the top guys doing a top job. I’d just like to see farmers be given more encouragement to think outside the box,” he said.

  Drumanilra Organic Farm and Kitchen has appeared on both Ear to the Ground and TV3 and Liam admits that while it has been challenging, it’s certainly a labour of love.

  “We are doing something very interesting here and we love what we do. We have developed a successful business doing what we love and doing what we think our customers want us to do.

  “You don’t feel fulfilled unless you get a reward for the work you do. When you’re out collecting eggs, for example, you know there’s a good reason for it, it’s fulfilling.

  “Having been involved with a number of different businesses, I can say that this is the most difficult job I’ve ever had, but also the most fulfilling”.



On the County Hunt in rural Roscommon


The County Roscommon Hunt was revived in the 1998/1999 period following a hiatus which began in the 1950s. The season, which began on the first Sunday in October last year, will run until the first Sunday in March this year, with up to 73 people registered to take part throughout the winter.

  Micheál Curley is the chairperson of the hunt and he says the weekly meets are popular with people from across Co. Roscommon and even further afield.

  “There would have been a long history of the hunt in Co. Roscommon right up until about 1950 – a lot of the hunts stopped around that time. I re-established the County Roscommon Hunt in the 1998/1999 season and it has grown since then. We notify around 73 people through text and Facebook on a weekly basis now.

  “Earlier this month, for example, there were 42 horses out and people from all over the county. We also had participants from countries as far away as Norway and Sweden and a couple from England. There was even a Master Huntsman from Canada”.

  Micheál believes that the hunts attract people from all over and are therefore good for tourism and local business.

  “The visitors will hire horses and pay for accommodation so it’s good for the local tourism economy. Many of them will come for a week or longer and travel around to different hunts”.

  Micheál is a Portumna native and had been involved with hunts in Mullingar and Westmeath before he arrived in Roscommon. He says the hunt is as much a social outlet as a day of sport.

  “We’ve got plenty of young people involved in the County Roscommon Hunt and there’s a wide range of ages right up to fellas like me! There are a number of teenagers who are involved and they have their own social group within the wider group”.

  While it can be argued that it is a healthy outdoor pursuit for those on horseback, the hunt, as we know, has received criticism from animal rights activists both here and in the UK. What message does Micheál have for those who would protest against the hunt?

  “I would say come along with us and see for yourself. The horses and hounds are well looked after and the County Roscommon Hunt would be part of the Irish Masters of Harriers Association and the Hunting Association of Ireland.

  “There are strict rules in place concerning where we can and cannot hunt and how we treat the fox also. Last Sunday, for example, while we were trying to find the fox in Lecarrow, he gave us the slip and in fairness he usually manages to give us the slip!”




Time Out with...Susan Smyth, owner of Computers For You and local radio presenter


What’s your idea of the perfect night in?

My idea of the perfect night in would have to involve no TV. It would involve the music of my choice, a bubble bath and a pampering session. Completely chilled out.

And the ideal night out?

It would be a night at the theatre for definite. If I had the choice it would actually be a night at the opera or even a good jazz club.

Ideal weekend away in Ireland?

It would involve a trip to Killarney and climbing Carrauntoohill before staying at the Lakeview Hotel – a really nice weekend!

What about a holiday abroad?

Ah that’s a tough one! There are so many great countries out there that it would be impossible for me to pick just one!

  It would have to be an adventure holiday and by that I mean not necessarily involving physical activity but certainly exploring the country and discovering how other people live.

Best movie/TV series you’ve seen recently?

I’m not really a big TV watcher or moviegoer if I’m being honest. Having said that, Dr Foster is one of the best TV series I’ve ever seen.

What do you do to relax?

I just chill out at home when I get the chance. Sometimes I do yoga and Pilates.

Your favourite place in Co. Roscommon?

Lisacul, where I live, because I have complete solitude. I live in a completely rural environment surrounded by trees. It’s complete heaven!


*In conversation with Dan Dooner


Roscommon Drama Festival is just around the corner....


Festival fever is coming to Roscommon as the town gears up for the annual Roscommon Drama Festival in early March.

  And this year’s programme doesn’t disappoint! Already, shows are selling out as the 2018 festival boasts an opportunity to see the work of well-known playwrights including John B. Keane, Conor McPherson, Michael Harding, Tennessee Williams and Neil Simon.

  The annual nine-night celebration will bring a host of amateur theatre companies from as far away as Wexford to perform on the stage at Roscommon Arts Centre – and though they may be ‘amateur’ by name, the shows are anything but amateur by nature!

  Roscommon Drama Festival has established a reputation for itself as being one of the best in the country and as a result, it attracts the crème de la crème of companies to perform here. In its time, more than one All Ireland winner has tread the boards of the Roscommon festival stage.

  The festival provides a great opportunity to see plays that ordinarily audiences may not have the chance to see at theatres throughout the year – this year, for example there’s a rare opportunity to see Michael Harding’s play ‘Una Pooka’ and Tenessee Williams’ ‘The Glass Menagerie’ – which will be well known to a whole generation of people who studied the play at school.

  The man that all the companies are hoping to impress in Roscommon this year is adjudicator Brendan Murray. Brendan holds an MA in Modern Drama Studies from UCD and has over 25 years’ experience working in theatre. He has acted and directed on both stage and screen, with an impressive CV that includes work for TG4, RTE, BBC and The Disney Channel. On stage he has performed with The Abbey, An Taibhdhearc, Town Hall Theatre Galway and Project Arts Centre, to name but a few. He was also co-director of the multi-award winning companies Punchbag and Fíbín. Brendan is currently Director of Áras Inis Gluaire – Erris Arts Centre, Belmullet, where he works in collaboration with the RHA Dublin and the RIA. He will be familiar to local festival enthusiasts, having adjudicated here previously.

  Roscommon Drama Festival is a nine-night celebration of drama. If you haven’t yet booked your tickets or you’re not quite sure what show you’d like to see, then check out the full festival programme at: roscommondramafestival.ie or pick up a festival brochure from the box office at Roscommon Arts Centre. With tickets priced at just €14 & €12, there’s no excuse not to come along! Booking for all events is available online at: roscommonartscentre.ie or on 090-6625824.


Rural champions can come from all walks of life…


Forget Will Grigg (soccer fans will be familiar with the ‘Will Grigg’s on fire’ tribute song to the Wigan player)…Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice, revelling in opposition after cannily turning down a role in Government, is on fire!

  Deputy Eugene Murphy is a passionate Roscommon man who always flies the county’s flag – and indeed he has been very vocal on rural issues since (and prior to) being elected to Dáil Éireann.

  Denis Naughten ticks the same boxes and his wide-ranging ministerial brief is massively relevant to rural Ireland. Naughten has what it takes to impact positively on Roscommon and Ireland in the years ahead.

  However, we have to give a special nod, for now at least, to relentless rural champion Michael ‘Straight Talking’ Fitzmaurice, who is rampaging through the national (and local) media landscape with admirable energy and single-mindedness as he defends rural Ireland from further downgrading at the hands of ‘that crowd’ in Dublin, not to mention the Brussels elite...

  (Direct ‘Fitz’ quote from RTE Radio One on Tuesday night: The prospective vultures preparing to get into bed with Permanent TSB and feast on Irish mortgage-holders are “whippersnappers” and “scumbags”).

Some rural champions have global reach…

Desperate times call for desperate measures and we’re happy at the People to accept every positive mention of Roscommon on a world-renowned television chat show and to consider each one as another campaign boost in the great rural fightback!

  Not having been prompted to do so by Ryan Tubridy during Friday night’s Late Late love-in, actor Gabriel Byrne didn’t deliver, with no mention of the fact that his mother was born in Elphin; thankfully, Ruth Scott has seldom passed on an opportunity to mention ‘the old county’ in her various radio and television contributions; but our ‘Celeb keeping Roscommon in the limelight’ award goes to Boyle-born actor/writer Chris O’Dowd, who has managed to name-check his native county during chat-show appearances with both Stephen Colbert and Graham Norton (not to mention ‘Ad infinitum’ on Twitter).

Some are media magnets…

If the rural revival could be achieved by positivity alone – and it sure can help – then Paddy Joe has done the cause no harm over the years.

  Barber Paddy Joe Burke, Roscommon’s most famous GAA fan, always speaks with positivity when he features in ‘da media’.

  Paddy Joe is credited with inventing the term ‘Rossie’ and is also on record describing Roscommon as “the most famous city in the world”.

  When it comes to Roscommon football, and hopefully the same applies to rural Ireland, we know that Paddy Joe’s sincere, heartfelt mantra remains:

  ‘The best is yet to come’.

Some are in the media…

As RTE’s Midlands Correspondent, it’s Ciaran Mullooly’s job to cover ‘this patch’, but there’s no denying the extra passion (beyond his professional mandate) he brings to coverage of issues concerning rural Ireland… with many communities, groups and individuals across a number of counties benefitting from his varied reports, including Nationwide features and a celebrated documentary on the restoration of St. Mel’s Cathedral in Longford.

  Mullooly has also ‘put his money where his mouth is’, so to speak, by involving himself in a number of voluntary community projects, in both Ballyleague/Lanesboro and Roscommon town.

  Could a political career yet beckon for the popular Mr. Mullooly?

  Joe Finnegan will play ‘devil’s advocate’ when the need arises, but loyalty to and concern for rural Ireland is never far from the surface when the current affairs voice of Shannonside/Northern Sound is in full flow. Agree or disagree with him, there’s no denying that, for many thousands of listeners, Finnegan sets the morning agenda in these parts. Finnegan’s a rural champion, no doubt about it.

  Honourable mention: Patsy McGarry, with his great turn of phrase and that gentle writing style, waves the Ballaghaderreen/Roscommon flag at every opportunity.

  He’s not a Rossie, but he lives close to the Roscommon border, so I’m including the great Michael Harding as a rural champion. A talented writer, a great guest on radio or television, a thoughtful, funny and intelligent man who makes us laugh – and think.



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