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Happy 21st, Lough Rynn Harvest Festival & Vintage Day!

On Sunday September 6th the annual Lough Rynn Harvest Festival & Vintage Day will celebrate 21 years of vintage and festival fun in the majestic setting of Lough Rynn Castle Estate & Gardens.

  Vintage enthusiasts, crafts lovers and country music fans all have something to look forward on the first Sunday in September.

  The annual vintage display will feature cars motorbikes and agricultural machinery; there will be a threshing display as well as a series of craft stands and demonstrations.

  There is also a wide range of entertainment for people of all ages and tastes, with music from Declan Nerney, Street Theatre, Children’s entertainment, Shuttle Bus simulator and much, much more.

  Added features include guided tours of the Lough Rynn walled gardens, BBQ Pig and full bar facilities.

  Admission is €10 per adult, €5 for students and children under the age of 12 are admitted free.

  Established in 1994, the annual Lough Rynn Harvest Festival & Vintage Day has approximately 4,000-5,000 people from all over the country attend the Festival each year.

  For further information find us on facebook: Lough Rynn Harvest Festival & Vintage Day.



Mike Denver for Race Dance on Monday night

Mike Denver, known as ‘the Galway Boy’, will star in the Race Dace at the Abbey Hotel, Roscommon town, on Monday night.

  The event, called ‘Come Dancing with Joe Finnegan’, will start at 11 pm, with dancing taking place from midnight.

  Denver is one of Ireland’s top entertainers, who recently celebrated 12 years in the entertainment scene.

  He is regarded as the best entertainer for dancing, with a two and a half hour, high-energy show, featuring all of his hits – ‘Wasn’t that a Party’, ‘Tommy K’, ‘Galway Girl’, ‘Paddy’, ‘Hills of Donegal’ and his rockabilly selection, preformed live from the Dome at the Rose of Tralee – and his current single ‘My Oklahoma Home’.

  Denver is well aware that the people that come to the live gigs want a good night of dancing – and that’s what he provides.

  Denver has recorded 13 albums and four DVDs to date and it’s from them he picks his programme for the night.

  Denver and his band are currently in the middle of a very busy year. They are playing in nearly every venue and street festival in Ireland, including: Clonmany Festival, Monaghan Festival, Castleblayney Festival, the All-Ireland Fleadh in Sligo and the Rose of Tralee.

  You can read all about Mike in this month’s edition of the RSVP Magazine.

  Mike continues to record all the time and will have a brand new album and DVD due out in October.

  Make sure you catch Denver on Monday night. 

  You can check him out at www.themikedenverband.com, on Facebook and Twitter at and also Willie Carty’s Entertainment Agency 090-9741017.


Elphin Show takes place on Saturday

A whopping €35,000 in prize-money will be up for grabs in the 38th annual Elphin Agricultural Show in the town’s mart on Saturday.

  The official opening of the show will be performed at noon by Eddie Downey, the president of the Irish Farmers’ Association, although judging will commence in a variety of different sections at 11 am.

  As well as classes for various animals – horses, ponies, donkeys, cattle, sheep and goats – there will be contests for pets, cats and dogs.

  One of the highlights of the show will be the All-Ireland Pedigree Charolais Baby Calf Championship, which has a prize fund of €1,500. Competition is sure to be intense for that particular event.

  But there will be many more light-hearted competitions also, such as Bonny Baby, Fancy Dress, Most Glamorous Granny, Most Appropriately Dressed Lady and Best Dressed Gentleman.

  To add to the enjoyment, there will be plenty of entertainment for young children throughout the day, with bouncy castles, etc. The day’s activities will conclude with the show dance in An Bothar Rua, Elphin, at 10 pm.

  At the dance, the Show Queen will be selected. Entrants from all areas are welcome; it is not confined to Elphin residents.


2nd annual Harvesting Exhibition in Lecarrow

Big event on September 19

The committee of St Johns Community Centre, Lecarrow are pleased to advise of the forthcoming 2nd annual harvesting exhibition which takes place on Saturday 19th September from 12 pm on the lands of James and Eleanor Coffey.

This is a traditional exhibition with corn being harvested by old-fashioned methods to include the hook, scythe, horse-drawn reaper and binder and by the old fashioned threshing machine.

A sheep fair has been added to the line-up in recent days and should prove to be a good attraction. Both buyers and sellers are welcome.

A tug o’war competition will also take centre stage from 3 pm. David Diffley, PRO of St Johns Community Centre commented to the Roscommon People: “We are delighted to announce the 2nd annual harvesting exhibition which will take place in Lecarrow on Saturday the 19th September.

“This novel event is with the kind cooperation of local land-owners James and Eleanor Coffey who have a large crop of corn to be harvested. The lands are located adjacent to the Roscommon County Soccer Grounds on the main Athlone/Roscommon road which are very easily accessible and offer excellent parking and viewing facilities.

“On the day, the exhibition will be a showcase of traditional farming methods with the corn being harvested in the old-fashioned way by people with huge experience. We feel that this exhibition will be a great opportunity for everyone to experience what a working farm was like in the days gone by and it will be educational for both young and old.

Everyone is welcome and we hope to provide both an informative and enjoyable day out for all. Threshing starts from 12 pm.” On the day, refreshments will be served with a barbeque and shop on site.

There will be a harvest prince and princess competition for 3-8 year olds, guess the weight of the lambs competition, horse and donkey classes, traditional stalls, traditional scythe-cutting competition, tying of the corn competition, family scarecrow competition, free horse-drawn carriage rides, pony riding.

Music and dancing facilities will be provided to add to the atmosphere and patrons are advised that ample car parking facilities are available within the farm itself.

Trade stands are welcome by prior contact with the committee or by contacting 086-8952283.


Join Clancy family for 30th anniversary celebrations at The Holly Tree

Christy and Moira and family at The Holly Tree Bar on Abbey Street, Roscommon town, will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the opening of the premises with a function on this Friday night.

Moira and Christy Clancy became the proprietors of the well-known, landmark pub back in 1985. The pub has been very popular under their management in the years since and now they are looking forward to celebrating this milestone 30th anniversary with their loyal customers.

Friday’s night’s celebrations will feature music by Perfect Match. Everyone is welcome to come along and join the Clancy family and staff in celebrating 30 years in business. Christy, Moira, Pat and family would like to thank everybody for their support over the years.

Rehearsals begin for ‘The Wizard of Oz’ in Boyle

While it may not seem like it just yet, the evenings will soon be drawing in around us, meaning it’s time to think about what to do for the autumn…

  You could, of course, do worse than take up evening classes for basket weaving, a foreign language or fishing rod maintenance. Or you could stay at home and rearrange your sock drawer! However, the best fun to be had this autumn will be taking part in Boyle Musical Society’s forthcoming production of the well-known fantasy musical extravaganza, The Wizard of Oz, which will be staged from November 18th-22nd.

  Rehearsals will begin on Monday August 31st in St. Joseph’s Hall, Boyle at 8 pm and a warm welcome is extended to all new, former and existing members to join up for twelve unforgettable weeks of music, singing, drama, dancing, comedy and lots more.

  Rehearsals will continue in the Hall at 8 pm on Thursday Sept. 3rd and thereafter on Monday and Thursday nights.

  Our Musical Director Anne and Director/Choreographer, Vivienne will be on hand to outline the show to everybody, so come along and join the fun. It is hoped to have the principal parts in the show cast by mid September, so we are really expecting a big turnout at the first rehearsal.

  We will be looking for children, aged 8 to 12 to take part in the show and we will hold a workshop/audition, specifically for them, on Sunday September 20th at 3 pm.

  Everybody will be familiar with the 1939 film production of The Wizard of Oz, in which Judy Garland played the part of Dorothy, the young girl from Kansas who dreams of faraway places. The show features well-known songs like, ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’, ‘We’re Off To See The Wizard’, ‘Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead’, and ‘The Merry Old Land Of Oz’.

  For more information please go to www.boylemusicalsociety.com or follow us on Facebook.



Square House Social in JJ’s on Friday

Live music all weekend

An exciting line-up of entertainment is in store in JJ Harlow’s on Market Square, Roscommon town, this weekend.

The Square House Social will be held on Friday night, with a variety of acts set to perform, including talented young musician Étáin. Étáin, 17, is captivating singer/songwriter from Co. Leitrim.

Her eclectic styles emulate the wide range of her inspirations and influences, shaped by music from the Rolling Stones, Joni Mitchell, Kate Bush, Bob Dylan and the Seventies punk movement.

Avril Gilligan is the second act who will perform on Friday night. She is a local girl playing with a band who have a rich mixture of genres. They are a very promising band with a loyal following.

They’ve had recent success in playing in many big venues in Dublin, such as Whelan’s and the Button Factory.

Saturday night, meanwhile, will feature Good Man Boys, starring Larry, Frankie, HT and Rocky Goodman. Both of Friday and Saturday’s gigs will commence at about 10 pm, while on Sunday night, at 6 pm in the Middle Bar, Hickory Wind will perform.

Cynic Gal .... Shelley Madden

The Season of Gradzilla

Now that the CAO has made its first-round offers, the time has come for Leaving Cert graduates to focus on the truly important decisions…like what to wear for grad night.

There’s nothing worse than finding your perfect dress for €520 and realising your budget for dress, shoes, and bag is €200.

Frugality is a virtue I have gained since then but at the time, Mama Bear, I thought you the greatest monster for not buying that extravagant Grecian frock from Brown Thomas.

Nowadays, girls are channelling the red carpet with their Hollywood-inspired gowns. This glamour revolution seems to have happened overnight because it was only a mere few years ago that we were rocking spaghetti straps, two pieces, shawls and an abundance of diamanté. We thought we were Swarovski but we were really Glitzi Bitz.

Having been communed and confirmed, the debutante night is the last excuse (before wedding) to be a big princess, and these innocent precursor events have also witnessed a revamp in recent years.

For my first Holy Communion, I was handed down my cousin’s dress, which would be passed on to my sister in an Irish rite of passage. I was even allowed to wear a slick of lip gloss, imagine. Nowadays, eight year olds are decked out in acrylic nails, fake tan and a full face of make-up. Whatever happened to simplicity?

I got a matching white vest and underwear set and I was delighted with my life. I hear talk of others getting a Communion bra. A bra! Sure what would you be putting in it? The Confirmation outfit is trickier fare.

My own ensemble was purchased in Sasha when it became abundantly clear that children’s pants would not fit my steadily growing derrière. The follies of youth. I believe that we should have been issued a dress code, like we are for the Communion.

Without proper guidance against fashion crimes, we all end up with an awkward photograph next to the bishop, looking like an absolute pillock. Corduroy and baker boy hats are never forgiven.

I look at today’s kids working an outfit I’d gladly wear on a night out and I’m wondering where the blue eyeshadow and the butterfly hairclips are? The denim on denim ensemble? Why aren’t you looking shite? Pay your dues!

Anyway, debutantes, my point is that such disasters come with the territory; don’t strive too hard for perfection.

By the end of the night, you’ll have spilt gravy on your dress, drank Mickey Finn’s in a toilet cubicle and revealed yourself to the dancefloor in an attempt to pull off a Dirty Dancing move. No? Just me? .

€35,000 in prize money for Elphin Agricultural Show

A whopping €35,000 in prize money will be up for grabs in the 38th annual Elphin Agricultural Show which will be held in the town’s mart on Saturday, August 29.

A large crowd of locals attended the launch of the event in The Central Bar in the north Roscommon town on Wednesday, August 12, where long-standing chairperson Cyril McDermott outlined details of the programme of events.

  The official opening of the show will be performed at noon by Eddie Downey,  the president of the Irish Farmers’ Association, although judging will commence in a variety of different sections at 11 am.

  As well as classes for various animals – horses, ponies, donkeys, cattle, sheep and goats – there will be contests for pets, cats and dogs.

  One of the highlights of the show will be the All-Ireland Pedigree Charolais Baby Calf Championship, which has a prize fund of €1,500. Competition is sure to be intense for that particular event.

  There will be a number of more light-hearted competitions also, such as Bonny Baby, Fancy Dress, Most Glamorous Granny, Most Appropriately Dressed Lady and Best Dressed Gentleman.

  To add to the enjoyment, there will be plenty of entertainment for young children throughout the day, with bouncy castles, etc. The day’s activities will conclude with the show dance in An Bothar Rua, Elphin, at 10 pm.

  At the dance, the Show Queen will be selected. Entrants from all areas are welcome; it is not confined to Elphin residents.

  “As you can see, we have a varied programme for show day in Elphin,” Mr McDermott said. “We hope we have something of interest for everyone. To cater for all tastes, we have endeavoured to make this a real family day out.

  “Carmel McLoughlin will provide the music on the day in front of the mart buildings. Elphin set-dancers will also perform on the day.

  “The society looks forward to seeing you there. I thank all our sponsors for their support and the committee members who work so hard.”

  He said that the success of shows often hinged on weather, adding: “We hope the sun will shine on Elphin on show day.”


This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery marches – some of them marred by violence by the authorities. Roscommon town resident Mary Connaughton (86) lived in Selma at the time and was actively involved in the campaign against racial injustice in Alabama and the USA generally. SEAMUS DUKE has been speaking to her…

Half a century on, Roscommon native Mary Connaughton reflects on her first-hand experience of a historic period in the battle for civil rights for black people in the USA…

Mary Connaughton was in the USA in an era when black people were fighting for the right to get on the same bus as white people, to attend the same schools as white people, to live in the same housing estates as white people – and even to vote.

So what brought this Roscommon native to the West Coast of the USA and to places like Selma in Alabama, which was the epicentre of the protest movement in the late 1950s and early 1960s?

To find out, I met Mary recently to chat about her life and times. Mary came to Roscommon town from Athleague when she was five years old. Her family lived in Stonepark in the town. She attended school in the Convent in Roscommon, before studying nursing in Richmond Hospital.

After a “nice” period working in Bordeaux in France, she gained further career experience in Geneva, then Cork, then in the USA.

“I was always interested in going to the USA to see what it was like. I didn’t like Americans at that stage because the ones I met were always giving out, but I wanted to see what the country was like…so I went there in 1957.”

In possession of a green card, and with an aunt and uncle in Boston, Mary’s plan was to work for a year and travel for a year and then return home.

“I worked for five months in a hospital in Boston and for six months in a hospital in New York. I was learning all the time. Then I took a bus that went all the way across the country and stopped off at different places along the way. I found the size of the country just amazing. I ended up in San Francisco.”

After working for a short period in ‘San Fran’, Mary got further work in Bellingham, near Seattle.

“I looked after a man and his wife after they were badly burnt in a plane crash. That lasted a few weeks. I went to other places like Calgary and to a beautiful place called Banff in Canada in The Rocky Mountains.“I wanted to get out of nursing so I went and worked at a Jewish home for the aged for a year.”

Three years into her travels, Mary returned to Ireland, but was soon back in the United States, “because I had started to make friends in America.” It was now the early 1960s.

Mary had been watching what was going on in terms of discrimination in the USA and her sense of injustice was rising all the time.

“In my time travelling across the country I noticed the discrimination that was so rife. In Little Rock, Arkansas, for instance, I saw signs on buildings which said ‘coloured only’ and I realised that there were toilets for ‘blacks only.’

I couldn’t believe it. “I was friendly with a few other Irish girls at the time and we got involved with a group called the Catholic Alumni Club. “I was working with a beautiful black girl at that time and I quickly realised that here was I who knew no one and who was only after arriving into the country and I could live anywhere I wanted and go anywhere I wanted, yet here was this women whose family went back generations and she was only allowed to live in a ghetto, and I thought that was terribly unfair.

“There was a Catholic inter-racial group starting at that stage and I signed up immediately. I thought with our history here in Ireland it was the right thing to do.”

Mary and her colleagues began working on issues such as integrated housing. The level of discrimination never ceased to shock her.

She recounts, as an example, the fact that the very first black bus driver in San Francisco had a PhD. Resistance to discrimination was growing – and the protests that were springing up were led by Martin Luther King, fast becoming the champion of black people.

Mary takes up the story. “There was a place in Alabama called Selma and that was the focus of the campaign. I was involved in helping out with John F. Kennedy’s campaign when he ran for President too.“There were groups going to Selma regularly and one weekend seven of us went.

“At that time there was serious trouble there and there were riots…the police were beating the protestors and forcing them back. The bigotry there was unbelievable. The blacks were largely denied even a vote. This was in 1965 and 1966” Mary recalled during our recent chat at her home in Roscommon.

“There was a voting rights bill passed but what happened was that the blacks would queue up and those behind the counter would take a two-hour lunch break and then close up at 4 pm and most of those queueing would be left out in the heat. There were people there in Selma from all over the country.”

Soon Mary was spending a lot of time in Selma, which had now become a hot-bed for the campaigners. She became more and more active in the fight for rights for black people. “Myself and another girl went off to picket the Mayor’s office. He was there in his job for over 30 years and we were taken into protective custody and we were left standing around outside the jail in the heat. We slept on the floor of the jail.”

She recalls taking part in marches, in an atmosphere of tension. “We walked ten miles and we slept out in the fields. The local people brought us food and it was much appreciated, I can tell you.”

As a young Irish woman now gripped by the need to support the civil rights movement, Mary’s passion to make life better for others was evident. If she earned 1,000 dollars a month she gave as much of it as she could to the local parish. “As long as I could run my car and had somewhere to live I was happy,” she says.

Returning to San Francisco, Mary attended a meeting with local missionaries. A decision was taken to open a hospital in Selma, which was staffed by the missionaries.

Mary: “The hospital was in huge debt so we began raising money for it. It was totally for black people. We even got a priest to go on TV and appeal for funds. But we were picketed by people who were calling us communists.”

Mary recalls using some of the funds she received from supporters to organise a Picnic Day for black people, which was attended by over one hundred people. Mary began working at the new hospital in Selma.

“When I was there I just worked in the hospital. I didn’t get involved in the politics of what was going on. I couldn’t even visit the black people because it was not safe and they would get in trouble and I didn’t want that.”

After about a year in Selma, Mary returned to San Francisco. In recent years – many decades on – she made an emotional return trip to Selma and was delighted to see the changes.

While a resident there in the 1960s she had taught religion to a family with ten children. They were all subsequently baptized.

Mary reflects: “I was back there recently and they are all grown up now and doing well, but they were in dire financial straits (years ago). You couldn’t believe how poor they were.”

Now, when Mary returned to Selma two years ago, she met many of the family members and was delighted to see they are all well and are of course “fully integrated.” After her period campaigning as a volunteer in Selma – and working in the hospital – Mary switched careers and began working in medical insurance.

But she never lost her desire to fight for social justice. For example, when she saw grape-pickers being mistreated, she stopped eating grapes for many years!

“I became great friends with a couple in Selma, James and Etta Perkins. They were just so good to me. I stayed at their house…they gave me the keys to their car and the keys to their house and I always said your own relatives would not do that! They were fantastic people. They came to San Fransicco to see me too. Very special people and great friends.”

Her uninformed reservations about ‘Americans’ prior to her first trip to America proved to be misguided! She made great friends in the USA.

“I found the American people that I met so friendly. They hadn’t a clue who I was yet they opened their doors to me. I made great friends there.”

After working in the medical insurance field Mary trained to become a hospital chaplain. In this role she worked in University of California Medical Centre for over a decade. When the time came to retire, she began to plan for a return to her native Roscommon, moving back here in 1999.

She is philosophical about the fact that she remained single.

“I never really met anyone over the years. I always thought that I might get married at some stage but it just wasn’t to be. That’s life.”

Reflecting on her eye-witness role during a dramatic period in civil rights history, she says: “I am so happy that I have lived to see the day when things are now so much better for black people and I am so proud to say that a son of my great friends Etta and James Perkins became the first black mayor of Selma.

That was such a proud event for all of us that were involved.” Religion has always been central to her life and now, back home in Quarry View in Roscommon (“which I love”), she tries her best to attend Mass each day.

She enjoys reading, listening to the radio and watching television. “I’m very happy really” she concluded.

This remarkable woman who derives great satisfaction out of her life of service to others lives quietly in Roscommon town happy in the knowledge that she was part of a huge social movement that made life better for millions of people.

I intend to visit Mary again for more stories in the near future and in the meantime I hope that in this relatively short interview readers will have gleaned a little sense of what this woman lived through during what has been a remarkable and fascinating life journey.

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