Rooskey was calm and serene on a stunningly beautiful Monday afternoon when I took a walk into the heart of the village.
Opposite McGuire’s garage, the lone fisherman who was there on Sunday was gone, with or without fish, I have no idea.
The empty hotel looms large, a constant reminder of lively seasons past – and of unfulfilled potential. We are tiring now of asking ‘Any sign of the hotel re-opening?’ – but we live in hope.
Crossing the bridge, a few passing cars and shoppers popping into Tighe’s Centra were the first signs of activity. It was a beautiful day, graced by bright, warm sunshine. It was the day after the local GAA club dug out a famous county title win. Flags fluttered from poles and windows. A plaque on the outside of the derelict factory – once the heart of the village – solemnly declares: ‘Site of Bacon Factory. Hanley’s/Glanbia. Destroyed by fire 2002’. In the spacious carpark, the markings for car parking spaces are still clear, but there’s no army of men and women in white overalls, no life there, nothing only memories.
It was a very serene afternoon, but suddenly I could hear loud music booming from further up the village. It turned out that after big celebrations on Sunday night, part 2 of the party was underway. “Most of the team are in there” a local man said to me, pointing at Cox’s famous bar. They were too. It sounded like a great party (I passed, continuing on my walk).
Next I met Tommy Washington, also out for a walk. Now there’s a great GAA man, and also, aptly enough, a man synonymous with Hanley’s factory. Tommy was a legendary sales rep with Hanley’s in its great heyday. Now we chatted for a few minutes about Kilglass Gaels’ great win on Sunday. “A great boost” we agreed. Tommy went one way and I went the other. Two players emerged from Cox’s, where the music was still blaring. They had earned their party and their great celebrations.
I was delighted for Kilglass Gaels, for everyone associated with the club, for the village too. It’s my own village, where I spent my childhood. Commiserations of course to Clann na nGael, a club which will continue to prosper at all levels. It’s harder for much smaller clubs, like Kilglass. Emigration, unemployment and lack of opportunity drains places like Rooskey of many of their young people. Kilglass lost the last two County Junior Finals, but, with great perseverance and heart, somehow summoned the resolve to return again and claim the title at the third time of asking. A win such as this is a once-off boost to an area but also injects new belief that adversity can be overcome. Rural Ireland might be under pressure, but small communities can, thanks to the amazing resilience of the people, still achieve great things. Proof of that in Kilglass/Rooskey last weekend.
I crossed the bridge again – when I came to it – the blaring music easing with every step I took. Past the hotel, past McGuire’s, down a familiar path and road. In the fisherman’s field opposite the Shannon, still no sign of that lone fisherman. So be it. Kilglass Gaels had landed their own big catch, the one that got away in 2016 and 2017. It was a great weekend for Rooskey.
While my native village of Rooskey was toasting a great win (Kilglass Gaels) at the weekend, there were similar celebrations in Kilteevan, where we now live!
Like many other small rural clubs, St. Joseph’s have battled not just for success, but for actual survival, in recent years. The fact that St. Joseph’s have managed to overcome the type of challenges that face so many clubs is a great credit to the very dedicated volunteers involved.
This season, results have been improving too. The year was already a success before last Saturday, when the team travelled to Boyle to take on the home side in the Division 5 League Final. It had been fifteen years since St. Joseph’s last tasted outright victory in a competition (the Junior Championship triumph in 2003). Remarkably, five of the players who were involved in 2003 were still playing for the club last Saturday!
Cheered on by a big support from the parish, St. Joseph’s upset the odds and won last Saturday’s final by 5-6 to 0-11. The cup was presented to proud captain, Paul Gilleran.
This tremendous win is just reward for the dedication of so many people over the years, not least this season, when the players took it upon themselves to do individual training sessions outside of group sessions to help achieve promotion and ultimately win Saturday’s final.
My brother-in-law, Ronan Beirne (vice-captain), informs me that the celebrations in Paddy Finn’s were very special indeed. At that very calm gathering, a number of club awards were presented, so congratulations to David Gibbons (Player of the Year) and to Paul Gilleran, who received a Special Recognition Award recognising the fact that he was a member of the Roscommon Masters (over 40s) team that won an All-Ireland title this year.
And congratulations to everyone involved with St. Joseph’s on a great win.
‘It’s malogen’– Brian
Brian Kerr – by now a national treasure – is famous for his distinctive Dublin drawl and his often pricelessly bizarre and entertaining use of language.
No-one can question Brian’s knowledge of soccer, and he has great and sometimes underappreciated coaching credentials. Now, as a regular media contributor, he is famous for his unique way with words…a combination of Bertie-esque mangling of the English language and Kerr-esque wit.
Last Saturday, Today FM had live commentary on the Chelsea/Manchester United match. The commentator was UK-based Englishman Adam Lindsay. Kerr provided expert analysis alongside Adam.
Catching a few minutes of it, and aware of Kerr’s growing fan base, I wondered what English-born commentators like Lindsay make of Kerr’s accent, wit and quirky phrases.
As I listened to the polished tones of the English commentator and the unique Kerr, I thought our man is very well informed, very individualistic…this was going well.
In the final seconds, the commentator asked Kerr if United would be happy with a point, despite conceding a late goal.
Me: (Go on Brian…you can do it…give us a sophisticated summary…)
Kerr: “I think so…they were malogen in the first half!”
You have to love him!
Bill’s well worth tuning into!
A couple of years ago I ‘discovered’ Bill Maher, a comedian/presenter whose weekly show ‘Real Time with Bill Maher’ can be seen in these parts on Sky Atlantic.
I enjoy American current affairs shows, and am well aware that many of them are unashamedly politically biased. Watching Maher, it was soon clear that he was not just anti-Republican Party, but genuinely terrified of the prospect of Donald Trump winning the Presidency. His shows prior to Trump’s win were engrossing; then his worst fears were realised. His shows since the dramatic event have been utterly dominated, week on week, by Maher’s obsession with Trump and the host’s fear that democracy itself is now very much under threat.
Sometimes Maher’s jokes fall flat, and his pro-Democrat bias is blatant, but more often than not his show is very entertaining and insightful and features excellent guests (usually, but not always, folk who are fiercely anti-Trump).
Bill’s been around a long time, but I only discovered him two years ago. I wasn’t sure how credible he is, but this week’s show was a 25th anniversary special and some of the highlights of past shows (and tributes from showbiz folk and others) were great. They convinced me that this guy is pretty special, quite a one-off. Readers might like to check him out. Real Time with Bill Maher is on Sky Atlantic on Sunday nights (usually 11.35 pm).