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Paul Healy's Week

Paul Healy's Week

Paul Healy's Week - 29th January

Paul Healy on getting away from it all (sort of) in Clifden; missing Vincent Browne (sort of); the new Roscommon Proclamation…and the Save Roscommon campaign…

Friday-Sunday

In Clifden for the weekend, for a family occasion. The Station House Hotel is on the location of what was once Clifden Railway Station. It’s a family-friendly, inviting hotel in a beautiful part of the country.

  Most people from here probably go to Clifden via Galway; we opted for a Mayo route. The Maam Cross area is spectacular. The views are stunning. The sheep are oblivious to the fast-paced world of today; their idea of turmoil is two cars meeting on a corner, both drivers stopping to photograph them (the sheep).

  The Station House Hotel was pretty busy, which, given the supposedly quiet time of year, was encouraging to see. The staff could not have been nicer.

  Clifden itself is a very pleasant town, with a great atmosphere created by its shops, pubs and cafes.

  A day trip on Saturday brought us to Omey Island, which you can drive over to, provided you take due note of when the tide is due to go in and out. It’s remote, beautiful and popular with strangers.

  There are a few houses on it; all appear to be of the holiday home variety, although we were told later that a former Hollywood stuntman lives there. We didn’t see him on our visit, but then he could have been dangling from one of the trees above us.

  On Saturday evening, forgetting all about the Fine Gael Ard Fheis, I popped over to the bar for a quiet pint. I sat at the counter, twenty-five minutes to spare before dinner.

  Surely peace and quiet awaited?

  It would be a chance to relax, to avoid thoughts of work, of the upcoming election, and I all the better for not having a ring-side seat at an Ard Fheis. Any Ard Fheis.

  Suddenly the doors opened and about forty canvassers came in, all of them working with Independent candidate Fidelma Healy-Eames. Within minutes, there were pockets of them everywhere, seasoned campaigners sitting at the counter ordering pints or hot ones, others sitting back with a coffee. The candidate herself came in, all smiles. It was an impressive show of strength. It will be interesting to see how she does.

  As the pre-election chatter grew, I had to escape to the residents bar. Fifteen minutes to dinner, still chasing that quiet pint. Just as I arrived in the empty bar, a meeting of cyclists –they were taking part in a cycle over the weekend – broke up in the adjoining room. All the cyclists took the first right turn – into the previously empty residents’ bar. The barman looked up, expectant. One by one, the members of the club ordered pints of blackcurrant juice. The barman was speechless. I was glad to get to the crowded restaurant for a bit of peace.

  On Sunday, we called into flood-hit Cong on the way home. This is where one of my favourites films, ‘The Quiet Man’ was made. The film, starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara, was part-shot there in 1952. Cong is dotted with premises’ and attractions which link themselves to the movie, including one tiny cottage with a sign on it: ‘The dying man’s house.’

  So, if you’re planning a break, I think you’d enjoy this general area. It really is beautiful, and the Clifden Station House Hotel is recommended.

Monday

That Vincent Browne gets younger looking by the night, in fairness, and (a bit) less grumpy too.

   Oh, you mean it’s not him…it’s Michael Clifford?

  Actually, Clifford isn’t that bad; he’s warming to the stand-in role. He hasn’t got a plush broadcasting accent, but then many will feel that ‘new’ rural tones on national television are to be welcomed – and I agree.

  Vincent seems to be missing quite a lot lately. We assume that he is sharpening his teeth ahead of the hunting, I mean election, season.

  What I would really like to see is Vincent taking on Enda Kenny. This may happen in leaders’ debate format. It would reflect poorly on Kenny, who for a long time now has been avoiding Browne, were he to turn down a TV3 debate offer.

  Another option is for Browne to hijack a Taoiseach’s press conference. This is something he did memorably with both Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen. You can view both Browne roastings on Youtube.

  I actually have a feeling that Kenny is too cute to get caught in this way by Browne. Charlie Haughey may have said that Bertie was the most cunning and the most devious of them all, but Enda is no slouch when it comes to tactics, playing the media, outwitting enemies and staying ahead of the posse.

Tuesday

I missed Tuesday night’s AGM of Roscommon Chamber of Commerce (I had to work) but I hear that Council CEO Eugene Cummins made an impressive address to members.

  Outgoing President Declan Molloy is to be commended on his leadership in the past couple of years and I have no doubt that his successor, Sean Mahon, and his fellow officers will be equally as proactive and energetic going forward.

  I remember a time many years ago when, with respect to those involved, Roscommon Chamber of Commerce went through a ‘limbo period.’ Now in recent years the Chamber is thriving again and it is important that the momentum is maintained.

  There is an energy in the Chamber now which is encouraging. After a really gruelling seven or eight years for businesses in the county town – and for the general public – there are signs now that there is much to be energised about. The economy is improving and in the coming years there will be real opportunities for the continued growth and development of Roscommon town. It is surely in all our interests that a vibrant Chamber is proactively involved in this development. I have no doubt that this will prove to be the case.    

Wednesday

Today is D-Day for submissions relating to the ‘Save Roscommon’ campaign. There was a flurry of activity all day, with people travelling to Mullingar to hand over thousands of submissions before the 5 pm deadline.

  I don’t really understand why the submissions are being handled by Westmeath County Council, which has a vested interest in this whole affair. That having been said, the folks in Westmeath HQ in Mullingar were very courteous as the ‘Roscommon invasion’ was taking place in recent days.

  The response by the public in Roscommon has really gained momentum in the past ten days or so. Celebrities, public figures across the board, ordinary members of the public, all have come together to put their shoulder to the wheel.

  Schoolchildren have been very involved in the ‘Save Roscommon’ campaign too.

  I liked the letter I received from Sean McCormack, a 9-year-old boy from Kye in Elphin, who said he wants to help save Roscommon.  

  “Dear Paul,” Sean wrote, “I am nine, and I know that it’s not a good idea to let part of our county to be taken. This is why I wrote the Roscommon Proclamation, and I also asked my sister and brother to sign it. My mammy and daddy have voted online.”

   Thank you Sean for your letter and your interest, and here, for our 80,000 readers, is your excellent ‘Roscommon Proclamation,’ also signed by your sister Alicia and brother Hugh!

Roscommon Proclamation

Roscommon men and women. We summons our children to our blue and yellow flag. Roscommon should rule Roscommon. We will not let Alan Kelly or any of our Government take it from us. We never went interfering into Westmeath. Alan Kelly should stay in Tipperary. Do you think Alan Kelly would like if we joined South Tipperary on to Limerick? Ireland is a democracy. We will get enough votes to save South Roscommon from Westmeath and Alan Kelly. We will do everything we can to save our county. We assure you, Alan Kelly, don’t you worry. 

 

Paul Healy's Week - 22nd January

Paul Healy on saving Roscommon from the clutches of Westmeath; fine dining (in Roscommon and Westmeath); in awe of Paschal Donohoe…and the warm glow of winter football…
Friday

In the Roscommon People office, we’re throwing our weight behind the ‘Save Roscommon’ campaign. We’re designing posters and fine-tuning a sample submission – all with a view to helping to facilitate a mass petition against the proposed ‘land grab.’ This proposal is preposterous, this would-be theft is treacherous, this land grab is ludicrous.

I note the calls for a plebiscite, i.e. a vote or a referendum. That, at least, would be democratic. But why should the people of Roscommon even have to countenance this offensive proposal?

Why should we forfeit part of our county to Westmeath, with all the implications for business, sport, culture, morale, community life, population base, our traditions and identity, etc?

Politics, readers, whether we like it or not, is at the heart of just about everything. And whatever it was that initiated this threat, it is politics that can end it. Suffice to say that if any of Enda Kenny, Joan Burton or Minister Alan Kelly were TDs in Roscommon, this boundary baloney would be out of bounds.

We must make our voices heard loud and clear. So people everywhere should sign the various letters of protest that are put before them, or else make your own submission. And when the General Election comes around in a few weeks, current Government representatives and aspiring ones should be challenged on their position with regard to the feared transfer of part of South Roscommon into Westmeath.

Start with the Fine Gael and Labour candidates (i.e. the outgoing Coalition). Then move on to the representatives of other parties and all Independents.

Any of these people could, on being elected, be in a position to support or be part of a new Government by March of this year. Make sure you know where they stand now, and if you are a supporter of the ‘Save Roscommon’ campaign, make sure they know where you stand.

Sunday

It is true that when you think of gaelic football as its best and most memorable, your thoughts turn to sunny days in summer and the almost tangible excitement of the championship.

But there is something very special too about winter football, when loyal fans enthusiastically embrace the cold conditions and wallow happily at the prospect of making long car journeys, attending relatively undistinguished venues and seeing new players in experimental teams.

Trying to distinguish what is worth getting optimistic about from what isn’t, is part of the fun of the early-season experience. Far from being a very plain starter before the main courses of league and championship, the various ‘lesser’ competitions in January are fulfilling for diehard fans, and presumably of significant benefit to managers.

There was a justifiable pep in the step of Roscommon supporters on Sunday, and it was a great day too for some of our neighbours. In the FBD League, Roscommon had a good win over Mayo in Castlebar.

It was such a shame that the game couldn’t be played in Roscommon, as was originally scheduled. As for the football side of things, it was a very positive performance. I was also delighted to see Leitrim win (against Sligo). It’s not that I have anything against Sligo – I love the county – but I do have a soft spot for Leitrim, a county team that faces a perennial battle to form a strong senior squad, hamstrung as it is by a small player base and the ongoing impact of emigration.

However, Roscommon and Leitrim were both upstaged by Longford, who defeated All-Ireland champions Dublin by six points in an O’Byrne Cup semi-final in Pearse Park. Sure, it’s not the championship and it’s not summer, but that Longford win is already one of the beautiful sporting moments of 2016.

I can just imagine what the atmosphere was like in Longford as the GAA-mad locals savoured the extraordinary giant-killing act. It may ‘only’ have been the O’Byrne Cup, it may be the January shadow boxing before the all-out combat of summer, but this was a marvellous effort from Longford, sport visiting a sprinkling of its eternal magic on a damp and otherwise undistinguished day in Pearse Park.

Every day

The Oscar nominations are out, and still – sadly – there’s no category for ‘arrogant ministers.’ Lest anyone accuse me of political bias, let me say that, had there been Oscars for Arrogance in the past, I would have given one to Dermot Ahern of Fianna Fail, I would have given a ‘Best Supporting’ one to Noel Dempsey of the same party, and I wouldn’t have argued with a ‘Life Achievement’ award going to their colleague, Dick Roche.

There were many more in that FF/Greens administration who scored highly when it came to being arrogant. As for being out of touch with the public/living in a world of their own, that crowd were world-beaters.

When it comes to Enda’s current crew – who will shortly be doing their ‘Greatest Hits’ tour on the airwaves and at selected venues (exciting!) – you have to say that, for a collection of politicians who had been power-starved for years, they fairly hit the ground running. I mean, when it comes to arrogance, who can ever forget Phil Hogan at his glorious peak?

I can only presume, from observing his general disposition, that when Pat Rabbitte woke up in the mornings, servants danced before him. I will remind readers too of Alan Shatter and Brendan Howlin, men with egos that could be donated to science. And a ‘Highly Commended’ award could surely go to the ultra-smooth Communications Minister Alex White.

Oh well, this sometimes insufferable arrogance must go with the territory, I guess; it certainly possesses many, if not all, of our political ‘masters’ once they get called to Cabinet.

My current favourite is the rapidly-rising Paschal Donohoe, Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, and a politician who is fascinating to watch in full flow. Marvel as this man displays his incredible self-assurance and feel suitably guilty as he gently but firmly explains what should have been obvious to us from the beginning: that Paschal is always right.

On a serious note, I think we should abandon the General Election for now and experiment with Minister Paschal Donohoe running the country on his own for a fortnight. With the very earnest Simon Harris answering the phone for him.

Saturday & Tuesday

It’s not like we’re always dining out or anything, it just happens that we had two such experiences in recent days – and I am happy to give readers ‘food for thought’ or, more accurately, ‘thought for food.’

On Saturday night we were in The Wineport in Glasson with very good friends, and on Tuesday evening we called into the re-opened ‘Moma’ restaurant in Roscommon with our children (also very good friends).

We hadn’t been to The Wineport for a few years. It really is a most stunning setting, a fabulous restaurant overlooking Lough Ree. The meal was excellent, the service was top class and the setting and décor is such breathtaking. Then on Tuesday evening we called into Moma in Roscommon Town.

It’s an Italian restaurant that recently reopened. The food was beautiful, the service was perfection and changes made to the interior of the restaurant work really well too. It was a fabulous experience.

It’s great to see restaurants, as it is with all businesses, surviving in these challenging times. I wish the new management the very best.

Paul Healy's Week - 15th January

Paul Healy on the perils of throwing out the calendar; taking down the Christmas lights; Alan Shatter’s touching humility; the great David Bowie…and a Centenary you may not be aware of yet…
Date for your diary?

So anyways, with all the calendars that are coming into the office in recent days, I am reminded of a priceless exchange I overheard on a train a few weeks before Christmas.

No Roscommon person will be implicated by the retelling of this epic tale; the exchange on the train happened en route from Dublin and as far as I can recall the star of the story got off in Mullingar.

But not before he had this exchange with his mother…

‘Hello Mammy…did you go to Mass? You did. Right. I’ll be there in an hour…’

Shocked pause follows.

‘Sure you know I’m coming home this weekend…I’m on the train…’

Another pause.

Man on train mystified. ‘…but I marked it on the calendar on the fridge.’

Another pause. ‘Unless there’s some misunderstanding…I marked it on the calendar. That I’d be down home this weekend.’

Now a twist… ‘What? You threw out the calendar?’

I looked away, thinking the greatest comedy writers would be proud of these lines.

There was more to come… ‘You threw out the calender? But sure you should still have November!’

A priceless punchline!

Obviously the train passenger’s logic was that it was one thing for his mother to rip a ‘month’ off the calendar on her fridge when it was done with, but why throw out the whole calendar?

It was still ‘only November’ and if she had retained November and December she’d have seen the date circled and known that her son was coming down from Dublin.

‘I’ll see you in an hour’ was how he finished the call to his mother.

The man, a nice guy, stared into space for a moment, then relaxed again. He looked happy now as the train trundled towards home. And I’m sure his mother was thrilled with the unexpected bonus of her son’s imminent arrival – a dour Saturday night had just been brightened.

Salt-of-the-earth people, nice story, hilarious exchange.

But this year, they really need to leave the calendar on the fridge for the whole year.

Sunday

Sunday was cold, but it was also four days after ‘Little Christmas’ – so, with a new week pending, there really was ‘nowhere to hide.’

It was high time to take down the modest Christmas lights and reindeers that had braved the elements outside our house over the festive season.

As with the indoor decorations, it’s not nearly as enjoyable taking down the outdoor features as it is putting them up. A short while after completing the task, my little ‘Sunday ordeal’ was put into perspective when I saw about a dozen volunteers hard at work in Roscommon town, taking down the Christmas lights.

We hail these volunteers in early and mid December; we shouldn’t forget them in early January! Members of the Christmas Lights Committee in Roscommon Town – and in adjoining towns and villages – take a bow.

Later on Sunday…

The headline in The Sunday Business Post promised an outbreak of modesty of historic proportions. Tingling with anticipation, I sought out the detail behind the sensational headline.

The headline, by the way, indicated that former Justice Minister Alan Shatter has (by his own admission) a failing. The notion that an Irish politician would admit to having a failing is in itself startling.

Little wonder then that I excitedly perused the three-page feature on the modest Mr. Shatter, who is seeking re-election this year. And I quote Mr. Shatter… ‘If I have a failing, my failing perhaps is that when political expediency and the truth clash, I tend to prefer to tell the truth.

Unfortunately I’ve discovered in politics, on occasions, telling the truth gets you into trouble.’ Oh…is that it? Well folks, if I have a failing, my failing perhaps is that when arrogance and self-serving waffle clash on the lips of a senior politician I tend to give it ten seconds of my time instead of copping myself on…

Monday

So I was driving from the school and turned on the radio and there was Joe Finnegan talking about someone paying tribute to David Bowie. Yes, he’s certainly in the news these days, I thought, he has a new album out since Friday.

Presumably Joe or some listener had already heard it and wanted to praise it… Unfortunately there was more to it than this…and I soon realised that Bowie had sadly slipped away from us.

He was wonderful. A showman, a star, an innovator, most of all a major, enormously influential figure in popular culture. In the same league as the very greatest entertainers the world has ever seen, his wonderful music will live on long into the future.

Every day

Conversation not overheard anywhere in Ireland recently…

‘I was just thinking, now that it’s 2016 all of a sudden, wouldn’t that be the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising?’ ‘Oh yeah, actually you’re right…’

‘That probably merits some celebration or acknowledgement…you know, Centenary Celebrations, 100 years on and all that…I wonder are there any plans for it?’

‘Dunno…haven’t heard or seen anything about it in the media in the last while…but sure the year is young…’

Paul Healy's Week - 25th December

Paul Healy on losing track of the days during the newspaper’s busiest time of the year; trying to remember to put the bins out; turning down millions of euro from a kind mystery man…and an oft-told seasonal tale on how Santa brings such festive cheer…
Some day or other(s)… Phew!

It’s been a busy month. At the Roscommon People, we’ve produced a lot pages since the 3rd of December. It’s not bad going for a free newspaper with a small but very dedicated team.

A lot of pages, and over 1,000 cups of coffee. Christmas, or more accurately December, is the busiest time of the year in the newspaper business. That and election time.

Last week, we published as normal on Thursday morning. Now, during Christmas week, your Roscommon People comes to you on Monday morning. That meant we had to produce this issue in little over three days. Working long hours on Thursday and Friday, we set the process in motion.

By 6 o’clock on Thursday evening, I was looking longingly at my first Christmas-related invitation of the year. ‘Cordially invited by Roscommon Town Team to join us for a reception in Roscommon Tourist Office/County Museum (celebrating the role of volunteers in our community).’

From our Abbey Street trenches, I could almost scent the mulled wine and tasty finger food down town, but unfortunately I couldn’t leave the office. Friday morning, back to work, back to cajoling our advertisers for early copy, back checking our emails, back ‘phoning our contacts, chasing news stories, compiling reports, designing pages. By mid-morning, breaking news – real domestic drama which stopped me in my tracks.

The first potential crisis of Christmas. Did we put the bins out? What day is it? I went home, put out the bins that should really have gone out on Thursday night, crossed my fingers and the dog’s paws, and returned to the office. At Christmas time, you do lose track of what day of the week it is.

Resume checking emails. For the umpteenth time this year, someone I don’t know is offering to put millions of euro into my bank account. Seemingly this guy, who lives in a war-torn country, has millions ‘trapped’ in a bank account. He wants to send it to me! It sounds too good to be true, but the person who has emailed me is insisting that it’s all above board. He has millions to off-load, I, bizarrely, am the chosen recipient, and all I have to do is get back to him, and, I guess, make the arrangements.

Decision-time…Commitment to newspaper deadlines, or accept millions of euro into my bank account and retire? It’s no contest. There just isn’t time to avail of the kind offer; I move on to edit an email about Brussels sprouts.

It’s Friday evening, and in the Roscommon People office, we’re all wilting. Now I’m even hearing strange sounds in my head. Music and merriment. This is too much pressure. But thankfully there’s an explanation: I catch a glimpse of Santa travelling up Abbey Street in his Santamobile; he’s ho-ho-hoing and Christmas carols are ringing out. Seeing Santa doesn’t speed up the process of finishing the paper for us, but still, it’s a reminder of the joys of the season.

After a very late Friday night in the office, we’re back in again on Saturday…and the end is finally in sight. But we’ll leave a page or two blank for another day to include coverage of Roscommon’s first game under Kevin McStay and Fergal O’Donnell and what promises to be an even more competitive joust; Murphy v Higgins in the Fianna Fail Selection Convention. By Sunday morning, Seamus Duke’s report on Roscommon’s comfortable win over Laois is down on a page.

Now it’s Sunday evening and Eoghan Young-Murphy and Mick McCormack have reports and photographs from the Fianna Fail showdown in the Abbey Hotel.

Congratulations to Cllr. Eugene Murphy on his victory. He has travelled a long road; it is good to see persistence being rewarded. Here in newspaper-land, we’ve travelled our own long road recently. It’s been a busy month and a very busy few days.

Everyone in the Roscommon People office is exhausted, but, as we prepare to begin our Christmas shopping, we’re delighted to have completed another year of publishing the Roscommon People.

Thanks to our readers, advertisers and contributors for all your support. We’re taking a break next week. We’ll publish again on January 7th. That’s if we haven’t accepted that offer of millions of euro still trapped in a foreign bank.

* You know you’re a certain age when that worry grips you. On Friday, the fear – the not knowing – was terrible. But, good news…the bins were out in time and were collected.

Ah…a Christmas story

The old stories (yeah, I’ve written about the following before) are best. Before I started working in the newspaper business in Roscommon, I did a few years in the newspaper business in Cavan.

It was 1987. It was Christmas. It was an incredible scene. The Gardai had located a few Republicans after some high profile ‘incident.’ There had been searches in safe houses, in not so safe houses, and in fields and boreens.

Now they had three men located and they were due in Cavan Courthouse for an emergency sitting. But this was not going down well with Republican supporters, including known IRA activists.

A crowd of ‘protestors’ gathered outside the courthouse and the atmosphere was extremely tense. There was a big Garda presence and a big media presence, including the man from ITN in London. If the man from ITN could be there, myself and Ciaran Mullooly – at that time, the men from the Cavan Leader – thought it only right that we should be there too. Tension hung in the air. There were scuffles.

I kept my notebook hidden and merged in with about ten heavily-bearded men, rueing the fact that I had shaved that morning. (I felt a bit self-conscious; by the time I had a beard, many years later, all these guys were on ceasefire). There was snow and sleet on the road. All traffic was diverted.

Danny Morrison, renowned Republican, sat on the steps of the courthouse. It wasn’t a sit-in protest; he needed to change his socks and shoes. The protestors gave the Gardai lots of stick. The mood was menacing.

The Gardai feared that supporters of the men in captivity would try to seize them once they arrived at the court. Everyone was wet and freezing cold but the man from ITN looked immaculate. Two hours went by.

The ten bearded men beside men and the other hundred or so on the street and outside the courthouse wanted the three captives released. I wanted a pint. Cavan had been brought to a standstill. Then, all of a sudden, the crowds magically parted, the Gardai did that arm-waving manoeuvre they do, the bearded men went into a respectful reverse, and one vehicle – and one vehicle only – was allowed through.

As the car parted the watching crowds, all of the night’s tension was suddenly suspended, and the driver waved and smiled. It was Santa Claus, looking even more splendid in his red suit than the man from ITN.

Santa, with his great white beard waved and smiled, and the tough Republican sympathisers, with their darker, more militant beards, bashfully waved back. So, three ho, ho, hos for Santa, and his wonderful capacity to bring people together and spread some of the spirit of Christmas amongst us all!

Paul Healy's Week - 18th December

 
Paul Healy on a dodgy plumber with attitude; Mario and Willie’s duet; the wilting X Factor; the Minister for People Being More Important Than Fish…and Seamus Sweeney and Sam…
It could have happened…

Looking back, we should never have got that plumber in. He was down from Dublin, looking for a bit of work, and – regrettably – we asked him to do a few odd jobs around our house.

Fair enough, he was full of enthusiasm, hyper in fact, but from the very beginning I thought he had a bit of attitude. On day one, he tackled our bathroom, and I was rightly put out when, instead of fixing the shower, he seemed to spend the whole day preening his rather over-the-top ginger beard.

Weird, I remember thinking. We should never have hired that plumber.

By day two I had no option but to tell him to get a move on, get his act together. He responded by glaring at me and then suddenly adopting a bizarre pose, whereby he crouched down like some maniac, making himself no taller than the kitchen sink that he was meant to be unblocking. You’re an idiot, I muttered, you’ll be on the scrapheap in a year or two.

By day three, my patience was really wearing thin. None of our plumbing problems had been sorted, and by now the hairy poser was almost out of control. We came home from work for a bite to eat at lunchtime and he was somersaulting around the kitchen and karate-kicking the cat. There was absolutely no need for that.

I had to challenge this useless plumber, once I got him to stand still. “You’re no good” I said, “you’ll never get anywhere in life.” Undeterred, he jumped onto our couch and began punching cushions furiously. “You’re not worth whatever few bob you plan to charge” I said. “About five million” he said with a strange smile, “and by the way, I will fix that bath – failure is not an option.” I was on the point of giving him an early bath.

By day four it was just getting ridiculous. We came home to find the self-styled ‘Dublin’s finest plumber’ prancing around on the trampoline in the garden, rebounding off the netting and waving his fists manically. “I belong in this ring” he bellowed at me, doing that now familiar annoying glare of his. I’d had enough. If I wasn’t such a pacifist I’d have clattered him, and I can’t imagine he’d have mustered much resistance.

I decided to pay him off. I reached for the chequebook. “Make it out to Conor,” he said, as he held our cat down in some ludicrous wrestling grip. “Conor McGregor…and remember the name.” Yeah, right. I’ve heard of dodgy tradesmen, but that guy was just notorious.

Saturday

The old Sky Plus thing is great all the same. Recording stuff is handy when you’re too busy to see it in ‘real time’ – as we are at this time of year.

So we record bits and pieces and then when the Roscommon People is out in the shops, we might catch up later in the week. I worked Saturday, so I had to record the draw for EURO 2016.

I still haven’t checked to see how the Republic of Ireland got on, but as long as we avoided Italy (I’m nervous about them) I’m happy. Oh, and as long as we avoided the number one team in the world as well, then great.

And as long as we avoided that team that Ibrahimovic plays for as well, we should be alright. I also recorded the Conor McGregor fight. I don’t bother with the long introductions, so I set it to record after about 20, or maybe 14 or 15, seconds into the bout. Can’t wait to watch it…

Some night, then repeated…

I have been avoiding Mario Rosenstock’s new TV series – because I generally don’t find it funny. To be fair to Mr. Rosenstock and Oliver Callan, their emergence into our lives in recent years has been very welcome. Post the ‘breakfast roll boom’ and the collapse that followed it, the people of Ireland were given one choice. Laugh or cry.

Mario and Oliver at least gave us the option of laughing sometimes. They were very funny, they held ‘important people’ up to ridicule, and it was sharp comedy that worked.

On radio. Unfortunately, I don’t think their exploits transfer that well to television. I did come across Mario’s show the other night and, once again, most of it fell flat.

Taking Rosenstock’s ‘impressions’ to television has led to, at best, hit and miss comedy, I feel. His ‘Vincent Browne’ is woefully unfunny. On the other hand, or other wig, his ‘Miriam O’Callaghan’ is very good. His ‘Marty Morrissey’ makes for rather compelling viewing.

I credit Mario and his team on some very inventive ideas for sketches, but taking his comedy from radio to television isn’t the smoothest transition. As with any impressionist, the effect suffers when they don’t particularly physically resemble the subject of their impression. Still, the series has its moments.

The other night I thought the cringe factor would be unbearable when I saw Mario, as Joan Burton, preparing to sing a duet with the real Willie O’Dea. As it turned out, for some weird reason, their version of ‘I Got You Babe’ turned out to be quite funny. Of course some people would say that Willie O’Dea has been doing a comedy routine for years.

Sunday

We haven’t bothered with the wilting X Factor this year (I find it lacks the suspense of Telly Bingo). But, with a bug ‘going around’ and checking in on most of us, we saw a fair bit of telly in recent days – and just happened to come across the final moments of the final of the X Factor.

If you missed it, here are the highlights: Lots of screaming/you just nailed it/ad breaks/are you nervous?/I just want to thank everyone who voted for me/do you know, I can’t call this…it’s that close… Followed by… I’ve dreamt about this day all my life/I cannot speak/It feels like I’m living a dream/Oh my God!/This is surreal, etc.

What that translates into is that some new wannabee emerged from the pack. Mind you, she’s a nice singer, and I wish her well. As for the judges, Simon Cowell looked as smug as ever and I must say that Louis Walsh must have had ‘something done’ as he looks younger than ever.

Oh, don’t say they replaced poor Louis?

Tuesday

According to a headline on a two-page spread in today’s Irish Independent, Minister Simon Harris has declared that “people are more important than fish.”

Just to clarify: “People are more important than fish.” I’m impressed. It’s leadership. In the war against flooding, I suppose it’s a start…

Tuesday

Fair play to new County Board Chairperson Seamus Sweeney, who has declared, as he takes up the reins, that winning the Sam Maguire Cup remains the ultimate goal for Roscommon. I could understand why there was a bit of an outcry when former manager John Evans spoke of winning ‘Sam’ within five years.

While I liked Evans’ blunt style, that was kind of putting pressure on his young players. It was almost imposing a deadline, certainly creating a hostage to fortune. It’s quite a different thing for our premier GAA office-holder to clearly state where our ambition lies.

Sure, there’s no short-term prospect of winning Sam, but Seamus Sweeney is absolutely right to remind the Roscommon GAA family of the ‘ultimate goal.’ After all, we consider ourselves to be a serious GAA county. We are a serious GAA county.

And hasn’t winning Sam been our ‘goal’ since the first ball was thrown in at the start of the 1945 Championship?

Paul Healy's Week - 11th December

Paul Healy on heroic community resistance in Athleague as the ‘ghost of floods past’ threatens to visit again; the need to get Jeremy Kyle off the telly in the County Hospital…and an urgent call on people to use that hospital more…
Sunday evening

Athleague, 8.40 pm. It’s dark, still, almost eerily quiet. All evening there have been ominous vibes, text messages, a sense of foreboding.

Turning into the village, it’s a relief to see no actual flooding (yet), but the sight of hundreds of sandbags forming a protective embrace around private houses and businesses is deeply worrying.

Driving into the heart of Athleague, and dozens of volunteers are suddenly in view, clad in hi-viz jackets, their faces stern, worried, but determined too, a tapestry of humankind at work. Most concern is centred on the vicinity of the community centre, with fears that water will soon penetrate its defences.

The atmosphere is sombre; the sense of foreboding won’t leave. How do you stop nature? How, in particular, can you reason with rain? In the houses along Athleague’s Main Street, curtains are open, rooms are lit up; it’s as if normality is wrestling with fear. You know that the residents, tormented by the spectre of history repeating itself, are grappling for answers that are wrapped inside the mystery of the hours and days that are slowly coming

. Outside the Bridge House pub, there’s a generator, more sandbags, and locals huddled together. We turn. There are familiar faces, but it’s not a night for intrusion, not beyond a quick hello, a wave of awkward solidarity. Passing the community centre again, and in the falling darkness there are the outlines of the faces of heroes. The volunteers have been working day and night to try to stem the ghost of 2009 as it threatens to return.

Athleague is dripping in heroicism. A similar resistance is underway in other parts of the county and region. But there is something about Athleague, this homely village that was ambushed by the floods in 2009, that fought back, and that is now under threat again.

And yet you are left with a clear sense that no matter what nature does, the people are beyond being defeated. Passing the Church on the way home to Roscommon, we leave the heroes at their toil, everyone waiting for the mystery of the coming hours to reveal itself.

Recently…

There I was, sitting in the Urgent Care Centre in Roscommon Hospital, and not another patient to be seen. I wasn’t in urgent care for any urgent reason, by the way.

Anyways, I was pleased to see that the Jeremy Kyle Show wasn’t on the telly, because any time I’ve been in the hospital over the years, the tiresome Kyle with his tiresome guests and his head-wrecking topics always seems to be on a telly nearby. Not very suitable viewing for patients in their beds, I’ve often thought…

Anyways, there was no sign or sound of Jeremy, but then I realised that it was some sort of a TV3 lifestyle show that was on this time, and Martin King was holding court. He was soon doing my head in. Are the HSE imposing Jeremy and Martin on hospital-users for some dark reason?

Anyways, to get to the two serious points that I want to make. Firstly, I have pleasure in reporting that the quality of care provided by staff at Roscommon County Hospital continues to be fantastic. Secondly, is this Urgent Care Centre being greviously under-used by the public? I strongly suspect that this is the case. On the occasion of one of my recent visits, I was the only person present, over a long period.

Later, I got the views of a few people, and it would be fair to say that there is some concern that low ‘throughput’ in the Urgent Care Centre is a worry and could have implications in the future. Are some GPs in the county referring, to hospitals in other counties, patients who could instead be referred to Roscommon? Are some members of the public confused about what services are available in Roscommon, and at what times, and do these people just decide to go to Ballinasloe or Galway without giving our local hospital due consideration?

The A&E may be gone – don’t worry, we’ll mention the ‘war’ again here soon – but, if anything, that makes it more important than ever to ‘use’ Roscommon Hospital. I should say that on one of my recent visits to the Urgent Care Centre there were about ten patients ahead of me. Ten patients, and one TV above us.

That was the day I sat through two episodes of Judge Judy.

Paul Healy's Week - 4th December

Paul Healy on talking to Joe; Ryan Tubridy’s jumper; Roscommon treasure John’s memories of the Snug; A singing Santa in his Santamobile and er…young people and politics…

Friday morning

I’m sitting in the Shannonside Radio Studios, as a guest on the ‘Review of the Week’ panel. Host Joe Finnegan is asking one of the other guests whether or not the banking enquiry – approximate cost €5m – has been “good value” for the Irish people.

As the very pleasant IFA man from Longford addresses a value for money question (story of his week, no doubt), the Sinn Fein candidate (a Cavan woman) sitting beside me has some notes on the banking enquiry scribbled down in front of her.

Good idea… I realise that I haven’t passed any heed on the banking enquiry for several weeks, not since Bertie Ahern emerged from obscurity to confound his critics with a confident appearance. The banking enquiry? Is that really still trundling along? Is that where Joe Higgins has been hiding?

I prepare my thoughts, i.e. it’s a waste of money, the public have no interest in it, it’s been politicised beyond rescue, we’ve learnt nothing and it’s time to move on. Joe seems happy enough with that. I had meant to say something even more profound; that the Irish people were far more preoccupied last Friday with what jumper Ryan Tubridy would be wearing on the Toy Show than they are with the discredited autopsy on our banking collapse.

Friday evening

They say you learn something new every day, and this evening I learn that John Kerrigan has a fine singing voice. John is a well-known historian, who lives in his beloved Henry Street, of which he is a native.

This evening he’s launching his DVD, ‘Memories of the Snug’, in which John reminisces about the two quaint snugs which are at the front of the landmark JJ Harlow’s bar in Roscommon town, which John aptly describes as a “a truly authentic old-style pub.”

When John, who is now in his 70s, was a small boy, his grandmother regularly brought him to the snug in Harlow’s, and to this day he has fond memories of the “gracious old ladies in black shawls” who gathered there for a glass of stout and a chat, and for whom the small, partitioned-off snug was like “a confessional.”

On Friday night, there’s a great crowd present for the launch. After welcoming guests, John introduces the DVD. The lights go down and the audience savours what follows.

It’s a lovely trip down memory lane, with John regaling us with his memories and providing insights into the various antiques/old photographs adorning the walls and shelves of the pub. It’s a very stylish production (well done Mimar Media in Athleague).

There’s a great story about John writing a poem about Lady Betty (the infamous Hangwoman) on beermats, and references to products and town personalities from the past that will prove nostalgic for people.

A real highlight of the DVD is John’s singing of some songs from his childhood. Like I say, I’ve now discovered that John is a fine singer! When the screening ends, there’s a big round of applause.

John swivels around in his front row seat, takes a bow, then, glass of whiskey in hand, he poses a question… “Why would a man of my age take on this project? Because I want to leave something behind of lasting value.”

It was an emotional moment really. He will leave a lot behind, and he has lots more to do. He is a historian who delights in passing his extensive knowledge of the town on to younger generations. This he does through speaking in schools, hosting tours, writing extensively and now in DVD form.

Truly a one-off, John Kerrigan is a town treasure.

* ‘Memories of The Snug’ is a beautiful DVD which I highly recommend. A great Christmas gift, but make sure to get a copy for yourself too! It is likely to be particularly cherished by people with any association with Roscommon town ‘in the old days.’ It’s available now (€15) in ETL, Roscommon and in JJ Harlow’s.

Friday night

There are times during the year when the Late Late Show in general and Mr. Tubridy himself can leave you screaming at the telly. Or just switching channels…

But there’s no doubt about it, the golden boy is excellent at hosting the annual Toy Show. It seems he can sing too – and dance. I didn’t think it was one of the great Late Late Toy Shows, but it was still good, and Ryan Tubridy was superb.

In the great Toy Show tradition, he wore a ‘fun’ jumper; meanwhile the studio audience were weighed down with presents, leaving the television audience at home gritting its collective teeth!

Midst the many new toys, it was great to see ‘The Field’ – created by Castlecoote man Padraic Cuddy – featuring prominently, and I hope it’s a huge success for the local entrepreneur.

Sunday

Santa was in great form when he arrived in Roscommon town on Sunday – and he can sing too! He mesmerised the huge crowds as he eased through the Main Street on his special Santamobile, disembarking at the Square, greeting his captivated audience, leading all present in a few festive songs, and then formally switching on the Christmas lights.

This man gets around even more than Enda. It was a wonderful evening, with local business people playing a blinder as they handed out complimentary hot drinks to cold but happy (and grateful) members of the public.

As ever, the Christmas lights in the county town are excellent. Congratulations to all involved in the project. I know that similar tremendous work is being done in other towns and villages and well done to all of the volunteers involved.

There is real anecdotal ‘evidence’ of a budding revival in our fortunes, I think. And it is obvious that the Council/community Town Teams are playing an important role in this. Anyways, and not to digress too much, if you’ve been paying attention you’ll have received confirmation that John Kerrigan, Ryan Tubridy and Santa can all sing.

Tuesday

Ah, we give out about them, but you have to admire how in touch the political parties are with the young people of this country.

Like our son. He’s five.

See, four years ago, certainly not because of any political leaning, but because I am friendly with the ticket seller, I signed up (in a moment of weakness) to a ‘super draw’ which one of the political parties was running. (First prize: A recession, but I digress!).

Anyways, in that peculiar tradition whereby doting parents put a child’s (one of their own) name on a ticket, I put down our son’s name. Our son, Matthew, was only a few months old at the time.

Now the political party in question writes to Matthew every year, asking if he’d like to buy a (€50) ticket for the super draw.

The letter is personally addressed to Matthew. I’m in a real dilemma, because I know if I ask Matthew if he’d like to fork out €50 on this, he’ll probably want something else. Like a dinosaur, or a character from Star Wars (The Force Awakens).

Mind you, the letter to Matthew is very nicely worded. The thoughtful political party in question makes a point of thanking Matthew for everything he has done and “continues to do” for the party.

Surely just a bit of scribbling on leaflets over the years? Or has our five-year-old son been secretly helping the party formulate policy, even as he keeps one eye on Spongebob Squarepants?

Anyways, decisions, decisions… Will Matthew commit €50 (not that he has it) to help “deliver a fairer Ireland for all”…or suggest some other cause for the money?

See you in the dinosaur section of the toy store, I imagine.

Resilient response to Paris atrocities shows that good can overcome evil

It’s a nice enough Monday morning after a wild (weather-wise) weekend but l suppose it’s understandable that there is no other story dominating world headlines more than the terrible atrocity that took place in the French Capital, Paris, on last Friday night.

Over 130 people were coldly and callously murdered as they went about their ordinary everyday business, by Islamic state suicide terrorists, while another 352 were injured, with almost one hundred of them being in a critical condition.

Without being a medical genius, it’s safe to assume that there will be another good few fatalities from those injuries, so a night out at such diverse things as a soccer match, and a rock concert, or just having a meal or a drink, was to end for so many people in unimaginable tragedy.

As an ordinary Joe Soap who is no expert on international conflicts, and who doesn’t really understand who is to blame for allowing such a thing to happen, the huge fear is that it seems almost impossible to prevent such a random series of attacks from taking place.

Up to now there seems to have been some misguided reasoning behind their attacks like the one on the offices of the Charlie Hebdo magazine, but the terrifying thing about Friday night’s massacre was the fact that everyone and anyone was a target – men, women or children, it made no difference.

However the big thing for us all is to carry on doing all the normal things that people do and it does appear as if the population of Paris is resilient, courageous and determined not to let the terrorists bring down their city.

It’s another example of good defying evil, and hopefully good will come out on top. All we can do is remember the dead and injured in our prayers.

‘Drama in the hall’

Changing subjects entirely and many years ago when I was a young lad, before the arrival of televisions and all other modern entertainment gadgets, people came up with all kinds of ways to amuse themselves and we can all remember different acts coming regularly to the local national schools.

Punch and Judy shows were always popular, and there were magicians, clowns, jugglers and comedians (some not so magical or funny) calling every month or two, and as children we would always look forward to the visits of the travelling snow people.

Out in the world inhabited by the adults, local halls played a huge part in providing entertainment for the parishioners, and, in my time, I can recall boxing tournaments, badminton, indoor soccer, concerts, fashion shows, dances, discos (not in my time), and parties of every kind taking place in our local St. Mary’s Kilbegnet Hall. And of course there was the drama.

Over the years many many top class productions have been put on on the Kilbegnet stage, most of which raised badly-needed funds for several worthy causes, and all of which were staged in front of packed houses.

And so I am delighted to tell you that on this Friday night (20th) the Kilbegnet drama group are staging a three-act play by AJ Stanley in Kilbegnet Hall with doors opening at 8 pm.

It’s a poignant moment for the local drama group, as its their first production since they were devastated by the recent very sad deaths of two of their most prominent members, Theresa O’Rourke and Maria Maloney, and I ask you all to get there early and support a very worthwhile local effort. You will not be disappointed!

Remembering road accident victims

Back to tragedy, and yesterday was the World Day of Remembrance for road traffic victims, and there was a memorial service held in a Dublin Church, as family members of those who had died gathered to remember their loved ones by placing a leaf bearing their name on a tree of remembrance, and by placing a candle on the altar.

Each week some new families are left distraught and heartbroken by the tragic death of a family member in a road accident, and only last week we saw two young lady drivers, a male driver and a male cyclist, all killed in horrific crashes.

I don’t think any family, or indeed communities, ever forget or get over the effects of road traffic deaths, and one of the major factors in such accidents is excessive speed. I have many faults as a driver (or so I’m told), but speeding is not one of them, and, if anything, I am told that I go too slow.

And so this morning I conducted a little experiment on my way to work in Lynn Antiques in Athlone, and I was surprised at the results. I decided to stick rigidly to the 100 km speed limit and waited to see how many cars would pass me.

I eventually felt like the Pied Piper, with a long line of cars behind me, something I actually hate, and even though they had loads of chances to do so, believe it or not, only one driver sped by me.

And even that’s not fair, because having got past me, whoever it was didn’t put down the boot, but stayed just slightly ahead of me. Now it doesn’t prove anything, but at least this morning, motorists were obeying the speed limits, and let’s hope they continue to do so all the time, and especially, over the Christmas period.

From antiques to technological era…

The big news, before I finish up, is that today’s piece marks my first ever email, and so it’s a historic day for me (definitely worth a Christmas Party) and even more so for Serena, Martha and Martina and all the others who have had to try to decipher my scribbles over the last six years.

As I’m doing it on my new shop tablet, I have to thank Lynn Antiques for bringing me into the technological era. I don’t mean any of that last bit, but I don’t know how to clear this yoke yet, so I’m sure they’ll read this, but they can’t give out to me, as I’ve mentioned them twice.

* (This email breakthrough is truly a media milestone, a historic day – on behalf of all in the Roscommon People, thanks for making the move, Frank! – Editor).

And finally…

Finally for this week its hard to believe it, but on Saturday, 28th of November the launch of the 21st Barrie Harris Walk takes place in Mikeen Roarke’s in Creggs when the sponsorship cards will be given out.

Everyone who reads my piece will know how important the walk is for raising funds for very many charities so let you all come to Mikeen’s, get your cards, and raise as much money as you can. I will fill you in next week, so, from my first email…

‘Till next week,

Bye for now

Paul Healy's Week

Paul Healy…on meeting a remarkable Roscommon-born priest; Ciaran Mullooly’s book launch (and Enda’s moustache); terror in Paris; watching Ireland’s crunch Euro 2016 tie by fast-forwarding; …and Anthony Cunningham’s ‘Kangaroo Court’…

Thursday

Today I meet a remarkable Roscommon man. Fr. Gerry O’Rourke, now in his 91st year, is in impressive physical condition and presently enjoying a holiday ‘home from America.’ He is a nephew of the late, great Dan O’Rourke and spent almost his entire childhood living in Abbey Street, Roscommon. Fr. Gerry has spent most of his 65 years (to date) in the priesthood in America, and is currently based in California. His has been no ordinary life; he has been to the forefront of many prominent and well-received initiatives, including in the area of peace and reconciliation amongst people (across the world) of diverse religious and political backgrounds. Fr. O’Rourke will concelebrate Mass with Pope Francis in Rome next week; before that, he got to talk to me about Roscommon GAA, his life and times – and Fianna Fail!.

Friday

There are no plans (yet) for Ciaran Mullooly to concelebrate Mass with Pope Francis (see previous item), but the RTE Midlands Correspondent is surely in the good books of the Catholic Church following his acclaimed documentary (first shown on RTE last Christmas) on the restoration of St. Mel’s Cathedral in Longford.

Fresh from his successful foray into the world of documentary-making with ‘The Longford Phoenix,’ Ciaran has now published a book in which he reflects on challenges facing rural Ireland.

Many of Ciaran’s experiences over thirty years working as a journalist are alluded to in a book which is part-social history, part-political and part-biographical. Partly-based on Ciaran’s always thought-provoking columns in the Roscommon Champion, the book is a considered overview of life in rural Ireland, and an exploration of how – working together within our communities – we can deal with the challenges we face.

The Roscommon town launch of ‘Back to the Future’ took place in the County Library on Friday evening and a very enjoyable occasion it was.

Speakers complimented the author on both his work as a journalist and his community endeavours, to the point where Ciaran quipped that it was like being present at his own funeral!

Ciaran, if he’s reading this, should look away now, because I will take this opportunity of praising him further (normal service will resume shortly).

In between his family commitments and responsibilities for RTE, Ciaran is, as I noted on Friday night, a great community activist. I’ve seen him operating at close range; his energy, passion and forward-thinking approach are attributes that have significantly helped communities in counties Longford and Roscommon.

There are of course many other volunteers in our community who do similar work; their resilience, ambition and collective endeavour is needed now more than ever. As I said on Friday night, ‘more Ciaran Mulloolys’ in our community would be greatly to the benefit of rural Ireland.

As for the book, I very much recommend it. The book addresses, with just the right journalistic edge, issues affecting this area – the author by times challenging both himself and the reader, by times putting forward possible solutions to problems affecting this region. Ciaran writes movingly about the loss of family members – particularly poignantly about his late mother’s experience of Alzheimer’s.

Some of the proceeds from sales of the book are being donated to the Carers Association. It’s great to see ‘local’ books being published. We are taking the fight to the Internet! ‘Back to the Future’ is a great read and an ideal Christmas present.

People present…

The book launch was performed by Roscommon town actor Enda Oates. I hadn’t met Enda in about seven or eight years and didn’t recognise him at first; it turns out he’s sporting a fine moustache, as he’s playing the part of James Connolly in an upcoming series on the 1916 Rising which will be broadcast on TG4.

The assumption that people in the acting profession live an entirely glamorous life has long been debunked and it is now widely accepted that, for the vast majority of actors, making a living and getting regular work can be a struggle.

Happily, Enda’s career seems to be peaking in recent years and he is popping up regularly on our television screens (and in theatre and film). He is now, without question, established as one of our most popular, hardest-working, most-in-demand and most accomplished actors and, as Ciaran Mullooly said on Friday night, we in Roscommon are suitably proud of Enda’s achievements and ongoing success.

The attendance included public representatives, community leaders, friends of Ciaran and Angela Mullooly and many colleagues from community organisations which the RTE Midlands Correspondent is involved in.

Fresh from a very respectable showing in that morning’s Seanad Bye-Election was Dr. Keith Swanick, who arrived at the launch in great form and looking very like a politician of the future.

Dr. Keith, a Castlerea native who is based in Mayo, won’t be seeking a nomination for Fianna Fail in the forthcoming General Election, but he has his sights set on a Senate seat.

We chatted to Michael and Eileen Fahey. Eileen, a great community champion in Kilteevan, was looking forward to the following morning’s Pride of Place Awards, but not expecting further accolades beyond those already gained by the local Development Group’s inclusion as one of the nominees.

As it turned out, there would be cause for further local ‘Pride of Place’ celebrations, as both Kilteevan Community and the Roscommon Lions Club sponsored Quad Youth Centre project in Roscommon town were recognised with awards on Saturday. Congratulations to both!

Saturday/Sunday

The shock-waves following the terror attacks in Paris continue to reverberate around the world. Paris is a majestic, wonderful city with fabulous architecture, many beautiful sights – a certain grace and majesty – and populated by a proud people.

It is heartbreaking to think that this great city is now living on its nerves, a regular target for random and senseless and despicable attacks.

However, in the days since the attacks, it has been heartening, inspirational indeed, to see and hear people in France and throughout the world insist that they will continue to live life as normally as possible, in defiance of the terrorists. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.

Monday

We were on the road, driving, as the match kicked off. How does that happen? I guess it just does happen sometimes. I know many people are less smitten now by the exploits of the Irish soccer team than in the past, but still, this was a big, big occasion…

Yet, despite it being a big event, I’m on the road, in the car, nowhere near a television screen. The kids are insisting on ‘The Kinks’ CD being played (it’s flavour of the month in our car at the moment).

This suited me, ‘cos I had recorded Ireland v Bosnia & Herzegovina, and didn’t want Newstalk or RTE Radio giving me any update on the game. By 8.20 pm or so, making sure not to check my mobile, I was clueless as to how the game was going and getting closer to home.

‘Dedicated Follower of Fashion’ was blaring out and I was the only one in the car aware of the unfolding crisis. Great song, but it was time to find out how Ireland were doing.

When I finally got home to the remote, a decision to make: go live to the game – or race through what had already been recorded? I did the latter, fast-forwarding every time there was a throw-in or any such stoppage, but, needless to say, I saw Ireland take the lead in fast-forward mode, not as it happened.

So I had to rewind to see the penalty decision, all of the suspense drained, as I already knew that the spot-kick would be successful. At (my) half-time, I skipped the ads and the three wise men (Dunphy, Giles and Brady).

I began fast-forwarding through the still-recording second half, desperately trying to catch up with the live action at the Aviva. Every now and again I pressed ‘pause’, but the temptation to speed it up remained (fast tempo to this game, actually).

Yep, sure enough, I missed the second goal in real time. While fast-forwarding, I suddenly gleaned that there were more ecstatic celebrations, so I re-wound to see the goal. I finally caught up with the live version of the game with about a minute to go. I don’t know about the Irish players, but I was certainly mentally exhausted by the full-time whistle.

Tuesday

Today’s papers have extensive coverage of the confirmed demise – in instalments – of Anthony Cunningham’s doomed management of the Galway senior hurlers.

Cunningham bowed to the inevitable on Monday night, bringing an unseemly saga to a close by stepping down.

He parted with a strongly-worded press statement, in the course of which he complained bitterly of being the victim of a ‘kangaroo court.’ I share his sentiments. My view is no doubt an old-fashioned one that some people will feel is tunnel-visioned, but I think so-called ‘player power’ stinks.

Players should play, managers should manage and administrators, who are answerable to the clubs, should deal with the business end of things.

Anthony Cunningham has been treated appallingly and I suspect the players have only succeeded in putting more time and space between Galway hurling and the ‘Holy Grail.’

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