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…
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.
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.
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.
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 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.