Frank Brandon’s Column

Wash your hands and stay safe this Christmas!

 Our columnist on the mighty Dubs, good deeds, and enjoying the Christmas period safely…

It’s the last Sunday before Christmas, and the truth is that the only thing that is certain about the next couple of weeks is the uncertainty. Even now, we have no idea who will be here for the Christmas Day dinner or how many, if any, of the family will make it home.

During the week, our daughter Lisa, who is a frontline worker, got the dreaded news that one of her patients had tested positive for Covid, and while she was only deemed to be a casual contact, she had to be tested and self-isolate. Thankfully she tested negative, but it really brought home to me how vulnerable all of us are.

I also think that because the vaccine is now almost within touching distance, I am more apprehensive about catching the virus, as I suppose it would be terrible altogether to fall victim to it just when a cure seems on the horizon. And so, I think it is an absolute necessity that we all take due care and follow all the guidelines over the festive season.

Having said that, I have no qualms about heading to my two local pubs, Mikeen’s and Joe Dolan’s, for a nice meal and a pint or two over the Christmas and making the most of this unusual festive season.

A friend of mine rang me on Friday, having been identified as a close contact of an infected person, and his message to me was to bring hand sanitiser to the pub, and by continually cleaning my hands I should be safe.

So that’s my anti-Covid message to you – keep washing your hands, stay away from house parties, enjoy it as best you can while obeying the rules, and hopefully 2021 will see a return to normality.


Dubs set for seventh heaven?

As I said, I am writing this on Sunday morning, and of course all the papers are full of the all-conquering Dubs and their extraordinary achievement of winning six All-Irelands in a row – there can be no doubt that they are dominating Gaelic football like no other county ever has before and, as I wrote last year and the year before, I can see this domination lasting for some time to come.

Last year I said it was possible they could do ten in a row, and nothing has happened since to change my mind. What is the most frightening thing of all, from other counties’ perspectives, is the fact that this Dublin team is constantly changing, and new lads are being brought in on a regular basis. The great Kerry team of the eighties had nine or ten players who were there for the entire journey, but not so for the Dubs! They keep evolving each year, and when players like Paul Mannion, Brian Howard, Cormac Costello, and other household names can’t make the starting fifteen, that tells us all we need to know.

As for Mayo, yet again they did their county proud, and while it will go down as another failure, they went like the old gunslinger, all guns blazing and died with their boots on.

While I’m sure Seamus will have his view somewhere in the paper, in my humble opinion the strength of Dublin’s bench made the difference in the final quarter when the game was there to be won or lost. So yet again, congratulations to Dublin, commiserations to Mayo, and if anyone can stop seven in a row, I’ll eat my (Galway) hat.

Talking of Galway, lost in the small print was their victory in the U-20 final on Saturday when they defeated the young Dubs by a point. It was a thoroughly deserved win, although they nearly let a big lead slip, and it was great to see Ballyhard lad, Conor Raftery, having such a positive influence at midfield. All-Irelands are hard to come by (unless you play for the Dublin seniors), so well done Galway, and hopefully I’ll hang on to my hat for a while longer!


Top musicians go ‘Busking for Simon’

The social restrictions that have been brought about by Covid-19, and sadly, the continued closure of so many ‘wet’ pubs, has undoubtedly led to us watching more television. On Friday night last, I found myself, once again tuned in to The Late Late Show, and once again, I was extremely impressed with Ryan Tubridy and his ‘Busking for Simon’ show.

For those of us who are lucky enough to live in rural Ireland, and who have, no matter how modest, roofs over our heads, it’s easy to forget the thousands of people who are homeless in this country, who sleep on the footpaths and in the doorways of our towns and cities, and for whom Christmas is no different than any other time of the year, with only loneliness, hunger and misery to look forward to. The Simon Community has looked out for these people for many years, giving them food, warmth and shelter.

Musician Glen Hansard has been involved in ‘Busking for Simon’, and has been performing on Grafton Street in Dublin on Christmas Eve for thirty or so years. This year it won’t go ahead because of the pandemic, and as a result, there will be a shortfall of much-needed funds.

However, on Friday night a load of top musical artists, including Imelda May, John Sheehan, Finbar Furey, The Edge and Bono all appeared on the Late Late, sang and played, with all online and phone donations going to Simon.

It was great entertainment and great fun, but more than that, it showed the Irish spirit once again, as all the artists who are having very tough times themselves (well, maybe except the U2 pair), gave up their time to try to help those who are much less off. By Monday we will know how much was raised, but knowing the generosity of the Irish people, I would say it should be huge.

Funny enough, up to Friday night I always thought of Bono as a bit of a self-opinionated upstart who thought he was more important than he actually is, but on Friday night he came across as nearly normal, and was definitely genuine in his concern for the Simon cause. Also Tubridy, while he’s not everyone’s cup of tea as a broadcaster, shows a real feel for good causes, and the Late Late has now become the best fundraising show, probably in the world, so good on you Tubs, and well done.


Michael’s book is out now!

I have just been paid a visit by Ballygar man Michael Nolan, who has become synonymous with fundraising for Haiti, an area that has been devastated in every way possible.

He has a beautiful new book out, ‘Memories of Haiti and other stories’; a lovely publication with all sales proceeds going to Our Little Brothers and Sisters’ Orphanage in Haiti.

If you see the book in any local shop, put your hand in your pocket, hand over the small sum of €5, and do your bit to help a suffering community.


And finally…

Finally for this week and this year, as we look back on a year that left a trail of sadness and devastation everywhere, out here in Creggs we seem to have suffered more than most with so many sad deaths in the community. A lot of families will be glad to say goodbye to 2020, but before we do, enjoy the Christmas, stay safe, support local businesses, be nice to everyone, and as my mother used say, if you can’t do a good deed, at least don’t do a bad one. Please God I’ll talk to you again in the New Year. Thanks to all who read and supported the Roscommon People during 2020.


‘Till next year,
bye for now!