Frank Brandon’s Column

Let’s never ban inter-county travel again!

Our man Frank on a Monday morning visit to Knock, getting back into the swing of things, and Daisy’s big adventure…

It’s Monday morning, and after what seems like an eternity, inter-county travel is back and myself and Carol are heading off to Knock, to fulfil a promise that we made to friends of ours a month or so ago. Our friends, who live up above in ‘The Pale’, are having a few on-going problems and, knowing our fondness for the Marian Shrine, they asked us to go and say a few prayers for them. 

  As the couple live many miles away in the eastern side of the country, they would find it very difficult to make the journey themselves, and to tell you the truth, we were more than delighted to head for the Mayo village.

  We left early enough despite the slightly inclement weather and when we eventually arrived in Knock, the first thing we noticed was that even though travel was back, there were very few pilgrims walking around. Although the churches – all of which had been closed except the beautiful parish church – were now open for mass, the normal hustle and bustle was sadly missing. 

  Having said a few prayers for anyone we could think of, including our friends, we decided to see if the shops selling religious goods were open. Sadly, all were still closed, as were the restaurants in the vicinity, except for a couple doing takeaways. It was as if time was standing still. 

  On the main street, two lonely camper vans were parked, a delivery van was slowly driving through the village, and not a dog or a cat was stirring. After one more lap of the mostly deserted carpark, we headed back to the car and headed for home. The strange thing was that even though it was a very unusual experience, Knock always gives a sense of peace and tranquillity. This time was no different and we were just delighted to have been there. 

  When we arrived home, we called our friends in Dublin, told them we had done as we were asked, and felt pretty good about ourselves. Please God, after receiving our second vaccine, we will make it up there (if the car doesn’t break down) to visit our new granddaughter, and at long last life might feel somewhat normal again. 

  Once upon a time, going to Knock – or anywhere else for that matter – was such a simple task. Not anymore unfortunately, so to get back there this week was a wonderful treat. May the lifting of restrictions continue and may we never have to ban inter-county travel again! 

 

Back on course…but I’m no Rory!

Back to nicer and more normal things: on Saturday morning, my son Paul and I, after what seemed like an eternity, made our comebacks on the beautiful golf course in lovely Roscommon town. Even though our performances didn’t quite match that of Rory McIlroy, we really enjoyed our return, and hopefully we will have a nice summer where we can play golf, or football, or swim, or even just lie out in the sun.

  Speaking of Rory, on Sunday night he held us all enthralled when he won the Wells Fargo tournament in America, thereby winning his first tournament since December 2019. Typically, he nearly blew it all with a horrendous drive at the last hole, but despite that, he managed to win by one stroke.

  The reception he got from the full house only served to remind us of how popular he is with the Yanks. He freely admitted afterwards that he needs the crowds to fuel his adrenalin, so now that they are back who knows what he can achieve – maybe that elusive fifth major may not be that far away at all.

  As for me, I am definitely the complete opposite to Rory – I play better without any crowds (well not really better, maybe less badly). If anyone is even within sighting distance of me, I am guaranteed to have a mishit, slice, shank, or even a complete fresh-air swing. But no matter how badly I play, it was just great to be back, and I look forward to many lovely outings over the coming months.

  The great thing about golf is you can always hope that you will play better next time, so you never have time to dwell on how bad you really are. Also, the truth is that the likes of me couldn’t care less as to how good or bad we are – it’s all about the fresh air, the freedom, and the sheer enjoyment of having a stroll in a beautiful rural setting – is there anything better?

 

And finally…

I have a heart-warming story to finish with this week.

  Last Saturday evening, Daisy, a very young dog belonging to a friend of mine, managed to get rid of her harness, and escape from her owner in the general vicinity of Corinthians Rugby Club outside Galway city. From there, she took off across unfamiliar countryside, leaving behind her a distraught and very upset owner.

  Obviously, being very frightened and not really knowing the area, there were fears for the poor dog’s safety, but to say that everybody rallied round in an effort to find her would be an understatement.

  Having alerted as many of the residents in the area around Corinthians and its immediate surroundings as she could, my friend was delighted to find that they all put out food for Daisy, looked out for her, and really took it upon themselves to help. All Saturday night she was missing, but two people rang to say they had seen her – one at 6 am on Sunday morning, and another just after 7 on the same morning.

  The good news was that, thankfully, the dog seemed to have stayed close by, and later on that evening she was reunited with her delighted owner. Many people – friends, acquaintances, and complete strangers – had spent hours searching fields, gardens, outhouses and sheds looking for the lost pet, and my friend was just so thankful to them all.

  After her all-nighter, Daisy was shattered and went for a long sleep in the comfort of her own bed. Following a full night out in the open, I’m sure she was very glad to get back to her home comforts, and hopefully she will think twice about making another dash for freedom! 

  As for her owner, she can’t thank everyone enough for their efforts to rescue Daisy, and says it just shows how many good people there are out there – especially around Corinthians and surrounds.

  Having played rugby for them back in the day (along with Jack the Higher, and my brothers the Rasher and Kieran), I think it must have been the good Karma we left behind that led to Daisy’s safe return! True or not (probably not), many thanks to all who helped bring about a happy ending to what could have been a very sad story.

 

‘Till next week, Bye for now!