Frank Brandon’s Column

On comeback trail with Garth and Cristiano!

Our man Frank on three famous comebacks, national airtime for the Carlow hurling final, a possible pension increase, a wonderful initiative for local GAA clubs, and a couple of high profile local weddings…

It’s Friday morning and as I write this, there are nothing but comebacks on my mind. The great Ronaldo started it when he returned to Manchester United, twelve years after leaving them for Real Madrid. Then I carried it on by going back to work in Lynn Antiques in Athlone, eighteen months after officially retiring. Now comes the news that the biggest country music superstar of them all, Garth Brooks, is coming to Ireland seven years after the famous cancellation of his last proposed visit.

In my lifetime, outside of the Northern conflict, nothing divided the nation (except maybe Saipan and Roy Keane) as much as Brooks’ failure to appear in Croke Park back in 2014. Despite having sold 400,000 tickets for five shows, nothing actually took place at all. When the number of concerts was cut from five to three, some of his fans claimed he acted in an honourable fashion by cancelling them all so that everyone was treated the same way, rather than having to disappoint those who had tickets for the cancelled dates. Others say he was motivated solely by greed, and pulled the plug in a vain effort to force the authorities to capitulate and grant him the five nights that he wanted.

Anyway, I guess no one will ever know. All I know is that at five o’clock one freezing morning, I joined a number of hardy souls queueing for hours to get my hands on a few tickets – none of which were for me – and then found it was all in vain, a complete waste of time. This time I will be staying in my bed. I will not be joining the tents and sleeping bag brigade, who will undoubtedly join the new rush for tickets, as it is an absolute certainty that ‘Garth Mania’ will once again sweep the country. Everything about the previous fiasco will be forgotten.

The last time, to try to make up for the disappointment he suffered in not performing in Croke Park, I wrote to Garth in America and invited him to do a gig at the Creggs Harvest Festival. I offered Garth and his wife, Tricia Yearwood, free accommodation, free food and as much Guinness as they could drink. Sadly I am still waiting for his reply, but even if there is a Harvest Festival this year, he probably won’t be appearing as he might be a little busy. Seeing as he didn’t bother to acknowledge my very generous offer, if I met him now I think I’d tell him to go back to his ‘friends in low places’ and stay there!

However, low places or not, it is certain that hundreds of thousands will be off to Croker again. The concerts will sell out in jig time, the local residents will protest again to no effect, and the lad I heard on the radio the other day will finally sell the thousands of stetsons he has had in storage since 2014.

As for the other great comebacks, Ronaldo has scored four goals in three games for United, and it seems as if he has never been away. The third member of this superstar group (me), enjoyed my day back in my old stomping ground in Athlone, but as it was a once-only appearance it didn’t quite create the same excitement as the returns of Garth and Cristiano.

Things were a bit different than when I last walked through the doors, with everyone wearing masks now inside the shop. It was nice to be back for even one day, but I can assure you that I have every intention of staying fully retired.


Carlow hurling final goes national!

On Sunday, Carol and I took a little trip up to Galway to visit our newest granddaughter, Poppy. On the way home, I decided to tune into our national radio station, RTÉ One, to catch up on the happenings in the world of sport.

Now without being disrespectful to Carlow or Carlow hurling, I was astounded to find that their county final was the featured game on our national radio station. I know there would be people out there who would be interested in that particular game, but surely occasional updates on the score would have been enough?

In any case, someone in authority decided to send Ireland’s biggest (smallest) heartthrob, Marty Morrissey, down to Carlow to do the commentary and the entire match was broadcast live.

For the record, Mount Leinster Rangers beat St. Mullin’s by eight points. I’m sure it was a great win for them, and I heartily congratulate them. However, I do think our national broadcaster could have found something to appeal to a wider audience, and they might have made better use of the great Marty’s talents.


I’ll gladly take a pension increase…

I was listening to some programme on the radio the other day about the upcoming Budget and whether or not old-age pensioners (of which I am one) should be given the paltry increase of €5 a week. A person who is getting the pension rang in to say that €5 would make very little difference to him, and in view of the huge hole in the Government’s finances, he felt we should all agree to have no increase at all. His idea was probably good, but in principle I could not agree with it.

As pensioners we have earned the right to have our pensions through our contributions to PRSI for many years, and as well as that, prices on everything are going through the roof, so we need any increase we can get. Energy prices, from electricity to petrol and diesel, have risen dramatically, anything to do with building materials has gone crazy, and food prices are also set to rise.

So, for all of us who rely on the State Pension, and as noble as the idea of not taking any increase might be, I would gladly take any increase that might come our way, as I have paid well for the privilege. However, judging by some of today’s papers, we might still be getting nothing at all. But if we do receive an increase, I will certainly take it!


Support Glinsk’s virtual walk for Hospice

Down the road in Glinsk, Marie Fitzmaurice tells me that next Sunday, September 26th, they are holding a virtual walk for Galway Hospice. People can do a walk of their choice and make a donation in either Dowd’s shop, or the Glinsk Community Centre, from 3 to 5 pm. All donations are very much appreciated, and at 5 pm there will be a free raffle for all participants.

Now you don’t need me to tell you how important the Hospice is for people of this area. The number of people touched by cancer is enormous, so if possible, support the Glinsk initiative and contribute as much as you can for a very worthy charity.


Clubs will benefit from Roscommon GAA draw

As everyone knows, times have been tough for us all over the last year and a half, and even before Covid rural GAA clubs were finding it very hard to survive. Since Covid, nearly all fundraising activities had to cease, and a tough situation became even tougher. All credit then to Club Rossie and the Roscommon County Board for coming up with a huge, innovative draw that will benefit several clubs in the area.

The draw is offering a first prize of a Toyota Yaris or Volkswagen Polo, second prize of €2,000, third prize of €1,000 and for the fourth prize, a €300 voucher from Red Mills. Tickets are priced at €10 each, or can be bought in bundles of three for €20, or eight for €50. The big thing about this draw is that all the clubs can keep the money they collect from selling tickets – for example, Creggs can keep all the money made by the tickets our club members sell, as can every other club in the county.

This draw really is a golden chance for clubs to get a few bob into the coffers, at a time when things are difficult. Throw in the fact that the prizes are so good, and it all makes for a very attractive draw, as well as an opportunity to throw your local club a financial lifeline.

Tickets are available in Roarke’s shop and pub, in Dolan’s pub, online at and also from some club members.

Out here in Creggs, as this is the last major fundraiser of the year, the club would like to thank everyone for their great support, especially their sponsors and Club Rossie for coming up with this initiative to support all the clubs in the county. So no matter what club you belong to, put your hand into your pocket one last time, buy your tickets, maybe win the lovely Yaris or Polo, but above all, help to keep your local club alive!


And finally…

Finally for this week, on Friday last rugby stalwart Sean Óg Higgins got married to Grainne Cribbin, while rugby and Gaelic football star (and All-Ireland minor football winner in 2006) Colin Canny wed Jeanine Scanlon. We congratulate both couples and wish them long, happy lives together, and hope their new status will not impact on their future playing careers.