Frank Brandon’s Column

In praise of local Civic Amenity Centres…

Our man Frank on the importance of local Civic Amenity Centres, a successful golf fundraiser in aid of a Haitian orphanage, Rory’s Ryder Cup pain, and fine-tuning those green fingers in Glinsk…

Back in the days when I was a young fellow, there wasn’t much thought given to health and safety, protection of the environment, or anything like that. There were no such things as bin companies or waste charges, and when it came to waste disposal things were very different.

There probably wasn’t as much waste back then either as everything was built to last. Cars were built from iron and steel as opposed to present day plastic, and the few electric devices we had, such as washing machines and fridges, would hardly ever break down. No one had ever seen a dishwasher, the telly was still unheard of, and even furniture was made in such a way that it would never fall apart.

There can be no doubt that everything in the modern world is meant to have a relatively short lifespan so that people need to be constantly replacing stuff – all, of course, at great expense to the consumer, and contributing to the success and sustainability of the various manufacturing companies. The simple truth is that successful companies mean more jobs, which in turn means more money in the local economy, which means more people can replace their relatively new appliances and furniture, and as the wheel keeps turning, the waste problem becomes worse.

Back in the old days, the solution was very simple: If it was wooden or could be burnt, put the whole lot out the back somewhere, get yourself a drop of diesel, set a match to it, and have yourself a bonfire. Before too long, everything would have turned into a lovely pile of ashes, and if the stuff couldn’t be burnt (things like electrical appliances, or other items made of steel or iron), all you had to do was dig a hole somewhere handy, pile everything you had into it, close it back up, and problem solved.

Then everything changed. We had experts telling us about the Ozone layer and pollution, and damage to the environment, and all kinds of ‘Save the Planet’ activists started appearing everywhere. European lawmakers told us we couldn’t light fires (or even cut turf), we certainly couldn’t bury anything, and the whole world changed completely.

Whether it was for the best or not depends on who you ask, but all of a sudden, we were faced with getting black, brown, blue and green refuse sacks for our household waste and started receiving large bills from the new waste removal companies for the privilege of getting rid of all our unwanted stuff.

In fairness, we can bring old electrical items to the local Civic Amenity Centre free of charge, but we still had the problem of getting rid of the bigger items like mattresses, furniture, carpets or old bathroom suites.

That brings us up to last week, when I read in the local paper (the Roscommon People, of course) that on Wednesday, the Castlerea centre was taking a car and trailer full of all that type of stuff for a tenner. As I was just starting to clean out an old building, it couldn’t have come at a better time. I had no trailer, but I borrowed one for the day, and on Wednesday afternoon, I hit off for Castlerea, loaded to the hilt. I had one big leather recliner couch, three armchairs, two big old mattresses, an upholstered footstool, loads of upholstered cushions, and an old sink. I reminded myself of families in old TV programmes as they moved around the Old West with all their worldly goods piled up on the cart. The only difference was that I had a car pulling my trailer instead of a trusty old horse.

We’d tied everything down as best we could, but it was still with some trepidation that I set off for Castlerea; furniture is notorious for moving around and loosening, and as a former furniture salesman and removal man, I was well aware of the dangers. On one famous occasion, I was delivering two new beds to a customer out the country, and I didn’t think it was necessary to tie them down as they were lying flat in the back of the open trailer. Sadly, I was wrong. I hit a fairly severe bump on the road and was horrified to see the two beds fly out of the trailer and over a roadside wall. I was even more horrified when I found them drowned in a swollen river inside the wall and I realised there and then (I’m a quick learner) that everything needs to be tied down, and that you must take it handy when pulling a loaded trailer.

So I took it very handy on my way to Castlerea, and if you were any of the hundred and twenty drivers who were caught behind me, pulling your hair out, I do apologise, but it was still better than being taken out by a flying armchair, or worse still, the whole couch! Thankfully, I got there safe and sound and with everything in place, got checked in, unloaded, and out again in jig time. As I made my way home, I was very grateful for such a service from Roscommon County Council. I think it only happens very occasionally, but it is well worth watching out for.

On Friday I repeated the dose, although this time with old electrical items to the Roscommon town Civic Amenity Centre. I have to say the service in both places was exceptional and a great help, and at a time when it’s so hard to get rid of rubbish, it is great to have such a facility on our doorstep.


Michael’s golf tournament in aid of Haitian orphanage

Back to Saturday morning and at nine o’clock, Richard Smyth, Stephen Smyth, my brother Duff and I found ourselves standing on the first tee at Mountbellew Golf Club, heading off to play a round on the lovely eighteen-hole course. We were there to take part in an Am-Am organised by Ballygar man, Michael Nolan, to raise funds for ‘Our Little Brothers and Sisters’ Orphanage’, an orphanage in the notoriously unstable Haiti. Haiti is a Caribbean country that seems to be constantly suffering from every kind of trauma – political instability, riots, violence, unemployment , poverty, and devastating earthquakes have all had huge impacts on the welfare of the island population – and the orphanage comes to the rescue of orphaned and abandoned children.

Almost forty teams took part in the Am-Am, and while we kept our score to ourselves, we did, at least, complete the eighteen holes. The whole thing ran like clockwork, so well done Michael, congratulations on running such a good competition for such a good cause. Keep up the good work – your commitment to the Haitian orphanage is wonderful, and so vital for the survival of the suffering children.


Rory’s emotional as Europe well beaten

Sticking with golf: It is now Monday morning, and the much longed for Ryder Cup has been a huge anti- climax, with the United States beating Padraig Harrington’s European team by a record 19 to 9.

In truth, the writing was on the European wall as early as Friday morning. From looking forward with such great excitement for weeks leading up to Friday’s start, I barely watched any of the action, and the only real highlight was Shane Lowry’s performance in Saturday’s fourball, when his inspired round led to the capture of one of the European team’s few points.

And so, with the result pretty much known from the very first day, I have to say that I was surprised to see how much the Ryder Cup meant to Rory McIlroy, when he broke down in an interview after the match was over. His emotional interview, in which he said he loved being part of the European team, and that he had let down his teammates was just so heart-warming and in a lot of ways, very sad. He said that as an individual player, nothing ever made him emotional, no matter what he did, but being part of a team was a phenomenal experience. He also promised to try to be there again in two years’ time.

That is the beauty of sport – no matter what happens, or how bad a defeat someone suffers, they can always dust themselves down, get back on the horse, and know that another chance will come their way. Whether Rory is on the team or not, and I hope he is, twelve Europeans will get the chance to win back the cup in Rome in two years’ time, and despite the overwhelming defeat last weekend, there will be plenty of hope and excitement as the event gets closer. Please God if I’m still around, I will get to watch it all in 2023.


Finally for this week…

Marie Barlow tells me that the Glinsk Ladies Club are holding an Outdoor Gardening class at the home of Rod Ogilvie (RSO Landscape Design) in Glinsk (F45 PY22) at 12 noon on Saturday, October 2nd. Rod will be giving demos on lawn preparation and plant propagation, so if you want to become a better gardener, go along and take part. In the not too distant future, we will see the benefits in all the gardens around the place.

Also, a reminder for anyone interested in the future of the Creggs Harvest Festival that a meeting will take place this Friday night, October 1st, in the Historical Society at 8 pm. All are invited to attend and discuss the hoped-for return of the festival, so put it in your diary and don’t forget about it!


‘Till next week, Bye for now!