Paul Healy’s Week

Thursday

 

Paschal D never rings me for advice on the trajectory of the Irish economy, but our friends in Ipsos MRBI are almost constantly on the phone. We’d be on first-name terms if it wasn’t for the fact that it seems to be a different person every time.

The caller today was particularly downbeat, despite the fact that I agreed to participate in the latest MRBI survey on business trends.

When she asked me the usual questions – with a lack of enthusiasm which I could perfectly appreciate – I slightly wearily ‘returned serve’ with a selection of the multiple choice answers.

By the end of the five minutes, we were both wilting. “If you have any complaints or queries you can call Rachel” the lady from MRBI routinely said, and with that she was gone.

I suppose I could ring Rachel and complain about Tayto putting so few crisps into their bags, or ask her if you really have to keep cutting the grass into November…

 

Friday

 

Due to previously scheduled family commitments, I couldn’t make it to the official opening of the new Roscommon Hospice Unit today (the Roscommon People was well represented). Neither could President Joe Biden make it, although I gather that has nothing to do with my piece in this column last week in which I commented negatively on his less than inspirational opening months in office.

At least President Biden sent a message. I’m told the assembled guests were suitably wowed by the screening of a video in which the President of the United States of America conveyed a personal message of congratulations and support to Mayo-Roscommon Hospice on this very auspicious occasion.

In the video, President Biden – who turned the first sod for the Mayo Hospice project in 2017 – said that the new Roscommon facility will always have a special place in his heart. All credit to the man. This remarkable personal support from President Biden is very welcome and will no doubt inspire everyone involved in Mayo-Roscommon Hospice.

It’s at least 20 years since then Hospice CEO Cynthia Clampett first informed me of plans to build this unit. Over the years, Cynthia – always so passionate about the project – consistently kept me up to date on its progress. I am delighted to see the facility now in place, and commend current CEO Martina Jennings, chairperson Mike Smith, and everyone who has worked so hard to make it happen. It’s a fantastic development and a credit to all concerned.

 

Saturday

 

Where would we be without the Premier League soap opera? With his team failing to win any of their opening ten league games this season, Norwich manager Daniel Farke was well aware of the pressure he was under going into today’s fixture with Brentford.

Mr. Farke’s inner voice will have been on to him all through Friday night.

“Hey, Daniel, you need a win! If you don’t win, this speculation about you getting the sack won’t stop! Start winning, man!”

Good then for Mr Farke that his Norwich team finally won, defeating Brentford 2-1 (away). Great result, rot stopped.

Not so good for Mr Farke that the Norwich board issued a statement this very evening…confirming that they had sacked their manager. Mr. Farke had been relieved of his duties…hours after finally getting a win.

At this rate, should Norwich string a couple more wins together, I suggest the chaiperson must go – and the position of the entire board will be untenable.

 

Later on Saturday

 

Why is it that people who never eat popcorn at any other time can’t seem to get enough of it when they’re at the cinema? We spend virtually our entire lives being indifferent to popcorn, then insist on taking possession of a giant cardboard box of it the moment we reach the counter in a cinema.

The latest Bond movie beckoned on Saturday night for our family. It was nice to have a licence to queue again. When we arrived (a few minutes late) at the Omniplex Cinema in Roscommon, there were about 20 people ahead of us in the queue. We were shaken, but not stirred. In truth it was great to see a (socially distanced) line of people back in the cinema.

After purchasing our tickets (and popcorn) we headed for Screen/Theatre 3. As we mounted the steps, Bond (Daniel Craig) was mounting steps in an Italian town, in his Aston Martin. It was a spectacular opening scene which set the tone for an enjoyable movie.

‘No Time To Die’ is a typical Bond movie – featuring elaborate action sequences, doomed villains, heroes with an uncanny ability to dodge bullets, a far-fetched storyline, and a script that’s invariably almost a parody of the world it’s meant to depict.

It was good fun, although there were a few boring lulls between the spectacular scenes, hardly surprising given that the movie is two hours and 43 minutes long. As for the budget which the makers must have had, I can only imagine you could build half a children’s hospital for it – even in Ireland.

 

Sunday

 

In the Sunday Times’ Culture magazine, Michael Keaton is interviewed about returning to play the part of Batman at the age of 70. He first starred as Batman in 1989; now he’s back in a new spin-off Batman movie called ‘The Flash’.

On the PR tour, Michael checks in with the man from the Times. No doubt the backers of ‘The Flash’ will be expecting Michael to work his promotional magic, a print version of one of those set-ups we see on the Graham Norton Show.

Asked about his return and the new movie, here’s what the actor said: “It’s 2021 or whatever the f**k it is – who gives a s**t. Let’s talk about things that matter…who the f**k cares about Batman?”

I think it was tongue in cheek…

 

Monday

 

Crossing Rooskey bridge, there’s something about the commercial van in front of me that draws my attention. The ‘Solas’ vehicle is painted black, white and yellow, with a touch of green. It strikes me that I’ve never seen one of this company’s vehicles on the road before. Definitely some kind of a lightbulb moment for me…

 

Tuesday

 

Austin Currie, who died today aged 82, came to prominence as a brave and principled civil rights activist/SDLP MP, later ‘moving south’ and winning a seat in the Dáil as a Fine Gael candidate. He also served as a Minister of State.

When Currie ran (for Fine Gael) in the 1990 Presidential election, I interviewed him in the Royal Hotel in Roscommon Town. He was very courteous and articulate, and had a remarkable life story to tell.

Currie was an outsider in that presidential race. When charismatic FF candidate Brian Lenihan (who had served as a TD in Roscommon) subsequently visited during the campaign, he brought the house down at a huge rally in the Abbey Hotel. In the end, it was another presumed outsider, Mary Robinson, who won the presidential election.

Austin Currie’s legacy is a remarkable one, reflecting a life devoted to social justice and peace.

 

Tuesday/Wednesday

 

The major enhancement works in Roscommon Town centre are now very well advanced and will hopefully be completed in the coming weeks.

When I went for a walk on Tuesday night, the town was extremely quiet, which is now the norm for Tuesday nights (some of the pubs don’t open). A few people were out walking, enjoying the very pleasant weather. About 15 members of a local athletic club glided past.

On Wednesday morning, the work had resumed and the machinery was humming away again. The newly-paved area adjacent to the Square is quite spectacular. One or two murmurings about the width of selected footpaths notwithstanding, I think the completed works are likely to be very positively received by the public.