Thursday, January 16, 2020

Update 16th January

What …Another Year!

So… the race is on and the General Election will take place on Saturday, February 8th. The first Saturday election they say since 1918.  An issue for us in Boyle is getting enthused by an election which, in the constituency boundary carve-up, has transposed us into the constituency of Sligo/Leitrim/ North Roscommon/ South Donegal. There is a bit of ‘sweepings of the floor’ about all that.
We now have to get to know most of the potential candidates. So here is my very rough thumbnail sketch-guide to it as of today Thursday January 16.
They are at the moment Marian Harkin former M.E.P. who topped the poll in the 2002 general election and three sitting T.D.s’ Marc Mc Sharry F.F., Eamon Scanlon F.F. and Martin Kenny S.F. With those is Frank Feighan F.G. who was impressively elected in 2007 and 2011 in Roscommon /South Leitrim. A Tony McLoughlin F.G. has stood down from contesting this time. For a time his daughter was seen as a strong candidate but also stood down. It is probable that F.G. will add another candidate while the Greens may do so as well. Other possibles are Ellis, Bree and some independents. There are some 6000 + votes in the Roscommon section of the constituency with some 4000 voting last time and the quota will come in around 12,000 with four seats.   
In Roscommon East Galway the sitting T.D.s’ are Dennis Naughton Ind.   …..but formerly F.G. / Ml. Fitzmaurice Ind. / Eugene Murphy F.F.
Both Maura Hopkins and Ivan Connaughton had close runs in recent times. The standing down of Maura Hopkins for family reasons this time is a big hit for F.G. and their chances of getting a candidate elected now are minimal.  Added to this is a strong second F.F. candidate in Orla Leyden. Orla, is the daughter of Terry, but is her own lady in politics and is an impressive presence as a County Councillor. While Sinn Fein with Claire Kerrane and a possible Green candidate will get decent votes the Sinn Fein transition from Gerry Adams to Mary Lou McDonald has flat-lined at best. The Greens will get seats nationally and deservedly so but in Roscommon… not this time. I was listening to Ml. Fitzmaurice on the ‘Tonight’ T.V. programme last night with Ivan Yates and he seemed almost bored and boring in answering the same questions!      
Nationally seeing F.G. have been there since 2011 it would be some coup to continue as the primary party. A certain arrogance can be seen from time to time with their party hierarchy. Paschal is seen as an able Minister but is inclined to be looking down his nose a lot of the time. The one thing that really hits parties who are in situ for a prolonged period is ARROGANCE and ENTITLEMENT. The Bard again ‘Pride comes before a fall’. While the country is said to be prospering that prosperity is very uneven. Rural Ireland is in a constant state of erosion while Dublin continues to be the magnet despite significant logistical issues there.
While Fine Gael will of course point to the country’s prosperity, its Brexit policies and dealings, and the Northern parties back on track with a devolved Government there are a number of Premier issues that will hurt them hard and often.
The two major issues are well flagged in Heath and Housing. The experience of many who visit hospitals is regularly one of shock. I have been in some accident and emergency and in simplistic terms I refer to them as like Beirut. It is impossible to get any understanding of how so much money can be spent but yet for the core elements within the health system to remain so log-jammed. It seems as if the crisis is just impossible to influence.      
The housing ‘crisis’ is just an ongoing saga too with huge amounts of blame to go around.  The issues include the impossibility of young couples to get on the property ladder in the cities where they work; the homeless who struggle even to get any kind of housing; the insane rent young workers in the cities are required to pay in rent; the transposing of families into temporary accommodation in hotels etc. Fine Gael made a mistake not to remove Eoghan Muphy as if that would help!
Last night on the ‘Tonight’ the farmers protest in Dublin which was criticised by some contributors. It is an odd thing that the mainstream representative organisations are side-lined by those organising these disruptive blockades. They could be counter-productive cheesing off the communities in the capital. Though one commentator made the interesting point that; “Dublin is our capital city it belongs to all of us. It is where power exists and where the message must be delivered to.” etc.   

Salute to Mary Clifford
Congratulations and best wishes to Mary on being awarded the Roscommon Herald GAA ‘Hall of Fame’ award on Friday night next in The Abbey Hotel in Roscommon. It is in recognition of Mary’s work and commitment to Boyle and Roscommon GAA allied to her continued support for her native county of Donegal.       
Sigerson Last Sunday
“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again” is the opening line in Daphne du Maurier’s  Gothic novel. Well last Sunday I returned to the Sigerson Gaelic football tournament in Galway after a long time. Four of us, former UCG GAA people, met in up in Salthill with the meeting being supplemented by attending a Sigerson Cup game between UCG and UCC. I’ve never adapted to the modern appendage of NUIG which stands for the National University of Ireland Galway. After meeting up we headed for UCG’s grounds at Dangan. It was a cold miserable day and the Fitzgibbon hurling game was in progress between the same two colleges. UCC in the familiar distinctive red jerseys with black band and skull and crossbones motif were winners in a game that UCG could have got a draw from. It was a difficult day for skilful hurling which happened in patches. The 30 man panel of UCG had only two from out of Galway.
There was a long break before the football game which was a do- or- die affair. UCG started brightly with a Robert Finnerty a lively player causing problems for Cork. However, when Cork settled they got two quick goals which of course were crucial to the result. Galway fought back and by half time the margin had narrowed to a couple of points. The introduction of Corofinn star Kieran Molloy promised good things for Galway but Kerry player Sean O’ Shea was a star turn. Galway had the chance to draw level and send the game into extra time but their free-taker missed from close in with the last kick of the game. It was the trauma that lands on a missed penalty taker in a shoot-out. There was no Roscommon player participating with just two substitutes Aaron Brady  and Padraic Halpin.
Through the decades Roscommon players have played an integral part of many Sigerson teams. From our own area, there is a number such as, in the 30s’,  Dr. Hugh Gibbons who was a star player with a UCG team that ruled the roost then as he won on 5 occasions. UCG won 8 in 10 Sigersons in the thirties. Bill McQuillan captained a College team to victory circa 1950. Paddy Nangle was also part of the winning UCG teams of the early 60s’.  John Kelly starred for UCD in the late sixties. Timmy O’ Dowd was a UCG player in the early 70s’ with Tom Ryan in the 90s’. Sean Daly and later Niall O’Donohoe featured with Sligo I.T. in their early days. Around four years ago the Smith brothers and Tadhg Lowe starred with DCU with a great win in Cork against Cork which a number of Boyle GAA supporters were happy to witness.  Evan McGrath was on the U.C.G. panel in 2019 when they lost a great game against UCC. UCC and UCG seem to have a real history which has tiltedin favour of Cork with 23 Sigersons wins, to UCG a creditable 22 wins bolstered by the golden era of the 30s’ with their 8 wins.  

‘It’s the little things that trip you up’
1. While it is not a little thing but the story on the radio as I write here is of a homeless man being seriously injured while some tents were being cleared from the banks of a Dublin’s Grand Canal. It emerged that underneath one of the tents that was being removed by a machine was a person. In the process, he was seriously injured and removed to hospital with life-changing injuries. It of course highlights again the plight of the homeless particularly in the cities and how the authorities find it impossible to redress those extreme issues. Numbers are being quoted as I speak and all that but there can be no confidence that the situation will get hugely better. An ‘incident’ that brought it into stark light was the death of a man in a doorway close to Leinster House around four years ago. There was an outcry then and things improved but they have regressed.
The argument from the Government is that; “There is no reason for anyone to sleep out on the streets as there is emergency accommodation available for everyone”. The issue- question there is…Why will people choose to sleep on the streets rather than access this supposed total accommodation? They are saying that it is safer to sleep in their tents than in the hostels! 
From a political/election point of view this ‘incident’ is a very unwelcome grenade.
2. While this has gone off the radar the stupidity of the printer for Leinster House and the remedial work needed to facilitate its location was mind-boggling.
3. The spiralling cost of the National Children’s Hospital which is being built in a very contentious restricted site will be a story for a number of years yet.
4. The decision that was short-circuited to commemorate the R.I.C. at Dublin Castle championed by the Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan. What a start to at least 3 years of very sensitive commemoration. Regularly on the high stool, a person will suggest; “I could have told them that…it wouldn’t fly.”  Regarding the assimilation of ‘Black and Tans’ into the R.I.C. in 1920 it really developed after a considerable number of RIC members left the organisation for a variety of reasons. A small number would have supported the emerging Irish Republic after the 1918 General Election. Others were frightened for their own safety and that of their families. A number would have emigrated to England and the U.S. The substantial reduction in numbers was filled by ‘recruits’ from England who were well remunerated. These were the ‘Black and Tan’ elements most with WW1 experience. So commemorating the RIC with its ‘Black and Tan’ connection at that particular period was an “I could have told them that …’ incident.      

5. School Secretaries were in the news last week as they picketed Leinster House too with issues of pay rate, no summer pay and no pension.  Their status when compared to internal Department of Education secretaries is stark. I know from my previous life that the work of school secretaries is immeasurable. They are the ‘first responders’ to so many issues in the school environment. They are the glue in the school framework. Without them, the running of schools would become a tangled web. So give them respect and their due.
(I’ll move on to a more positive zone).
56th BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition
There was a great picture of the winners of the primary award at the above on Saturday’s Independent. They were Cormac Harris and Alan O’Sullivan from Cork. Their project looked at; “Stereotyping in young children and how to combat it.” The reaction of the boys was hugely positive almost expressing the feeling that they found it hard to believe. They now go forward to a European equivalent of the exhibition. This initiative has to be a big driver of secondary student initiatives and many winners have gone on to great success in their lives. I may be wrong but were the Collison brothers of Strype winners here a decade or so ago? Good luck to the winners and I imagine there are many fine ideas in the projects that did not get the primary accolade. One which I saw referred to a drone delivery of defibrillators!   The Roscommon Herald features the Roscommon entrants. I visited the Young Scientist expo once in the mid-nineties when my neighbour had a project there. It is such a great initiative.

James Dodd the Hurler
Michael Caine had a two-part biography decades ago maybe. The first book was titled ‘Not a Lot of People Know That’…the second being ‘Not a Lot of People Know this Either’. At the launch of hurling in Boyle, I came in contact with Roscommon hurling official Kieran Farrell from Tremane. We talked a bit about the hurling teams of the late sixties and told me that they were going to ‘honour’ two Roscommon teams that had won ‘Special All-Irelands’  fifty years ago in 1969. One was a minor team and the other was U16. He mentioned about a young Boyle man called James Dodd and asked if I knew him, which of course I did. ‘Well he was part of the Roscommon U 16 hurling team, especially in the early games and we’d like to invite him to the re-union Kieran replied. So I contacted James and got his take on it and he was pleased to be remembered. He was involved in the early games being ferried there by Mister Hurling of then, Offaly man Bob Carr. He missed out, somewhat, subsequently after accompanying his uncle, Father Kieran Dodd, on a holiday abroad. Holidays had also contributed to his hurling initiation as they were to relations in Tipperary.
So in mid-December, James returned to the re-union in Roscommon’s hurling heartland of Athleague fearing he would know ‘no one’. But no, as a familiar face of someone from his current native town of Nenagh emerged with ‘What are you doing here?’ he being a member of the minor team while James had been on the U 16 team.
So the night turned out to be a nice acknowledgement of a sporting highlight from 50 years ago. 
As a postscript it is well to acknowledge that James played Gaelic football with distinction for St. Mary’s College; Boyle teams in a series of county finals and Roscommon minors in the seventies and coached the game in Boyle and in his adopted town of Nenagh. 
Changing Lanes
I travel to Galway regularly. By tradition, my road was via Frenchpark, Castlerea, Williamstown and Dunmore and Tuam. That is a challenging route, especially in darkness. I knew a lady once who in her early driving initiation, on that road actually, told me that when she passed a cyclist she used to check her rear- view mirror to ensure that the cyclist was still intact! Why I say that is that there are times when meeting large vehicles on that the margin of error is negligible. So now I have changed to Frenchpark, past Ballagaderreen, Swinford, Knock, Claremorris via Ballindine and Milltown and linking into Tuam. Apart from a number of miles between Milltown and Ballindine it is a much better road.
So I have ‘made the change’ which is something akin to ‘shop around’. It may be costing me some five or so minutes but the steering wheel grip has relaxed a little! 

Watch what you say, politician!
This is a given but Heather Humphries a former minister (I presume now) referred to the Fianna Fáil front bench as a Junior ‘B’ team. I took immediate offence to that reference as I have a fond attachment to the ‘Jnr. ‘B’ teams for many years and especially after the Boyle team’s exploits this year. Indeed Kilteevan St. Joseph’s celebrated their win over Boyle in 2018 as if it meant the world to them.
Heather was using the analogy that the Fianna Fáil front bench has not got the wherewithal to govern. It is hard to be a star when you are consigned to the subs bench for nine years…something FF would not be used to.
*Michéal Martin deserves an awful lot of credit for supporting the F.G. Government for so long with ‘confidence and supply’. I imagine that there were many in F.F. who had reservations about that and especially its duration.
Anyway, Heather when this note is brought to your attention ‘Give Respect Get Respect’.   

Windows 7
While I am no techno person I have seen this week that Microsoft are ‘not supporting Windows 7’ henceforth and the general advice to people is to upgrade or investigate their security status generally. As I say I’m not qualified in the elements of all this but a thing I don’t want is infection issues with the laptop.

There were a few things I thought I might mention this turn such as some reflection on the happenings of Christmas, meeting people home for Christmas who I wish well on their return to x, y, z; the Golden Globes some T.V. programmes good and bad and so on… but we will adjourn.
Slán for now


Thursday, December 19, 2019

Update 19th December

Greetings to (apologies for errors):

Australia (A hot place right now)
Ciaran Conlon and family/ Paraic Sweeney & Sarah/ Conor Nangle/ Enda, Jacquie and Emer O’Callaghan/ Seamie Gallagher/ Damien Keenehan/ Ciaran Keenehan/Clodagh Egan from Green St. in Sydney/Ger. O’Gara and clan including Joan and honorary Boyle man, Sean Casey/ Joseph Moran in Sydney/ Jenny Jessop (O'Dowd) from Abbeytown/ Dr. Timothy O'Dowd/ Benny Sheerin, Sydney.

The U.S.
Damien Dooley/ Frankie Flaherty/ Marcus Kennedy/ Joseph Mahon/ Brendan O’Callaghan/ Chris O’Dowd & family/ Doirbhle O'Dowd/ Austin and Paraic Beisty & family/ The Spellman family x Forest View/ Pat and Margaret Lavin also x Forest View now/ Niall Mc Crann  /Pat and Peter Nicholson/ Arnold Gaffney, Boston/ Hillary and Kenneth Beirne.  (I’m sure there are many more but….)

Tadgh Egan/ Sean Mullaney/ Miss Compton/ Dearbhaile Mac Namara in Toronto/ Dr.Patrick Nicholson, formerly Sheegora now in Toronto.

John Harrington/ Gary Tiernan/ Nicky Emmett/Sarah Mullaney/ John O'Dowd from Abbeytown/ Niall Greenan/ Christy and Jim Toolan, London/ Paddy Conlon & family

Rory Nangle/ Lorraine & Oran and family. 

James Candon in Brussels

Germany and Belgrade
The Gannon family Belgrade/ Michael and Maria Kelly and family in Munich.

Sean Young & family/ John & Joan Gallagher and family/ Gavin, Declan and Anthony in various places.

Mattie Scott in sunny Portugal.

Darren Dockery, the Gulf!

South Africa
Carmel Finneran.

Fr. Tony Conry.

Tadhg Lowe.
Catriona Moran and family.

New Zealand
Elisabeth Hemi Taute (Sweeney) husband and son Cian in N.Z.
Christina Marnell daughter of Marie Paul also in New Zealand.

(Above is just a guesstimate as to Boyle people in far-flung places. Apologies for errors).

Cionlinte na Nuacht

The Annual GAA Quiz takes place in St. Joseph’s Hall on Saturday December 28th at 8 p.m.

These quizzes have been going now for 11 years or so. It started with a World Rally fundraiser in The Moving Stairs on Dec. 30 ’08 in Barry Lowe’s ‘The Moving Stairs’. The Stairs was a fine bar then with many illustrious musicians, traditional and otherwise performing there. The Quiz returned to the venue in both ’09 and ’10. In 2010 a sound system linked into the upstairs restaurant from the ground floor. It was jammed that night. So the following year the venue became the Town Hall where it has rested since. In 2012 a Frances Candon Disco added volume and chaos to the occasion. In 2015 Chris O’Dowd graced the event and was generous when being requested to do varied presentations. For 2016 I noted ‘a very good atmosphere’ so that was fine. In 2017 I did a raw survey asking participants if we’d go again the following year or ‘get away with it again’. The survey got a positive response and so ’18 was fine and we are at that time again on Sat. the 29th. The Quiz is also used to make presentations to various players, club activists and teams. These will be smaller this year as the Dinner Dance took some of them. A positive of the Quiz in the Hall is that there is room for people home from x,y and z to meet up and chat with people they have not seen for some time. This can be done in some of the hostelries also but sometimes in trying to do this it is difficult in those crowded environs.  So it a decent social event and if you are in Boyle on that Saturday evening you will be most welcome and hopefully you will enjoy and meet many friends in a Christmas atmosphere in uncrowded environs. There will be time afterwards to visit the night clubs of Boyle if that is your desire!

The GAA is also involved in a charity football game in the Abbey Park on St. Stephen’s Day.

The Club’s AGM will take place at 7.30 pm on Friday the 3rd of January. All Club members are invited to this very important meeting to reflect on 2019 and plan for 2020.

Ending the GAA theme The Rossies Fundraising Committee, with the generous backing of Sean Mulryan and Ballymore Properties, have advanced from their hugely successful ‘House Draw ‘of 2018 with a novel variation which is an apartment in a key area of LONDON town. This has enormous potential for providing the necessary monies to bring Hyde Park up to standard and developing the Dermot Earley Centre of Excellence. Roscommon is blessed with a mentor like Sean Mulryan and his company. So if you happen to read this spread the word in London and everywhere you can as this is a special innovation. You will be hearing much more about it after Christmas. 

Congratulations to Boyle Choir who featured on Lyric FM on Monday with Frankie Simon’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ composition. Frankie is a really class musician and composer and it was nice to hear his piece and the choir on the national airwaves classical outlet.

Boyle GAA Dinner Dance
Boyle GAA held a very successful and enjoyable celebration of the year gone and also Riverdance year of ’94 in remembering the winning Intermediate, Junior and U 21 teams of that year. They all received their tokens. First up though were this year’s winning County Junior ‘B’ winners led by their Manager, Steve Tonra. This would seem a modest competition to win but having accidentally observed how St. Joseph’s Kilteevan celebrated a similar win last year and the enjoyment gleaned from this win by Boyle the axiom that ‘everything is relative’ rang true. Their medals were presented by the County Board GAA Chairman Seamus Sweeney, himself from Boyle but domiciled in Croghan for a good number of years.

Special Guest, county player Enda Smith presented the panel of players from the three ’94 teams with their mementos. A special welcome was expressed for Michelle Corrigan who represented her brother Stephen R.I.P. of the ’94 teams. Stephen passed away suddenly during the summer.  Club Chairperson Kathleen Hanmore made presentations to Anne Young on behalf of the team manager Sean; to Eileen McGowan on behalf of John McGowan a selector then and to Michael Costello also a selector. Gary Wynne Capt. of the winning Intermediate team spoke of the team and of Sean Young as did Michael Costello.

Sean Purcell on behalf of this year’s senior team noted the contribution of Barry Lowe and David Kelly to Basil Mannion’s management team of 2019. While Kathleen Hanmore presented the four senior county players from the year Enda and Donie Smith, Cian McKeon and Evan McGrath with mementoes to remember their elevation to that level.

Enda Smith in conversation with the M.C. spoke of his GAA development, where it all began on Forest View Green, the under-age teams and transition through the various club, school and county teams, D.C. U. and Sigerson, his nomination for All-Star and being selected to travel to Australia with the Irish Gaelic ‘Compromise Rules’ team and of a recent trip to New York and meeting up with Finbar Furey. A year’s highlight was the family receiving the President’s Award in Coke Park last autumn. 

Other people to get mentioned were; coach Stephen Bohan, Mary Clifford as new President of the Northern Board, Sponsors of the diner,  Elis, Michael Kerins Construction, Purcell Print and Feelystone and regular sponsors Cooney- Nissan Motors and McGovern Engineering.  The band was the very well received Ultrasound with the venue Kilronan Castle also coming up trumps on all counts.

Well over 200 people attended and the overview expressed was that it was a great night with many veterans and a large number of young people enjoying the occasion.    

The U.K. Election and All That

While I expected the Conservative/Tory party to win the British election I would not have thought –like many- that they would get such a majority. I used the word ‘unbelievable’ numerous times last spring with the shenanigans in The House of Commons and in British politics generally. I cannot use it now as –sad as it may be-anything is possible.

 Why did the Tories win by such a margin? A big reason is an inept Jeremy Corbin. In one of the most important questions in the U.K. since WW2 he was not able to come down with any clarity on his Brexit position. The split Labour Party which once had the Conservative Party on the ropes in the early terms of Tony Blair but with the Iraq War intervention and the famous W.O.M.D. narrative he (a bright man) lost his credibility and the Labour Party have not recovered since. A large section the Corbynites wrap around a machine of young people which emerged as ‘Momentum’. The probable solutions are a divided Labour Party as the pro and anti EU are irreconcilable.

Oddly the Trade Unions which were once so powerful seem to be on the side-lines in this and Wales sleeps on.

Another really sad disclosure when looking at the results of the elections is the minimal showing of The Green Party. It shows how little consideration the electorate have for the huge question of the moment and the future i.e. Global Warming’.

A future very interesting scene to keep watch on is Scotland and the Scottish Nationalist Party. Their call now will be for another Independence Referendum. There is an emerging labelling of what is happening politically referred to as ‘English Nationalism’.

What’s happening in Scotland is replicated in Northern Ireland. The DUP paid for its strident pro Brexit policy which is resisted by a certain percentage of its traditional vote.

It was good to see the SDLP come back on stage again as well as the Alliance party. The incredible political stagnation and suspension of a Stormont Parliament for 3 years has got the Northern electorate up in arms and they have given the established parties a kick up the transom and said ‘get on with it now or else’.

A disappointment for me was the very poor showing of the Lib Dems as well as The Greens. About a year ago things looked good for them and their leader Jo Swinson. But a real issue for them particularly is the voting system.

A real issue in the U.K. election was/is their ‘First Past the Post’ voting system. In this small parties have little or no chance of making an impression. Under this system with say 3 candidates a winning candidate needs circa 35% while the remaining pair may get 65% of the vote if evenly divided. So 65% do not get the candidate they voted for. This is a simplistic picture but valid. Of course with a large number of candidates it could be even worse. It suits strong parties of course and de Valera tried a couple of times to introduce the system in Ireland historically.                  

Watching T.V.

‘The Pacific War in Colour’

I have mentioned before that I have watched a lot of war films and series. I am watching one now on Sunday nights on RTE 2 called ‘The Pacific War in Colour’. All the film is taken from actual footage taken by various participants in that horrific experience.  It covered the various ‘battles’ of the period from December 1941 to late summer 1945. The Japanese expansion in the Pacific had extended through South East Asia with invasion of huge tracts of territory including the Philippines and stretching to New Guinea when Australia seemed likely to be invaded also. When the Americans and Australians finally halted the advance and began a push back with a policy called ‘Island Hopping’. Battles for these islands, some very small, were fought with a savagery and intensity that is unimaginable. These island included Guam, Palaua, Saipan and Okinawa. Another island Iowa Jima gave the iconic picture (a recreation of an actual earlier flag raising ceremony there) of the flag being raised on its mountain, Mt. Suribachi.  The Japanese ‘fight to the death culture’ with ‘no surrender’ resulted in suicidal battles. Eventually the power of the United States industrial complex overarched everything. One occasion that is rarely mentioned is the fire- bombing that destroyed Tokyo, by around two hundred bombers.

From their experience and loss of life in the island- hopping campaigns the United States feared that the number of casualties they would suffer in an actual invasion of the Japan proper would be enormous. The final solution of the dropping of the atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki resulted from this fear. Why they felt they needed the destruction of the second city I do not know.

The campaigns were directed on land by a larger than life General Douglas McArthur while the overwhelmingly powerful (eventually) U.S. navy’s chief was Admiral Chester Nimitz.

One of the final episodes I presume will air on Sunday night next at 8 with the invasion of an actual Japanese island Okinawa with which the ‘the fight to the death’ for the homeland is again to the fore. (Perhaps this is not the time to be writing about such things… I kinda drifted into it)

A Programme Missed…Seamus Heaney: The Music of What Matters;

For some reason I actually missed this programme which was on BBC 2 on Saturday November 30th. I had been hoping for a repeat. Now if that was TG4 that would a given but BBC 2 no. The advance note on its transmission went; “The life and work of poet Seamus Heaney is explored in this documentary with the help of his widow Marie and children Michael, Christopher, and Catherine, who read some of the poems he wrote for them. “ The post transmission reviews commended the programme so maybe it will return. There is a fine centre in his memory in his native place in Bellaghy, Derry which I hope to visit soon. I did meet him briefly, some years ago at Boyle Arts Festival, when he gave a talk in The Church of Ireland. Seamus died on Friday, August 30th 2013. I regret not following my instinct and attending his funeral removal as I was in Dublin on Sunday Sept. 1st for All-Ireland Semi-Finals Dublin v Kerry in senior and Roscommon v Tyrone in minor.  

“History says; Don’t hope On this side of the grave.

But then, once in a lifetime

The longed-for tidal wave Of  justice can rise up

And hope and history rhyme”.   

One of my favourite Heaney poems is;
“When all the others were away at Mass”

Bridget & Eamon… From the Sublime to the Ridiculous:

I had seen fragments of this programme when channel- hopping for a time. Then I decided to watch through an episode of it for a half-hour just to see if my instincts were properly attuned. They were.  It was terrible and how it could be justified for broadcast is totally lost on me.

Garech Browne; Last Days at Luggala

I watched this last night –Wednesday. It dealt with a somewhat eccentric member of the Guinness family who lived in a beautiful location in Wicklow. Unusually for someone of his background he became immersed in traditional music and helped found Claddagh Records. With this he put on record a lot of Irish music and helped establish ‘The Chieftains’, Sean O Riada and piper Leo Rowsome amongst others. He also recorded a number of Irish poets reciting their own poems including Patrick Kavanagh.

 During the programme, after a reference by Garech to Ennis Fleadh, up popped a clear 30 seconds of an All-Ireland Fleadh in Boyle. Those took place in 1960 and 1966. Garech is also remembered in being the Ceili House Bar and asking the proprietor to join a developing session. When she replied that she had to tend to the bar he volunteered to do that for her. So the Guinness heir served his family’s brew while the proprietor enhanced the session. 

The Dáil in Recession Next election Issues
The Dáil took its Christmas break yesterday for Christmas. It has been an eventful year there. When they return it is not going to be any different. The first item on the agenda will be the timing of the coming election in say April or thereabouts. Fine Gael have been lucky in the political sense that Fianna Fáil were so helpful with their ‘confidence and supply’ co-operation. But the gloves will be off in the New Year.

Questions for Government party members in the coming year;

The whole health provision is pretty questionable with hospitals as if they were on the edge of war zones. The trolley scandals, the waiting lists and so on. Also the growing expenditure over the National Children’s Hospital.

Housing; They have never gotten to grips with it and never looked as if they would. They backed housing minister Eoghan Murphy when so many felt he was a duck.

There is a web of issues !!

The number of people homeless. The number of children in hotel rooms and unsuitable accommodation.  People sleeping on the streets.

During the week there was a radio interview with a Finnish Minister who expressed the sentiment that a home was an essential requirement for social rehabilitation and advancement. Occasionally we see a former homeless person/family getting access to their own place and the transformative effect this has.

[An aside. Finland has now the youngest Female Prime Minister in the world and the 5 main areas of Government also have 5 female ministers. Are the ways of these Nordic countries which are so far ahead in a whole range of social provision issues not studied and can we not learn from them?]

Accommodation Rental and Purchase:

Rentals now average up to €1700 per month in Dublin. These are so prohibitive for young couples wishing to ‘get on the property ladder’. 

Crèche and Insurance Provision:
These have emerged recently though the cost of a child’s crèche provision is like another mortgage. Currently, here are issues for those crèches with exorbitant insurance calls. Insurance costs are a general issue in health, motoring, small business, event provision etc.

So fine Gael canvassers get your act together on the pillar issues of the next election, Health, Housing, Insurance, Child Care and my old friends x,y,z.

Smokey Coal
The Minister for coal has decided on an incremental banning of ‘smokey’ coal. The large cities had it banned some years ago with a big health dividend. Now an extra number have been added to the list but there are a lot not included. This is out of fear of being involved in legal issues as a consequence. It’ll come to all of course. Sean O’Rourke asked Minister Bruton this am; ‘How many legal actions have been taken against the illegal use of ‘smokey’ coal in restricted areas over the years?’ The Minister made no answer to this because as Sean knew the number is probably zero.    

F.A.I. Turmoil
Isn’t it incredible the way things have emerged with this organisation? They really deserve a minister like Sean Ross. First it is the peoples’ (well some peoples) favourite John Delaney the songster, beer buying C.E.O. of soccer being so generous giving loans to his employer and then it turns out that the organisation is a ‘basket case’. Classic Ireland the debts start off at X and incrementally increase to multiples of X. At last ‘Audit’, today say, it is over 60 million in debt. Then they take the hump because Sean Ross goes and tells a Dáil committee the truth something FAI hierarchy is not familiar with.  Unbelievable.

Like the Dáil I’ll adjourn at that.


And may your gods go with you at this special time of year. t.c.


Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Update 11th December

The Silver Anniversary of Boyle GAA’s Riverdance Year of 1994.

I am regularly asked by a friend, ‘What are you at now? I suppose you are still stuck in the GAA?’ My double-edged answer to that is; ‘I am busy and with regard to the GAA I just do a bit of consultancy there now, from the backbenches’. If there was a house of lords (lack of capitals –deliberate) I would be in that red- seated room (blue carpet). A quiz question there!
One of the big occasions for a club’s GAA year is the irregular Dinner Dance which Boyle are having on Saturday night next celebrating a former victorious year. On Saturday night, in Kilronan Castle, Boyle GAA Club’s guests are members of teams that won championships in 1994. So it is the 25th or Silver Anniversary of the winning of the Intermediate championship in late and the O’Gara Cup also, the final of which went deep into ’95.  The Juniors and U 21s’ also won their respective competitions that year as did the U 14s! The Club’s P.R. O. was also regarded as a county winner with the club getting the best picture award i.e.  ‘Club of the Year’ in the county. All this was celebrated at the Club’s Dinner in the much-missed Forest Park Hotel early in January ‘95 where Roscommon legend Gerry O’Malley was ‘Guest of Honour’ with Frank Dennehy representing the County Board. One of the picture frames in the clubhouse is dedicated to a fine collection of photographs from that night. The most iconic picture in that is of the club Chairman then, Liam Kerins, festooned with cups as he made his way to where the photographs on the night were taken. The picture made its way onto the front page of The Roscommon Herald. Liam’s picture is being displayed currently on the publicity for the event on Boyle GAA’s Facebook. It would have been a winning entry in any photographic competition for Christy Regan. 

That Intermediate Final Team
The Intermediate win was the first for eleven years with the initial win being in 1983. I have said that this was the best team and panel that I have seen since coming to Boyle in 1972. The team had strengths in all lines. While I do not intend a forensic analysis I’ll attempt a general picture. The goalie Jonathan Conroy was fronted by a powerful full-back line of team captain and county player Gary Wynne with Vinnie Flanagan and Mark McGovern. The half-line was also strong with Stephen Bohan, county player Gerry Cregg, and Fergal Costello. I’m diverting here now. With a good quiz team through the eighties if we had John Mac Nama with us we would be contenders in most quizzes. I felt similarly with Tom Ryan in the Boyle team at midfield. On Final day he was accompanied by another strong big man in Pat Carty. The half-forward line had Enda Cregg-Gerry’s brother-Jnr. Smith another veteran but wily campaigner and the whizz kid Niall O’ Donohoe who won the ‘Man of the Match’ award, that day and was to repeat it with an even more scintillating display ten years later in 2005 v Kilmore. At number 13 was Niall’s brother Owen nearly as fine a Gaelic player as he was at soccer and that says something. At no. 15 we had the hustling bustling Michael Tormey who couldn’t have been long out of county minor grade. Possibly the most understated player was the number 14, but a real gem of player that day was Sean Kerins. The switch of Kerins and Smith was hugely effective with them opening up a channel for the Lewis Hamilton that was Niall O’D. to do irreparable damage and as Adrian King suggested he gave the team’s cutting edge a ‘je-ne-sais-quoi’ i.e. for pure ‘class’. Within the extended panel, there were several very good players who would have maintained the levels I mention above if called on. Those panel members as per team picture were; Liam Conroy, Joe Sweeney, Brian Kennedy, Jason Beirne, Bernie Shannon, John O’Dowd, Ml. Kerins, Des McLoughlin, Donal Kelly, Aidan Lavin, Adrian King, and Noel Casey.
The Manager was Sean Young of course with selectors John McGowan and Michael Costello.
The team graduated to senior in ’95 but lost out to Kilmore in a rain-soaked Elphin in ’95 and to Clan na nGael in ’96 when a great late rocket from Tom Ryan rebounded off the woodwork.
In the campaign Boyle had two great battles with St. Ronan’s drawing one and losing one. Another game was a tight win against St. Croan’s . Boyle comfortably overcame Western Gaels in the Northern Final and gave an exhibition in comprehensively defeating St. Dominick’s by 1.15 to 0.5 in the county final. Boyle Band led the victorious team into the town on their return to the Royal Hotel.
The Junior Team and Two Goal Fests
In the Junior campaign, there were a number of incidents worthy of note. In a comprehensive defeat of St. Ronan’s Bernie Shannon bagged 3.3 of the team’s total of 4.10. Still, the game best remembered and which is now part of Boyle GAA folklore is the team’s win in Tulsk over Michael Glavey’s. Glavey’s were cruising to victory mid-way through the second half and leading by 12 points. Bernie Shannon had not started for whatever reason but he came on and I believe Owen Garvin suggested to him that what Boyle needed then were goals. Bernie duly obliged with an opening salvo. Game on. While folklore gives Bernie most of the following goals also, the scorers were as follows Liam Conroy (2.1) Jason Beirne (1.3) Bernie Shannon (1.1) Paul Flaherty (1.0). The final score was Boyle 5.5 Ml. Glavey’s 2.13.
The team; Ml. Kerins/Aidan Lavin, Capt./ Brian Kennedy/ Gerry McLoughlin/ Eddie Conroy/ Finbarr Feely/ Paul Beirne/ Gerard Sheeran/ James Bohan/ Liam Conroy/ Jason Beirne/ Gerry McCormack/ Donal Kelly/ Paul Flaherty/ Kevin Young with Bernie, Richie Walshe, Peter Flannery and Paraic Moran.
The senior managers were also in charge of this team if I am not mistaken.
P.S. It is said that the substituted player who was togging in, in the dressing room, could not (for a while) take on board the reasons for the euphoria of the Boyle players returning to the dressing rooms subsequently! 
Under 21s’ v Michael Glavey’s More Drama
The U 21 campaign too had its thrills and spills in a winter campaign.  After good wins over Eire Og in Tulsk and Elphin in Kilmore, they faced Ml. Glavey’s in the final also at Tulsk. Boyle seemed as if they were heading for a fairly comfortable win when a late surge by Glavey’s, with the aid of a controversial penalty, left the scores level and the temperatures rising, with Boyle 0.11 Ml. Glavey’s 2.5. In its Roscommon Herald report, the famous escapist’s name was headlined i.e. it was ‘A Houdini Escape for Glavey's.
Two weeks later Boyle made no mistake and became U 21 champions.
The team in the drawn first game was as follows;
J. Conroy/ P.McPadden/ M. McGovern/E. Conroy/ F.Feely/ Fergal Costello (0.1)/ D.Kelly/ P. Carty (0.4) / N. Casey/ L. Conroy/ M. Tormey/ A. King (0.1) / O. O’Donohoe (3)/ B. Kennedy/ J. Beirne (0.2)with P. Moran/ F. Kearns/ F. Woods/ P. O’Donnell / S. Corrigan.  Managers  Gary Wynne & Stephen Bohan.
 (I’m confused by the position of Niall O’Donohoe in relation to this team. Niall was in France at that time and was obviously home for the Intermediate final at the end of October. The R.H. had no report on the U 21 replay as it was Christmas time.  I believe Niall was home for that U 21 replay?)
There may be some errors in the above and I’m happy to take correction on those for the record.
P.S. The O’Gara Cup final v St. Aidan’s drifted into the spring of ’95. So that cup was absent from Liam’s collection!
The Junior team was defeated by Paraic Pearses at Ballyleague in late October but Boyle objected to some ineligible players. While part of the objection was upheld the consequence was that there was no Junior winner declared as a result.
Another competition needs clarification i.e. the Tansey Cup. How did that end?
Anyway it was a great year and I hope that the memories I’ve tried to get to grips with above will get full ventilation on Saturday night at our celebration of ’94 some 25 years later.                                       

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Update 29th November

Blog Friday Nov. 29.

Cionn Linte 
1. Congratulations to Conor Mc Phearson who was the goalie on the Roscommon Fr. Manning Shield -winning U 16 team at Longford last week-end. Recently I referenced the tradition Boyle has had in producing very good goalkeepers so Conor looks set to continue that tradition. My comrade friend, his grandfather John, would be proud of him. Well done Connor.
2. I saw a list of the critics of Greta Thunberg the young Swedish environmentalist with the top three listed as; Donald Trump, Jeremy Clarkson and Piers Morgan!
3. China Watch; (a) the phone ap. Tik Tok where a young girl took a pop at China and its treatment of Muslims in Xinjiang province. It is suggested that over one million people there are in ‘re-education camps’. (b) The owners of stockbroker Goodbody have agreed a deal to sell the company to Bank of China. 
4. On the death of Australian writer and commentator Clive James. The Irish Times had a fine and succinct tribute to him in their headline; ’Clive James-Few others did so many things so well’.   
5. Boyle GAA…Super Saturday Nov. 30th. (a) Boyle Minor ladies v Clann Na nGael at Tarmonbarry in Div. 1 Final at 12. (b) Garda Cup Final, Boyle v Ml. Glavey’s /Eire Og at Boyle @ 1 (c) Keenan Cup Final @ B. at 2.30 provisional. (d) Boyle U 20 v St. Ciaran’s i.e. Fuerty & Creggs at Kilbride in Div. 3 Semi-Final.  
6. In England the senior police officer present at the Hillsborough ground, David Duckenfield, where 96 Liverpool supporters died in 1989 was found not guilty of responsibility for the disaster. The big cats rarely get bitten. 
7. Forklift driver wanted. Apply to the management of the Dáil building, services provision.       

Death of Fleadh Cowboy
Sean has paid tribute to Philip Donnelly already. Ronan Collins had referred to him being in Waterford hospital on his radio show last Monday. His death reminded me again of a great occasion in 1984 in a packed Ceili House Bar. Apparently, Sean (O’Dowd) met Philip and his friend a barrister called Meehan in Lough Key Forest Park on a sunny April, Easter Sunday in ‘84 and the result was a magic session in the then music mecca of Boyle, The Ceile House (where  Londis is now). Amplification, instruments and a supporting cast came on board and the music echoed across The Crescent. It continued until the late hour of 11.13 p.m.! Closing time on Sunday nights then was 10! At 11.13 Gardai on duty called and the great session ended abruptly. Names were taken and when Mister Donnelly gave his address it was 1203 Apple Blossom Street, Nashville, Tennessee. The Garda responded by asking him; “Have you any home address?”  
Subsequently at a court session in June the defendants of the misdemeanour, the ‘ons’, were listed in court. Mr. Callan gave a spirited defence with “It was Easter Sunday night and the place was thronged with Visitors! The people got carried away with this famous musician”. In fairness a Garda witness suggested that; ‘Most of those on the premises were about to leave!”
The licensee was fined £10 while the ‘ons’ were fined £3 and a further small number were fined £5 for whatever reason!  There were a number of people from the Gaeltacht and a German couple from ‘Munchen’ though they were in Corrigeenroe for some time then. 
There was a small report in the following week’s ‘The Roscommon Herald’ headed; ‘Man from Nashville Was to Blame’. The newspaper actually found its way to Philip in Nashville where it was enlarged and placed in a picture frame which adorned licensed premises there for a time. 

Many years later the Clontarf Cowboy returned to Barry Lowe’s Moving Stairs and I brought him the paper account cutting I had retained which he read out to his appreciative audience.
He was a great musician and entertainer and he is fondly remembered for his gigs in Boyle and especially the memorable occasion on that Easter Sunday of ’84.  

Bernard McGuire a Note 
One of Boyle’s outstanding individuals Dr. Bernard McGuire died two years ago on November 24th 2017. I got to know him in U.C.G.’S boxing club in the late sixties and I was happy to see him come to Boyle circa 1980. He was an imaginative man and a great doctor. He was regularly engaged with some project or other from trying to harness water power for electricity generation. A more subtle project which I saw him complete and getting an airing was his construction of a concertina. 
Every time I have occasion to visit Ashlynn cemetery I look over the roadside wall to where he lies in the shadow of a yew tree. While the following poem is a tribute to the ‘Village Blacksmith’ and the tree is chestnut it has echoes appropriate to me remembering Bernard.  
The Village Blacksmith
Under a spreading chestnut-tree
The village smithy stands;
The smith, a mighty man is he,
With large and sinewy hands;
And the muscles of his brawny arms
Are strong as iron bands.

His hair is crisp, and black, and long,
His face is like the tan;
His brow is wet with honest sweat,
He earns whate'er he can,
And looks the whole world in the face,
For he owes not any man.
By- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow – 

Crèches in the Regulatory Spotlight
An issue in the news right now is the climate regarding the regulation of crèches following the ‘RTE Investigates’ expose of July last. A chain of Dublin crèches titled ‘Hyde and Seek’ came in for severe criticism for its supervision protocols in that programme and are now under threat from TUSLA -the Child and Family Agency- of being delisted. 
This also led to tsunami of regulatory demands by TUSLA on crèche administrators in recent days, one being fire regulations. The date for these to be in place has now been postponed. In radio coverage of all this it seemed as if quite a number of crèches would not be able to comply by stated date and also with cost concerns. This would lead to their possible closure which would cause serious problems for parents of children presently in their care and reduce the number of facilities in an already restricted environment. 
Crèches and child care is a huge strain on young couples in terms of access and cost. It is often said child care was like another mortgage.  

GAA Woes
There have a number of articles in the print media on GAA issues in a number of counties. Last Sunday’s Independent had a long article relating to Meath where the now former Chairman tried to induce a referee to sway a game or some such result against a particular club with which he had a gripe.
Limerick had two members of their hurling team sent home early from a trip to New York. There seemed to be a reference to two other Limerick stories but I have not seen the other two. 
Galway seems to have a series of issues. In one the founder and chief of Supermacs, Pat Mc Donagh has begun seeking to know how the sponsorship he has given the county has been spent. While he seems to have donated a large amount of money he has certainly benefitted by the enormous brand- name recognition that his company has, particularly in Galway. Last weekend after getting the Sunday independent as I always do I tried to dismiss, into the recycling bin, some irrelevant sections (to me) such as the Life magazine. Not last Sunday though as the dramatic cover picture was of Galway hurler Padraic Mannion. Padraic was striding through a group of people, mostly youngsters, in Sierra Leone in West Africa. It was accompanied by a solid three page article by John Green sports editor of the Indo. outlining the trials and tribulations of that country. That was good.
But what caught me was Padraic as he walked like a Cuchulainn through the street. He wore the Galway hurling jersey emblazoned on which was the ’Supermac’s’ signature advertisement. I am looking at it now and the incongruity of it is to me striking. Maybe it is an odd observation but it is mine. 
Indeed when one thinks of it the GAA under-age practise of taking teams, winners and especially losers, for a treat after games and what are the venues we have been taking them to…Supermacs or McDonalds? When nutritionists begin to part of under-age back room teams they might have something to say about that. I’ve gone up a side-road there. 
Counties with issues …Mayo… consistent
We had our own serious episode circa 2004 of which I know very little. I’d like to though. 

I’ll adjourn.   
‘May your gods go with you’. 


Thursday, November 14, 2019

Update 15th November

Prologue Notices

1.       Boyle juniors play FUERTY (Note spelling please) in the replay of the Junior ‘B’ championship on Friday night in Strokestown at 8.30 p.m.!  Boyle was in a winning position, coming down the straight, in the first game but the winning chance slipped away in the very end.
2.       Sister Act’ begins next week on Wed. the 20th and continues to Sat. night. The Musical is one of the highlights of the Boyle entertainment calendar so make sure you do not let the opportunity pass without being there.
3.       Climate Change’/ ‘Global Warming’ Disaster the greatest universal challenge for mankind.  
4.       The Irishman’ film. I went to see this film on Wed. It was scheduled for 7.30 but with trailers for coming (and past) films it began at 7.55. It is a very long film and went on until after 11 so over three hours. It has a stellar cast of De Niro/Pacino/Joe Pesci with director Martin Scorsese. Much of it is related in extended flashback. It hangs on a journey and is the supposed memoir of De Niro’s character Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran. There is actually no Irishness about it. It tells the story of Teamsters (Truckers) Union President, Jimmy Hoffa played with panache by Pacino. The film was financed by Netflix and I presume planned to be shown in say 3 segments of an hour each at most. It shows the strong links between the Union and the gangster clans, Italian in this film. A Sat. Indo. Reviewer gave it 5 stars but I’m afraid it would get no more than 3 from me. Firstly it is much too long and a real challenge on the butt. It could have been edited down by the guts of an hour. The hanging of the story around a car journey is problematic. The Sat. reviewer used a nice assessment of the role of Pesci as “gloriously composed’. Pacino was excellent but De Niro had too much in terms of a repetitive nature as the minder/enforcer. The ladies in the film are classic Italian gangster asides. So 3 from me but it is a real challenge to go the distance with it. Back in the day there was an ‘Intermission’ for such films eg. Ben Hur. The ‘Irishman’ is only in cinemas to give it Oscar credentials. It will struggle there but Pesci and Pacino might make a medium list. I’ve already awarded my Oscar from ‘The Joker’ to actor Joaquin Phoenix.           

Climate Change
This was once called ‘Global Warming’ but the name was changed to the softer more benign title of ‘Global Warming’. This week RTE in supporting Science Week dedicated an amount of coverage to highlighting its progress and the devastating consequences for the human race in the near future say 40 or so years. I am not an expert on it all but there is plenty of evidence that changes in the climate are taking place. As I write I can see on the T.V., over my shoulder, the devastating fires in Australia now on the edges of the great and beautiful city of Sydney. Later the news item focuses on the flooding of one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Venice.
During this week as I said R.T.E. transmitted a series of programmes dedicated to the threat of Global Warming. On Monday night the title of the programme was “Will Ireland Survive 2050?” In it meteorologist Gerald Fleming talked of melting glaciers causing rising sea levels and displayed diagrams of areas around our major cities that will be impacted by this and they are hard to comprehend. One gentleman related how he moved from Clontarf to a district which was considerably more elevated because of the future flooding threat to his home. That must be an unsettling example to the people living there or possibly seeking a house there. The thing about the potential disaster is that it may not impact too much on us senior people but we have children and grandchildren and what is the legacy the actions of our generation pass on to them?  Vested interests will hone in on defending their sectors in short minded ways. The farmers will defend their herd and cow numbers and say that they are producing milk at low carbon emissions as opposed to x country and so on. I was puzzled by a farmer last night saying it cost €5 approx. per kilo to produce beef and he sells it for under €4. I may be wrong but the dairy herd has increased enormously in very recent years since the changes to ‘milk quotas’. Why was that allowed when the call now is to decrease cattle and cow numbers?     

Tuesday night’s programme was titled ‘Hot Air; Ireland’s Climate Crisis’. This examined what and where Ireland needs to make the necessary changes to current practises.  A current issue is the generation stations at Lanesboro and Shannonbridge. Since the forties Bord na Mona has been extracting turf from the midland bogs on an industrial scale but a few years ago it was the domestic turf cutters who were first accosted. The use of fossil fuels, oil, gas and peat are also huge contributors to carbon emissions and ‘Global Warming’. But the question for us as consumers seeking to keep reasonable warmth in our homes is; how do we do that? Electric generation by wind is progressing but it too has its costs in environmental impact. Still it is looked on as one of the get out mechanisms. Wave power is not touched on in Ireland though France generated from wave power decades ago.   
An area that is hardly visible to us is the pollution of seas. Tuesday night showed areas around Kerry which were filmed some 30 years ago and again recently. From being a vibrant fishing area with a fulsome eco system some 30 years ago it has turned into what was referred to as ‘a desert’. We hear this from time to time about one of the natural wonders of the world i.e. ‘The Great Barrier Reef’ off the coast of Queens land Australia. 
The skies too contribute with aeroplanes contributing on each journey proportionally huge amounts to the carbon footprint.
What are the answers? Reduction of fossil fuels; major transport efficiencies and so many more. Ireland despite its difficulties is a wealthy advanced country so we should be able to achieve our targets. A question we do not see debated is while we could and should make our positive contribution it would be very small by comparison to the Global giants such as China, the U.S. Brazil and India.    
The Voice of Greta Thunberg
One can see in the demeanour of the young Swedish activist Greta Thunberg the concern and almost the despair in her cry for positive action on ‘Climate Change’. While she is being listened to are her cries being heeded by the powers that be?    
It is important that this lobby does not allow itself to be brushed aside with platitudes by the vested interests and lobby groups who rarely took student activism seriously. Hopefully in the immediate years there will be many more like her.
Occasionally, in say London, one would come across some eccentric with a banner slogan ‘The End is Nigh’ and this was also a cry prior to New Year’s Eve 2000. If the current pessimism is valid those sentiments are not far off unless mankind can rise to this incredible challenge.
Commemorating the Great War
It was on last Monday, November 11th that the end of W.W.1 one hundred and one years ago in 1918 was commemorated. There were a number of T.V. programmes remembering this historic event. These included ‘The Unremembered –Britain’s Forgotten War Heroes’. These turned out to African soldiers and a large number who acted as ‘porters’ who facilitate the transport of goods to the front lines. These front lines were in Eastern Africa where the British colonists faced up German colonists. This is one of the forgotten war zones of WW 1 as Burma became in WW 2.
Also on Sunday night on BBC 2 was ‘They Shall not Grow Old’ about the Western Front with old film getting a modern facelift. Gary Lineker also investigated his grandad’s war which his grandad never talked of. This was the campaign in Italy and the battles against the Germans particularly around the great mountain monastery of Monte Cassino a place I visited once.
When I was circa 15 and going to Roscommon CBS I frequently visited the County Library across the road from the school to borrow books. For some reason I was absorbed by WW 2 and read a great deal on it. It wasn’t quite so with the first war apart from some books like Eric Maria Remarque’s ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’- a rare German take on War 1. There was also one by American writer Ernest Hemingway called ‘A Farwell to Arms’.   
World War 1 saw the emergence of a group of poets who became collectively known as ‘The War Poets’. Amongst these was Laurence Binyon with his most referenced poem being ‘For the Fallen’;
‘They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them’.
Wilfred Owen with ‘Dulce et Decorum’
 It relates the horror of war and warns against the old lie about the glory of it. 
Rupert Brooke, ‘The Soldier’
‘Think only this of me
That there is some corner of a foreign field forever England’

Siegfried Sassoon 
Does It Matter?
Does it matter?-losing your legs?
For people will always be kind,
And you need not show that you mind
When others come in after hunting
To gobble their muffins and eggs.
Does it matter?-losing your sight?
Ireland also contributed a famous war poet with Francis Ledwidge of Slane, County Meath. Senior people will remember his tribute poem to Thomas McDonagh;
 ‘He shall not hear the bittern cry.   In the wild sky, where he is lain, Nor voices of the sweeter birds, Above the wailing of the rain”.       
When I first started teaching-English-in St. Mary’s College one of my classrooms was in the grounds of the Vocational School where the principal was Anthony Martin. My classroom was a double prefab. I taught a first year class, including Paddy McLoughlin, there and used a basic book for First Year edited by Kevin Brophy. Oddly for a first year book it included two WW 1 poems. One was called;
‘Reconciliation’ by Sassoon again.
When you are standing at your hero’s grave,
Or near some homeless village where he died,
Remember, through your heart’s rekindling pride,
The German soldiers who were loyal and brave.

Men fought like brutes; and hideous things were done;
And you have nourished hatred, harsh and blind.
But in that Golgotha perhaps you’ll find
The mothers of the men who killed your son.
It is a generous and rare enough sentiment penned shortly after the war. 
Last Sat. night I happened on a late film titled ‘Testament of Youth’ where this sentiment was also at its end. The original book was by Vera Brittain and was published in 1933. In it the horrors of war, love, loss and the futility of it all are portrayed with the expression of reconciliation at its end.
I know that there is a group of Boyle people for whom the Remembrance of that War, its local participants and its implications are their lives legacy to it not being forgotten. I’m thinking of Oliver Fallon, Michael Beirne and Danny Tiernan. I’m sure there are others. 
There were many more distinguished War Poets such as Wilfred Owen and Rupert Brooke     

R.T.E. in Crisis
A minor crisis by comparison is the future of R.T.E. RTE is funded by a license fee of €160 and whatever it raises from its advertising. There is supposed to be a significant percentage of defaulters in terms of paying the license fee and RTE currently is in financial jeopardy. The head of RTE Dee Forbes says that the license fee model is broken and the whole funding model needs to be restructured. The ideal would be for central funding from the central funds.  
RTE raised some €60m. or so from the sale of lands adjacent to its home at Donnybrook in recent years but that is now gone. A few weeks ago the Director mentioned the sale of ‘paintings’ which might raise a million or so. It was hardly a strategic answer to its problems.
It is proposed to reduce staff by 200. I wonder how many are actually employed by RTE?
A lot of us cringe at the salaries of RTE stars with the frontrunners being regularly listed as Ryan Tubridy €495,000, Miriam O’Callagahan €299,000, Ray D’Arcy €450,000, Joe Duffy €395,000, Sean O’Rourke and Marian Finucane (2 week-end radio shows) €300,000 in 2016. I’ve made the comparison before with the population of Ireland being the equivalent of Birmingham. I would very much doubt if that would obtain there. Yet big star salaries in a small pool environment emerged. While a number of Irish presenters from Ireland ‘made it’ in England I doubt if this would be the case with most of the above.  
Even serious and logical savings in these salaries would not be of much help. Still I’m puzzled by the disregard for current licence payers who must contribute a decent sum. There will always be defaulters but it does not sound logical to abandon a rich source unless a better one is in place.
I may have my paragraphs back to front here because I am a supporter of RTE. It can be criticised in its parts but it has regularly been outstanding also. (This could also be said of the traditional standard bearer of Public Service Broadcasting i.e. the BBC.) It has over the years made telling investigative series and even with a sometimes maligned Joe Duffy it has an outlet for many of the publics woes and difficulties as it is currently doing with its ‘bullying theme’.
So hopefully RTE, in a more subtle way perhaps, will continue to be a national platform for national issues and concerns.