Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Update 7th April

Leitrim Mourns its Sporting Hero…Packie McGarty



It was with sadness that I, a Roscommon man, heard of the passing of Leitrim’s greatest Gaelic footballer, Packie McGarty at the age of 88. I feel that it would be very difficult for young people today to understand what icons like Packie meant to a county then. His decade, in the main, was the fifties when each of the five Connacht counties had their most distinctive and arguably greatest football heroes. Galway had Purcell and Stockwell, Sligo had Naas O Dowd, eclipsed later by Mickey Kearins; Mayo had any number of great players such as Paraic Carney, ‘Big’ Tom Langan and so on; Roscommon had Gerry O’Malley and Leitrim had McGarty and Flynn.

 

From Mohill, McGarty showed his potential early and began to represent the county at the age of sixteen playing senior before he played minor, legend has it.  Due to the circumstances of birth, his was not a career endowed with success and medals but one of relentless striving to get to the upper levels of the hill. It required a deep well of optimism that the next game, the next challenge, might be the one that succeeds. 

 

(We did see it in 1995 when with a dam-burst of emotion Leitrim finally won a Connacht title again and played in an All-Ireland Semi-Final at Croke Park.)

 

Leitrim in the fifties had a fine team led by McGarty and Flynn when they lost three Connacht finals in a row to Connacht kingpins Galway and in 1958 in St. Coman’s Park, Roscommon, they came within a whisker of making the breakthrough with McGarty having the game of a hero. Leitrim and especially McGarty’s failure to get Leitrim over the line that day, which I as  a boy witnessed, gave little joy to his opponents Purcell and Stockwell.

McGarty and teammates continued to toil in the Leitrim colours through the sixties, always with hope in their hearts and McGarty their model and inspiration. It is a benchmark of that era that a county’s finest sporting idol had to immigrate to labour in England being unable to acquire any meaningful work at home. Galway top brass tried to get him to play with Galway and guaranteed a decent job for him, it is said, in the sugar factory in Tuam. However his loyalty to his home county in that respect trumped all.

 

There was one stage though where all of us Connacht people could unite and shout for Purcell, Mayo’s Edward Moriarty from Boyle; O’Dowd from Sligo; O’Malley from Roscommon and of course McGarty. That was in the Railway Cup competition between the provinces.  

Connacht could hold its own and sometimes better on St. Patrick’s Day and crowds would be there from the west to support in unison. I imagine Packie must have revelled in the company of the other Connacht giants like Purcell and O’Malley as the province won in ’57 and ’58. He came to the team in ’54 and continued until ’67. He was a notable absentee in ’59, ’60, and 1961 probably in England then.

 

So I feel that there will be much reflection in Leitrim and with the Leitrim diaspora in far flung cities like New York especially where he also played. Reflection and some tears too, especially amongst senior people who saw him strive against all the odds with skill, tenacity, style and enduring courage realising that fate was not at his back. His memory will live long throughout the proud county of Leitrim. Packie McGarty was a special sportsman whose reward will be in a fairer place.

 


Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Update 26th January

 

Two Very Different Historic Topics of Now ...

 

The Covid War Continues

It would have been very difficult to imagine, in early March of last year, that we would still be battling THE virus. One really has to feel for the legion of frontline workers who have been struggling at those front lines trying, with great courage, to contain the pandemic. They had nearly succeeded and then seen a resurgence; nearly succeeded again and then came this current attack which seems like the most virulent resurgence of all. How those frontline workers have the resilience to continue is heroic? We will be forever in their debt.  

I presume one could say that most people have done their best but of course there are exceptions. The questions are not new about airports, cross-border travel, tracing, - which seems to be abandoned- and all those topics which seem to be on a loop on communication outlets.

One hears, from time to time, people who get infected expressing their puzzlement as to where they could have picked it up. The virus is so insidious with nightmarish tentacles.

The great hope is with the vaccines. So if we can continue with our adherence to guideline contribution, to our country and ourselves, as we enter the spring time of the year, we can once again renew our hope that the broad War may be receding. 

“This is not the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

 

The Presidential Inauguration in the United (!) States;

The swearing-in of President Biden was a very interesting and relaxing event. In a sense millions of people exhaled a sigh of relief at a return of a kind of normality. There was also the end of a turbulent four years when an extraordinary President inflamed passions and was seen by so many to be so extreme in so many ways. (Now one always has to be conscious of the fact that Donald Trump got over 74 million votes).

Trump crashed in a number of the avenues he chose to go down especially in the post-election months. His insistence on the idea that the election was a fraud when so many pointers showed otherwise was one. It is referred to as ‘The Great Lie’, apparently having a historical precedent. The real crash came with the Rally of January 6th when President Trump encouraged his supporters to challenge the political establishment in the Capitol. This they did in a very unforgiving way and Trump’s response was neither reasonable or politically smart.

When someone makes a mistake he might ask himself ‘What was I thinking about’. More often that question is asked ‘What were you thinking about?’ So Trump, Giuliana and Donald Jnr. all lost it in that they could hardly have envisaged the carnage they were encouraging. Or could they?

This led to the second Impeachment which is proceeding now even if Trump is no longer a President. It is pretty obvious that President Biden is struggling with this action. On the one hand, there is a feeling of necessity to punish Tump’s behaviour and responsibility for the March on the Capitol and the deaths, destruction and Insurrection style symbolism of it all. Also, there is the idea that it is the only real opportunity to clear Trump from getting back on the political stage.

For Biden on the other hand it is going to be a big distraction from that precious first 100 days and keeps Trump in the limelight and indulge his huge support. Then, of course, there is the danger of making Trump some kind of martyr and we in Irish history know a bit about that.

The U.S. is said to be nearly as divided now as in the period after the Civil War of the 1860s’. The period after their Civil War was known the period of ‘Reconstruction’ but others also see it as a continuance of the Civil War with the Suppression of the rights of coloured people in the South and so on.

Perhaps some winter hence the Night Class scene could include a course on United States History.

Returning to the Inauguration, there was a great feel to it, of peace, hope and celebration. The theme was one of bipartisanship and coming together. While Biden is in in a strong position in the political houses it seems as if the ongoing policy of the Republicans in the Senate will be one of obstruction and delay. A lot of the sentiment expressed immediately after January 6th will be cast aside.

The big chess piece here is Mitch McConnell.

Getting back again to Jan. 20th, there was a big inclusion of faith and practitioners of faith with the huge Bible, priest friend and Reverend friend. The entertainment was loud and colourful with Lady Gaga punching it out with J Lo and Garth Brooks with Amazing Grace. Keep in mind the M.C. Amy Klobuchar whose joy was so evident. Last summer she was seen as a Vice President candidate but stepped back from it. The really happy face in it all was Vice-President Kamala Harris. She is the first woman to be such and a real contender. She is bound to attempt goin the extra step up when the opportunity arises.

For me though the lady who stole the show was the 22-year-old Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman with a ‘poem’ titled ‘The Hill We Climb’. It was not just a reading or recital of a poem but a performance of art as the clear voice, the gesticulating hands and all her body and soul exclaimed her message.

I encourage you to Google her performance on U Tube. It could join some of the great speech passages such as President J.F Kennedy’s

‘Ask not what your country can do for you ask what you can do for your country’

 or the great

‘I Have a Dream’ speech of Martin Luther King, who, in a sense, enabled Amanda and Kamala to be on the Capitol podium on Jan. 20th.   

 

For me to go onto some more mundane topics, after listening to Amanda again there now, does not seem appropriate.

 I think I’ll take a good break and end here with two favourite conclusion extracts, the first from Thomas Kinsella’s poem;

‘Mirror in February’ 

“I fold my towel with what grace I can,

Not young, and not renewable, but man”.

---------------------------------------------------------------

This vies with some closing lines from Robert Frost’s;

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’.

‘The woods are lovely, dark and deep.

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep’.

(Frost recited a poem at J.F. K’s inauguration)

 

Take Care

and

‘May your Gods go with you’ (Dave Allen).

Sin é.

             

   

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Update 11th January

Prologue

I’d like to wish a good 2021 to some more Boyle people abroad who I missed in my pre-Christmas list; Damien Battles in the U.S.; Colm McQuaid in Melbourne; Killian with a K Egan in London.  

 

Covid Pandemic Over 6,000 Cases Today

It seems incredible that the Covid Pandemic has reached such heights and such virulence again. There are quite a number of times when we believed that we had it nearly under control. But like a forest fire which we thought under control, the embers explode again and the numbers follow suit. While it is ‘challenging’ for us all we can only try and imagine what it is like for those on the front lines. Those especially in the hospitals who had felt, surely, last July and again in late Autumn that they had it under control and that they would get some hard-earned relief only to be confronted by the flames of the virus confronting them again.

I am not competent to suggest why all the above happens and can only theorise on that aspect of it. The rumour mill of Shebeens and house parties and obvious hot spots and so on. Some activities that might qualify the orchestrators to fringe membership of a Trump rally.

Our hope is with the vaccines down the track and that reasoning people will remain reasonable and make their contribution as always.

 

The Broad Challenge of Trumpism

I too am concerned about the immediate future with regard to President Trump. My take may surprise you. It is in train that tomorrow Nancy Pelosi Speaker in The House of Representatives i.e. Congress will promote a motion for the Impeachment of President Trump. He is the only President to have had two runs of Impeachment against him.

The House of Representatives is made up of 435 members. The Democrats are in the majority with 222 Reps. And the majority leader is actually a congressman Steny Hoyer. I have little of him as he seems to be subservient to The Speaker (I presume Chairperson) of the House. The republicans are in the minority with 211 members and their leader is Kevin McCarthy who is vocal. Nancy Pelosi who is easy to dislike dominates and has the position of Speaker since 2003 the first lady in the position.

The Senate is a very different kettle of fish. It is made up of 100 senators from 50 states i.e. that is, obviously 2 senators per state. The Republicans were in the majority in the Senate until Jan. the 6th when 2 Democratic senators were elected for the state of Georgia. It is now 50 v 50 BUT in that situation the Vice President i.e. Kamela Harris has the casting vote thus tilting the balance in favour of the Democrats which is huge tin terms of getting the policies of the Democratic President, Joe Biden, through. The Republican majority leader until Jan. 6th was Mitch McConnell. The incoming Democratic leader in the Senate will be Chuck Schumer with Mitch McConnell moving down to become Republican Minority leader.

So tomorrow Nancy Pelosi will probably get a majority from the House of Reps. But then the motion moves to the senate. There are impossible hurdles there for Pelosi. One is that the Senate is not due to sit again until Jan. 19th the day of the President’s Inauguration. Also with the Senate being 50:50 it needs such a majority that there needs to be a large number of Republicans coming on board against Trump. That will not happen in the numbers required. So it will fail. I presume knowing that it will fail Pelosi and Co. see it as a necessary motion of censure on the sins of President Trump.

THE GREAT DANGER IN ALL THIS is in victimising Trump you are the making a God out of Trump. It is little mentioned that Trump got over 74 million votes in the November election. Not all of his supporters can be of the same strain as the portion of people, from the total attendees at the Washington Rally, who attacked the Capitol last Wednesday.

I believe that political commentary should allow for a percentage of an audience being reasonable using words like ‘majority’ or ‘minority’. It may be hard to do that for Wednesday but remember the 74 million plus voters for Trump. 

On Thursday President elect Biden stumbled (I’d say improvising) into a comparison with the German Propagandist Goebbels saying that there 250, 000 people killed in the Allied bombing of Dresden when it was contended that it was much less. (The bombing of the beautiful city of Dresden is a matter for debate to this day). Biden referred to it as ‘The Big Lie’,  transferring this to the lie of a rigged election as repeated by Trump. Now dipping into Nazi comparisons is fraught with danger and a mistake.

What do Trump’s supporters see in Trump that attracts such unswerving support;

They see an economy which they feel is ‘booming’.

He has kept his ‘America First’ promises as in withdrawing from the Paris climate Accord.

His pro-religious, pro-life policies have pleased conservatives who have contributed to his election.

He has confronted and ‘called out’ the danger of an quickly emerging and dangerous super-power in China.

He was seen as very different politician to the embedded formula of traditional politicians in all areas of Washington.

They fear THE LEFT as they see personified in Bernie Saunders and the LEFT also represented by Biden. The United States have for a century been paranoid by the threat of communism from the 30s’ to Joe McCathy’s witch-hunts in the 50s’, the Cuba crisis in the 60s’; Vietnam which was a ‘push back of communist expansion in south East Asia and Latin America and so.

The idea of ‘fake’ news; the role of Fox News and other channels. The convenience of Twitter which Trump has mastered to stunning extent. All these coalese to paint the opposition as figures of hate.

There is a word called mesmeric I think and people become so fascinated, so influenced by someone that they lose all personal responsibility.

Once I pasted a photograph from a Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis burst of applause into my history book to illustrate the Irish too could lose their grip as they rose to applaud I think it was Charlie Haughey. It is regularly seen when young people attend concerts of artists they ‘adore’ the Beatles, Elvis Presley. Trump could anything with gestures, lies, contradictions and so on and the following would be mesmerised. Those rioters who crashed and then strolled into The Capitol Buildings last Wednesday were intoxicated by the event and had no conception that in the following days the F.B.I. and such would be calling on them for defiling ‘The People’s House’. This was made somewhat easy by the incredible lapse in security with regard to the Capitol.   

  Of course it will be very interesting to see what penalties the main figures who were at the head of that riot will incur. To millions they will be of course be heroes!

The United States is as divided now it seems as it was after the conclusion of The Civil War. The period following the Civil War was called ‘RECONSTRUCTION’. They have to embark on another period of ‘Reconstruction’ now. Has Joe Biden the ability to turn it around? I’m sceptical. A lot of people voted for him because they couldn’t vote for Trump not because they were confident with Mister Biden. He has experience. He is a moderate. His major challenge is clipping the wings of that 74 million voters who sought a different path. He needs to tread very carefully.       

    “The words of a President matter. At their best, the words of a president can inspire. At their worst, they can incite”.

   

     Roscommon Minors (U 17s’) in All-Ireland Semi-Final.

Roscommon Minors defeated surprise packets Sligo in the Connacht Final at Bekan, Ballyhauins on St. Stephen’s Day. It was played in appalling conditions but Roscommon who played a text-book winning game against Galway in the semi-final proved themselves too good for Sligo for most of the game. However, in a low scoring game Sligo came back towards the end but it was too late and so Roscommon progressed. When the game will depend on the status of the virus pandemic.

Oisin Cregg (team Vice-Captain) was selected as ‘Man of the Match’ in the game and well deserved it. Also I commend the other Boyle panellists Conor McPherson and Luke McGrath, the manager and all associated with the team. While this was a final win in terrible conditions the win against Galway was a real treat to watch with all the coaching principles in full view. The best of luck in the Sem-final v Kerry whenever that happens.   

(The last time these same counties met in a Connacht minor final was in 1949. The first game was then played in Boyle, which ended in a draw, and the replay went to extra time at C’Bar which Roscommon won. Sligo however objected to a Roscommon player being over- age. He was but due to a mix up with his age certification he played.  After acrimonious appeal meetings the objection stood. As per rule the Chair. Doctor Hugh Gibbons and the Secretary Michéal O ‘Callaghan were both suspended with the team captain and the player himself. The sanctions to al were lifted some time later. One could do a short thesis on the whole affair. Sligo’s run ended against Armagh in Lurgan.)

 

‘A Dictionary of Roscommon Biography’ by Mike Lennon Strokestown and Dublin.

I recommend highly here a major book titled ‘A Dictionary of Roscommon Biography’ by Mike Lennon of Strokestown. There are some 5000 people listed with biographical notes. This covers Roscommon born people or people who had a strong connection to Roscommon or spent their time in the county. It costs €30 and is available from Una Bhán at King House. I would put it amongst the top three books of relevance to Roscommon County. It is the product of ten years work by Mike and his work and passion for the subject matter shines through in the finished product. It would be a great gift for any time of the year as it was for myself.  

 

The Passing of John McPherson

I heard with sadness at Christmas of the death of my ‘comrade’ John Mac Pherson. The ‘comrade’ tag goes back a long way as if we were the remainders of some long ago imaginary revolution. Like so many I was very fond of John. He was great fun to talk to and often had a trademark twist to his yarns. In thinking of him now I seem to remember that he was a regular user of the term ‘you know yourself’.  He was a faithful follower of Boyle Celtic, Sligo Rovers and Tottenham Hotspurs from which he contacted me not very long ago. He was a member of Boyle town Commissioners and one of the last serving Mayors of Boyle. With his wife Jean they formed a really grand couple. His son Shane representing the family paid his dad a broad tribute of which he would be very proud. May you rest in peace ‘comrade’.

 

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Update 22nd December


Christmas and New Year Greetings to all former Boyle residents. We will be thinking of you and wishing you well especially at this time of year (with apologies for errors and omissions)

Australia 

Ciaran Conlon and family/ Paraic Sweeney & Sarah/ Conor Nangle/ Enda, Jacquie and Emer & Glenn 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, Maggie Carty. Melbourne; Sinéad (O’Donnell) Oon and family, Melbourne; Brian Tiernan. 

The U.S.

Damien Dooley/ Frankie Flaherty/ Marcus Kennedy/ Joseph Mahon/ Brendan O’Callaghan/ Chris O’Dowd & family/ Doirbhle O'Dowd/ Austin and Paraic Biesty & 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….)

Canada

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

England

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

Scotland

Rory Nangle/ Lorraine & Oran and family. 

Belgium

James Candon in Brussels

Germany and Belgrade

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

Spain

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

Portugal

Mattie Scott in sunny Portugal / Frankie Shanley

Dubai

Darren Dockery, the Gulf!

South Africa

Carmel Finneran.

Brazil

Fr. Tony Conry….contributor to Roscommon Herald.

Singapore

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.)


Wednesday, December 16, 2020

update 16th December

Limerick Supreme

From the early minutes of the All-Ireland Final the outcome could be foreseen. The hot favourites Limerick dominated the game with a performance of power, skill, authority and confidence. Many times the final winners are posted as a great side, which will be around for a number of years, this does not always happen. But this Limerick side has the quality of being one of the truly great sides. With the power and physique distributed across a large panel comes all the skills as they regularly rack up magic numbers in terms of points scored quite a few being 30 or more which is classic scoring. They won the 2018 final after a long hiatus and came back this year to take a second championship and look like they will be around for some time to come.


Relentless

One feels for Waterford which most neutral followers would have wished to win. They can have few regrets about losing on Sunday in terms of being beaten by a better side. While they kept in touch for a significant period of time they were doing so in the shadows of a superior team who in the final segment moved comfortably towards their victory.

It was a historic final because of its timeline and the prevailing health dilemma globally. 
In GAA history a small number of finals have been tagged with special titles. The most famous to date has been the 1947 football final played in New York and referred to after the name of the stadium it was played in there. It is recalled as the Polo Grounds final. In 1939   there was ‘the thunder and lightning final’ and today’s final will forever be tagged as the Corona Pandemic or a variant of that name.

Last summer when it was proposed that the two finals would played on Sunday December 13 and Saturday December 19 there was a lot of scepticism and we could hardly picture it happening. But it did come to pass and hopefully the Limerick celebrations will be mooted and dignified and do not come at a high price.

Hopefully, sometime next year, many of the victories, anniversaries and postponed celebrations will be possible and what a crowded diary of events that could be. 

So next Saturday we move to the All-Ireland Football Final Dublin v Mayo. The odds are stacked against Mayo as they face the greatest collective team in history in terms of winning now going for their sixth All-Ireland in a row. I do not know if young GAA followers of today will be able to rhyme off the members of that Dublin team as many youngsters of past decades could run off the names of the great teams such as Mayo in the early fifties, the Down team of 60/61, the Galway 3 –in-a-row of the sixties, Kerry and Dublin in the seventies Tyrone and the breakthrough teams and of course Roscommon in the 40s’! This Dublin is always adopting a small number of new players. Still it has three maybe four players who would stand out in the history of the game.

For me they are; Brian Fenton, my favourite player; Ciarán Kilkenny with massive contributions on a number of levels; the goalkeeper, Stephen Cluxton who has redefined the role of the keeper; and the ever-improving Dean Rock.

The best of luck to Mayo. Their resilience and heart is of a noble nature and it would be the ironies of ironies were they win next Saturday. A few Mayo flags would not go amiss in this season of goodwill and community spirit!       

BREXIT ‘The End is Nigh’

So it goes on and on. I could go on. The poker game of negotiations with deadlines falling by the wayside but…I assume December 31st is the final, final day of reckoning. It seems as if there is this nightmare beneath the Coved nightmare and the future of Global warming suggested as more dangerous than all that.

Lord Frost

While we refer to the Brexiteers as British they are for the most part English with some misguided constituency from Northern Ireland.

Some personage in the British establishment played one of its favourite historic cards with the news this week that the Royal Navy was gearing up a number of its navy ships to be ready for immediate action to protect its fishing rights as they saw it. This was an echo of Maggie Thatcher launching her ‘Task Force’ to go thousands of miles to put manners on a minor power in the South Atlantic. The Belgrano and all that. It won her an election which was its role!

Last week’s announcement re its ships getting ready for action was classic timing…mistiming.

‘Sabre rattling’ or ‘Gunboat Diplomacy’ is a thing in dusty history books. I wonder what the Germans thought of it?

It is a huge economic issue and the consequences for all involved are seismic. Again for us the ‘dammed border’ raises its ugly head in terms of entanglement. Recently in a conversation with someone, we shared opinions on how long the ‘dammed border’ can survive/continue in being an anchor on our dreams. While he optimistically felt 5 to 10 years my own view was circa 40/50 years.

The vast economic consequences are hobbled by the narrow political dictates of Westminster backbenches. As I see it, the front line of British political decision-making is bereft of people of quality and imagination with the Labour Party, though now having a reasonable leader, having been unable to rise from the bogland of paralysis.

While that cast of British politics are anathema to many in this country there is another side to it all. When this country was on its knees especially in the decade, which I witnessed, the 1950s’ England provided a safety valve for the Irish ‘Free’ State as hundreds of thousands emigrated. So England is twisted flax.

Mister Brian Stanley Sinn Féin T.D. Apologises.

In a message posted in late November, on the centenary of the Kilmichael ambush in 1920, Mister Stanley wrote: “Kilmicheal (sic) (1920) and Narrow Water (1979) the 2 IRA operations that taught the elective of (the) British army and the establishment the cost of occupying Ireland. Pity for everyone they were such slow learners.”

The second tweet which remerged in the discussion was from 2017.

 The tweet was sent by Mr Stanley following Mr Varadkar's election as leader of Fine Gael read "Yippee 4 d tory. it's Leo. U can do what u like in bed but don't look 4 a pay rise the next morning".

Some variation there. Mister Stanley is Chairman of the very important Dáil ‘Public Accounts Committee’. He has decided to step down from tweeting.

The Power of Streaming

There was a stream which ran down a hill to form a pool beside the road we walked going to Castlecoote national school decades ago now.  In our 1950s’ dialect of we used a wee addition at the end of some nouns (grammatically called ‘suffix’ as opposed to ‘prefix’). We referred to it as the ‘streameen’.

On Saturday I was propelled into modern-day streaming. A much-loved cousin, Nancy Heavey, had died in Des Plains an outlier of Chicago. I tuned into her mass, which was the first time I had done that for the U.S. The officiating priest had an Irish name and the Irish connection was much in evidence. Nancy’s nephew Tim Horn paid Nancy a glowing tribute. The essence of it was her commitment to her extended family and how loyal they were to each other which was mentored by Nancy. She was the glue in the Heavey clann’s togetherness.

Nancy’s dad, Matt Heavey, was my connection to the family. While he was born near Ballygar the family moved to near Athleague when he was very young. That was as part of land re-distribution. He worked for a short while in a shop in Roscommon town but decided to ‘escape’ to England. He had no money for the boat to Liverpool and cajoled the gatekeeper to get allow him on board the cattle boat. He did not remain long in Liverpool which was more impoverished than whence he came. His brother Paddy, a Chicago policeman, sent him the fare to the United States to which he went in 1927.

His is akin to the stories of maybe millions of Irish people and I’ll return to it anon.

Anyway Nancy you were an exemplary lady amongst whose joys were ‘square dancing’ and the Chicago Cubs.

 

Watching the Drama of the U.S. Election

Like so many in this country I tuned in with commitment to the drama of the Presidential election in the United States. It seems a good while ago now! I channel hopped between RTE and BBC and then CNN and for my sins Fox News. I quickly got to know the ‘Anchor’ of ‘The Situation Room’ Wolf Blitzer, a regular presenter Erin Burnett and a political specialist whose main prop was a technology Wall which relayed the votes and counts as they emerged. He really caught a lot of people’s attention and was quickly lined up for interview on RTE as he too had Irish connections. His name was John King. The vote projections on the night of the election held me for some time but were so drawn out that I opted out for dreamland. Just as well as the counts went on for weeks. I do not know if there are not counts still going on in some pockets of P. A./ Arizona and especially Georgia where there were three counts. There was of course the much heralded hue and cry about ‘a rigged election’ and fraudulent votes and a litany of other sins to ensure that the sitting President Donald Trump would be outed. There was a remarkable turn-out in which Joe Biden got nearly 80 million votes and Trump got something around 75 million votes. Those are staggering numbers. Each state has a certain number of votes allocated to them I presume weighed on population. Yesterday Monday the 14th, what is called and ‘Electoral College’, in each state endorses the electoral votes. Why this is necessary I have not studied properly… yet. It has to join the queue.

Apparently results can be contested and have been by Trump supporters led by lawyer Rudy Giuliani, on a multitude of issues. Nearly all of these have been denied by various courts. The top U.S. court is The Supreme Court and last week it denied two such appeals. One was rebuffed in a one sentence rebuttal that the appeal ‘had no standing’ and a second major appeal got dismissed on Friday.

But it still goes on and can go on until Congressional approval in January.

The Supreme Court of the United States is occasionally referred to by its acronym… SCOTUS   

President Trump has spent most of his time either on the golf course or crying about the election being rigged. This is as Covid numbers in terms of deaths (300,000 as of now) and people contracting the virus reaching incredible highs. Another thing that is obviously very important to him is that he gets credit to the development of the Covid Vaccines that have emerged. This programme has the title ‘Warp Speed’ (incredible speed) which apparently comes from the T.V. programme of the 60s’ ‘Star Trek’. (I Googled it!)

I may have referred to this last time but the question now is; will Trump attend ‘The Inauguration of President-Elect Biden in January. It will make intriguing viewing whichever way that pans out.

Returning to CNN I find those channels so dominated by advertisements many for health care of one kind or another…one of which renewed my acquaintance with a football hero of the late sixties in New York i.e. Broadway Joe Namath of the New York Jets’ The ratio of ads to actual news segments seems to be near 50:50.

I find that amount of advertising hard to take so the BEEB is the port of retreat.

I see that Mitch McConnell who is the ‘Majority’ Republican ‘Leader’ in the Senate has eventually seen the way to acknowledging the result of the November 3rd U.S. Presidential election. It is some 40 days since the election of President-Elect Biden. It might be suggested that McConnell is more intent on ‘leading’ from the rear, with the battle long over, which is hardly leadership. There is a phrase somewhere which suggests that; ‘Something given at first asking is twice given’. Mitch wouldn’t want to be playing a game with the clock ticking.     

The Retreat of Book Reading

I do not read nearly as many books as I would like to do or indeed should do. When I start a book I can stay and finish pretty quickly. That is if it appeals to me of course. There is no need to torture oneself by staying with a book. When I am offered a book by a friend I might politely decline saying that I have so many books left to read that I’ll be in heaven a few decades before I have them all read. Some assumptions there of course!

Last week, on RTE, there was the annual ‘An Post’ sponsored virtual Annual Book Awards.                              

I’ll list, in truncated fashion, most of the winners, in various categories, as follows;

 

1.    RTÉ Radio 1 Listeners’ Choice Award…A Light That Never Goes Out – Keelin Shanley (Gill Books)

2.Bord Gáis Energy Sports Book of the Year…Champagne Football – Mark Tighe & Paul Rowan (Sandycove)

3.Bookselling Ireland Cookbook of the Year…Neven Maguire’s Midweek Meals in Minutes – Neven Maguire (Gill Books)

4. A Ghost in the Throat – Doireann Ní Ghríofa (Tramp Press)

5. TheJournal.ie Best Irish-Published Book of the Year… Old Ireland in Colour – John Breslin & Dr Sarah-Anne Buckley (Merrion Press)

6. Love Leabhar Gaeilge Irish Language Book of the Year…Cnámh – Eoghan Mac Giolla Bhríde (Éabhlóid)

Specsavers Children’s Book of the Year – Senior

7. Break the Mould – Sinéad Burke, illustrated by Natalie Byrne (Hachette Children's Books – Imprint: Wren & Rook)

8. Specsavers Children’s Book of the Year – Junior..The Great Irish Farm Book – Darragh McCullough, illustrated by Sally Caulwell (Gill Books)

9. Sunday Independent Newcomer of the Year…Diary of a Young Naturalist – Dara McAnulty, illustrated by Barry Falls (Little Toller Books)

10. National Book Tokens Popular Fiction Book of the Year.. Home Stretch – Graham Norton (Coronet, Hodder & Stoughton)

11. Ireland AM Popular Non-Fiction Book of the Year…Never Mind the Boll***s, Here’s the Science – Luke O’Neill (Gill Books)

12. Eason Novel of the Year…Strange Flowers – Donal Ryan (Doubleday Ireland)

The overall winner of the An Post Irish Book of the Year was number 4 above.

 

Keelin Shanley was a highly regarded and loved broadcaster who passed away from cancer in February of this year.

Champagne Football has as its central character John Delaney of the FAI and this books tells of his lifestyle and how ran the FAI as his fiefdom until his fall from grace. I have not read it yet but I’m told that it is riveting reading. My usual word ‘unbelievable’.

Number 4 above won the overall book prize so it must be special.

Number 7 was written by ‘a small lady’ who was very impressive in her promo which was screened as part of the scene setting.

Number 9 too had a very impressive c.v. A young man (aged 16) Dara McNulty from County Down whose standing in nature studies and writing is wowing many towards his outstanding nature book.  

Graham Norton, from county Cork…number 10… shows that he is not a one hit (or show) wonder and this is book number four. He already has 5 BAFTAS but now this is another major string to his bow.

No 11 Luke O’Neill is one of the medical professionals who grace our screens and radio regularly with advice on Covid 19. Some are more serious than others and Mister O’Neill comes across as a very personable person. Underneath he is obviously a very bright man    

Number 12 Donal Ryan from Tipperary has a number of telling novels to date starting with ‘The Spinning Heart’. Boyle’s Jarlath Tivnan adapted his book ‘The Thing About December’ very tellingly for the stage a couple of years ago. 

Edna O’Brien at 90

P.S. Yesterday was the 90th Birthday of one of Ireland’s most loved and notable writers, Edna O’Brien. Edna comes from Clare but has lived in London for a very long time. Her first and breakthrough novel was titled ‘The Country Girls’. The novel tells of the ‘adventures’ of some country girls who have arrived for employment in the big city Dublin in the late fifties. It was of course banned under the strict moral censorship laws of the time. This guaranteed significant interest in the book and sales and reputation despite the legal restrictions. It was not on its own in this respect. It is many decades since I read the book but it certainly was a benchmark publication.

Boyle GAA A.G.M. on Zoom December 5th

I made a point of ‘attending’ Boyle GAA’s A.G.M. It may happen again in the future but this was a historic in our local context. The meeting was moderated most efficiently and effectively by the Club’s Chairman, David Kelly. GAA club’s today have a huge workload and the Covid Pandemic has made this work very difficult. The most encouraging thing I took from the meeting was the large number of young people who are now at the helm. People like myself can sit on the back, backbenches and feel very comfortable that the club is in good, energetic and innovative hands.

The primary officers are;

Chairman David Kelly: Secretary Jan Flanagan; Treasurer, Ray Hannon; Senior Team Manager, Cian Smith; Junior Team Manager, Mark O’Connor; Team Rep. Marc O’Connor; P.R.O. Roch Hanmore;  Registrar and Irish Officer Steve Tonry.

Mary Clifford finally got to retreat from the front line and was commended for her huge contribution for around two decades now.

While I am delighted to see a Boyle person at the helm of the senior team once again I must commend outgoing team manager. Basil Mannion, for his imaginative contribution and particularly he always being a gentleman in the post over the last three years. 

I wish to sympathise with Ray (Hannon) on the death of his dad Michael. Michael was one of the pillars in the emergence and progression of Eastern Harps Club for the fifty years of its existence. How much he contributed and how he was respected was evident in the many tributes which were paid to Michael, by so many, on his passing.                

A Season of Passing and Anniversaries

As I write I read of the passing of the Country and Western singer Charley Pride. He was highly regarded and was in their Country Hall of Fame.

The captain of the fine Roscommon U 21 All-Ireland winning team of 1966, Colm Shine. He was a brother of Brendan Shine. On that team were Pat Clarke, Pat Nicholson, Ray Sheeran, John Kelly and Dermot Earley.

On December 8th 1980 Beatle genius, John Lennon, was killed in New York.

This past week was the Centenary of the ‘Burning of the centre of Cork City’ by British irregular forces.

 

Sunday morning Dec. 7th 1941 saw the attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbour as President Roosevelt tagged it ‘a day of infamy’ which brought the U.S. into WW2 alongside Britain and her allies.  

Epilogue

I’ve gone on too long I imagine but there is so much swirling around to ‘scribble’ about that when I finally get to putting this together I push on. I must do better…shorter may be a New Year’s resolution.

Early…ish next week I’d like to send our best wishes to Boyle connections far and wide at this particularly hazardous time.

May your Gods go with you.             

 

 

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Sports Carnival 

The last two weekends of sport have been a lift for the soul. In reverse order. I was very impressed with the tenacity of Cavan in the Ulster Final. It really was a win hewn from doggedness, true grit and a Breffni pride. That pride in the royal blue goes back a century to when Cavan were kings of Ulster and won something like 30 Ulster titles in the forty years between the 1920s to the 1960s’.  

In discussion with a friend P. D. after the game, he impressed on me the mentality that Cavan would have no fear of Donegal. That would not be in their d.n.a. Cavan were something like 14 to 1 which was extravagant in a two-horse race. But Donegal had shown in earlier games a pedigree and were total favourites including with myself in that. They were seen as the last remaining challenge to Dublin. Now Dublin faces Cavan. I fear for Cavan repeating my opinion from the Donegal game. Still they have won their first Ulster title since 1997 and that has made it a good year for them and rekindled the spirit of a Cavan GAA which we thought was at a low ebb. Dublin beware! (Typical of Cavan to win an Ulster title the year the pubs were closed!)

The result of not just the weekend but for many a day was the victory of Tipperary in the Munster championship their first win since 1937. I have a couple of friends who have spent decades keeping football alive in Tipp. And last Sunday was the result that they got pay-back for all their efforts and faith that they would have a day like that. Of course, when Cork defeated a complacent Kerry it really opened up that side of the draw. Cork has produced great football teams down the decades and are fifth in the ranking of most All-Ireland’s with 6 including two in a row in ’89 and ’90. Still, for a county of its size, it has not achieved what it might have. Kerry has had a real influence in that of course. 

It is suggested that in Tipp. There is little heed on ‘the football’ and they are looked down on by the hurling fraternity. Last Sunday happened as a result of a lot of effort, from a small group of people, who helped bring minor and under-21 successes to their county teams. They have, as we saw on Sunday, many fine players with Sweeney and Quinlivan and Ozzie Rules player being as good as are in any county. They can give Mayo a real challenge in a couple of weeks’ time. 

Still, their win was all about history, the rise of the underdog, historical coincidence alignment and joy. It took place a calendar day later than the Bloody Sunday shootings by British forces of 14 people in Croke Park in 1920. This included a man named Michael Hogan who is commemorated with the name of the iconic Hogan Stand in the grounds now. That game on bloody Sunday was not an All-Ireland or anything like it but a challenge game between Dublin and Tipp. Also, Mick Hogan was not the captain of the Tipp. team. In the film ‘The Big Fellow’ with Michael Collins the central character played by Liam Neeson a few of these errors has perpetuated a number of ‘small’ errors.

I wonder will Tipp. retain the green and white jerseys for the semi-final. I suggest they should. Tipp. have won All-Ireland senior championships in 1889/1895/1900/and the 1920 All-Ireland played in 1922. 

It is something that a hundred years on from 1920 that the four provincial winners are the same this year as then. 

That was Sunday.

On Saturday I was pleased to see Galway win v Tipp. in the hurling semi-final. They had let slip the Leinster final v Kilkenny a week earlier but got over the line here. While there are many very good players on the Galway team it is always a special joy to see Joe Canning play, score frees and especially the side-line cuts over the bar which he has made his trademark shot.  

It was great to see another nearly county continue to emerge as a force that being Waterford who defeated Clare comfortably enough. So the hurling semi-finals are Galway v Limerick and Kilkenny v Waterford.

Limerick look like a crack team so this from this remove should be a really great game. Waterford take on Kilkenny. Waterford has been impressive this season but they have a sad history against Kilkenny. However, this Kilkenny side is not nearly on a par with those of the recent past. It took some moments of magic from Richie Hogan to turn the tide against Galway. His intervention tells as the saying goes; ‘form is temporary class is permanent’. 

The following weekend (Sat/Sun the 5th/6th) the football semi-finals Cavan v Dublin and Tipp. v Mayo. Then on Sunday 13th the All-Ireland Hurling final and the football final on the 20th. The GAA schedule keeps giving. 

John Clarke R.I.P.

I was saddened to hear of the death of John Clarke recently. He died in England. He was husband of Marie Grehan of the Grehan Sisters who were part of the folk scene starting in the late sixties. John and Marie and family lived in the North West of England for a good part of their lives with John and Marie returning to Ireland around twenty years ago. They then went to live in Leitrim. I met John a good few times over the years, usually at music sessions in recent times in Dodd’s Bar. I extend my condolences to the Grehan family. He was a really interesting and kind soul. May he rest in peace. 

Imelda Marcos Disturbing Sky Documentary:

This was, for me, a disturbing programme and I am only referring to it to suggest that you watch it if you ever get the chance.  Imelda Marcos was the wife of Ferdinand Emmanuel Marcos who was dictator of the Philippines from 1965 to 1986. Imelda had a major influence on her husband and the regime as it developed in the Philippines. After 30 years the Marcos dynasty was eventually deposed and they were exiled to Hawaii. While Ferdinand Marcos died in 1989 his wife never abandoned the possibility of returning to the country and having a member of the family, their one son Bongbong becoming leader again. While these are the machinations of many such dictator families the persona of Imelda Marcos was a much more exaggerated and disturbing one. She had the self -confidence, sense of entitlement and twisted vision that made her feel that she had an almost divine right to be ‘mother of her nation’. A number of people may remember her fetish for collecting exotic shoes and we saw a very large room with a huge range of such shoes. Also the family engaged in the acquisition of great wealth from various state streams. 

The family were collectors of the best in art and such and gold leaf decorated much of the palatial residences. 

Foreign property in such cities as New York was also a target of her greed.

From time to time while travelling by car she brought with her large amounts of paper money to give to the impoverished at traffic light stops so as to endow her reputation.

The family, after a Safari in Africa, decided to establish its own African animal free-ranging park and cleared an island of its inhabitants to facilitate this. 

She met all the dignitaries and top echelons of their day from U.S. Presidents to the Queen of England.  

After the death of Ferdinand Marcos in ’89 his body was embalmed and kept in a glass coffin on exhibition. She was waiting until her husband got to be buried in the Heroes’ Cemetery of the Philippines which it did in 2016. 

The present President of the Philippines is Rodrigo Duterte. He rules with cruelty and ruthlessness. His edict to police in how to treat people with Corona virus is to shoot them as they have been doing to drug addicts and drug pushers for some time.  

Imelda Marcos was 91 last July. The documentary was titled, I think, as ‘The Kingmaker’. If she thought, it was going to be a flattering depiction of the ‘Mother of a Nation’ then she should reassess that. She came across as an evil montage of all that personifies these deluded and ruthless personalities.  

Thanksgiving Holiday in U.S. 

This is one of the biggest holidays in the U.S.A. and its tradition goes back two centuries and more. After some flexibility as to the date it was finally fixed as the last Thursday of November this year being the 26th. Apparently it is a time where many people take to the air and go visiting extended family in other parts of the country. This year with Covid it presents a real dilemma in terms of Covid 19 spread. Despite the threat some millions of people are still on the move. This will have its consequences of course with a possible surge superimposing itself on the present surge. So we will see what transpires.

The U.S. is a pretty divided country right now where the election results have been contested and claims of irregularities and fraud have been, as a teaching colleague of mine (F.T.) used say; “Thrown around like snuff at a wake”.

The rule by tweet and the behaviour of the present White House incumbent Donald Trump is pretty depressing. After the initial results showed Joe Biden as winning Trump made a brief and pretty pathetic address to the press. Since then he has only been seen on the golf course. As Rome burned back in Roman times the emperor Nero is said to have ‘fiddled’. As the Covid 19 pandemic surges the U.S. emperor plays golf.  Unbelievable. Then there are the ongoing legal challenges against accepting the results as they exist. This is a course that is open to the defeated candidate but demanding a third count in Georgia seems to pushing the boundaries. But these challenges have been tossed out of numerous courts of appeal. This legal team is led by President Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Now, if my memory serves me right, he was a highly regarded Mayor of New York and thought of as someone who could have had a big political future. But the sheen is gone. Two bizarre press appearances have cemented that. The first one was “slated” (!) to have taken place in a major hotel ‘The Four Seasons” but it ended up in the car park of ‘The Four Seasons’ Garden Centre’ and for more seasoning it was in front of a premises which had some sexual connotations. 

Press Conference two of this crack legal team fronted in what must have been a high temperature zone. During his presentation people began to focus not on what Rudy was saying but on the sweat running down his face. Sweat running down a person’s face can in some instances be seen as a positive thing but when it colours brown it is a real distraction. The color change, it is suggested, was caused by some make-up dye not holding its ground. Slippage, wind farm constructors might call it. 

Now while that was unfortunate (for Rudy!) the press conference was further compromised by a Lawyer embedding her presence into the ‘crack’ legal team. Her name is/was Sidney Powell. She must have strayed onto the stage from a remake of the classic film ‘One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest’. It was only revealed some time after the press conference that she was not part of the ‘crack’ team. It was as if some Twink decided to crash the Tony Holohan nightly briefing on television here. I imagine that Tony, being Tony, would not put her out front!

The big question is Quo Vadis Trump? Will he continue in denial, sulking? Possibly. Will he turn up at the Joe Biden inauguration in January?  Maybe he’ll turn up, in a golf buggy. Will he begin a 2024 election campaign almost immediately? He could certainly be a distracting presence in the long grass of the side-lines. One has to keep in mind that he did get an incredible vote of over 70 million people in an amazing national poll of near 150 million. This suggests that Joe Biden has a really challenging mandate to try and reach out to that constituency. No easy task.   

There is a Buddhist proverb that goes “Something given at first asking is twice given”. So the longer Trump stays removed from concession the more damage he does to himself.  

While I jest and exaggerate a little (as Rudy said about voting irregularities) it is really, really, serious and Georgia is set to become a real battleground state for the two outstanding Senate seats in the upcoming January election. How that happened I do not know as of now. At present, the Republican party have 50 seats and the Democrats 48 with just the two to be decided. Each of the 50 states have 2 Senators irrespective of population. In the unlikely event that the Democrats do win the TWO seats then with the vote of the Vice-President (I may be wrong there) can give the Senate majority to the Democrats. That for the Republicans would be a nightmare. 

And the much lesser question; what about Rudy who is so much part of my present dialogue. Perhaps he is destined to depart to the circuit of television shows like ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ or ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here”. 

As a slight postscript is it not amazing to see the queues of cars forming in car parks as they pick up charity food boxes? This in such a wealthy country!   

Have a happy Thanksgiving.         

                 

           


Friday, October 30, 2020

 Blog Thursday, October the 29th.


The Covid Marathon

Last spring, we battened down the hatches in a gesture of solidarity and defiance and by June or so we thought we were ‘round the corner’ as Trump says. But like the Marathon, we are now challenged by that twenty-kilometre barrier. The winter winds blow chilly and cold and the long dark nights envelop our existence. But we will survive and come next February, 3/4 months away, having survived, we will face a different brightening future. We will be tired, some even exhausted, but that famous ‘light in the tunnel’ will not be the proverbial train of the past year. The commentary on a vaccine is pretty positive endorsed his morning by a respected Dr Fauci. 

As the ongoing notifications from our guiding medical fraternity is that the next few weeks are critical. This reminds me of a jockey being asked the question; “Which fence in the Aintree Grand National do you fear the most?” to which he replied, “Always the next one”.

I am not competent to comment much on the Covid news like the difficulties with ‘track and trace’, the post-match, house party, travel breaches of guidelines, confusion around ‘pods’, some places being open and others not, some sports allowed and others not, the huge challenges in schools and the many more. There is an abundance of commentary on those ‘out there’. 

 Take care and if you feel uncomfortable in a situation to get out of there.  And I would request people who meet others in a social distancing way ‘mind the gap’. Months ago now, in the early days, I was at a small game and very much socially distancing and masked when someone came towards me and as I retreated he advanced until I was nearly going over the embankment. I left posing the question; How could it be that he could not interpret my situation?

I quote from Thomas Kinsella’s poem ‘Mirror in February’ which represents my attitude at this time;

“I fold my towel with what grace I can 

Not young and not renewable, but man.”

T.V. Films

Films and television programmes I have watched recently include a disproportionate number on United States issues. Issues with police treatment of Black people were front and centre in ‘Detroit’ and ‘16 Shots’. Both were shocking and Detroit was not for the squeamish. One film I enjoyed (!), ‘The Chicago Seven’ related to the protests of 1968 in Chicago (again) near the Democratic Convention. It is not a classic or anything and perhaps it was more a black comedy than a seriously themed picture. Still, the court scenes and the performances of a number of the principals are very good. I could be ‘overruled’ on that selection of course but give it a chance. Again the behaviour of the Chicago police at the behest of the city’s Mayor Daly was o.t.t. 

At that Convention, the Democrats nominated Hubert Humphrey as their candidate against Richard Nixon. Nixon won of course. While I am very interested in U.S. History it would take a lifetime to get a decent knowledge of it. I would like to read a book with the losing presidential candidates as a theme. It seems to me that while there have been few outstanding American Presidents hardly ever has one emerged from the ‘also-rans’ of which the label ‘the greatest President the U.S. could have had but missed out on’. The great Presidents would include Washington, Lincoln, Wilson perhaps, F.D. Roosevelt with a run of decent presidents including Eisenhower, Kennedy who could have been a first division contender as could Johnson. After that come, Nixon, Ford (accidentally), Carter, Regan (who many Americans see as a ‘great’ President but not me). H.G. Bush, Clinton I thought of as a good president; G.W. Bush; Obama hobbled by Congress, and now Trump.

What future event will probably have the greatest television audience of modern times? I’ll give my guess on that somewhere down the way.  

I am confused at the fact that in such an advanced society that there are queues to vote in the U.S. it is something one associates with say South Africa or some such. 

Book of Now

The runaway sports bestseller of the moment is ‘Champagne Football’ by Mark Tighe and Paul Rowan. It is an account of the Football Association of Ireland in John Delaney’s ‘care’. I have not read it yet but  I got a text from a friend as follows; “Wait until you read Champagne Football. The GAA should send a copy to houses through the country and complaints about the GAA would wither’! I saw a television interview with Mark Tighe and in a condensed way, it showed the style of Delaney. Delaney’s pathetic performance at the Dail Committee hearings was mind-boggling. A succession of; ‘On legal advice, I do not answer that question’ or some such. The high point of his tenure and a picture of his self-importance and power was the birthday party at Mount Juliet. So I look forward to reading ‘Champagne Football’. 

In stark contrast to the above one’s heart has to go out the Irish Ladies soccer team who lost out to Ukraine in such incredible circumstances late last week. If you want to see what I am talking of I’m sure you can source it on U Tube or such platforms. This defeat has denied the team to take part in the Ladies World Cup next year in England with the opening match featuring England at Old Trafford and the Final being in Wembley. The Irish goalkeeper will need a lot of t.l.c. for some time after this. 

It is the third Irish team which has missed out in going to world stages of their sport. The men’s soccer team lost out Slovakia on penalties (If Ireland won there they would have to meet Northern Ireland to go to the European Football Championships finals). A number of the games of the competition will be staged in the Aviva in Dublin.  I know of someone who has tickets for their first game v Sweden in the Aviva in June.  The games are dispersed around 12 cities including Dublin.

The Irish Men’s Hockey team lost out in very controversial circumstances to Canada in October 2019 to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. This hinged on a very dubious video refereeing decision. 

One glimmer is that the Irish Ladies Hockey team have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics. The game that got them over the line was also against Canada.     

Staying with Sport

While I only watch Formula One car racing accidentally I must mention the achievement of Lewis Hamilton who has won his 92nd Formula One Race at the Portuguese Grand Prix and so eclipses the record of Michael Schumacher a record that a short number of years ago was thought to be unbreakable.                        

Roscommon Go Up

The Roscommon team achieved a real goal with their promotion to Division One of the National League with their victory over a poor Cavan team last weekend. They seem to have a real strength-in-depth now as that victory showed. While it is always great for us GAA people to follow successful Roscommon teams a real bonus is when your own club members are part of the team. This is so now and is heightened by the fact that their contribution is of such quality with Donie getting ‘Man of the Match’ there. Enda would be regarded in the top echelons now by national commentators and more especially opposition managers while the emergence and progress of Cian is the real icing on the cake. So hats off to you ‘guys’ as they say in the states. Another very positive part of their contributions is in their after match contributions when interviewed. There was a deal of commentary on the interview with Enda after the Armagh game and the same could be said for Donie after the Cavan game. So Cian you have to, as the Scouts Motto goes ‘Be Prepared’ when your turn comes as it will!  

So now we look forward to a Connacht Championship Semi-final v Mayo which will be very, very, interesting in Hyde Park. 

Limerick looked very good in their Munster Championship dismissal of Clare on Sunday. A new feature to me was the yellowish sliothar. I presume it was because it was more visible to the television cameras. I’ve seen this before in cricket and tennis maybe?   

‘The West’s Awake’ …Revolution in Roscommon 1916 -1922.

I tuned into this ‘New History Ireland Podcast’ as part of the ‘Decades of Centenaries’ on Tuesday afternoon. This ‘Hedge School’ Podcast was facilitated by Roscommon County Council Arts Office whose Arts officer is Rhona McGrath.

The contributors were Tommy Grehan, Brian Hanley, John Burke and May Moran from Crossna a grand-niece of Paddy Moran who was executed by the British in 1920. One never ceases to learn and see facets of history that lie just beneath the surface and collectively contribute to major upheavals of historic importance. In Roscommon LAND was a major issue   

While Roscommon has regularly been seen as one of the quieter counties in the War of Independence this is not valid when one puts its cards on the table. The 1917 Election success of Count Plunket was a hugely influential event in the whole drama. It is good that Paddy Moran’s grand-niece May is to the fore in the playing a big role in this and her book on Paddy titled ‘Executed for Ireland’ is a big contribution. The book may still be available in the Una Bhán book shop at King House entrance.      

There certainly is material for a PhD student in addressing the acquisition and disbursement of land from the great landed estates in County Roscommon to the farming classes. While I mention Scholarly projects it surprises me that Jasper Tully has never been (to my knowledge) the subject of a biography. 

Television History Documentaries 

There have been a number of telling and sad television documentaries of late. The RTE programmes schedule presented a number. The first one dealt with the death of Terence Mac Sweeney Mayor of Cork who died on hunger strike in Brixton prison in 1920. 

Mac Sweeney had succeeded another Mayor Tomas McCurtain who was murdered by a group of men who were regarded as members of the R.I.C.

This week we saw the Nationwide programme in which the first half concentrated on the capture, trial and execution of Kevin Barry in Dublin. Part two dealt with the removal of the remains of 10 I.R.A. members who had been executed in a short period including Barry and buried in Mountjoy. Their remains were removed for reburial with full military honours and state honours in a Republican plot in Glasnevin Cemetery. The members of this group were often referred to as ‘The Forgotten Ten’. Their names were; Kevin Barry, Paddy Moran, Frank Flood, Thomas Whelan, Thomas Traynor, Patrick Doyle, Edmond Foley, Thomas Bryan, Bernard Ryan and Patrick Maher. This funeral through the crowded streets of Dublin, which was televised live, took place on the 14th of October 2001. It was a proud day for the many members of the Moran family who were in attendance. It is amongst my list of regrets that I did not go to Dublin for this event as I should have.

By the time my next Blog here it will be in the anniversary of Bloody Sunday November 21st 1920 and I’ll have a few words on that then.  

P. S. In 1937 when Kevin Barry’s mother was in dire straits and applied to the state pensions board for some monetary support for her and her family. Her request was denied. I know a little about the terms, conditions and layers of bureaucracy in the ‘Free State’ that was at play in this type of result.

 In a phrase I came across a long time ago they were like inverted Micawbers; ‘Waiting for something to turn down’.     

The Death of Patricia Mac Namara

The news of the death of Patricia Mac Namara was greeted with sadness by the community of the town of Boyle last week. She was an iconic figure in the town. I am aware of the various tributes to her spoken at her funeral mass and included in this week’s Roscommon Herald and the regard she was held in so I can only endorse them. I may even be borrowing some apt references used in those forums. I first met Patricia when she was helping her mother in their restaurant at Main Street in the middle seventies. I was living a few doors down the street and lunched there from time to time. I was usually there with Stanley Cox Secretary of the Leitrim Count Board.

As Canon Gerry said at her Mass “She had her own mind and was very direct in expressing her opinion and was linguistically colourful”.  

Her 60th birthday was announced in the church at a regular Sunday mass and this was greeted by Patricia in theatrical style with a wave to the crowd and a slight bow as the Choir led the congregation in her Happy Birthday salute. She enjoyed that. A regular African phrase of recent times ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ comes into play with her. While her family were, of course, her immediate diligent carers the village of Boyle helped out in watching out for her.

I met her regularly at the traditional music sessions which in recent years took place in Dodd’s bar. She took her premier seat and held onto it with the tenacity of a politician. She was part of the scene there and was treated well by the hosts and participants. Patricia was not one to drift home early and Liam’s appearance on occasions was not heartily welcome. Her 60th birthday party took place in St. Joseph’s Hall and was followed by a similar celebration for a close contact. Patricia starred on both those occasions. So when we return to Dodd’s, after this current trial, there will be a very visible gap in the traditional circle and perhaps a rendition of ‘The Parting Glass’ in Patricia’s honour.  

The World Holds its Breath

I am off now to the Trump Channel …no not Fox News but tonight Thursday, Oct. 29 he is on RTE 1 with ‘United States of Conspiracy’; Virgin One with ‘Trump’s America’; BBC  2 ‘The Trump Show’. I heard an accolade to Trump by whoever, as follows; “Trump is like a wealthy drunk uncle at a wedding”. I have no experience of that but maybe it fits. 

The BBC 2 ‘The Trump Show’ I’ve watched just now. It was a record of the past year which has been a dramatic, hard to believe, rollercoaster and despite the ‘Dettol’ and ‘light’ to the insides and all those other signals he has survived leaving a trail of chaos in his wake.   

What if Trump wins? Then there is the other side; what if Trump loses? Just take time out to imagine those options… one.. at… a… time! 

So, next Tuesday/ Wednesday , the whole world will (probably) be watching as Blue V Red and states begin to rock, roll, swing and lawyers begin to rub their hands (not in sanitiser mind). That will be the Super Bowl of television watching numbers. 

Can American voters do that-elect Donald Trump- to the world and especially to their own country? ‘Yes we can’ I hear them echo. "It’s a crazy world." 

May your Gods go with you