The Graham Norton Show
As my friend Tadhg Griffin rightly says The Graham Norton Show is a really entertaining diversion on T.V. Mr. Norton is a funny, very witty and perceptive host with top line guests who after some initial confusion buy into the manic pace and spirit of the show. It is a pity that Graham did not have the influence though to veto the initial supposed joke, in his show last week. It was a representation of Irishness which included a pig with a St. Patrick’s Day hat pushing a shopping trolley with a slab of Guinness. In old Irish history text books there would be the caricatures taken from the London Illustrated News of the 1800's where the Irish were depicted in a way which was almost evidence of the Darwinian theory. This all changed in the famous posters being used to recruit Irish soldiers for service during World War One of course. Also on the same show was Michael Flately. The show is of course a great medium and publicity vehicle and that was why Michael was there. I doubt if this Chicago born son of a Culfadda man was impressed by the introduction. Oddly I have not heard any reaction to it.
Boyle Musical and Singing Tradition Continues with Dodd’s ‘Session’
Boyle has a fine tradition of musicians and songsters. Each year we have a top musical presentation which goes back many years. In the sixties there were the fine Pantomimes written by Micheal O Callaghan. I particularly remember a concert in The Royal Hotel on the occasion of Maureen O’Sullivan’s visit to Boyle in August 1988. Performing at that concert was a cross-section of the finest singers in the town, singers who were the backbone of the tradition and choirs for years. They included Agnes Devine Conlon, who owned a bar where the Patrick’s Well is now. Also performing were Rosaleen Moran, Jim Casserly, Mary Ryan and Josephine Carroll. Two fine traditional musicians who contributed at that concert were Kathleen Dwyer Morris of the great Sligo fiddle tradition and Josie McDermott an all-round musician, singer and songwriter, a bard in the old tradition.
Boyle hosted two of the great All-Ireland Fleadhs in 1960 and 1966. On every other Friday night (from this Friday night February the 13th) the traditional element of that musical legacy continues. This is the bi-weekly ‘session’ in Dodd’s. This has the mix of traditional music and a varied selection of fine singers. These include singer-songwriter Donie O’Connor. Donie has a couple of C.Ds to his name with many fine songs. Included there is his iconic ‘Boyle Song’ which is a homage to his youth and the town in the seventies. Another great song relates the tragic story of the deaths of three generations of the one family in a fishing boat each with the same name off Kilkeel in county Down some years ago titled ‘My Name is Michael Green’. The Gaffney brothers are two fine and very different singers. Francis is a widely acknowledged accompanist and has a broad range of lovely songs one of which is the evocative ballad on the loss of the explorer Sir John Franklin who led an ill-fated expedition to discover the North West Passage around Canada in the eighteen forties. For variation Francis can take off into the mighty humourous and detailed ‘Charladies Ball‘. Vera Gaffney is another beautiful singer. High in Brendan’s repertoire is the account of the marathon fight between ‘Morrissey and the Russian Sailor’. When the ‘Session’ used to be in The Railway Bar, some years ago, I heard the genial proprietor Liz O’Dowd exclaim ‘I do not know that much about traditional music but I love those Gaffneys singing’. I concur. Bernie Flaherty is a great musician and also a somewhat under-the radar singer with great interpretations of songs like ‘Galtee Mountain Boy’ and the ‘Gallant Sailor’. Then there is Kit O’Connor’s positive take on Roger Whittaker’s ‘The Last Farewell’ . John McGuinn is a fine country and western singer and contributes from time to time with his favourite being Willie Nelson’s ‘Seven Spanish Angels’. Kevin Flynn is another regular contributor with the haunting ballad ‘Aghadoe’. Now there is an Aghadoe near Killarney but maybe there is one in Cork also as there is reference to Mallow town in this song. The song is credited to John Todhunter who died over one hundred years ago so that dispels my idea that the song related to the troubles of the early twenties and puts it back to the late 1800s. Anyway if Kevin Flynn’s accompanists can find the right key for him it is a great song by me. Helen Grehan also contributes from time to time. Helen is a fine composer of songs and of course The Grehan Sisters, Helen, Francis and Marie were a significant group during the great folk revival of the late sixties. Of course there is always the a.n.other who I ‘forgot’ to mention. I am also aware that there is regular Singers Night in Dodd’s on the third Saturday night of each month. Boyle’s great tradition is in rude health at the moment and long may it continue.
Roscommon GAA Fixtures 2015 involving Boyle.
There are major changes to the Roscommon Senior Championships this year. They look innovative and it will be very interesting to see how this pans out. While it will take a bit of concentration regarding the qualifying for the final stages it is certainly worth a shot.
All Championship grades will follow the same format and after the Group Stages the teams finishing first and second in Group One ( a top seeded group) will proceed to the Championship Semi-Final stage, the teams finishing third and fourth will contest the Championship Quarter-Finals, while the teams finishing fifth and sixth will move to Group Two ( and not to Intermediate as possible heretofore) for the 2016 season.
The teams that finish first and second in Group Two (the weaker group) will take (just)the remaining two Championship Quarter-Final slots and will also move to Group One for the 2016 season while the two teams that finish bottom of Group Two will contest the Relegation Play-off (with just the one going down).
In the Senior Championship Group One features St. Brigid’s, Padraig Pearse's, St. Faithleach's, Roscommon Gaels, Clann na Gael and Western Gaels and one of the highlights of the opening Round will be the meeting of St. Brigid’s and Padraig Pearse's, who are now managed by former St. Brigid’s keeper Shane Curran.
Group Two of the Senior Championship features Boyle, Castlerea St. Kevin’s, /Elphin/ Kilmore/ Strokestown who will meet All-Ireland Intermediate Club Finalists St. Croan's in Round One.
Adult Football League Division One
(Commences weekend of March 22nd)
St Brigid’s /Padraig Parses /Strokes town /Clan an nail /St Faithleach's /Roscommon Gaels /Western Gaels /Elphin /Boyle /Tulsk Lord Edwards
Boyle play Tulsk Lord Edwards in their first game on March 22nd.
In Junior or Second Team Boyle will play St. Aidan’s/ Naomh Bearrai / St Michael's/ Ballinameen/ Fuerty/Ml.Glavey's.
Everyone wishes St. Croan’s, with David Casey as manager, the very best of luck on Saturday evening v Arfert, Kerry in the Intermediate All-Ireland final at Croke Park. It is just an amazing journey for the club. Indeed the introduction of the All-Ireland series for Junior and Senior has been one of the great success stories of the GAA in the last decade. The records show that, while the dominant counties such as Kerry and Kilkenny are pretty dominant at these levels also (Ardfert for example and Ballyhale Shamrocks), numerous other clubs have had their hour in the sunshine including a number from England which is great.
There are other top GAA club games on this week-end as well. Corofin of Galway take on St. Vincent’s of Dublin at Tullamore and Austin Stack’s of Kerry, with Kieran Donaghy, play Slaughtneil of Derry in Portlaoise
Roscommon’s Great Win in Newry
The Roscommon team came back from a lack-lustre draw v Cavan to one of their finest league wins in a very long time by defeating Down at Newry on Saturday night last. It was a great occasion with a great atmosphere I am told as I was unable to be there. I tried to follow it on Shannonside but while I recognise that the commentator is hugely popular in the county GAA community for me there is much too much ‘icing on the cake’.
Sigerson Cup Quarter Final Boyle’s ‘Man of the Match’
I accompanied Jnr. Smith to the Sigerson Quarter Final last Wednesday in Belfast. The game was between D.C.U. and St. Mary’s Training College. It was Junior’s third trip north to football games within the week. The other two were D.C.U’s fine win over Sigurdsson favourites Jordan town and Roscommon's finer win over Down. This third visit also ended in victory in a tough struggle after extra time. D.C.U on the score of D.C.U 1.11 St. Mary’s 0.11. At half-time of normal time St. Mary’s led by 0.8 to 0.3 and got a late leading point which seemed like a match winner but Donnie Smith levelled with a splendid point. They were level again at halt-time in extra but D.C.U with a very strong bench pulled three points clear in extra time. The first of these was a second 45 from D.C.U. goalkeeper another Boyle man Tadgh Lowe his second of the game. Roscommon were represented by five players on the D.C. U. team; Tadgh Lowe, Enda and Donnie Smith, Conor Daly, Pearse’s and Fontan Kelly, Castlerea. My ‘Man of the Match’ was Tadhg Lowe with a flawless performance which included the added bonus of the two 45s’. It seems as if the Roscommon senior squad is in a very strong position in goalkeeping terms if Tadgh is not in the mix a view expressed by a delighted member of the D.C.U. backroom team at the game’s conclusion.
The Sigerson takes place next week-end in Cork hosted by U.C.C. and I hope to be there. For those who have been involved in Sigerson it is a competition which remains in their psyche for a lifetime. I was Secretary of the U.C.G. Club circa 1970.The competition was just amongst a narrow group of Universities at that time, U.C.G/U.C.D/U.C.C./Trinity/Queens then Maynooth but it later expanded greatly. It created its own myths and legends of great players and ‘interesting’ week-ends in the host cities environs. Dr. Hugh Gibbons was part of a great run of U.C.G wins in the thirties and ‘The Horse’, Tony Regan of Oran became a legendary associate from the seventies until his retirement a few years ago at U.C.G. as a player and a coach. From a Boyle perspective John Kelly was a great U.C.D. participant and Captain as was Tom Ryan with U.C.G. I am nearly sure that the O’Donohoes, Niall and Rory were also there and perhaps Gary Wynne. One always forgets someone so I’d be happy to be informed. Today we are in the unique position of having three participants in the semi-final stages.
Sin e for this week.