Prologue: I hope to write a note on say three prominent historical figures with Boyle connections from the early decades of the 1900s. They are Frank McDermott T.D. below; Count Plunkett of the 1917 election and Jasper Tully also of the 1917 election and as proprietor of The Roscommon Herald among other things.
Frank McDermott of Coolavin
We are all aware of that iconic scenic picture of McDermott Castle in Lough Key. The McDermott Clan were, for centuries, one of the sub-chiefs to the O’Connors in this region. Their final McDermott abode has been Coolavin near Monasteradden some twelve miles or so from Boyle. One of the last of the family was Felicity McDermott. Local historian Mister Frank Tivnan was a friend of theirs and very knowledgeable on the history of the family. A couple of weeks ago I attended a lecture on a family member called Frank McDermott (1886-1975) who was briefly prominent in Irish politics in the thirties. This politician journalist was born in Dublin, the youngest son of twelve children of the right Honourable The Mac Dermott, K.C. of Coolavin, Co.Sligo.
Frank too became a barrister and a champion of Home Rule. He served in the British army during W.W. 1 after which he joined a banking company for some years. He became interested in Irish politics and stood in West Belfast as a Nationalist in 1929. He won a seat in Roscommon in 1932 as an independent T.D. This was the year that Fianna Fail, with Eamon de Valera, first came to power. The Roscommon T.D.s’ in ’32 were Dan O’Rourke F.F., Gerry Boland F.F., Martin Conlon and McDermott who then founded The Centre Party hoping to steer politics away from the imprint of the Civil War winning eleven seats in the snap election of ’33. The Centre Party aligned with Cumann na nGaedheal to form the United Ireland Party/Fine Gael and appointed the recently deposed chief of the Garda, Eoin O’Duffy as leader. Due to the erratic leadership of O’Duffy, McDermott resigned from his own party remaining in the Dail as an independent until ’37. He spent much of his subsequent life as a reporter in New York, London and Paris.
Other issues from these years include the Army Comrade Association (ACA) who morphed into the ‘Blueshirts’ led by O’Duffy; The Farmers and Ratepayers League, which I had never heard of. The 30s’ was the time of the Land Annuities and Economic War and it is something that de Valera was able to carry this on and retain the support he did as the farming income collapsed. But you have to realise that de Valera was regarded as a near God- like- personality by many of his supporters. While Fianna Fail developed a real machine of a political party Fine Gael showed its ineptitude in terms of organisatio
There are parallels between the position Sinn Fein today and of Fianna Fail founded in 1926 entering the Dail in ’27, some T.D.s’ possibly having guns in their pockets. The great victory for democracy came just five years later with the smooth changeover in ’32 from Cumann na nGaedheal to Fianna Fail in power. So Frank McDermott’s (slighted by opponents as the Paris Farmer) effort to veer away from Civil War politics was brief and a failure in that grey and turbulent area of Irish history..
Former President Mary Mc Aleese Stunning Collection on Display
I was present at the unveiling of the Mary McAleese collection last week in King House. It was a celebratory occasion on Friday night where the former president demonstrated her affection for her adopted county, the county of her paternal forbears. We are so lucky that this is so. This is just a stunning collection from many different countries and cultures. So I strongly recommend that you hurry along to view this exhibition while King House is open to the end of October. Tributes were paid to those who made this possible, Frank Feighan who has been engaged in its procurement for nearly four years, Tommy Egan of King House, Roscommon County Council Arts personnel Mary Mullins and Clodagh Kelly, the OPW and most importantly Mary McAleese herself. So congratulations to all. The exhibition is titled ‘Intertwined’ so while it has a short window of opportunity for viewing at this time, it will continue for five years or so and will certainly be a fantastic showpiece for King House in the forthcoming tourist seasons. Sean has a selection of fine pictures online here on realboyle.com which shows the articles on display.
Ireland of the Welcomes
In September I came through Dublin airport after a holiday abroad (obviously!). Many times going through passport controls in other jurisdictions the passport officers have been gruff, intimidating and mostly far from courteous. Anyway presenting my passport to the Garda at the control office at Dublin airport it was returned by the officer saying ‘Thank you, Tony’. For whatever reason I was pretty surprised but I applaud the officer involved. Certainly for visitors to this country to get this first taste of Irish hospitality would make a big impression.
Anne Sheerin meets Daniel O’Donnell
UTV Ireland launch the first programme of a harmless sounding television series called ‘Daniel and Majella’s B&B road Trip’ on Monday night next the 26th at 8 pm . Anne and Noel Sheerin ( formerly of St. Patrick’s Street, Boyle) are the initial B&B proprietors and they are in business in Tulsk. A snip from the show has ‘gone viral’ during the week showing an emotional Anne viewing the arrival of Daniel through her curtained window while her husband Noel looks on bemused. Anne is obviously a very big Daniel fan. Noel is a brother of Geraldine Beirne of St. Patrick’s Street and Maple Drive. I know Anne and Noel well for many years.
The Graham Norton Irish Night
Last weekend’s Graham Norton show could have been transmitted for a St. Patrick’s Day such was the Irish presence. Mister Norton is from Cork, two of his guests were our own Chris O’Dowd and Colin Farrell. Even Scot Rod Stewart pitched in with a very Celtic musical arrangement for his song. Then in the ‘red chair’ up popped another familiar face John from the West of Ireland with a story which punch-lined Chris O’Dowd. The ‘red chair’ story teller from the West was John Harrington from Boyle. He told his story well and it capped a great Irish show by the Irish.
As a post script, there are many YouTube pieces with Chris but my favourite one is; ‘Chris O’Dowd’s acceptance speech at the ‘Spirit of Ireland Awards’, New York, St. Patrick’s Day 2013.
James Shivnan R.I.P.
I was very saddened by the untimely death of a former student James Shivnan of Ballyfarnon. He had been ill for just a short time. I had it on my ‘to do’ list to visit or communicate with him but I didn’t and regret that now of course.
I remember calling to Shivnan’s Bar a small number of times down the years, once with John Keenehan when we were promoting the St. Mary’s College re-union of 1985. James, when asked if he would support it, willingly took a pair of tickets and then asked us to leave another eight or so which he also disposed of and he enjoyed the event. He told me a little anecdote of his father, Tom, once which stayed with me. His dad dutifully wore a tie and when asked of his commitment to this appendage replied ‘A man should take a couple of minutes to don a tie in the morning and it makes him a gentleman for the day’. I imagine many people will have very positive memories of James as a jovial, bright and endearing gentleman. My deepest sympathy to the Shivnan family who have been and are such a part of the fabric of Ballyfarnon and its community.
Ted McGowan, Gurteen
Ted McGowan who was buried in Culfadda this week was an ever-present at traditional music gatherings the length and breadth of the country. We would meet him especially at All-Ireland Fleadhs in Listowel, Clonmel, Enniscorthy and of course Sligo. He was known everywhere and by everybody. His bar ‘The Roisin Dubh’ in Gurteen was a mecca for traditional musicians from all over the country and beyond. Ted had spent time in London and returned to Gurteen around 1970 and the great music of that area found a spiritual home. I was there many times from the late seventies and there were many mighty sessions to be heard with Ted mingling, welcoming, overseeing his business and above all showing enjoyment and empathy for the great music which reverberated from the rafters. Amongst the great musicians who were regulars there were his brother Tom, Peter Horan, Fred Finn, P.J. Hernon, Patsy Hanley, John Carty and a whole galaxy of the very best musicians and singers consistently over the years. With the photographs adorning the walls ‘The Roisin Dubh’ was a tribute gallery to the great Sligo musical tradition. That tradition has lost one of its greatest advocates with the death of the unique and generous man that was Ted McGowan.
Hyped Expectation v Reality
So Ireland’s Rugby World Cup dream has come to a shattering conclusion. The hype of expectation was over-inflated. The view of our own team’s ability was seen through rose tinted glasses. Our view of the weakness of other teams eg. Argentina was similar. It is something how we can get carried away and see things the way we want to see them. This obtains perhaps to a greater degree in sport but also as the Celtic Tiger proved economically. House speculation and expectation was/is another example. A perfect storm can be created and we are in its eye. I felt once that if ever I started to bet I would do so on Gaelic games, something I would feel I knew something about but this summer I would not have done too well there either.
Returning to the rugby, in the run up to the France game Gordan D’Arcy wrote in the Irish Times “I don’t want them to play the game of their lives-keep that for the final-but this has to be an eight out of 10” performance”! While Ireland did well against France the subsequent demolition of France by New Zealand showed them up also. Still the Irish casualty toll in the French game was very influential. The loss of the leadership of O’Connell, O’Mahoney, O’Brien and Sexton could not be compensated for. The squad strength was not as all-embracing as was propagated.
Of the four ‘home’ countries Scotland was the one which was thought to have little or no chance. Yet they were cruelly denied a place in the semi-finals in the most heart-rending way. So next Saturday a majestic looking New Zealand team play South Africa who have the strength and tradition to cause them problems. On Sunday Argentina play the pretty lucky Australia. I know nothing about the evolution of Argentina as a rugby nation and their rise has been pretty spectacular but against Ireland they had the key components in place. They were sublime, especially in the opening twenty minutes with Ireland caught in the headlights. As Neil Francis says in today’s Independent “ We need to learn to play at pace. The truth is they (New Zealand) just do the simple things well - really well. Their passing is unmatched. They seem to be able to pass effortlessly and seamlessly under intense pressure. They do in Test competition what other teams can only do in unopposed training sessions”.
While I really enjoyed many of the games or portions of them I still think that rugby has a major question mark over it as a sports game in terms of participant safety. The injury rate at this competition illustrates that. It will not be easy to arrive at an appropriate resolution.
Now it is on to the bread and butter ‘Six Nations Championships’, a distance from the champagne rugby and drama of the past month. The cheerleaders will be more challenged there but I imagine it will not take us long to adjust and tune in. There will be some hangover from the lessons of the World Cup. The southern hemisphere’s teams are on another planet or half planet.
Boyle Juniors in Final
• Boyle Juniors play Kilglass in their Junior final on Saturday next at 4.30. I wish them and their management the best.
• Boyle U 10s’ I’m sure will enjoy their trip to Dublin club Clontarf and Croke Park on Saturday in the exotic Roscommon GAA Bus.
• Congratulations to Diarmuid Sutton who has been making his mark in swimming arenas recently. Diarmuid and his dad Leonard are active members of Boyle GAA Club.
• The Boyle GAA ‘Get Active’ initiative continues apace. The dawn walkers continue to enjoy the lovely autumn weather and the Pilates session on Thursday night could open a whole new fitness and wellbeing horizon.
P.S. I received a very interesting piece from Christy Wynne reflecting on my mention last week of the Keats’s poem ‘To Autumn’. I will ‘treat of’ Christy’s piece next week.