How to Defuse a Bomb: The Project Children Story
I had but a grain of this story in my head until I tuned into a television programme with the above title on Monday night on RTE One. Narrated by Liam Neeson, this documentary tells the extraordinary untold story of how an NYPD bomb disposal expert, Dennis Mulcahy from Cork, played a key role in helping defuse the decades old “Troubles” in Northern Ireland. In upstate New York Dennis Mulcahy started a project in 1975 of bringing children from Northern Ireland to New York state for six weeks to help them get a break from the horror of ‘the Northern Ireland Troubles’. They were hosted by American families. The key component of the project was that it embraced children from both sides of the conflict and this documentary focussed particularly on the experience, influence and memories of two young boys, one a Protestant and one a Catholic who were placed in a host home together as was a vital component of the project. From the initial group of 9 children in ’75 it continued for forty years and by then 23,000 children had benefitted from the process as the project expanded from its humble beginnings. Obviously it gave the children respite for a period but it also helped to disperse understanding between participants who had no chance whatsoever of meeting otherwise. It also brought their experiences into the homes of the host families and got considerable exposure in the U.S. media leading to a greater involvement of American politicians in the dilemma of Northern Ireland. The most significant of those was President Clinton whose role in the Northern Ireland Peace Process was key. Dennis Mulcahy stayed with the project for four decades and was nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize a fact I had never heard of. This powerful documentary is available on the RTE player for those who are able to access that. Perhaps it will be shown again as it deserves that and as wide an audience as possible. As Mister Mulcahy’s brother said ‘It is better to light a candle than to curse the dark’. The ‘Project Children Story’ has been a bright light for thousands of children from Northern Ireland for over forty years.
Connacht Final Victory.
The reaction of the Roscommon support at the final whistle in Pearse Stadium, Salthill, on Sunday was vividly captured by the RTE cameras as the they invaded the field and swept in a rough line, like in the film Braveheart towards the members of the Roscommon team to congratulate them on one of the sweetest victories in the Connacht championship for some time. To the fore in the charge was Ballyfarnon man Patrick McTiernan of the St. Ronan’s Club. The supporters were gathering on the fringes of the field for the final minutes and the whistle acted like a starter’s gun in an athletic meet. It is very rare that Roscommon had nailed down the result so conclusively a good few minutes from the end of the game. It is Roscommon’s third win Connacht Final in the last twenty years after the win over Mayo in 2001 and Sligo in 2010. So ‘what is rare is wonderful ‘as the saying goes. Galway were hot favourites going into this game and I have to confess that I too subscribed to that assessment. I wasn’t on my own of course but all that meant that the result was all the sweeter. I met a great Roscommon supporter on the field and he in a surprised voice said to me ‘I know nothing about football after all the years. I couldn’t see this coming’. However the team and its management must have seen things very differently. Gone was the reticence of last year at the same venue as players went for their shots and while there were some nine wides in the first half some of the scores taken were of the highest quality. I was just in the trajectory of Donie Smith’s late point and it was superb.
Roscommon played with all the qualities that one wishes in a team. They had skill, passion, determination, pace, a scheme that worked, unity of purpose and self-belief. If one was assessing the team in terms of ratings there would be succession of 7/8s’ a couple of 9s’ Kilroy and Devaney and an Enda Smith 10. Niall Kilroy, from the Fuerty club, reminded me of an England player in the 1966 World Cup called Alan Ball with the way he got around the field.
It has to be said that the Galway side lacked so many of Roscommon’s qualities on the day and all associated with the side must be hugely disappointed and puzzled with their effort especially in the first half and last quarter. It echoed their defeat to Tipperary last year. They now face a difficult game against Donegal in Sligo. Roscommon can play, by my estimation, the winner of Mayo v Cork probably Mayo or Donegal if they defeat Galway. That game will be in Croke Park on Sunday the 30th. Galway will find it hard to reenergise its team and support and the support will quickly transfer to the hurling team which shows such promise.
It was an emotive Kevin McStay that faced the press at the end and more than anybody else he must have felt a great sense of personal relief and pride in his team. It is great to see Boyle club having three players involved with Cian McKeon also being on the panel and I would imagine not being too far from playing a cameo at such a young age. In 2010 it was David Casey and Sean Purcell with Fergal O’Donnell as manager.
So it was a great day for the Roscommon team and management and for their dedicated supporters. Now the challenge is to put in place a degree of consistency with another good performance on the 30th.
Cody’s Cats feel Waterford Class
In the other weekend games Tipp. footballers had a very good win over Cavan once the great power in Ulster football. Carlow added another scalp in the win over Leitrim. In 1944 Carlow contested an All-Ireland semi-final and lost v Kerry. Monaghan got back on track with a generous win over Wexford. Armagh beat Westmeath and Mayo defeated Clare after an even first half mainly due to the power of their Jonah Lomu equivalent Aidan O’Shea. The game of the week-end was Waterford’s extra time victory win over Kilkenny. Kilkenny were 8 points down with some 8 minutes to go but got back level in a rousing last few minutes. While they were expected to carry the momentum into the extra time it was Waterford that prevailed with their first championship win over the cats since 1959. So, is this finally the end of Kilkenny’s reign and what their Kaiser, Brian Cody, will do is the topical question of the moment? On Sunday the Cork rebels continued their upward curve with a convincing win over Clare. With Cork and Galway now in the All-Ireland semi-finals the play offs rest between Waterford and Wexford and Tipperary and Clare.
Next Sunday it is the Leinster football final between Dublin and Kildare and the Ulster final between Tyrone and Down. Dublin should win convincingly while Tyrone will probably cope with a surprising Down.
Joe Brolly and Boyle
Joe Brolly gave an amusing and colourful account of his trip to Boyle for the local GAA club’s fundraiser on Friday June 30th in last Sunday’s Independent Sport’s Section page 7. Dodd’s Bar certainly got plenty of reference from Joe’s pen with his mention of their quality ‘stout’ and also quality music. What was something about his article were the little details almost forensic that Joe was able to remember subsequently when he sat down to write his column. Regarding St. Joseph’s hall; “….the parish hall, which looked like the Ballroom of Romance. It still had the old projector hatch and projector….. I was introduced to a chap who was to look after my Guinness needs…I thought when he shook hands with me that I wasn’t going to get my hand back….. “. At the end of the night with friends he retired to Dodd’s; “….which was packed. A beautiful traditional music session was in mid flow when we arrived. A concertina, a box, a piano key accordion, a guitar and a flute”. That was some totally accurate detail to remember without taking a note. Perhaps his legal training and practise had something to do with it.
Another traditional visitor to Boyle was also generous in his comments on Boyle i.e. Brendan Gleeson in an interview in ‘The Guardian’ newspaper. Brendan has been coming to Boyle for decades and has a number of good friends in the traditional music scene in the town. It started when Brendan was shown hospitality in The Ceili House Bar on a very early visit.
So with Chris O’Dowd and Paul Young and now the Smiths and company the town of Boyle is very much in the news regularly which has to be a good thing.
(Due to a history commitment which has a September deadline, requiring whatever attention I can muster, this Blog will go into ‘recess’ in the interim).