Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Update 5th February

Request: If anyone has spare election canvassing leaflets they might keep them for me. I gather them for a collector friend of mine and he has been ‘gathering’ them for decades now. He refers to them as ‘Ephemera’. You could drop them into Dodd’s for me if you wished. Thanking you. 

We in Ireland are nearing the end game. But with the sad death of a Tipperary Independent candidate, Marese Skehan, of Thurles, there will be time added on. 
I have not heard much that would suggest that the landscape of the Sligo/Leitrim/Roscommon results will change radically. This gives Marian Harkins and Marc Mac Sharry a clear lead and if the Sinn Féin swing proves a real reality then Martin Kenny should be a winner of the third seat.
By me the final seat will rest between Frank Feighan and Eamon Scanlon unless my instinct is awry.
I would generally not disclose publically how I would vote but this time, with the changed unsatisfactory (to me) constituency alignment I have decided to ‘shop local’ for the Roscommon contender Frank Feighan, on a personal basis. There are quite a number of community initiatives coming down the line and it would seem logical to have someone in situ with local knowledge and awareness of those to ‘help them over the line. The Roscommon vote will be vital for him.
I have to keep the Green Party in mind also with Bláithin Gallagher the candidate here. The P.R. voting process can accommodate that. After the U.K. election I was very disappointed with the showing of the Green Party there so now that an opportunity to make a mark for them and what they stand for into the future it would be remiss of me not to put them in the frame.  
It promises to be an interesting weekend with so much sport and the drama of the Election and its Count taking centre stage.

Roscommon’s GAA Senior team have left themselves a lot to do after their first two games in the League. The hope of returning quickly to the premier division is on a lifeline. To lose one game after being six points up is unfortunate but to lose two (nearly) is careless. Next Sunday the visitors to the Hyde are Clare and they will pose a substantial threat. One of Roscommon’s most depressing losses, in recent times, was v Clare in Pearse Stadium, Galway in July 2016. The remaining games are versus Kildare (a), Westmeath (h) Armagh (a), and Cavan also (a). There are no ‘gimmes’ there. The real threat is demotion which has championship implications that I am not totally clear on as of now.
While the result against Fermanagh last Sunday was very disappointing a very nice thing to see was Boyle Club’s four-man representation on the starting team which was historic. They were Enda and Donie Smith, Cian McKeon and Evan McGrath. So very well done to them and hopefully the results will turn. (I remember Boyle having 3 seniors on a League team v Antrim at the Hyde. They were Jonathan Conroy, Gerry Cregg and Tom Ryan.  On a Connacht minor championship team of 1972 (?) there is the possibility of another four representatives with Sean Daly, Gerry Carty, James Dodd and Freddie Daly). 
Congratulations are merited also for the Abbey Community College girls team on reaching their final. I’m assuming that the team has big input from the local GAA club. A thing about that …. occasionally there are Abbey College games taking place that I might like to attend but I do not hear of them until it is too late. I imagine would readily publicise ‘headline’ games if the information was passed onto it. Boyle Celtic is also remiss in this. But c’est la vie.
Awards…The BAFTAS.
My Joker nominee is still going strong as Joachim Phoenix won here again after winning at the Golden Globes. The film 1917 was the big winner. But as at the Grammy Awards an Irish Lady singer, Kerry’s Jessie Buckley really wowed the crowd during one of the breaks with a song from her film ‘Wild Rose’. It was a stand-out act and certainly gave her career a major lift. Her song was titled ‘Glasgow (No Place Like Home). She appeared on the front of Monday’s Independent. Saoirse Ronan was again nominated but lost out to Renée Zellweger who won for her role portraying Judy Garland in the film ‘Judy’.  
  Performers from Cirque du Soleil were another mesmerising entertainment insert with its gymnastic act echoing the spirit of Judy Garland. 
Graham Norton was an amiable and entertaining host.  So the Irish were well represented at the Baftas. (Next week, of course, it is the top awards of the season with the Oscars. While the destination of the awards will be generally in line with what has happened in the two previous awards i.e. Golden Globes and BAFTAS. The Oscars is a circus in its own right but I hope to watch it).     

Daniel Sheeran … A Long Way from Ballyfarnon.
In The Roscommon Herald of January 14 (page 26) there was a significant article on the career of Daniel Sheeran from Ballyfarnon. Daniel is the son of well -known former Roscommon footballer Gay and Abbey Community College teacher Mary with his sister, Rena, being a Garda in Roscommon town currently. After St. Mary’s College Daniel joined the cadets and since then has been to an impressive number of troubled countries. First, he served with the Irish army as part of U. N. stabilisation forces in various countries. He is currently “Deputy Chief of the UN’s joint operations centre in the Congo in Central Africa”. This is one of the many dangerous hotspots in a troubled world. He has been involved in the ‘crisis management of the Ebola outbreak dealing with logistics and responses to outbreaks”.  He reports to the chain of ‘command and influence’ of the U.N. at its highest levels. He has had roles of security for Pope Francis visit in the Central African Republic and then switched to the World Health Organisation and then to Colombia as part of the U.N.’s peace initiatives there with FARC. During his sixteen-year stint with the Irish army he was involved in Liberia, Chad and also Lebanon. He acknowledges his training and experience with the Irish army being hugely beneficial. Dan is a committed Rossie supporter and keeps up with their fortunes always. He remembers his grandmother who passed away two years ago, herself a great Roscommon supporter and character in her own right. He commends the great work done by the Irish Defence Forces with the U.N. in so many places since that first began in the fifties. 
I’m sure that Daniel’s family is very proud of him and his achievements. As a former teacher of his, it is uplifting to see what some of those once innocent students and apprentice footballers can achieve in their lives. Daniel has certainly pushed the boundaries to their limits.   
Percy French the 100th Anniversary of his Death  
January 24 last was the 100th Anniversary of the death of one of Roscommon’s favourite sons Percy French who was born at Clooneyquinn near Tulsk in May 1854. He graduated as an engineer and travelled parts of the country as ‘an inspector of drains’. He was an entertainer and is remembered especially for a number of his many songs. Probably his most famous song is ‘The Mountains of Mourne’ a melancholy but sweeping lyric of emigration which is a cottage industry in Ireland. Another of these is ‘Come Back Paddy Reilly to Ballyjamesduff’. A number of his songs are wrapped in humour such as the parody of, ‘Are you right there Michael are You right’ about the travails of the Clare railway. 
In the 1950s there were a number of shows embracing the life and songs of Percy French. I remember being at one in The Harrison Hall (now the Bank of Ireland) in the middle of Roscommon town. The lead performers then were Milo O’Shea and Brendan O’Dowda who specialised in his songs. About 30 years ago a Father Beirne-originally from Elphin- established a festival and a Percy French Society. There is also a Society in County Down a county which he highlighted in his much-loved song. While his original house had been removed a commemorative arch was installed there. Percy’s daughters were present then.
In recent times Percy French is remembered in an annual ‘Summer School’ dealing with Percy French and associated issues. This takes place in Castlecoote House five miles west of Roscommon town each summer.
Percy French died at the age of 65 and is buried at Formby in the Merseyside area of England. His melodies, while victims of changing times, still resonate with a constituency and remain as the legacy of this Roscommon entertainer, song-writer and artist. 

Debates, Debates, and more Debates
Over my shoulders, one of the myriads of debates of the election cycle is in train. Tonight (Tuesday) it is the ‘Leaders Debate’ with the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Michéal Martin and Mary Lou McDonald. It is not easy to get guidance as a result of these debates. A few years ago Vincent Browne and T.V. 3 did a gruelling circuit of most of the constituencies which I remember as impressive. Vincent Browne was the moderator and a very good one he was and he is missed during this election. Last week Ivan Yates adopted an aggressive approach which was o.t.t. in a bullying way with his ‘guests’. Miriam O’Callaghan moderated a harmless ‘debate’ in Castlerea. 
Still, we certainly get to hear the principals, so in that respect, it is up to us to learn from all the sound bites and do our best on Saturday. By and large we do reasonably well, historically.  
So I’ll leave it at that this week. The coming weekend should provide plenty of drama on numerous fronts especially in the political and sporting arenas. Fasten your seat belts.

(A CAUCUS is a meeting of supporters or members of a specific political party or movement. The term originated in the United States and is very important in kick- starting the Presidential campaign of candidates. That is a big story and it is late so I’ll retire it for now).

‘May your Gods go with you’ Dave Allen.


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