Friday, April 24, 2020

Update 25th April



 Some Memories of Canon Peadar Lavin
I worked with Father Lavin at St. Mary’s College when he was Principal there from 1980 to 1989.  Canon Peadar had been a teacher in Summerhill for a number of decades. He had gone there for his secondary education in the 40s’. His core subject was Irish and he became an ardent Gaelgoir refreshing his core knowledge by visiting Inishmaan, one of the Aran islands, for many summers. In the late seventies he was a curate in Ballymoe for a short period. When Father Dodd left St. Mary’s College to become parish priest of Boyle, after the fire that destroyed the church, Father Tonra - a brilliant academic man - took charge there for two or so years. Father Lavin came to St. Mary’s in 1980 and made his mark there with ‘smacht’ or discipline on students and staff(!) alike with an emphasis on results.
In that period the College had two major re-unions, one in 1985 in the College gym and the second in Highgate London with both Fathers Lavin and Dodd present.
Canon Lavin was a rock in whatever enterprise he engaged with. After the death of Canon Dodd in 1986 Canon Peadar became Parish Priest of Boyle. He was later to become a parish priest in Knockcroghery. He was held in high regard there also and he really embraced the village and parish. It being the heartbeat of GAA in county Roscommon would have significance in that regard.
He met his brother priests regularly in the Abbey Hotel for lunch and I feel they shared the issues of the day as it concerned them. There was collective support there.
In 1983 RTE brought Community Radio to Boyle for a week and Father Lavin presented a series of local history programmes.
His heart though was always with his home village Ballyfarnon and its football team St. Ronan’s. Significant wins by the team made him happy while underperformance got little sympathy. ‘Blame not where you want to blame but rather lay the blame where it rightly lies’. 
Canon Peadar had a deep interest in and had amassed a deep record of his own area. Hopefully some of that knowledge is on record. It reminds me of an occasion once when I sympathised with a lady whose husband had died and she replied ‘Yes and all that history knowledge gone’.
I visited the Canon a few times in recent years in Roscommon. With Gerry Emmett and Gaye Sheeran we visited him in The Sacred Heart Hospital recently enough. It was a great visit that went on for a considerable time. The three Ballyfarnon men covered, in-depth, a whole range of topics and people of their parish. I was a lesser contributor but very much engaged with it all. It is the kind of visit that you reflect on afterwards and say to yourself “I’m glad I did that”. 
Canon Peadar was a considerable force for good and lived a long life which enabled him to disperse the elements of that life experience. These included his county, his schools and the parishes he served so well. In parallel to these were his priestly calling, his extended family and the Ballyfarnon community. May he rest in peace.      

New Government???
I referenced this in my post two weeks ago. Keep in mind that the election took place on Saturday February 8th …76 days ago. I wrote then;
“I can only call the efforts to form a Government in this country as PATHETIC. There have been talks about talks, preliminary talks, kind of meaningful talks, meaningful talks, documents being drawn up, talk of a ‘government formation document’ but yet no real progress. It is a disgrace especially for the parties who are not part of the ‘Interim -Government’ as of now”.    
P.S. There seems to be a little movement this Friday evening. Hurrah …after 76 days. Now there are three variable groups …. with little or no cohesion. Look through the lists below if you can cope with getting more depressed. At least one substantial group from these is necessary to the formation of a cohesive and lasting government with F.F/F.G./ and the Green Party!
Regional Group
Party     Name    Constituency
Independent (8)              
Cathal Berry                       Kildare South (Never heard of him….NH from here)
Seán Canney                      Galway East
Peter Fitzpatrick               Louth (nh politically)
Noel Grealish                   Galway West
***Michael Lowry         Tipperary (I HAVE heard about him)
Verona Murphy              Wexford  ( Maybe)
Denis Naughten             Roscommon–Galway
Matt Shanahan              Waterford (nh)
Aontú (1)            
Peadar Tóibín                 Meath West

Rural Group!
Party     Name    Constituency
Independent (6)               Michael Collins  Cork South-West
Danny Healy-Rae              Kerry
Michael Healy-Rae          Kerry
Mattie McGrath                Tipperary
Carol Nolan                        Laois–Offaly (nh)
Richard O'Donoghue      Limerick County (nh)

Independent Group
Party     Name    Constituency
Independent (5)              
Catherine Connolly          Galway West
Michael Fitzmaurice        Roscommon–Galway
Marian Harkin                  Sligo–Leitrim
Michael McNamara         Clare (nh)
Thomas Pringle               Donegal

Independents 4 Change (1)          Joan Collins         Dublin South-Central 

The World According to Dr. Trump
President Donald Trump has said some crazy things since we became aware of him but the ‘advice’ he dispensed last night has reached new …heights/lows… His references to the use of Dettol and ‘infra-red lights or some configuration of same to ‘kill’ the Covid 19 virus trumps all he has said before. It could have prompted some sane person to arrange some men in white coats to be waiting off stage or maybe even going on stage since it was so toxic. The danger is that some people might follow the dear leader and take his advice! While that seems absurd…these are different times and the Trump personality is something we haven’t seen before either. Something he has suggested recently had ‘a run’ on it subsequently. As Trump dug the hole deeper with these pronouncements the actual medical lady consultant doctor present sat in shock at what she was hearing. Why it did not suggest to her to just get up and walk away and thus disassociate herself from it all, she may look back on as a big mistake. That would have been a real statement and reality- check for Trump and his ‘advisors’.  
The terrible reality for this great country and for our world is that this man looks like he will be re-elected come next November.   
A British expert, on television, this evening commented that “It was one of the most dangerous and idiotic suggestions that I’ve ever heard”. 
The producers of Dettol quickly and strongly advised people not to follow these bizarre suggestions.
And this circus continues…    

Two Fine Singers Pass Away
It’s a couple of weeks now since John Prine and Mary McPartlan passed away. It seems a long time ago but that is the atmosphere of these times. Sean and others have spoken generously about John Prine. I just have a wee story which involves another kinda local musical hero Peter Horan from Killavil beyond Gurteen. Both John and Peter –a renowned flute player- were in Molloy’s bar in Westport. Peter was not really aware of John Prine and may have heard him singing that night. John Prine had heard that Peter was not just a musician but also a singer so he cajoled Peter into singing a song. He thought he was going to hear a classic Irish ballad or some such. But when Peter returned to sing he launched into…’Carry Me Back to Old Virginia’ which was kinda home for John. At the conclusion of Peter’s song John praised him as he would but Peter responded -not being too impressed by Prine’s earlier singing- ‘Not at all… sure there are none of us singers!’
The second singer I am referencing is Mary McPartlan from Drumkeeran in Leitrim. Leitrim for such a small county in terms of population has contributed many people to the arts and culture across various genres. I have a good friend from Drumkeeran and he is a sage in many respects but very passionate about his native county where he seems to know much of the population. I digress.
Mary’s mother came from Tyrone and passed on a store of songs. Mary McPartlan was creative director of NUI Galway’s Arts in Action programme and a Fulbright scholar. She researched American folk music from the Appalachian region and students come to NUIG from there on scholarship for further research. Amongst her CD collections of songs are ‘The Holland handkerchief’ in 2003 and ‘Mountain to Mountain’ in 2016. In these collection she is accompanied by many fine musicians from North Connacht with Seamie O’Dowd from Sligo being prominent.
I really like (I won’t say …love) her rendition of Shane McGowan’s classic ‘Rainy Night in Soho’ a location in London that I was aware of in my time there.

Leonard Cohen Remembered
I might mention here two concerts one of which I thought I had missed BUT it is being repeated on RTE 1 tomorrow Saturday at 10.30. That is ‘The Songs of Leonard Cohen’ with the RTE Orchestra and guests. While Leonard Cohen has his critics like everybody I find his tones and lyrics powerful. I will not forget his concert in the lawn of Lisadell House in Sligo in 2010 which I attended with my son Cianan. Cohen singing in the shadows of Ben Bulben, Yeats country, was a fitting coalescing of kindred genres of poetic magic.

A Woman’s Heart
One of the great Irish CD’s –a trilogy actually- has been ‘A Woman’s Heart’ starting in 1992 and then ’94 and then again 10 years later. They tried –unsuccessfully- to transmit the quality of that group of songs in an another RTE orchestra collaboration last week. Missing was a lady who I would submit as my favourite singer, over say five songs, and that is Dolores Keane.  

Zoom Quizzes
In these troubled times online quizzes have been popping up or mushrooming at a pace. I am very much a retired quiz aficionado but it is hard to be fully retired. (Sometimes I am asked about what I am doing now GAA wise and have developed a standard answer that being, ‘I am doing a bit of consultancy. That is better paid’).
I started with quizzes, maybe in Boyle Golf Club, with Father Tonra a very bright and lovely man. I then started to set and act as question-master for a number of seasons of quizzes in The Ceile House Bar through the 80s’. They were very enjoyable and successful for the bar as a business. We had our own travelling team then drawn from a broad panel of John Casey, Eamon Perry, Tom Mullaney, Gerry Whelehan, Liam Coyle, Bill Mannion, Sheila Tighe, Liam O’Callaghan bolstered by young gun Enda O’Boyle and much later by Cillian Doyle, Jarlath Tivnan and Lochlainn Conboy.
No I have not forgotten …our anchor quiz-man was my dear friend John Mac Nama. I used to say that when we went to a quiz with John present we were contenders but otherwise not so much. John loved the classic quiz material Greek and Roman Gods, History, Geography and Politics. He would snap out the answer or mull over it and then issue ‘I think it was x….’ I was already writing his answer down. Later he would dismiss some quizzes as trivial
There were RTE television quizzes like ‘Rapid Roulette’ and ‘Where in the World’ and on radio a decent one called ‘Top Score’. ‘Where in the World’ in its early run was a family quiz and I enlisted three Kilkenny nephews to join me on that occasion which we won. The Kilkenny boys were not really ‘into’ quizzes but got a number of calls subsequently to join teams but they respectfully declined getting out as it were ‘at the top’. Having been on a widely known television quiz was a very good reference item on their C.V.s’ on some occasions later.
Once Eamon Perry and I went as far as Belfast for a BBC Radio quiz the name of which is consigned to the vaults of forgotten facts.
Like all things if you do not practise you can embarrass yourself in making cameo appearances in quizzes in later times. So I generally avoid that.
I might mention also the schools quiz ‘Blackboard Jungle’. We had a very good team for a couple of years at St. Mary’s College and got to the All-Ireland Semi-Finals and might have been…..Oh what might have been. We could have won a bus! The members of those teams were; Enda O’Boyle, Dara Callaghan, Ciaran Beggan, Shane McGettrick. There was an earlier team with Enda, Conor McLoughlin and Michael Mullaney. 
I could write a long essay on that subject but my shoulder aches right now.  

Two Names in the News
I listen to Sean O’Rourke consistently on RTE Radio each morning. On listening to him during the week he announced that his time was running out being a presenter with RTE as he was fast approaching retiring age. This is in May when he is obliged to retire. He has been a real stalwart with his morning -10am to 12 noon- programme covering as it does the broad range of subjects. Apart from a fairly recent (to me) o.t.t. interrogation of Minster for Heath Simon Harris the quality of his work has been pretty outstanding. He was able to dismiss Joe Brolly who was on a roll with cementing the call for solidarity with best practise with the requirement; ‘That’s enough Joe. We’ve heard enough from you’.
RTE indeed has had a number of top class presenters down the years with ‘Morning Ireland’ with two of the greatest ever Morning Ireland interrogators - Cathal MacCoille and David Hanley.
My favourite in that genre is on T.V., Tommy Gorman. He has worked for RTÉ News and Current Affairs since 1980. He is currently the Northern Ireland correspondent for RTÉ since 2001. He is known for his personal interviews with figures such as Seán Quinn, Gerry Adams and Roy Keane, the latter following the 2002 Saipan incident. He was a speaker at Boyle Arts last year.
I have a slight connection with Brian O’Rourke as I did my teacher practise in Claddagh National School when his father was Principal there. 
While there are a range of reasons for people to be retired by a certain age there is surely a great loss of people with experience and talent also. Perhaps this will be adapted in the future. It is a major discussion subject which I am not too qualified to contribute to.

Starring on University Challenge
Another person, Conor McMeel, made a splash by being a member of the Imperial College London who swept to victory in the University Challenge Quiz final on Monday night with 275 points, defeating rivals Corpus Christi, Cambridge, who finished with 105 points. This is one of the most prestigious quizzes on television and has been running for around sixty years. Master McMeel was a significant contributor to this outstanding team’s performance in the final.
I’ll adjourn at that.

 Final Words…Take Care
**Take care and do not let the guard down now. I hope everyone does. It would be a real disaster if by our own impatience we undid the good that we have done in the last month and more. We owe it to ourselves but more importantly to those who have enabled us to avoid a real disaster with their commitment in such dangerous circumstances.
 So stick with it……please…for your own and your family’s sake.

May your Gods go with you...




  


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