Saturday, June 27, 2020

Update 27th June

Last Week I asked assistance regarding below;
** I wonder if anyone ever came across a book called ‘The Brookham Mysteries’ by Edward McMorrow who was a Solicitor in Boyle many decades ago. His son Art and daughter Angela lived in The Warren later. I asked about the book, as a question in a quiz, decades ago. I remember the title was an amalgam of the names of Frybrook and Rockingham. Mister MacMurrough wrote under a pen name.  (Please give me ring on 086 8163399 if you have any information.)
[I occasionally ask for information here regarding x or y but I regret to say that I rarely get a response! Indeed, I began this blog hoping it would be interactive but that too did not emerge. So I am wondering am I writing to or for myself? This is true to an extent also of course but it would be nice to feel one had company! I acknowledge the encouragement of say a half dozen indicators.]   

New Government???
So it has come to pass. It took the powers that be just 7 days to create the universe but it has taken 140 days for the Irish political system to cobble together a government. While I think that it will last for approximately 18 months it gets us past ‘Go’ for that period of time. Today Friday, as I write and tomorrow Saturday, will be a pretty interesting political theatre. I imagine there will be a flurry of activity with the media trying to anticipate the ministerial appointments and all that. The appointment of Micheál Martin as Taoiseach will fulfil his long-held dream. While I do not feel that it is a good idea to change captains in mid-stream of the Covid 19 disaster it could be a lot worse as Micheál is a decent man and a pretty safe pair of hands with a lot of political experience now. Also, the ‘confidence and supply arrangement’ will have kept him abreast of the machinations of Government over the past number of years. The fact that his family from Cork will not actually witness live Micheál’s elevation. It will be a pretty poignant witness to the times we live in. 
On his passing of the baton, one has to commend the outstanding performance of Leo Varadkar as Taoiseach in his performance through the pandemic to date. 
Saturday sees the filling of the ministerial portfolios and that will be worth watching as there is a loaves and fishes’ element in it all. While those who get the nod will be chuffed there will be quite a number who will not be pleased. Some heavyweights will have to bite the dust and do so with public good grace. 
The Green representatives in the cabinet will be the new kids on the block and they will have a tough time as they will be the lettuce in the sandwich. I wish them well but those members who object to the acceptance of the proposed agreement will need to recognise the realities and pressures of the political climate of these times and hope to survive with a reputation not too damaged by it all. Had they not participated on this occasion would have set them back a decade or so in my humble opinion. But then again what do I know. 
*This is a hugely significant historic agreement as the two parties Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil with their origins in the opposing sides in the Civil War coalesce for the first time since 1921/’22. 

A Chink of Enlightenment
The apology by the U.S. Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, represented an unusual but ‘brave’ action and a crack between Mr. Trump and the military establishment in the U.S.  The country’s highest-ranking military officer said that he was wrong to appear with President Trump for a photo opportunity at a church near the White House. This was held after peaceful protestors were forcibly cleared from the area by a collage of police, national guard and other security. 
I have seen military present at some of Trump’s briefings some time ago also. There is, of course, a great regard for the military in the U.S. and they are a regular part of the introductions to N.F.L. games. Personally (but again what do I know?) I think these displays of militarism are to say the least, odd in a democratic country.
Road Safety
I drove to Roscommon last Sunday morning and a shorter distance early this week. Driving again basically requires some adjusting from the almost automatic responses of pre-Covid regular driving. On Sunday morning I encountered quite a number of cyclists. Irish roads present issue for all users. It is great to see the emergence of cycling again from its near-death position some 20 years ago. An issue I had last Sunday was when one comes on a cycling group where they are two abreast. A relation of mine from Boston used to come to Ireland regularly say 25 years ago. His mode of transport was his sturdy bicycle on which Jim traversed the whole of the country. He came to mind on Sunday morning when I wondered if the cyclists were conscious of my presence. Jim had adapted a dentist’s mirror and it was attached strategically to his bicycle or around his head as a rearview mirror. Perhaps I am not properly tuned in but do such devices exist now? Over the successive 25 years, his idea should have advanced in flexibility  
On the shorter journey, I encountered the machinery of the silage season, balers and trailers going at speed and then taking to the fields. There was a feeling of urgency as opposed to calm in their driving.  
Every day we see evidence in the news media of accidents on the roads so a more considered approach is necessary. 
Not long ago many accidents were caused by drink driving but now that this has declined greatly the problem now is certainly speed. In fairness, the death rates on Irish roads has been progressively declining with odd spikes. The profile of Gay Byrne as Road safety guru was a factor in that. If one looks at the records from the 1960s’ it is incredible how high the numbers were in those years.  
In summary. This is a particularly dangerous time of year on the roads and we all should be conscious of that. While the vast majority of people are courteous and considerate there is a small minority for whom speed is of the essence and that they are invincible as in all things.    

The Slave Trade…
The slave trade and its legacy are very frontline issues at this time. Most of us are aware of the Slave trade to the United States and the implications of that which is so front and centre in the U.S. A civil War was fought there in the 1860s with the Slave Trade, the rights to slave ownership and the inequality of particular sections of society being at its heart.  Some of you will have seen a very powerful film called ‘12 Years a Slave’ Kerry actor Michael Fassbender and Chiwetel Ejiofor in the lead roles of the Steve McQueen directed film. There are many films dealing with the treatment of the black population of the States, as a result of the Slave Trade, being the central theme. The killing of George Floyd some weeks ago has brought the whole issue of discrimination to a boiling surface. It is hard to believe that we are remembering the 55th anniversary of the Selma Civil Rights Marches of early 1965 with Martin Luther King. The leaders would not have anticipated that 55 years later that the issues of then would be a long one. I suppose that seeing the antipathy between communities in Northern Ireland, especially in Belfast, that we should know different. 

Slave Trade Irish Alert
On looking through Sean’s Public Facebook page of Sunday, June 21st I came across a post by Daniel Wissert on the ‘Irish Slave Trade’ in the sense that back in time, in particular periods of our history, many Irish were uprooted and transported as slaves to the Caribbean islands and to the southern states of the U.S. He begins in 1625 and then 1641 and then the Cromwellian period circa 1650 and so on. There is a statement as follows “…but if anyone, black or white, believes that slavery was only an African (origin) experience then they’ve got it completely wrong”. I have to say, as a former history teacher that I had never come across the subject before. I was aware of convicts being ‘transported’ to various detention centres in Australia and even the benign transportation of young girls from Boyle Workhouse, as referenced in Barry Feely’s book, ‘We are the Survivors’. 
It is obviously a subject that is only now emerging. There are many threads to it and I suppose it comes up to modern times and the policies of nunneries and laundries.           
The Poetry of Jane Clarke, My long-ago neighbour 
Being as I am from Castlecoote (Fuerty) the river almost encircled my home. While it was taken for granted by us it was a very significant part of our young lives. We fished there, we swam there we spent nights ‘shooting’ out along its banks which were populated by duck and mallard. Sheep were dipped in its waters and during the odd drought, it provided water for animals and freshly sown plants. The swollen timber of cartwheels was tightened by its coolness. 
I nearly drowned while swimming in it once. I foolishly walked across it during the big freeze of ‘62/’63. 
During the occasional droughts the river contracted and became shallow and big cattle from Charlie Clarke’s farmland beyond found it easy to cross to ours. It took a posse to execute their return across the river border. There was no animosity. It was rare and amicable. They were good neighbours. It is only now as I write this note that I realise how important the Suck river was to my young life. 
At last summer’s Arts Festival, a daughter of Charlie, Jane Clarke, was in Boyle talking of her poetry but I was elsewhere. Recently a friend of mine in Dublin asked me about a poem by a Roscommon poet and I was puzzled and then he asked me about Jane Clarke. “Is she not from your neck of the woods?” I was embarrassed by my lack of awareness. I have since begun to set that to rights and I include here Jane’s poem about her river which is also, very much, my river. This has become her metaphor and title for her first collection of poems.               

The River
What surprises me now is not that you’re gone
but how I go on without you, as if I’d lost
no more than a finger. My hand still strong,

perhaps stronger, can do what it must,
carving your name on a branch from the beech
by the Suck, letting the river take you,

so I can call myself free. Only sometimes,
like yesterday or the day before, last night or this morning,
the river flows backwards, uphill to my door.

Jane Clarke, from The River (Bloodaxe Books, 2015)
Errata Notes
In last week’s ‘Oblique View’ I mentioned John Healy’s Charlestown books ‘The Death of an Irish Town’ i.e. Charlestown and ’17 Acres’. I chopped a couple of acres from John with that title as it was correctly ‘19 Acres’. This was brought to my attention by one of my six advocates, another T.C. as it happens. As I said last week I had both of those books back when but I loaned them out and do not have them now and if anyone has one for sale I’d be interested with T&C applicable.
In conversation about the heinous murder of Garda Colm Hokan with Bill Corcoran, formerly from Corrigeenroe but now long-time resident in Dublin he mentioned a fine footballer from Charlestown who spent a short time in Boyle in the early fifties called Patsy Horkan. He was involved with or employed by a plumber. ‘A big young fellow and a great footballer” Bill suggested. I wonder if anyone knows if he was connected with the deceased Garda Colm?
While I was on the phone to Bill I was walking through the quiet town of Boyle and relaying that I was just passing Daly’s; “Ah Paddy Daly. We spent great times in Lowes” followed by ‘The Italian Warehouse’ and so on. When I mentioned the Marian Shrine he informed me that Boyle GAA members such as Charlie Feely, Paddy Leonard Peter Phelan et al ‘Dug out the foundation for that shrine in the early fifties under Canon Casey. There was no automation just sweat against a stubborn hill.” The Marian Year plaque nominates December 1954 if my memory is right. I also asked him about the badges, a little like Garda badges, that were to be seen over doorways. They too, may have a Marian Year connection. I am open to correction and illumination on that one.  
It was an accidental innovation of a phone call to a man who had the town of Boyle firmly on his heart and in his memory.
GAA Re-Opening ... a Mistake?
I hope the proposed, I’ll call it ‘re-opening’ of the GAA goes right but I haven’t confidence that it will.  I’d be very wary seeing evidence with the erosion of safety practises and a general feeling that the pandemic is on the way out. The message from numerous other countries shows that it is NOT. 
How the GAA can be optimistic that their games can be any different is very questionable. Some time ago some reservations within the G.P.A. were expressed about the safety of progressing with games. So will all the membership buy into returning with all that entails?
It is also proposed to reactivate the summer Cúl Camps. Social distancing is hardly credible in many if not all GAA games situations. I really think that it is a mistake as the regulations necessary and the risks do not merit opening.  Too many things have to go right for all this and one broken link in the chain or outbreak brings so much down with it and threatens all the good work we’ve all done already over the past four months. I am aware also that the logistics involved in rebooting are challenging. 
In summary I believe that the GAA should have called time on their year a good while ago.
I hope I’m wrong.
(I subscribe to Chris O’Dowd’s expression of caution as on the Home Page of realboyle.)    

Italia 90 Again!
If I hear the phrase, ‘A nation holds its breath’ many more times I just might do that. While I and everybody enjoyed it at the time 30 year later analysis should be a bit calmer. Ireland played 4 games to qualify for the quarter-finals and scored 2 goals in 6 hours of football and failed to score again in the quarter final v Italy. So we went 7 and a half hours scoring 2 goals from play. This resulted in the proverbial ticker tape reception when they came back from Italy to Dublin. As a friend of mine (P.K.) said to me at the time; “Two goals in over 7 hours and if you blinked in Thurles at the Munster hurling final you’d have missed a score!’

Rossie Day 
The above now takes place on Sunday July 5th. It was to have taken place on June 21st but was postponed because Garda Colm Hokan’s funeral took place on that day.

Boyle Tidy Towns 
A major clean-up in the town and environs will take place on Saturday July 11th. So let’s get behind that effort.
Sunny Turf 
When describing the fine turf I harvested last month an elderly acquaintance said; ‘It has to be good sure the sun is in it’. An old and accurate endorsement.   

The pictures surfacing from English beaches these days. 

T. V. ‘Hawks and Doves with presenter Michael Portillo
I have been watching a certain amount of television during recent times and I had thought I would reference those programmes here today but enough is enough. One RTE documentary, with an unlikely presenter, Michael Portillo, impressed me a good deal. So I recommend that programme to you if you can still source it.
Sin é for now 
Take care. We are not there yet


  1. Tony don't lose heart as your blog is most enjoyable and I for one really enjoy it. Keep up the great articles.👍

  2. I am also a reader....helps keep an eye on Boyle....Harry Keaney.

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