Friday, October 30, 2020

 Blog Thursday, October the 29th.

The Covid Marathon

Last spring, we battened down the hatches in a gesture of solidarity and defiance and by June or so we thought we were ‘round the corner’ as Trump says. But like the Marathon, we are now challenged by that twenty-kilometre barrier. The winter winds blow chilly and cold and the long dark nights envelop our existence. But we will survive and come next February, 3/4 months away, having survived, we will face a different brightening future. We will be tired, some even exhausted, but that famous ‘light in the tunnel’ will not be the proverbial train of the past year. The commentary on a vaccine is pretty positive endorsed his morning by a respected Dr Fauci. 

As the ongoing notifications from our guiding medical fraternity is that the next few weeks are critical. This reminds me of a jockey being asked the question; “Which fence in the Aintree Grand National do you fear the most?” to which he replied, “Always the next one”.

I am not competent to comment much on the Covid news like the difficulties with ‘track and trace’, the post-match, house party, travel breaches of guidelines, confusion around ‘pods’, some places being open and others not, some sports allowed and others not, the huge challenges in schools and the many more. There is an abundance of commentary on those ‘out there’. 

 Take care and if you feel uncomfortable in a situation to get out of there.  And I would request people who meet others in a social distancing way ‘mind the gap’. Months ago now, in the early days, I was at a small game and very much socially distancing and masked when someone came towards me and as I retreated he advanced until I was nearly going over the embankment. I left posing the question; How could it be that he could not interpret my situation?

I quote from Thomas Kinsella’s poem ‘Mirror in February’ which represents my attitude at this time;

“I fold my towel with what grace I can 

Not young and not renewable, but man.”

T.V. Films

Films and television programmes I have watched recently include a disproportionate number on United States issues. Issues with police treatment of Black people were front and centre in ‘Detroit’ and ‘16 Shots’. Both were shocking and Detroit was not for the squeamish. One film I enjoyed (!), ‘The Chicago Seven’ related to the protests of 1968 in Chicago (again) near the Democratic Convention. It is not a classic or anything and perhaps it was more a black comedy than a seriously themed picture. Still, the court scenes and the performances of a number of the principals are very good. I could be ‘overruled’ on that selection of course but give it a chance. Again the behaviour of the Chicago police at the behest of the city’s Mayor Daly was o.t.t. 

At that Convention, the Democrats nominated Hubert Humphrey as their candidate against Richard Nixon. Nixon won of course. While I am very interested in U.S. History it would take a lifetime to get a decent knowledge of it. I would like to read a book with the losing presidential candidates as a theme. It seems to me that while there have been few outstanding American Presidents hardly ever has one emerged from the ‘also-rans’ of which the label ‘the greatest President the U.S. could have had but missed out on’. The great Presidents would include Washington, Lincoln, Wilson perhaps, F.D. Roosevelt with a run of decent presidents including Eisenhower, Kennedy who could have been a first division contender as could Johnson. After that come, Nixon, Ford (accidentally), Carter, Regan (who many Americans see as a ‘great’ President but not me). H.G. Bush, Clinton I thought of as a good president; G.W. Bush; Obama hobbled by Congress, and now Trump.

What future event will probably have the greatest television audience of modern times? I’ll give my guess on that somewhere down the way.  

I am confused at the fact that in such an advanced society that there are queues to vote in the U.S. it is something one associates with say South Africa or some such. 

Book of Now

The runaway sports bestseller of the moment is ‘Champagne Football’ by Mark Tighe and Paul Rowan. It is an account of the Football Association of Ireland in John Delaney’s ‘care’. I have not read it yet but  I got a text from a friend as follows; “Wait until you read Champagne Football. The GAA should send a copy to houses through the country and complaints about the GAA would wither’! I saw a television interview with Mark Tighe and in a condensed way, it showed the style of Delaney. Delaney’s pathetic performance at the Dail Committee hearings was mind-boggling. A succession of; ‘On legal advice, I do not answer that question’ or some such. The high point of his tenure and a picture of his self-importance and power was the birthday party at Mount Juliet. So I look forward to reading ‘Champagne Football’. 

In stark contrast to the above one’s heart has to go out the Irish Ladies soccer team who lost out to Ukraine in such incredible circumstances late last week. If you want to see what I am talking of I’m sure you can source it on U Tube or such platforms. This defeat has denied the team to take part in the Ladies World Cup next year in England with the opening match featuring England at Old Trafford and the Final being in Wembley. The Irish goalkeeper will need a lot of t.l.c. for some time after this. 

It is the third Irish team which has missed out in going to world stages of their sport. The men’s soccer team lost out Slovakia on penalties (If Ireland won there they would have to meet Northern Ireland to go to the European Football Championships finals). A number of the games of the competition will be staged in the Aviva in Dublin.  I know of someone who has tickets for their first game v Sweden in the Aviva in June.  The games are dispersed around 12 cities including Dublin.

The Irish Men’s Hockey team lost out in very controversial circumstances to Canada in October 2019 to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. This hinged on a very dubious video refereeing decision. 

One glimmer is that the Irish Ladies Hockey team have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics. The game that got them over the line was also against Canada.     

Staying with Sport

While I only watch Formula One car racing accidentally I must mention the achievement of Lewis Hamilton who has won his 92nd Formula One Race at the Portuguese Grand Prix and so eclipses the record of Michael Schumacher a record that a short number of years ago was thought to be unbreakable.                        

Roscommon Go Up

The Roscommon team achieved a real goal with their promotion to Division One of the National League with their victory over a poor Cavan team last weekend. They seem to have a real strength-in-depth now as that victory showed. While it is always great for us GAA people to follow successful Roscommon teams a real bonus is when your own club members are part of the team. This is so now and is heightened by the fact that their contribution is of such quality with Donie getting ‘Man of the Match’ there. Enda would be regarded in the top echelons now by national commentators and more especially opposition managers while the emergence and progress of Cian is the real icing on the cake. So hats off to you ‘guys’ as they say in the states. Another very positive part of their contributions is in their after match contributions when interviewed. There was a deal of commentary on the interview with Enda after the Armagh game and the same could be said for Donie after the Cavan game. So Cian you have to, as the Scouts Motto goes ‘Be Prepared’ when your turn comes as it will!  

So now we look forward to a Connacht Championship Semi-final v Mayo which will be very, very, interesting in Hyde Park. 

Limerick looked very good in their Munster Championship dismissal of Clare on Sunday. A new feature to me was the yellowish sliothar. I presume it was because it was more visible to the television cameras. I’ve seen this before in cricket and tennis maybe?   

‘The West’s Awake’ …Revolution in Roscommon 1916 -1922.

I tuned into this ‘New History Ireland Podcast’ as part of the ‘Decades of Centenaries’ on Tuesday afternoon. This ‘Hedge School’ Podcast was facilitated by Roscommon County Council Arts Office whose Arts officer is Rhona McGrath.

The contributors were Tommy Grehan, Brian Hanley, John Burke and May Moran from Crossna a grand-niece of Paddy Moran who was executed by the British in 1920. One never ceases to learn and see facets of history that lie just beneath the surface and collectively contribute to major upheavals of historic importance. In Roscommon LAND was a major issue   

While Roscommon has regularly been seen as one of the quieter counties in the War of Independence this is not valid when one puts its cards on the table. The 1917 Election success of Count Plunket was a hugely influential event in the whole drama. It is good that Paddy Moran’s grand-niece May is to the fore in the playing a big role in this and her book on Paddy titled ‘Executed for Ireland’ is a big contribution. The book may still be available in the Una Bhán book shop at King House entrance.      

There certainly is material for a PhD student in addressing the acquisition and disbursement of land from the great landed estates in County Roscommon to the farming classes. While I mention Scholarly projects it surprises me that Jasper Tully has never been (to my knowledge) the subject of a biography. 

Television History Documentaries 

There have been a number of telling and sad television documentaries of late. The RTE programmes schedule presented a number. The first one dealt with the death of Terence Mac Sweeney Mayor of Cork who died on hunger strike in Brixton prison in 1920. 

Mac Sweeney had succeeded another Mayor Tomas McCurtain who was murdered by a group of men who were regarded as members of the R.I.C.

This week we saw the Nationwide programme in which the first half concentrated on the capture, trial and execution of Kevin Barry in Dublin. Part two dealt with the removal of the remains of 10 I.R.A. members who had been executed in a short period including Barry and buried in Mountjoy. Their remains were removed for reburial with full military honours and state honours in a Republican plot in Glasnevin Cemetery. The members of this group were often referred to as ‘The Forgotten Ten’. Their names were; Kevin Barry, Paddy Moran, Frank Flood, Thomas Whelan, Thomas Traynor, Patrick Doyle, Edmond Foley, Thomas Bryan, Bernard Ryan and Patrick Maher. This funeral through the crowded streets of Dublin, which was televised live, took place on the 14th of October 2001. It was a proud day for the many members of the Moran family who were in attendance. It is amongst my list of regrets that I did not go to Dublin for this event as I should have.

By the time my next Blog here it will be in the anniversary of Bloody Sunday November 21st 1920 and I’ll have a few words on that then.  

P. S. In 1937 when Kevin Barry’s mother was in dire straits and applied to the state pensions board for some monetary support for her and her family. Her request was denied. I know a little about the terms, conditions and layers of bureaucracy in the ‘Free State’ that was at play in this type of result.

 In a phrase I came across a long time ago they were like inverted Micawbers; ‘Waiting for something to turn down’.     

The Death of Patricia Mac Namara

The news of the death of Patricia Mac Namara was greeted with sadness by the community of the town of Boyle last week. She was an iconic figure in the town. I am aware of the various tributes to her spoken at her funeral mass and included in this week’s Roscommon Herald and the regard she was held in so I can only endorse them. I may even be borrowing some apt references used in those forums. I first met Patricia when she was helping her mother in their restaurant at Main Street in the middle seventies. I was living a few doors down the street and lunched there from time to time. I was usually there with Stanley Cox Secretary of the Leitrim Count Board.

As Canon Gerry said at her Mass “She had her own mind and was very direct in expressing her opinion and was linguistically colourful”.  

Her 60th birthday was announced in the church at a regular Sunday mass and this was greeted by Patricia in theatrical style with a wave to the crowd and a slight bow as the Choir led the congregation in her Happy Birthday salute. She enjoyed that. A regular African phrase of recent times ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ comes into play with her. While her family were, of course, her immediate diligent carers the village of Boyle helped out in watching out for her.

I met her regularly at the traditional music sessions which in recent years took place in Dodd’s bar. She took her premier seat and held onto it with the tenacity of a politician. She was part of the scene there and was treated well by the hosts and participants. Patricia was not one to drift home early and Liam’s appearance on occasions was not heartily welcome. Her 60th birthday party took place in St. Joseph’s Hall and was followed by a similar celebration for a close contact. Patricia starred on both those occasions. So when we return to Dodd’s, after this current trial, there will be a very visible gap in the traditional circle and perhaps a rendition of ‘The Parting Glass’ in Patricia’s honour.  

The World Holds its Breath

I am off now to the Trump Channel …no not Fox News but tonight Thursday, Oct. 29 he is on RTE 1 with ‘United States of Conspiracy’; Virgin One with ‘Trump’s America’; BBC  2 ‘The Trump Show’. I heard an accolade to Trump by whoever, as follows; “Trump is like a wealthy drunk uncle at a wedding”. I have no experience of that but maybe it fits. 

The BBC 2 ‘The Trump Show’ I’ve watched just now. It was a record of the past year which has been a dramatic, hard to believe, rollercoaster and despite the ‘Dettol’ and ‘light’ to the insides and all those other signals he has survived leaving a trail of chaos in his wake.   

What if Trump wins? Then there is the other side; what if Trump loses? Just take time out to imagine those options… one.. at… a… time! 

So, next Tuesday/ Wednesday , the whole world will (probably) be watching as Blue V Red and states begin to rock, roll, swing and lawyers begin to rub their hands (not in sanitiser mind). That will be the Super Bowl of television watching numbers. 

Can American voters do that-elect Donald Trump- to the world and especially to their own country? ‘Yes we can’ I hear them echo. "It’s a crazy world." 

May your Gods go with you      





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