Wednesday, December 16, 2020

update 16th December

Limerick Supreme

From the early minutes of the All-Ireland Final the outcome could be foreseen. The hot favourites Limerick dominated the game with a performance of power, skill, authority and confidence. Many times the final winners are posted as a great side, which will be around for a number of years, this does not always happen. But this Limerick side has the quality of being one of the truly great sides. With the power and physique distributed across a large panel comes all the skills as they regularly rack up magic numbers in terms of points scored quite a few being 30 or more which is classic scoring. They won the 2018 final after a long hiatus and came back this year to take a second championship and look like they will be around for some time to come.


One feels for Waterford which most neutral followers would have wished to win. They can have few regrets about losing on Sunday in terms of being beaten by a better side. While they kept in touch for a significant period of time they were doing so in the shadows of a superior team who in the final segment moved comfortably towards their victory.

It was a historic final because of its timeline and the prevailing health dilemma globally. 
In GAA history a small number of finals have been tagged with special titles. The most famous to date has been the 1947 football final played in New York and referred to after the name of the stadium it was played in there. It is recalled as the Polo Grounds final. In 1939   there was ‘the thunder and lightning final’ and today’s final will forever be tagged as the Corona Pandemic or a variant of that name.

Last summer when it was proposed that the two finals would played on Sunday December 13 and Saturday December 19 there was a lot of scepticism and we could hardly picture it happening. But it did come to pass and hopefully the Limerick celebrations will be mooted and dignified and do not come at a high price.

Hopefully, sometime next year, many of the victories, anniversaries and postponed celebrations will be possible and what a crowded diary of events that could be. 

So next Saturday we move to the All-Ireland Football Final Dublin v Mayo. The odds are stacked against Mayo as they face the greatest collective team in history in terms of winning now going for their sixth All-Ireland in a row. I do not know if young GAA followers of today will be able to rhyme off the members of that Dublin team as many youngsters of past decades could run off the names of the great teams such as Mayo in the early fifties, the Down team of 60/61, the Galway 3 –in-a-row of the sixties, Kerry and Dublin in the seventies Tyrone and the breakthrough teams and of course Roscommon in the 40s’! This Dublin is always adopting a small number of new players. Still it has three maybe four players who would stand out in the history of the game.

For me they are; Brian Fenton, my favourite player; Ciarán Kilkenny with massive contributions on a number of levels; the goalkeeper, Stephen Cluxton who has redefined the role of the keeper; and the ever-improving Dean Rock.

The best of luck to Mayo. Their resilience and heart is of a noble nature and it would be the ironies of ironies were they win next Saturday. A few Mayo flags would not go amiss in this season of goodwill and community spirit!       

BREXIT ‘The End is Nigh’

So it goes on and on. I could go on. The poker game of negotiations with deadlines falling by the wayside but…I assume December 31st is the final, final day of reckoning. It seems as if there is this nightmare beneath the Coved nightmare and the future of Global warming suggested as more dangerous than all that.

Lord Frost

While we refer to the Brexiteers as British they are for the most part English with some misguided constituency from Northern Ireland.

Some personage in the British establishment played one of its favourite historic cards with the news this week that the Royal Navy was gearing up a number of its navy ships to be ready for immediate action to protect its fishing rights as they saw it. This was an echo of Maggie Thatcher launching her ‘Task Force’ to go thousands of miles to put manners on a minor power in the South Atlantic. The Belgrano and all that. It won her an election which was its role!

Last week’s announcement re its ships getting ready for action was classic timing…mistiming.

‘Sabre rattling’ or ‘Gunboat Diplomacy’ is a thing in dusty history books. I wonder what the Germans thought of it?

It is a huge economic issue and the consequences for all involved are seismic. Again for us the ‘dammed border’ raises its ugly head in terms of entanglement. Recently in a conversation with someone, we shared opinions on how long the ‘dammed border’ can survive/continue in being an anchor on our dreams. While he optimistically felt 5 to 10 years my own view was circa 40/50 years.

The vast economic consequences are hobbled by the narrow political dictates of Westminster backbenches. As I see it, the front line of British political decision-making is bereft of people of quality and imagination with the Labour Party, though now having a reasonable leader, having been unable to rise from the bogland of paralysis.

While that cast of British politics are anathema to many in this country there is another side to it all. When this country was on its knees especially in the decade, which I witnessed, the 1950s’ England provided a safety valve for the Irish ‘Free’ State as hundreds of thousands emigrated. So England is twisted flax.

Mister Brian Stanley Sinn Féin T.D. Apologises.

In a message posted in late November, on the centenary of the Kilmichael ambush in 1920, Mister Stanley wrote: “Kilmicheal (sic) (1920) and Narrow Water (1979) the 2 IRA operations that taught the elective of (the) British army and the establishment the cost of occupying Ireland. Pity for everyone they were such slow learners.”

The second tweet which remerged in the discussion was from 2017.

 The tweet was sent by Mr Stanley following Mr Varadkar's election as leader of Fine Gael read "Yippee 4 d tory. it's Leo. U can do what u like in bed but don't look 4 a pay rise the next morning".

Some variation there. Mister Stanley is Chairman of the very important Dáil ‘Public Accounts Committee’. He has decided to step down from tweeting.

The Power of Streaming

There was a stream which ran down a hill to form a pool beside the road we walked going to Castlecoote national school decades ago now.  In our 1950s’ dialect of we used a wee addition at the end of some nouns (grammatically called ‘suffix’ as opposed to ‘prefix’). We referred to it as the ‘streameen’.

On Saturday I was propelled into modern-day streaming. A much-loved cousin, Nancy Heavey, had died in Des Plains an outlier of Chicago. I tuned into her mass, which was the first time I had done that for the U.S. The officiating priest had an Irish name and the Irish connection was much in evidence. Nancy’s nephew Tim Horn paid Nancy a glowing tribute. The essence of it was her commitment to her extended family and how loyal they were to each other which was mentored by Nancy. She was the glue in the Heavey clann’s togetherness.

Nancy’s dad, Matt Heavey, was my connection to the family. While he was born near Ballygar the family moved to near Athleague when he was very young. That was as part of land re-distribution. He worked for a short while in a shop in Roscommon town but decided to ‘escape’ to England. He had no money for the boat to Liverpool and cajoled the gatekeeper to get allow him on board the cattle boat. He did not remain long in Liverpool which was more impoverished than whence he came. His brother Paddy, a Chicago policeman, sent him the fare to the United States to which he went in 1927.

His is akin to the stories of maybe millions of Irish people and I’ll return to it anon.

Anyway Nancy you were an exemplary lady amongst whose joys were ‘square dancing’ and the Chicago Cubs.


Watching the Drama of the U.S. Election

Like so many in this country I tuned in with commitment to the drama of the Presidential election in the United States. It seems a good while ago now! I channel hopped between RTE and BBC and then CNN and for my sins Fox News. I quickly got to know the ‘Anchor’ of ‘The Situation Room’ Wolf Blitzer, a regular presenter Erin Burnett and a political specialist whose main prop was a technology Wall which relayed the votes and counts as they emerged. He really caught a lot of people’s attention and was quickly lined up for interview on RTE as he too had Irish connections. His name was John King. The vote projections on the night of the election held me for some time but were so drawn out that I opted out for dreamland. Just as well as the counts went on for weeks. I do not know if there are not counts still going on in some pockets of P. A./ Arizona and especially Georgia where there were three counts. There was of course the much heralded hue and cry about ‘a rigged election’ and fraudulent votes and a litany of other sins to ensure that the sitting President Donald Trump would be outed. There was a remarkable turn-out in which Joe Biden got nearly 80 million votes and Trump got something around 75 million votes. Those are staggering numbers. Each state has a certain number of votes allocated to them I presume weighed on population. Yesterday Monday the 14th, what is called and ‘Electoral College’, in each state endorses the electoral votes. Why this is necessary I have not studied properly… yet. It has to join the queue.

Apparently results can be contested and have been by Trump supporters led by lawyer Rudy Giuliani, on a multitude of issues. Nearly all of these have been denied by various courts. The top U.S. court is The Supreme Court and last week it denied two such appeals. One was rebuffed in a one sentence rebuttal that the appeal ‘had no standing’ and a second major appeal got dismissed on Friday.

But it still goes on and can go on until Congressional approval in January.

The Supreme Court of the United States is occasionally referred to by its acronym… SCOTUS   

President Trump has spent most of his time either on the golf course or crying about the election being rigged. This is as Covid numbers in terms of deaths (300,000 as of now) and people contracting the virus reaching incredible highs. Another thing that is obviously very important to him is that he gets credit to the development of the Covid Vaccines that have emerged. This programme has the title ‘Warp Speed’ (incredible speed) which apparently comes from the T.V. programme of the 60s’ ‘Star Trek’. (I Googled it!)

I may have referred to this last time but the question now is; will Trump attend ‘The Inauguration of President-Elect Biden in January. It will make intriguing viewing whichever way that pans out.

Returning to CNN I find those channels so dominated by advertisements many for health care of one kind or another…one of which renewed my acquaintance with a football hero of the late sixties in New York i.e. Broadway Joe Namath of the New York Jets’ The ratio of ads to actual news segments seems to be near 50:50.

I find that amount of advertising hard to take so the BEEB is the port of retreat.

I see that Mitch McConnell who is the ‘Majority’ Republican ‘Leader’ in the Senate has eventually seen the way to acknowledging the result of the November 3rd U.S. Presidential election. It is some 40 days since the election of President-Elect Biden. It might be suggested that McConnell is more intent on ‘leading’ from the rear, with the battle long over, which is hardly leadership. There is a phrase somewhere which suggests that; ‘Something given at first asking is twice given’. Mitch wouldn’t want to be playing a game with the clock ticking.     

The Retreat of Book Reading

I do not read nearly as many books as I would like to do or indeed should do. When I start a book I can stay and finish pretty quickly. That is if it appeals to me of course. There is no need to torture oneself by staying with a book. When I am offered a book by a friend I might politely decline saying that I have so many books left to read that I’ll be in heaven a few decades before I have them all read. Some assumptions there of course!

Last week, on RTE, there was the annual ‘An Post’ sponsored virtual Annual Book Awards.                              

I’ll list, in truncated fashion, most of the winners, in various categories, as follows;


1.    RTÉ Radio 1 Listeners’ Choice Award…A Light That Never Goes Out – Keelin Shanley (Gill Books)

2.Bord Gáis Energy Sports Book of the Year…Champagne Football – Mark Tighe & Paul Rowan (Sandycove)

3.Bookselling Ireland Cookbook of the Year…Neven Maguire’s Midweek Meals in Minutes – Neven Maguire (Gill Books)

4. A Ghost in the Throat – Doireann Ní Ghríofa (Tramp Press)

5. Best Irish-Published Book of the Year… Old Ireland in Colour – John Breslin & Dr Sarah-Anne Buckley (Merrion Press)

6. Love Leabhar Gaeilge Irish Language Book of the Year…Cnámh – Eoghan Mac Giolla Bhríde (Éabhlóid)

Specsavers Children’s Book of the Year – Senior

7. Break the Mould – Sinéad Burke, illustrated by Natalie Byrne (Hachette Children's Books – Imprint: Wren & Rook)

8. Specsavers Children’s Book of the Year – Junior..The Great Irish Farm Book – Darragh McCullough, illustrated by Sally Caulwell (Gill Books)

9. Sunday Independent Newcomer of the Year…Diary of a Young Naturalist – Dara McAnulty, illustrated by Barry Falls (Little Toller Books)

10. National Book Tokens Popular Fiction Book of the Year.. Home Stretch – Graham Norton (Coronet, Hodder & Stoughton)

11. Ireland AM Popular Non-Fiction Book of the Year…Never Mind the Boll***s, Here’s the Science – Luke O’Neill (Gill Books)

12. Eason Novel of the Year…Strange Flowers – Donal Ryan (Doubleday Ireland)

The overall winner of the An Post Irish Book of the Year was number 4 above.


Keelin Shanley was a highly regarded and loved broadcaster who passed away from cancer in February of this year.

Champagne Football has as its central character John Delaney of the FAI and this books tells of his lifestyle and how ran the FAI as his fiefdom until his fall from grace. I have not read it yet but I’m told that it is riveting reading. My usual word ‘unbelievable’.

Number 4 above won the overall book prize so it must be special.

Number 7 was written by ‘a small lady’ who was very impressive in her promo which was screened as part of the scene setting.

Number 9 too had a very impressive c.v. A young man (aged 16) Dara McNulty from County Down whose standing in nature studies and writing is wowing many towards his outstanding nature book.  

Graham Norton, from county Cork…number 10… shows that he is not a one hit (or show) wonder and this is book number four. He already has 5 BAFTAS but now this is another major string to his bow.

No 11 Luke O’Neill is one of the medical professionals who grace our screens and radio regularly with advice on Covid 19. Some are more serious than others and Mister O’Neill comes across as a very personable person. Underneath he is obviously a very bright man    

Number 12 Donal Ryan from Tipperary has a number of telling novels to date starting with ‘The Spinning Heart’. Boyle’s Jarlath Tivnan adapted his book ‘The Thing About December’ very tellingly for the stage a couple of years ago. 

Edna O’Brien at 90

P.S. Yesterday was the 90th Birthday of one of Ireland’s most loved and notable writers, Edna O’Brien. Edna comes from Clare but has lived in London for a very long time. Her first and breakthrough novel was titled ‘The Country Girls’. The novel tells of the ‘adventures’ of some country girls who have arrived for employment in the big city Dublin in the late fifties. It was of course banned under the strict moral censorship laws of the time. This guaranteed significant interest in the book and sales and reputation despite the legal restrictions. It was not on its own in this respect. It is many decades since I read the book but it certainly was a benchmark publication.

Boyle GAA A.G.M. on Zoom December 5th

I made a point of ‘attending’ Boyle GAA’s A.G.M. It may happen again in the future but this was a historic in our local context. The meeting was moderated most efficiently and effectively by the Club’s Chairman, David Kelly. GAA club’s today have a huge workload and the Covid Pandemic has made this work very difficult. The most encouraging thing I took from the meeting was the large number of young people who are now at the helm. People like myself can sit on the back, backbenches and feel very comfortable that the club is in good, energetic and innovative hands.

The primary officers are;

Chairman David Kelly: Secretary Jan Flanagan; Treasurer, Ray Hannon; Senior Team Manager, Cian Smith; Junior Team Manager, Mark O’Connor; Team Rep. Marc O’Connor; P.R.O. Roch Hanmore;  Registrar and Irish Officer Steve Tonry.

Mary Clifford finally got to retreat from the front line and was commended for her huge contribution for around two decades now.

While I am delighted to see a Boyle person at the helm of the senior team once again I must commend outgoing team manager. Basil Mannion, for his imaginative contribution and particularly he always being a gentleman in the post over the last three years. 

I wish to sympathise with Ray (Hannon) on the death of his dad Michael. Michael was one of the pillars in the emergence and progression of Eastern Harps Club for the fifty years of its existence. How much he contributed and how he was respected was evident in the many tributes which were paid to Michael, by so many, on his passing.                

A Season of Passing and Anniversaries

As I write I read of the passing of the Country and Western singer Charley Pride. He was highly regarded and was in their Country Hall of Fame.

The captain of the fine Roscommon U 21 All-Ireland winning team of 1966, Colm Shine. He was a brother of Brendan Shine. On that team were Pat Clarke, Pat Nicholson, Ray Sheeran, John Kelly and Dermot Earley.

On December 8th 1980 Beatle genius, John Lennon, was killed in New York.

This past week was the Centenary of the ‘Burning of the centre of Cork City’ by British irregular forces.


Sunday morning Dec. 7th 1941 saw the attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbour as President Roosevelt tagged it ‘a day of infamy’ which brought the U.S. into WW2 alongside Britain and her allies.  


I’ve gone on too long I imagine but there is so much swirling around to ‘scribble’ about that when I finally get to putting this together I push on. I must do better…shorter may be a New Year’s resolution.

Early…ish next week I’d like to send our best wishes to Boyle connections far and wide at this particularly hazardous time.

May your Gods go with you.             



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