Thursday, September 12, 2019

Update 12th September

It has been brought to my attention that;
 At the car charging point, outside the Garda station, cars are parking and denying reasonable access to the charging facility. It is a pretty thoughtless practise but ... Perhaps there should be a marked/coloured rectangle to highlight the charging parking area. It is not as if there is not reasonable parking near that space on either side of the road. While there are occasional breaches of the disability spaces reasonable people do respect them. My reporter was pretty annoyed at the practise which I have to admit did not catch my attention. It will now of course!

Boyle GAA Senior Team in County Championship Quarter Finals.

Consider flyin' the flag.
Following a creditable draw against a good Western Gaels side at Frenchpark on Sunday Boyle have advanced to the quarter-finals of the senior championship. They have been here and beyond a couple of years ago but I sense the feeling is more optimistic this year.
Boyle were defeated in their first game against Padraig, gave a dazzling display against Clann na nGael and came back from a 7 point deficit to draw with Western Gaels. (in coaching I had a few mantras, one of which was; ‘If you are 7 points ahead you haven’t won the game and if you are 7 points down you haven’t lost the game. Another was ‘fisted points count hi’…Mickey Linden) Western Gaels weren’t aware of that manta, replaced a couple of important players, took the foot off the pedal and were thus consigned to a difficult ‘play-off’ against an improving St. Brigid’s. Boyle’s second half performance was top class with a number of significant moments. These included three big catches by Evan McGrath; a good tactical foul by Sean Purcell!, a strong shoulder charge by Colin Goldrick and a magnificent period by Cian McKeon which included a second goal and 3 mighty pointed free kicks from difficult positions especially the one to tie the game at the death.
For a more extended report you can tune into Ronan Flanagan’s account in this week’s The Roscommon Herald, Sport’s section.

In any event this is one of those years where the window of opportunity beckons, I know it is the correct managerial policy that the focus is always  on the NEXT game. As the Jockey answered when asked; ‘Which fence in the Grand National circuit do you fear the most?’ He responded; ‘Always the next one!’

Still Boyle town could begin some polite encouragement and recognition of what is going on with a bit of flag waving and display of same.  

This year, incredibly, I have two sporting teams in the race they being Boyle of course and my native parish of Fuerty. A few years ago Fuerty was a humble junior team but they have climbed the ladder incrementally in the last five years and are now in with the big boys. Great to see.  

Boyle Celtic’s Michael Corrigan
I wish to heartily congratulate Michael Corrigan of Boyle Celtic who has been called into the Irish National Junior soccer team. It is a recognition of his consistent high quality performances for Boyle Celtic over recent years and his goal-scoring prowess to boot. So well done Michael and I hope you enjoy the experience. Fair play to you.

Eoin Kennedy’s 10th All-Ireland
In reading realboyle in the last week you will have been alerted to the achievements of Eoin Kennedy son of Eugene and nephew of Pat and Joe of Elphin Street. Eoin, at the age of 40 years captured his 10th All-Ireland senior title in the final versus the favourite Robbie McGrath from Westmeath. It was also special in that it was the last such final to be played in this particular complex at Croke Park as it is being replaced. Maybe footballers Donie and Enda smith might remember dabbling in the game against the national School alley walls with Eoin close to 15 years ago when Eoin was involved in a Setanta t.v. programme.  

Brexit and Westminster House of Commons dis..ORDER
So Johnson has ‘prorogued’ (a quiz question there!) Parliament, a hugely unusual tactic. It is the tactic of many historical dictators Hitler being the most obvious. (There are considerable parallels between the period of the rise of Hitler and the collapse of the Weimar Republic in Germany in the late 20s’ and early 30s’…Hindenburg/The Queen of England etc.). It was an unseemly event. I occasionally used to attend college debates and raucous, disorderly events many of them were. The most respected stars were those who heckled and for a few people that was their vocation. Westminster was no better on Monday night. One regular veteran back bench Tory contributor referred to the ‘RABBLE over there’ i.e. on the Labour, Liberal and S.N.P. benches. He should have consulted his wing mirror to reflect on his own ‘rabble’. It is truly amazing to me to see people using their mobile phones, the smirking and shared jollity in the House of Commons as they sail like the crew of the Titanic towards the iceberg. The difference is that this crowd KNOW that there is a huge iceberg in their path!  Anyway Speaker Bercow had another difficult day in the chair and understandably has decided to retire at the end of October. Johnson blusters around with a cohort of believers while the majority wouldn’t believe the Lord’s prayer from him. The Commons passed a law preventing a No Deal exit but for Johnson & Co. that is for interpretation. He looked for a general election which would be like spraying the country’s present divisions with a generous covering of political propellant. A report has now emerged called ‘Operation Yellowhammer’ which lays out the stark consequences for a post No Deal Britain.
I must commend the Irish Taoiseach (which would not be a regular practise) for one enlightening analysis point during his press conference with Johnson while the British Prime Minister was in Dublin. Mister Varadkar stated that Deal or No Deal on October the 31st was only the BEGINNING of the divorce process and that the negotiations on so many levels would continue for years. BREXIT is just an early fence in the Grand National Aintree circuit. In no way can a withdrawal by Britain be just a case of pulling up the drawbridge at Dover and covering that country in a symbolic duvet. The mind boggles at it all. Books on this period will fill libraries in the decades to come.
Last Monday night I was impressed by two people. The leader of the emerging clearly REMAIN Liberal Democrats, Scottish lady Joe Swinson and the Commons leader of the S.N.P. i.e. Scottish Nationalist Party (who favour an Independent Scotland in appropriate circumstances) Ian Blackford. You would imagine that the Irish Sinn Féin party would learn something from the S.N.P. in terms of being in the right place at the right time. But as they say themselves their time will come! They are not readers of the Bard it seems…who wrote ‘There is a tide in the affairs of men etc…’  Scéal eile sé sin.  

Television Watch
De Valera in the States 1919/1920
I probably watch too much television which is allied to having to sit down! Anyway -which I should not use as much as I do- my favourite genre of programmes are probably documentaries. (I used to be indecisive but now I’m not so sure). I record some of them for future viewing but that does not always happen. Last night I watched De Valera in America in 1919-1920. He was going home in a reverse way. He got a huge reception from the millions of Irish or Irish decent there. It was not all happiness though and there were opposing views in certain media. The United States had been an ally of G.B. in WW1 which had just ended and certain swathes of the country did not see the justification for giving credibility to an upstart calling himself the ‘President’ of an as yet unestablished state i.e. Ireland. The relations between the primary Irish American leaders Devoy and Cohalan was not always sweetness and light either. De Valera during the tour got the appendage ‘Chief’ after visiting an Indian tribe which had, remarkably, supported Ireland during the Famine. $5 million was collected for the emerging Irish Republic. It is disparagingly suggested that some of this money was still in the control of the De Valera faction a decade later when Dev established the ‘Irish Press’ as a supporting organ of Fianna Fáil.
I learned a couple of things there which I may forget but that is how things go. Every day a learning day.

“Facing Ali”
This was a very different theme. It was based on a book by Stephen Brunt and the film was made in 2009. To be regarded highly by opponents and those you confront is a rare tribute. (I mentioned that in relation to         
Eugene McGee recently). In the film nine of the top fighters who fought Ali were the primary sources with films of the fights they were involved with Ali. I remember as a boy getting up in the middle of the night with my father to listen to radio commentary of a Cassius Clay fight with Sonny Liston. It was a short shift). While Ali seemed very hostile in the build up to his fights the boxers interviewed talked of him with great respect and emotion. There were incredible fights such as ‘The Thrilla in Manilla’ v Joe Frazier and ‘The Rumble in the Jungle’ with George Foreman. Ali missed out on some four of his best fighting years during a dispute where he refused to be enlisted into the U.S. army to go to Vietnam. He was born in 1942 and died in 2016. In his latter days he suffered from Parkinson’s disease. During that time he made a memorable appearance lighting the flame at the U.S. Olympics at Atlanta in ’96. He was also in Croke Park (for the second time) at The Special Olympics in Dublin in 2003. Frazier, Foreman, Cooper, Norton, Spinks and Holmes were all in this film and for a number there were tears in their eyes as they reflected on their old adversary ‘The Greatest’, Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali.

There are two other very worthy  documentaries running just now ‘Spotlight on the Troubles’ in Northern Ireland Tuesdays on BBC 1. The other is a forensic analysis of ‘The Rise of the Nazis’ and Saturday and Monday on BBC 2 at 9.       

Missing Dogs
Some of you might have seen a sign at Shilling Hill but not got the message if you were in a car. They are elsewhere also I’m told. Well in walking by it yesterday I got the full message as follows;

€,1000 (one thousand, true) Reward
 ‘Help get Holly and Bozo home, owners are distraught.
 Missing from Ballintogher …last seen in Ballyfarnon
 Call Gayle on 0877629396.

While this is a distance from Ballintogher or Ballyfarnon even the reward and sense of the sign demonstrate a real loss to the owners. Hopefully there may be a positive ending.

Sin é

‘And so to bed’.                            

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Update 31st August

Where does one begin?

Almost like the politicians I have been ‘away’ from here for some time, July the 11th being my last post!  A good deal has happened since then. The turf campaign is over for this year with suggestions to self,  going along the lines of ‘there must be a better way’.
Roscommon after the fine wins against Mayo and Galway in Connacht ran aground in the Super 8s’ with a somewhat missed opportunity against Tyrone, a predictable trouncing by Dublin and some credit restored with a feisty performance in winning against Cork. It seems that Roscommon’s All-Ireland is now the Connacht Final as one cannot see Dublin moving over and with Kerry emerging with a good side. We will learn more about that on Sunday. Gaelic football must be seen to be in a crisis with so many counties being so far behind the leaders.
Hurling is a in a different state. While this summer was not as thrilling as 2018 it was still pretty good and Tipp. in the end proved worthy winners. I felt particularly for Wexford as I would like to see them get an All-Ireland win. Tipp did so well after being blown away by Limerick but the said Limerick must have regrets too that the power they showed against Tipp melted subsequently.
I attended the All-Ireland hurling final and it was a disappointing event. The correct (in my view) sending off of Richie Hogan changed the dynamic of the game compounded by a peculiar Kilkenny long ball approach in the second half. This was the second time in the campaign that a questionable and very un- Kilkenny-like approach failed. Perhaps Brian Coady is getting stale in his approach.     

Roscommon Senior Championship

The senior championship in Roscommon has begun with a number of twists and turn. Last year’s winners Clann na nGael have made an early exit at the hands of Western Gaels and Boyle. Boyle were unlucky in their first game against Padraig Pearse’s in the Abbey Park a couple of weeks ago. It was a very competitive and top class game. Pearse’s are one of the favourites to win out this summer. If they do that it will be their first senior title in the Club’s history. The club was founded in 1962. Due to the exit of Clann and with St. Brigid’s struggling somewhat, at the moment anyhow (returnees from the U.S etc., could turn their fortunes around from September) it opens up the title race to nearly half a dozen teams who would feel that they have a decent chance of going all the way this year.     

Classic Boyle Display

Boyle 2.25 Clann 1.8

This was probably the finest performance by a Boyle senior team ever in the senior championship. While all members of the team excelled, on this day the performance of Donie Smith was just exceptional. His scoring of 1.15 from play and placed balls must be a record for an individual in the senior championship. His was a champagne performance. Last year Clann defeated Boyle in the same venue on the score of Clann 1.17 Boyle 1.4.So this was some turn-around. Sparkling as this win was it comes with a health warning and I’m sure all connected with the team are conscious of this. Clann were missing key personnel and just had a very bad day at the office.    

Boyle will play Western Gaels in the final Group game on Sunday September 8th at 4.30 in Frenchpark. They have struggled with Western Gaels in recent times so Boyle will be under no illusions regarding the challenge ahead of them.  In any campaign it is always the next game (battle) that counts. While statisticians might be able to predicate who will automatically go into the quarter- finals there is a real tangle to see who will end up in third position in the groups and have to play a play-off for the final quarter- final position. My presumption about is that one 3rd place in any group of A,B,C will get a bye and the two remaining 3rds will be in the play-off. It looks to me that the two teams certain of qualifying as it is are, Roscommon Gaels and Padraig Pearse's; Roscommon Gaels because being on 4 points cannot be harmed by 3rd placed Strokestown as is. Pearse's can only be equalled by Western Gaels and overcome by Boyle. In Group A all teams have something to play for. While Fuerty has 3 points they could be overcome by Elphin now on 2 and St. Croan’s also on 2. If St. Brigid’s defeat St. Croons they would equal Fuerty on 3 points. I do not know if points scoring difference will play a role. Perhaps it will. The week-end of Sept. 7th /8th will reveal all but it is intriguing and Boyle are in with as big a chance as anyone now of making a big challenge. (For me of course I have two teams in the pot as along with Boyle my home place of Fuerty who drew with St. Brigid’s last week and look like qualifying for the quarter finals at least. A Boyle v Fuerty game would be a little concerning for me. But we will let the Gods decide).     
Brexit and Boris Johnson
He has had a hairstyle like an unmade bed (though it is improving) and now the political landscape of Westminster is like that ‘unmade bed’ also. What a mixed grill of antics and disastrous consequences obtain. Unbelievable is a word I echoed here perhaps last spring but  perhaps the old Charlie Haughey associated chestnut GUBU is more appropriate. GUBU =Grotesque/Unbelievable/Bizarre/Unprecedented. Of course Johnson is not constructing all this himself but is the face of it with the genius (destructive) of his advisor Dominic Cummings who ‘masterminded’ the ‘Leave Campaign’ during the Brexit Referendum. So getting to know Cummings is to see where the machinations are coming from. History has always had its powers behind the thrones one I remember being a German/Austrian called Metternich who was central to European politics in the early decades of the 1800s’. I mentioned back in March a T.V. Doc/Drama called ‘Brexit-The Uncivil War’ with Benedict Cumberbatch giving an award-winning performance as Dominic Cummings.  After Brexit there will be  a lot of expressions of OMG. What a mess as Nigel Farage dips in and out, the hapless Corbyn floats around as if unperturbed like a medic on a hospital ward. Oddly in the few days I was in London in July it seemed as if BREXIT was happening on a different planet. The working classes were being force- fed a diet of Trivia by the Red Top newspapers as the importance of ‘Love Island’ or something called a ‘Bake Off’ anesthetized the populace. I’m shaking my head thinking of it all.
Another danger for England in a post BREXIT apocalypse would be the rise of a Fascist juggernaut as happened under some similar circumstances in Germany in the late 20s early 30s’.       

Meanwhile Back in Croke Park
It promises to be a great week-end in Dublin where the atmosphere should be special. It is an incredible achievement for the GAA in Dublin to have come to be the dominant sporting game in a city which could not be said to be a natural ground for its blossoming. Of course this team is special with a degree of cohesion that is mesmerising. My favourite player is Brian Fenton and I have been saying that for quite a while now. He is a classic midfielder and would have matched the great midfielders like Mick O’Connell of Kerry, Liam Gilmartin and Eamon Boland of Roscommon, Jim McKeever of Derry and Jack O' Shea of Kerry who I have rated as the greatest footballer I have seen.
I hope Dublin win their fifth in a row. The one team they would not have fancied meeting in the final hurdle was Kerry. Kerry is the one team that could prevent Dublin’s historic drive. I’m sure Kerry will try might and mane to sabotage that outcome. It is special week-end in Dublin. There is a race in Australia, the Melbourne Cup, with the label ‘The Race that stops the Nation’ surely Sunday’s game between Dublin and Kerry is a sporting occasion like that. I hope it doesn’t disappoint.

“And what about China?”

For a year or so I have been meaning to make reference to this heading. Nearly twenty years ago I made a courtesy visit to a former Roscommon C.B.S. history teacher of mine , Tom Geraghty, who lived near Athleague. His history classes were laced with current affairs, politics and general knowledge discussions which was fine with me. On my visit we revisited some of those subjects over a period of time. Then as I started to move to leave he declared; “ And what about China?” So I had to settle down again and we ‘treated of’ China for a time though I had only a general knowledge of China. Since then though I have kept an eye on China and I am certain many more important people than me are doing similarly. There have been a number of T.V. documentaries on China in recent times two of them last night Thursday August 29th. On T.G.4 in the very good Fiorsceal series  a repeat of a programme on the rise of the present Chinese leader Xi Jinping. He has progressed from being a political prisoner and in re-education camps. On release he progressed through the communist party to its leadership. He was in Ireland over 5 years ago when he was on the cusp of being overall top man. The second programme on BBC 2 was title “China: A New World”. Its explanatory label went thus; “The story of China’s President, XI Jinping’s controversial six-year rule, and how he set about transforming China into a tightly-controlled state” with its industrial scale prison camp archipelago or “re-education camps” as they would like to term them.
China has inserted its influence widely in Africa with huge investment in Eastern Africa in a port facility  allied to Chinese ‘garrison’ development there. I forget exactly where.
Some EU countries have borrowed heavily from China such as Greece, Portugal and Hungary. This has influenced their EU votes on issue relating to China.

The Silk Road and Hong Kong:
Then there is the legendary “Silk Road” and I copy a definition of it;
“For years, the corridor served as a high-speed transit route into the heart of Eurasia, rather than a bona-fide “Silk Road” which properly connects the east with the west. ... Dubbed the Meridian highway, Russia's long-awaited portion of the China-Western Europe transport corridor is now under active development”.

Last night’s programme also concentrated on a particular region in China which is ethnically and by religion not Chinese but through clampdown and various ‘security’ measures is being coerced into a Chinese way of life and thinking.
So today it understandable that Hong Kong residents are resisting measures increasing mainland Chinese powers in their area.  
Irish Connections;
This week there is a Chinese delegation here visiting meat factories as potential sources of meat which the Irish suppliers would like to come on board as buyers. Maybe 6 months ago I remember a reference to a Chinese group visiting Lough Key Forest Park on Boyle Today. A number of years ago towards the end of the boom circa 2007 John Tiernan who had retired as Roscommon County Manager seemed to be involved in the development of a Chinese Business Hub in the Athlone area. I have not heard anything about that in quite a while.                     

The only fly in the ointment of Chinese expansion is a ‘Trade War’ with the U.S. There is also the issue of the technology company Huawei.

While economic activity is nearly always welcomed Chinese economic spread comes with the threat of ideological mutation in receptive nations. So for China it may be a policy of mid- term world economic dominance but this could also be twinned to political systems and communist dominance also. Heavy stuff. I must check my phone now.

Sin é    

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Update 11th July

Plastic, Plastic and more Plastic.

I ‘put out the GAA bins’ at the Abbey Park. I could try and make a few smart remarks regarding that post but I am not in the humour to do that right now. A temporary condition I imagine. The week after the magnificent Féile week-end I went to do this as usual. I knew that there would be a complement of full bins. That was a simple assessment. In bringing those full bins out to the road they were very heavy. I did my usual investigation and saw them packed with plastic bottles generally. One of the bins had almost all recyclable EMPTY bottles. But it was not a Wers bin, Wers being our current garbage contractor. When I transferred the recyclable material to an appropriate bin the bottom third was just garbage which was a recyclable spoiler. No big deal there just a little disappointing after the initial optimism.
Then to some other bins which weighed as if they had a generous number of concrete blocks included. When you pay by weight this is a costly process for disposing concrete blocks. On investigation there were no blocks on board of course but what gave that impression was a multitude of plastic bottles containing water to a variety of levels. I am conscious of this for a number of years now. The new kids on the block are the Polystyrene cups which are commonly called Styrofoam cups. When capped they are stubborn space occupiers and when left with liquid they are not… to use that word again…recyclable.  
 I do not know what other GAA Clubs do in the disposal of waste but there must be some innovation somewhere. At a match you can ask a person from a neighbouring club how his teams are going but it is not a great conversation plank to ask “By the way how does your club deal with plastic bottles?”  The BIG QUESTION is how can we reduce the amount of plastic bottles that find their way in GAA grounds into their bins? Before I retire from being the bouncer for bins I hope to achieve something in that area.
I see in The Roscommon Herald of July 9th bottom of page 14 a headline; “Twelve (Roscommon Town) businesses sign up to refill project”. This is where businesses agree to refill reusable water bottles of the public for free. Apparently 2.5 million plastic water bottles are disposed of every day in this country of which 40% are recycled. Apparently there are ‘special’ water reusable bottles as the usual plastic bottles, if you continue to use them, flake plastic or something like that. I am certainly in the market for ideas/suggestions regarding this subject.


A short time ago I mentioned a proposition of a friend of mine regarding the renaming of Boyle as Abbeboyle which it had been centuries ago. I thought it would illicit some comment but alas … Amongst my favourite poems today is one called ‘The Listeners’.

The Listeners By Walter De La Mare

"Is there anybody there?" said the Traveller,           
Knocking on the moonlit door; 
And his horse in the silence champed the grass       
Of the forest's ferny floor;         
And a bird flew up out of the turret,   
Above the Traveller's head:       
And he smote upon the door again a second time; 
"Is there anybody there?" he said.      
But no one descended to the Traveller;          
No head from the leaf-fringed sill        
Leaned over and looked into his grey eyes,  
Where he stood perplexed and still.    
But only a host of phantom listeners   
That dwelt in the lone house then        
Stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight
To that voice from the world of men: 
Stood thronging the faint moonbeams on the dark stair, 
That goes down to the empty hall,      
Hearkening in an air stirred and shaken         
By the lonely Traveller's call.      
And he felt in his heart their strangeness,      
Their stillness answering his cry,           
While his horse moved, cropping the dark turf,      
'Neath the starred and leafy sky;          
For he suddenly smote on the door, even     
Louder, and lifted his head:--    
"Tell them I came, and no one answered,     
That I kept my word," he said.  
Never the least stir made the listeners,           
Though every word he spake    
Fell echoing through the shadowiness of the still house    
From the one man left awake:  
Ay, they heard his foot upon the stirrup,       
And the sound of iron on stone,           
And how the silence surged softly backward,          
When the plunging hoofs were gone.     

                                                                                                                                                               The Games ……Super 8s’.

So Roscommon v Tyrone

The big game between Roscommon and Tyrone takes place this coming Saturday in Hyde Park at 5. Roscommon has had a month now since the Connacht Final win over Galway while Tyrone has been through a couple of games since their loss in the Ulster championship. Which side benefits most from their programme or non- programme is to be seen. Tyrone gave Roscommon a real red alert with their demolition of Cavan last Sunday. While we in Roscommon have had our disappointments Cavan supporters have had disappointment in spades since they were royalty in the Gaelic football over 50 years ago. This game like many can go so many ways and it is impossible to call. I cannot say Tyrone will win as I just cannot do that publically even if I felt that way. So I say I just haven’t a clue as to how it will go. Tyrone are firm favourites with the way they dealt with Roscommon last year in Croke Park is the championship evidence. Roscommon teams of late seem to get lost in Croke Park. So Hyde Park is an advantage with a partisan crowd. If the suspension of Peter Hart sticks that too is an advantage. Roscommon are a better team this year. There are a number of extras this season. Connor Cox is a big one, the collective of the three Dalys is a second, the pace and obvious ‘conditioning’ of the team looks good and so on. Cox will probably face/hear the full range of Tyrone players palette of which ‘sledging’ is a serious issue. The opening 17 and a half minutes are key but then so are the other quarters especially the final quarter which will tell us a lot. With Dublin in the group the other teams have to win two games so this game is just a necessary component of continuing interest in the group in terms of results. The reality of dead rubber games is something that has to be addressed in the Super 8s’ structure.

Mayo take out Galway
Last Sunday after a pathetic first half by Galway followed by a feisty second half when Galway nearly stole the game Mayo survived and got to the Super 8s’. This is one of the top games of the coming week-end.
The RTE schedule for Sat. RTE 2 has Dublin v Cork. This should tell us something about what sporting life in the GAA Coliseum will be like this year.  I do not know for sure but maybe Roscommon v Tyrone is on Sky.
Sunday, RTE 2 Kilkenny v Cork (hurling) and Tipp. v- team of the moment- Laois. On RTE 1 on Sunday at 3.45 Kerry v Mayo. 
Apart from our own game on Sat. the two stand-out games are Kilkenny v Cork in hurling and Kerry v Mayo on Sunday. Joe Brolly writing on Mayo last Sunday issued a health warning on watching them as follows

“Watching Mayo playing football is like watching Amir Khan boxing. The knockout could come at any moment.
This fallibility is what has made them the most entertaining team in Irish sport for almost a decade, and what makes their games unmissable. Before the throw-in, after the ritual strangulation of the anthem, the announcer should say "Ladies and Gentlemen, this is a safety notice. Would all patrons with weak hearts please leave the ground."

The other game to try and watch is Kilkenny v Cork. This is traditional rivalry at its best. 

Wimbledon a Television Institution
Declan Lynch reviewing television over the week-end gave a great tribute to the survival of Wimbledon on terrestrial television BBC. He began his piece thus; “Sir David Attenborough arrived on the mainstage at Glastonbury, hailed as a god, which of course he is”. He wrote about Attenborough’s role in establishing these great set piece coverage of historic and sporting events sixty and fifty years ago. One special one disappeared and went to the Sky pay per view television it being the British Open Golf Tournament (The Open) which will be in Portrush shortly. Lynch referred to this as; “A symbolic act of vandalism against the most venerable tradition of our TV civilization”. The BBC coverage over the decades -post war- was responsible for expanding enormously the game of golf with its great iconic commentators Henry Longhurst and Peter Allis. It is a game in decline since it left its nurturing medium.
At the top of a Google list of the top ten of commentators of BBC is the Australian cricket commentator Richie Benaud; ‘A man who mastered the art of silence!’ Tennis whose great commentator was Dan Maskell who prompted an American guest commentator to suggest that he ‘was lucky he was not being paid by the word’. Wimbledon is possibly the last sporting extravaganza where the ART of broadcast commentary and the traditional cinemascope production survive.

Brexit on T.V.
My  programme of the television week has been ‘Brexit: Behind Closed Doors’. (RTE 1 Monday and Tuesday) Its prior promotion was advertised as;      
‘The gripping untold story of the Brexit negotiations - from the inside. For two years, Belgian film maker, Lode Desmet, has had exclusive access to the Brexit coordinator of the European parliament, Guy Verhofstadt, and his close knit team. This revelatory fly on the wall film captures the off the record conversations and arguments of the European negotiators as they devise their strategy for dealing with the British’.

This included an Irish lady, -Edel ? I think- in a prominent role. Also in a prominent role was some wine and bad language! If Theresa May and company did twitter it would have a meltdown.
For me it joins a number of Brexit  dramatic documentaries as my television programmes of the past year. Looking at the warnings regarding the damage that Brexit will do to employment in the Republic of Ireland and today’s report of job losses of 30/40 thousand in Northern Ireland and then see what the U.K’s political response with its probable new Prime Minister being Boris Johnson. Unbelievable…. but ….it’s not!


Thursday, July 4, 2019

Update 5th July

Old Glory and I remember a Summer in The Bronx.

I begin to write this on Thursday the 4th of July and I cannot let the date pass without  paying attention to its significance in the U.S. Sean has referenced it on the Home Page with its great flag. The flag is held in much regard by nearly all the people of the United States. Though I think that it is somewhat over the top (OTT).  In Ireland we have a more subdued regard for the flag and haven’t (yet!) begun to hold our hands across our hearts when the anthem is sung at matches or events. Our neighbour has the U.S. flag flying today.

I spent three great summers in the States in ’68, ’69 and ’70. Two were spent in New York and one in Philadelphia. In New York in ’68 I spent most of that summer working in the Catholic Church block which encompassed St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the residence of the Archbishop of New York. I worked for a construction company called Mitchells who did most of the Diocesan work. I acquired the job through the good offices of my Fuerty neighbour Brian Mulhern after whom –with his wife-Mulhern Park is named in Fuerty parish. Brian’s uncle Mister Mullen was the Clerk of Works for Mitchells and our project then was a building reconstruction facilitating the installation of a lift into the Archbishop’s residence. The incumbent then was Archbishop or Cardinal Cooke. He had Galway connections and had succeeded a more famous name, it being Cardinal Spellman. As far as I remember Brian Mulhern had done a tour of duty in Vietnam and on retuning in training army recruits.

I thought St. Patrick’s was/is a beautiful Cathedral and I spent some time in the crypt under the high altar when it was being enhanced. All the bishops of New York were buried there from the 1840s’. During that summer a caller to the residence we were working on was Richard Nixon so it must have been an election cycle. I could exaggerate and say that he sought my hand and made a fuss of me but I was just in the background. Security was tame then. On another occasion I was very politely ushered from the main office of the house on an occasion when Cardinal Cooke was on the phone. I seem to remember it being to his boss in Rome such was the fuss made by his Monsignors. Monsignors were/are the political gurus of the church.

Nearby were many of the iconic buildings of New York such as Radio City Music Hall, Madison Square Garden or ‘The Garden’ as it is known by locals also The Empire State Building of which experience I still retain a picture. A venue I regret not entering was a ‘Tavern’ bar-restaurant with a green neon sign with the name of boxer Jack Dempsey’s appended. Whether he was the owner or just a ‘greeter’ I wouldn’t know.  My father was a follower of boxing and had I the spark of inspiration to go in there and shake ‘The Manassa Mauler’s’ hand it would have been something to tell my dad. Gaelic Park  was part and parcel of most Sunday’s interrupted only by trips to Rockaway Beach on Long Island. A dance hall called  ‘The Red Mill’ run by the Moynihans of Kerry was another regular venue. It was in the lower Bronx not far from Yankee Stadium. I was in Yankee stadium once but it was for a soccer game Santos of Brazil with Pele played a great Portuguese team Benefice with Eusebio.
On one week-end Brian Mulhern took me in a red Mustang to Boston to meet a fellow Fuerty man who we both knew well, Marty Featherstone. It was my only time in Boston and maybe I might get back there for a reason. On the way back to New York we went off track to attend Sunday Mass. Coming out of the church an old-timer overheard me talking and asked me; “Where are you from young fellow?” I responded by saying “New York” and he responded “Naah where in the old country are you from?” My New York accent hadn’t rooted well. I remember one town on that route-way down from Boston was called Woonsocket and it took us quite a while to get away from it as it acted like a magnet for an hour or so.
My job was a good paying one so that was a fruitful and memorable summer in a number of ways and I remember much of it clearly.

( P.S.-A. Returning to the flag issue I have just returned from the Abbeytown shop with some items. While there I noticed a paper of North of Ireland origin and on the front page a local Deputy Mayor from near Portadown stands with her husband in the forefront of one of those July Orange bonfires. On the very top of the bonfire is the Irish flag. When asked about the appropriateness of being pictured in front of the bonfire with the Irish flag burning she saw no issue with it. She, a town mayor, probably thought it was a cultural thing.

B. As I write a second 4th of July parade is taking place in Washington at the behest of President Trump. I saw on the 6 o’clock News tanks being brought into the city. President Tump will give a speech from the Lincoln Memorial. I wonder what Abe would think of it all. Still Abe had reviewed the aftermath of Gettysburg! Tanks on parade is not a Western Democracy thing is it ? More Red Square, Tiananmen Square etc. Tump might, like many historic leaders, like the trappings of militarism though he never served in the U.S. military proper himself that I know of.)       

GAA World
It seems like quite a while ago when we celebrating Roscommon’s victory over Galway in the rain in Salthill. We still have to wait and watch as Mayo travelled first to Down on a Saturday evening and then just got past Armagh at McHale Park an extra match for Mayo with another one to come v Galway.  The back door entry is fraught with traps and team damage in terms of injuries to players as seen with Lee Keegan. Roscommon has got a reasonable draw where the first game is vital. It will be against the winners of the Cavan v Tyrone match of this week-end. While Roscommon had a bad day in Croke Park against Tyrone on July 14th of last year they were unlucky not to get a draw in the league in Roscommon in February. Tyrone are not the force they were and Mickey Harte’s tenure must be near its end.  Cavan would be welcome visitors to Roscommon as it would revive echoes of a once traditional rivalry.
This week-end Mayo meet Galway in LIMERICK. Whether Galway and Mayo failed to agree to toss for venue is in debate. That the fixtures committee saw fit to play the game in Limerick is to my mind absurd. Maybe the great Mayo support continues or there is a weariness with them being asked to travel here and there with little consideration is to be seen. In Galway, support for football was rarely at such a low ebb. Roscommon was the appropriate venue but deemed unfit for a number of reasons; no turnstiles, poor dressing rooms and toilet facilities and an umbrella of ‘health and safety’ and capacity issues. That Roscommon ‘lost’ this fixture is a blow to local business and they are rightly annoyed about that.  That two Connacht teams are pushed out of the province for a fixture in LIMERICK is not right. Provincial solidarity must be in short supply. This with say admission over-pricing of Connacht Championship fixtures might just corrode the ‘goodwill’ of the supporting class. Of course twitter or maybe it is YouTube has its own slant on that Limerick game!  

Féile Organising Triumph

I have often referred to the fine facility that is The Abbey Park. In the last few weeks it has been at its best. On a Tuesday the local national school had their total cohort there for a very well organised and varied school pre-summer sports day.  
(Congratulations are in order to Scoil na nAingeal Naomha  for a recent GAA win in the girls Cumann na mBunscoil county tournament which final took place at St. Faithleach’s ground in Lanesboro).
That there was huge detailed preparation for the Féile tournament in Boyle was in evidence last week-end. It was one of the most atmospheric couple of days that I have witnessed in the Abbey Park. The grounds were looking their very best. A great committee looked for and received assistance from many different strands of helps. They were to prepare the grounds and building a week beforehand and in the more immediate days. When the guest team Gaultier from Waterford arrived on Friday afternoon they immediately became aware of the welcome and how the town of Boyle had prepared for their visit. The games between Boyle, Gaultier, Whitehall Colmcilles and neighbours Western Gaels produced much fine football with Whitehall looking particularly impressive. Just as impressive was the off-field food provision. I’ll be economical in naming people but the food provided by the McLoughlin family was sublime.  A young Gaultier player when asked referenced it as ‘gorgeous’. It was a nice touch that the Boyle Roscommon players were present and talked to the home and guest teams after their game.
A number of the Waterford people had not been in the North-West before but this experience will certainly encourage them to return. The weather too played its part. So well done to all (and there were many) involved. It was a special week-end for visitor, the Boyle community and especially the GAA community. This was replicated throughout Connacht which hosted Féile 2019.   

Patsy McGarry and Michael Harding in conversation with Christina McHugh Editor of The Roscommon Herald.
I attended the above in St. Nathy’s College on Wednesday evening. Michael Harding has had an interesting career and tells of his trials and tribulations with humour and good grace. He was tied down by Christina to say that he actually lived in a Roscommon if bordered on three sides Leitrim. She also asked Michael if he read The Roscommon Herald which unsettled him a little. Patsy McGarry was of course in his home town. He talked of his influences and the considerable role of his father the former Roscommon County Councillor known as ‘the Haw' McGarry. The most memorable vocal contribution of Cllr. McGarry came when he was advocating for a swimming pool and its benefits. He said a reason Ballaghaderreen needed a pool was "because there are people in the town who haven't had a bath since the midwife rubbed them down with the sponge”. This did not go down too well in Ballagh. Perhaps Patsy’s most memorable essay of local content was for The Irish Times in 2007 describing electioneering with his father. Anyway Patsy is a very popular columnist with The Irish Times which now owns The Roscommon Herald. After that I visited an old teaching colleague friend of mine, Tom Colleran, now an adopted Ballaghaderreen man. He was, as always, full of fun, projects and ideas for projects.  

Ladies World Cup Final
The Women’s World Cup Final takes place on Sunday in Lyon, France and will be available to watch on T.V. The teams in the final are defending champions the United States and European champions Netherlands. The U.S. defeated a very good English team in an incident filled semi-final. The English had a goal disallowed for a razor blade width off-side and then a (poor) penalty saved. It was a great and fiercely competitive game. Netherlands defeated Sweden in the second semi-final which was a stale uneventful game which Netherlands won by the only goal of the game in extra time.
The U.S. are seen as huge favourites to retain the title and it would be deemed a miracle if Netherlands upset the odds. Overall the tournament has generated considerable interest and will advance the profile of women’s soccer internationally. I enjoyed a certain amount of it.   

A Busy July
By the time I return here in two weeks’ time a good deal will have happened. Boyle Arts Festival will be coming towards a close. I will be reprising a ‘Town Walk- Insights into the Streets of Boyle’ on Saturday July 27th at 2p.m.
Roscommon will have played 2 of their three games in the Super 8’ and so on. Boris may be Prime Minister of the U.K. or maybe not, as some cracks appear (in the flat’s walls) and Ireland will have played England in a historic first full test series at Lords!    

So until then … organise your selection of Arts Festival events to attend and enjoy Boyle in July.  Even The Royal Hotel is getting a facelick.                 


Sunday, June 23, 2019

Update 23rd June

Notice Board; 1. I wished all involved in the Eastern Harps Club a great day on Saturday as they officially open their fine new dressing rooms. It is a fine building and a credit to the community and those involved. It puts in place a great facility for future generations of Eastern Harps GAA and also the community in the region. I have great memories of many of those Eastern Harps lads especially the Ballinafad and suburbs contingent!

2. This week-end there is a big calendar of GAA fixtures with at least 7 Round 2 games including  Down v Mayo/ Leitrim v Clare and so on. Then there were the three provincial finals Cork v Kerry on Saturday evening and Dublin v Meath & the pick of the bunch Donegal v Cavan on Sunday. While I think Donegal will win this one as they are playing fine football I would like to see Cavan, that old lion, rise from its slumber. Roscommon will play the loser of the Ulster Final after they play one of the round two winners from this week-end. The top teams there include Mayo. Tyrone, Armagh, Monaghan. We know that we will be playing the winners of the Leinster final between Meath and Dublin. Roscommon play their first Super 8 game at home which is good on the 13/14 of July.

3. It may seem odd but if you are a sports nerd then the Ladies Soccer World Cup is well worthwhile tuning into. It is now down to the knock-out stages in France. I’ve watched snatches of games such as Brazil v Australia and Brazil v Italy and they are really great games. There are now about 12 teams or so in contention with the U.S. being the favourites but not by much. Germany, Australia, France, England, Japan, Sweden, Norway, Spain, Cameroon and Nigeria are amongst the other teams. There are certain to be dramatic games with VAR (Video Assistant Referee) being centre stage. It seems obvious that this World Cup which will be viewed by millions will contribute to the expansion of the game for ladies. (Not many years ago there was a pretty limited range of sports for ladies in this town but now there is Gaelic football, camogie, soccer, athletics, community games, golf, tennis and so on which is great to see. Praise too for all those who make this happen). 
4. Congratulations to all the recent writing award winners a number of whom are regulars in that art including John Mulligan. But I’d like to mention also Shane Tivnan also from Boyle but domiciled for quite a while now in Clann na nGael country and a great follower of Roscommon football.
5. it was floating around last week that Roscommon’s last time to beat Mayo and Galway in the Connacht Championship in the same year was 1972. That is not the case as they defeated Mayo and Galway in ‘77/’78/ ‘79/ ’80 and 2001.

6. Boyle GAA club are in the process of selling their Club Rossie €100 tickets. Club Rossie is a major fund-raiser for Roscommon GAA activity and each year clubs are asked to sell a specified number of €100 tickets which isn’t too easy. So if you are willing to assist get in touch.     
                                                                                                                       The Recent ‘Spell’ of Sport (It is all sport this week!)

Connacht Final Drama in the Rain

I am a ‘little’ reassured by the suggestion of the writer Camus that most of what he ever learned about life came from being involved in sport. While I am not, I should be a pretty learned man now if that mantra held for everyone. On Sunday last it rained, took time out and then rained again but though many people got saturated it did not take from the joie de vivre for Roscommon supporters. The game is framed by the previous game that being  another rainy night in Castlebar which set the standard for last Sunday. The build-up is part and parcel of these championship games. It even revives memories of games in Tuam and Castlebar and the old St. Coman’s Park in Roscommon town of my youth. Every time I pass St. Coman’s Park on my way ‘home’ to Castlecoote I look fondly and sadly now at the remains of St. Coman’s Park. That was my boyhood Croke Park. Then came actual visits to Croke Park from ’61 onwards to see our heroes Gerry O’Malley, John Oliver Moran, Eamon Curley, Michéal Shivnan, Aidan Brady, Des Dockery and so on. They lost to a great Offaly team in ’61 but returned to defeat old forties adversaries Cavan in the ’62 Semi-Final. We hoped for a return to the glory days of the forties but defeat was again our lot to the great Mick O’Connell and Kerry. A real bright day in the ‘60s was a great game and victory of the Roscommon U 21 team of 1966 against a fine Kildare team. There were many stars in that team including a young Dermot Earley and Boyle connections in Pat Clarke and Pat Nicholson, Ray Sheeran and John Kelly. The seventies produced the great years from ’77 to ’80 when going to Croke Park for big games was routine. That ended on another rainy day when we went down narrowly to another ‘great’ Kerry team by a narrow margin. Roscommon had one of its greatest teams those days and ‘what might have been’ is a regular ache when we revisit those times. Roscommon have regularly been down but like the ageing boxer they have gotten to their feet as regularly. And each May or so we dust down the disappointment of the previous year and head for Carrick –on –Shannon,  Castlebar
Salthill, Sligo or Hyde Park for renewal of our vows and see where it takes us this year. So we arrived at Salthill on Sunday last. It began with an early start from home knowing well the traffic issues in Galway city and Salthill itself. For us it was good as we had ‘friends’ living within minutes of Pearse Stadium. First there was a visit to the Roscommon supporters base on these occasions in the Galway Bay Hotel. All the familiar faces seemed to be present and correct and ‘will we?’, ‘what do you think?” and varied unanswerable questions peppered small talk. It was a moving screen of familiar faces and me struggling for names for those familiar faces. Eventually game time and the ten minute walk to  the park. It was sunny and warm then. Would it hold? Getting a seat in the stand seemed to offer cover. The first half began well but the last ten minutes turned as the rain came down and my rain gear proved lamentable. The stand roof did not extend to my row! Galway were cruising in those last minutes and kicking points with ease. Roscommon supporters were downcast and it was hard to hope.  I left immediately at half time and went to my house abode to dry out and get reorganised. Back to the battlefield and things on the pitch took a turn for the better. A goal by Diarmuid Murtagh proved a turning point and from that there was no looking back as Cormac Cox, Enda, Nialls Daly and Kilroy saw us home. The Roscommon support re-enacted their Braveheart pitch invasion of 2017 on ‘take two’ and all was well with the world. The wet clothes seemed to dry in jig time and the traffic had so many polite drivers waving you out that it was all courtesy and consideration. The Monday papers were hugely complimentary. Eamon Sweeney in fine form “Roscommon looked like they were having the time of their lives……You could have run the national grid off Roscommon’s energy and enthusiasm. Galway’s wouldn’t have lit a match” followed later by “ At the end the Rossies stormed the pitch with the unity of purpose in a county small enough for most of the inhabitants to know each other. And Anthony Cunningham has entered his house justified.” Dick han's Dick Clerkin in Monday’s Indo also; “Roscommon have been the story of the 2019 Championship so far and are fast becoming everyone’s favourite second team”.    Michael Clifford in the Irish Daily Mail referenced Conor Cox’s “logic- defying score in the first half”. Willie Hegarty in commentary casting his net wide as usual to Rockall “ The catch of the year has been Cormac Cox”. I could add on a free transfer as well. Others talked of the three Daly brothers who I see as fine individually but a real ‘force’ together. The ‘back row’ of Roscommon right now.
Looking at the panel of 26 listed in the programme it breaks down as follow: Michael Glavey’s 6/Pearse’s 5/ Boyle 3/ Strokestown and Fuerty 2 each/ Tulsk, Elphin, Kilbride, Western Gaels, Fáiles, St. Brigid’s, Clann na nGael  and Listowel 1 each. There is material there for discussion.  
It is fair to say that Roscommon GAA is in a pretty good place right now and a rising tide is said to raise all boats.               

                                                                                                                                           Feile Returns to Boyle
On the week-end of Friday June the 28th Gaultier nicknamed 'The Barony'  from near Dunmore East in County Waterford will be the guests of Boyle GAA Club for Feile 20019. Feile is a national under-age Gaelic football  festival for boys and girls. There is also a hurling Féile. The football carnival takes place in 200 venues in this North –West Connacht region with 350 teams from all over the country and from the U.K. and the U.S.  which will involve 850 games. With these statistics it must be one of the biggest such sporting events anywhere. The games begin in Boyle on Friday evening. Boyle have participated in recent years in Féile in Cork and Down and were very active hosts to the Derry champions in 2007. Boyle’s Pat Goldrick was one of the top regional organisers on that occasion. Hopefully the whole community will join with the GAA community in welcoming visiting teams especially our guests from Waterford. It is a great and memorable occasion for those who actually travel to what would be, for say the Waterford young people, a pretty distant location. So we certainly want them to be made very welcome. Indeed they come when Roscommon football is grabbing a lot of national attention just now for all the right reasons. As Monaghan’s Dick Clerkin said in Monday’s Independent “Roscommon are fast becoming nearly everyone’s favourite second county team”.  So our fine sports facility will be a hive of activity from Friday the 28th so drop into the park and get into the mood of the occasion. The four teams in the Abbey Park are Gaultier, Boyle, Western Gaels and Whitehall Colmcille’s. The games on Friday evening start at 4.45 with Boyle v Whitehall Colmcille’s followed by Western Gaels v Gaultier. Then Boyle v Western Gaels and Gaultier v Colmcilles. The final group games take place early on Saturday am.   I’m looking forward to it all. Oh yes there will be a number of park preparation Meithéals starting at 10 am on tomorrow Saturday.   

                                                                                                                                             The Nestor Cup Visits the Abbey Park
I mentioned a hive of activity next week-end but that happens there regularly as it did yesterday evening Thursday when the Connacht Nestor Cup was taken to the grounds. This especially enabled people to bring their young family members to see what it was all about.  There was a great ‘buzz’ about for over the hour and I must commend the Boyle members of the county panel, Donie Smith, Evan McGrath, Cian McKeon and team captain Enda Smith for their participation. As Club Chairperson Kathleen Hanmore related ‘They are back where it all started and where their skills were nurtured and developed”. She continued to say how proud the club is of them and this sentiment was echoed by all present. Following a county team in victory is sweet but following a county team with members from your own club is all the sweeter. I feel that they know that and last evening was followed today Friday by visiting local schools. Club President Barry Feely also commended the team and the Boyle players contribution to a fine victory. The lads signed innumerable autographs on scraps of paper and jerseys. Indeed it was a lake of primrose and blue. While Enda and Donie are probably veterans at the autographing business I observed a shyness in the approach of Cian McKeon. While many veteran former players and GAA officials and supporters were also present it was an evening for the kids. As I was about to leave another veteran Boyle player from the 50s’ arrived on the scene and that was Bill Corcoran. Bill has come from Dublin for Boyle GAA events from time to time and keeps in touch with the happenings of his native Corrigeenroe and Boyle and has been a great supporter of Roscommon through county organisations in Dublin. He was the original Mayor of Boyle in the 50s’ and still carries that title despite Marian Gaffney succeeding him some time ago now. Anyway Bill and his family were delighted to be present and I’m sure it will be discussed when we are in contact again. He was delighted to meet Gerry Nerney, Fergal O’Donnell, Jnr. Smith, Brendan Nestor and Enda Smith of course and various others. Regrettably I forgot to ask him to sign a few autographs. In the unlikely event that you read this, Bill, after I got over the surprise of the kind of apparition of you emerging from the limousine I was delighted to see you there on a special evening. We couldn’t have organised it better. I disagree with the idiom that ‘One should never meet their heroes’. 

Slán for now.    

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Update 6th June 2019

I’ll run this by you for consideration. At the launch of the Roscommon Historical Journal on Tuesday evening a friend of mine from Elphin said he had an idea regarding Boyle. His idea is that maybe Boyle should adapt its name to Abbeyboyle. Since the Abbey is the great architectural building in the town and there are many towns with the prefix of Abbey such as Abbeydorney · Abbeyfeale · Abbeyknockmoy · Abbeylara · Abbeyleix · Abbeyshrule amongst them. This would not be totally new as it was called Abbeyboyle centuries back. While I imagine people are very comfortable with the name of Boyle on its own, appending the Abbey would be highlighting its magnificent Cistercian church remains. It is there in the Irish version being Mainistir na Buille. What ‘Boyle’ itself stands for is a bit of a tangle and not easy to explain. It may relate to the practise of moving animals from one place to another across a river ford i.e. to ‘booley’. Another suggestion is that it is the name of the river and means beautiful! A small part of Boyle, Abbeytown, already has incorporated the abbey in its title.  I’ll leave it with you.         

Jarlath Tivnan and Decadent Theatre with new play.

Jarlath Tivnan of Boyle is very familiar to Boyle playgoers. Jarlath is a primary figure in possibly his most impressive initiative to date which will come to fruition in Galway’s Town Hall Theatre next week. With the assistance of Decadent Theatre Director Andrew Flynn they have embarked on a totally new play and production which will have its premiere on Thursday of next week June 13th. They have acquired the rights to adapt the acclaimed Tipperary writer Donal Ryan’s novel ‘The Thing About December’. This novel has been twice-nominated for the Man Booker Prize. Donal Ryan was reluctant to allow an adaption of his first book but since the Director Andrew Flynn was a fellow Nenagh man that made the decision easier. (Mister Ryan is also the author of the widely recognised novel ‘The Spinning Heart’). The play will be staged for ten days from June 13th (excluding Connacht Final Sunday the 16th).  

"I’m glad it’s in the hands of Andrew and Jarlath and Decadent Theatre Company, theatre-makers with a stellar record of bringing stories to life onstage with empathy, passion and verve," said Mr Ryan.

Andrew Flynn, the Artistic Director of Decadent Theatre Company, hopes to bring his adaptation of ‘The Thing About December’ on tour around Ireland. 

"Theatre needs new life. It has to keep evolving. All great classics are brilliant to stage but they have been done. This production aims at bringing new Irish drama to the stage” said Mr. Flynn.

‘The Thing About December’ is set in rural Tipperary at the turn of the 21st century as the Celtic Tiger begins to roar. 

The story of the play revolves around the character of Johnsey Cunliffe, a simple, naïve only child in his 20s, grieves the death of his much-loved parents. 

Harassed by local bullies and excluded by his peers, Johnsey’s isolation worsens when his inherited farm is re-zoned and becomes valuable.

The clouds gather as a local conglomerate connive to tempt him into giving up his family’s land, while Johnsey, the unlikeliest of heroes, tries to hold on to those things dearest to him.

People may remember an earlier work by Jarlath called ‘The Pleasure Ground’. This is on much more ambitious scale with a stellar cast. It is a huge achievement for Jarlath mentored by Decadent Director Flynn who obviously holds Jarlath in very high regard with so much of Decadent’s resources invested in this production. Hopefully it will make its mark in the theatrical world which would elevate Decadent, Jarlath and Flynn to high levels in their genre.
So if you have connections in Galway you might spread the word with them about its run from the 13th of June to Saturday the 22nd in the Town Hall Theatre which is a long run for a new work.  

Roscommon GAA Inc. See the Light
When I opened today’s Roscommon People I was pleasantly surprised to see that Roscommon GAA Inc. had decided to revaluate the location for the county’s ‘Centre of Excellence’ proposed for Runabracken, Oran and seek a new location near Roscommon town. Like quite a number of people I have always felt that the Oran location was unsuitable and that what is now proposed, a centre near Roscommon Town if it can be sourced, is a much better option. I give credit to the powers that be that they have seen fit to accede to the principle that there is a better way and that they are willing, with all the stakeholders mentioned in The People, to vigorously pursue an alternative course. I wish them well and if the acumen demonstrated by the famous ‘House Draw’ comes to the fore again it could all be achieved.            

 Searching for a Maria McKay married to Michael O’Grady with a daughter named Eileen:
I posted this query a couple of weeks ago and have made some progress in the meantime. I have learned that Patrick McKay was a gardener (succeeded by Christy Regan) for the Stewart family with the McKays living in the gate Lodge near Shilling Hill. My real query related to a daughter of Patrick i.e. Maria McKay married to Michael O’Grady and they having a daughter Eileen. It is probably there that there could still be a Boyle connection. Frank Tarpey showed me a reference to a Michael Grady  and a Mrs. Ellen Grady in Patrick Street in the late 30s’. Now Grady is not O’Grady but… There was another reference to an O’Grady/Grady getting the title of ‘The Durrango Kid’ because of a movie hero of that appendage. ‘The Kid’ is assumed to have emigrated to England. I did get some sources which might have been helpful but they seem to have disappeared on me now ! Anyway if anyone has any ideas on my quest you might contact me at or at 086 8163399.
I’d appreciate same of course.

Back to Boffin

I returned to the island of Innis boffin (Island of the White (?) Cow) off the Connemara coast for a couple of days last week. It is a favoured place of mine. However it too needs the sun. it was a 50:50 split of sunshine and the gloomy inclement weather we are experiencing presently. On the way over through Mayo I called into The National Museum of Ireland concentrating on County Life. There are about a dozen Exhibition themes covering Trades and Crafts, Life in the Community, The Natural Environment, The Times 1850 to 1950 and so on. This is part of the National Museum and is –in my opinion- really worth a visit. Admission is free. Turlough Park is approximately 5 miles on our side of Castlebar so if you are in those parts (an hour or so from Boyle) you could consider a visit. It is mentioned, from time to time, that the artefacts unearthed from the drainage of Lough Gara in the early 50s’ should be housed in a similar Museum in Boyle rather than being invisible in some Museum store in Dublin.  
After Turlough Park we went to Clifden which was busy with visitors. I stayed in the Station House Hotel. Clifden is not a big town but has numerous restaurants and music bars. The following  day I hit off for Cleggan which is the ferry port for Boffin. It was wet though, but the 45 minute journey across was not as intimidating as it can be. Island walks are one of the real pleasures of Boffin but walking in the rain was not an option. Later that night there was a fine traditional session in Andrew Murray’s Doonmore Hotel with Kerry singer Sean Garvey. Friday was good and the choice of walks was abundant.  I visited Inishbofin House Hotel which is also referred to as Day’s or by some locals as ‘The Posh’ hotel. There is a third hotel run by Pat Coyne called The Dolphin Hotel. Pat exclaimed when asked the time “There are two times THE time and Boffin time”. It does not take long before you get to know people and talking to strangers on the roads or bars is to be encouraged. Once I said to myself ‘He looks familiar” and when I suggested his name it was indeed Paul Muldoon. So we chatted as we walked up the hill. Mister Muldoon is from Armagh a notable poet, is a professor of English at Princetown University in New Jersey and winner of the Pulitzer prize for a suite of poetry. ‘Boffin’ is certainly a different place with the anthem of the corncrake as a background melody. 

Historic Anniversaries;
The 4th of June was the 30th Anniversary of the Tiananmen Square, Beijing student protest and its suppression by the Communist Government. I watched a two part documentary on it on RTE 1 on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. This showed how close that protest was to changing the path of China’s subsequent course to a more democratic model. About 20 years ago in a visit to a former history teacher at Roscommon CBS as I was about to leave he suggested; ‘And what about China? “ which meant another half hour parsing that conundrum. I have been meaning to write a piece on the China story and its ominous global spread for some time but that time is not now. One of the great iconic pictures/images of that Tiananmen student protest was that of a student (I presume) standing in front of a row of tanks which he stopped.

Thursday June 6th is the 75th Anniversary of the D Day landings in France in 1944. The American President Donald Trump will be in Normandy for those commemorations. D Day is often referred to as Deliverance Day for France but I believe that the D is actually a random code letter for the day. There have been a number of films depicting the landings such as ‘The Longest Day’ and the very graphic representation of the horror of the beaches in ‘Saving Private Ryan’. A good deal of that picture was filmed in County Wexford and Curracloe beach. A large number of  F.C.A./.L.D.F. personnel featured as extras in that film and I seem to remember one of them, the Roscommon Sports Editor, Ian Cooney, arriving in the Abbey Park from Wexford to play for St. Michael’s. The things you remember!

The Mayo Weather Forecaster’s key Role in D-Day.    
A Mayo post office worker Maureen Sweeney played a key role in the D Day landings. She was employed at Blacksod Post office in Mayo and the extra dimension to her work was taking readings from a weather ‘station’ in terms of air pressure, wind, rain etc. . These readings found their way to the heart of the D Day planning organisers in London. Those for the 5th of June anticipated a storm coming through for the Normandy area. Thus Eisenhower the Commander in Chief postponed the attack of the 5th and got some better weather for the 6th and so went on that day and the rest is history. This story is being told in a documentary on RTE on Thursday night at 10.15 titled ‘Storm Front in Mayo-The Story of the D Day Forecast’ in which the key role of Maureen Sweeney is highlighted. She featured in last Saturday’s independent as a vibrant 96 year old lady.

Irishtown and the Land League

Since I am mentioning a few pretty local places of interest that I have been to in recent times I’ll mention Irishtown. Usually Irishtown get its name from being the part of a larger urban area which is identified by its Irish population or ethnicity. People will have heard of Chinatown and so on. There is an Irishtown in Dublin not far from the Aviva Stadium. I digress. I was in Ballindine and decided to tick one of my long- term boxes by visiting Irishtown the home of the Land League. I drove slowly into the outskirts of the village looking for a museum commemorating the hugely important historic event which took place in Irishtown in 1879. On seeing some bunting and colour I felt that I was on course but it turned out to be National School. There wasn’t a soul to be seen on the humble street of houses and I had to knock on a door to seek information regarding my quest for a significant memorial to the achievements of Michael Davitt and the Land League. A lady told me I had passed the memorial and recited the Irish inscription on it which she had retained from her national school days. ‘First you have to turn around and you will see the memorial opposite the national school’. A couple of minutes later I was gazing at the humble marker and reading the inscription. The first Land League meeting promoting the realisation of the organisation’s slogan ”The land of Ireland for the People of Ireland” took place in Irishtown in April 1879 not long after Davitt had returned from England and promoted the idea though he was not at the inaugural rally. There is, in fairness, a Michael Davitt museum in his birthplace of Straide maybe 20 Kms. or so from Irishtown.
Michael Davitt is a somewhat forgotten man in Irish History yet the Land League led to one of the greatest legal transfers of land ownerships without huge strife anywhere in Europe. It formed the basis of land ownership of the small/smaller farming classes that exists today. Not being aware of the role and achievements of Michael Davitt is a real deficit in one’s knowledge of Irish history. 

Roscommon Historical and Archaeological Magazine Launch (RHAM)
I attended the launch of the RHAM magazine in Tuesday the 4th. This is the 14th of such publications. It includes a wide diversity of articles from all parts of Roscommon. The 14 magazines form an important collection of record on Roscommon history, archaeology and the general story of Roscommon down the centuries. The Society is very active and has a number of outstanding officers and members including Mary O’Connell, President; Albert Siggins, Secretary; Shane Lynskey Vice-President; Marian Harlow, Treasure; and Darragh Kelly P.R.O. The Editors of this year’s journal are James Ganley and James Hoban. The book costing €15 was launched by Roscommon County Council Arts Officer Nollaig Feeney. The launch took place in the very impressive County Council headquarters in Roscommon town.

Boyle Camera Club Pictures Very Impressive Display
As an aside I was pleasantly surprised to see the pictures from a single day in Boyle last summer by Boyle Camera Club on linear display in the large reception area of the building. They looked hugely impressive with Frankie Tarpey, Christy Wynne, Michael Conlon, Donal O’Connor and Mandy, Eileen Higgins, Jack Murphy, Imelda Maughan  and the full ensemble occupying a fine space. The highlight picture is an enlarged canvass of Roch Hanmore and his son. I would really encourage Boyle Camera Club to put them on display again in Boyle as they are a special collection and a credit to the camera club. If you are passing though Roscommon and have a half hour to spare call in to see the exhibition. As Council CEO Eugene Cummins said a number of times at the launch they are happy for people to do that as it is “your building”.

Some Sport….The Penalty Competition Follow Up
I missed the penalty competition last Saturday am in Boyle’s Abbey Park. I am told that it was a great success and great entertainment. The penalty competition is a really good idea. It could be extended to an all levels free-taking competition (maybe hand-passing over the bar as well!). Free-taking is one of the key elements of success. I do not know what time is put into free-taking in coaching and general match preparation or are 'the free-takers' expected to emerge of themselves. I have thought of such a competition within our club for a long time of a good few ideas that did not reach fruition....hurling another. Anyway seeing that the penalty competition has emerged maybe Boyle free-taking could follow. Only a few weeks ago against Fuerty their free-taker Gearoid Ennis must have scored all 8 frees he took and some from a real distance. I'll 'help' with the free -taking initiative if it is thought worthy. The great free-takers were key players in successful teams. Donal Keenan, Ros. in the 40s'/ Don Feely Ros. 60s'/ the sublime Mickie Kearins with Sligo in the '60s'-70s'/ Tony McTeague with Offaly '60s'-70s/ Jimmy y Keaveney for the Dubs '70s/ Mickie Sheehy, Kerry '70s -'8os/ Stafford for Meath/ the Kildare man from Cork, Tomkins/ Joyce for Galway/ Lohan Ros./ Michael Murphy for Donegal/ and Barney Rock for the Dubs today. They were all free-taking kings in football and hurling has them also.  

They saved the worst wine for last with the two European Football Finals last week or so . The Semi-Finals had it all but the finals were very disappointing. Fair play to Eamon Sweeney who gave Roscommon GAA a great blow in last Sunday’s Independent.  

I’ll leave you this week with one of my favourite Chris O’Dowd public ‘speeches’. It was given at the Irish Spirit Awards in New York on march 17 2013. So Google those and listen to his speech with a twist. You should enjoy it.

May your God’s go with you. T.C.