Thursday, November 27, 2014

Tribute to Christy Regan / ‘There is a dance in Billy Brennan’s barn tonight’ / Boyle Library

Tribute to Christy Regan

 ‘Through Christy’s Lens’ Book Launch

The Regan family will proudly launch their tribute to Christy on Friday night next at 8 in King House and all are welcome.  There are very few Boyle people who have not encountered Christy and his camera down through the decades. His pictures became the illustrating accompaniment of news stories for decades in local newspapers, especially in the Roscommon Herald, be they first communions, confirmations, weddings, musicals, political and sporting events and the myriad of activities that are part of the fabric of community life in this region. This book will give a flavour of those past events. They are just a cross-section of the major archive which Christy accumulated in his career. In doing this he has left a huge legacy of social and historical material for future generations. So I commend the Regan family on this prompt window into Christy’s archive and perhaps it can be developed in some way now that the digitising age is here. The book also includes tributes and reflections from family and friends on their memories of Christy who was first and foremost a great family man. Proceeds from the publication will go to the oncology department of Sligo General Hospital.

‘There is a dance in Billy Brennan’s barn tonight’

A minor news snippet brought me back a few years when I came across it recently. It related to the sale of a barn in County Monaghan which featured in Patrick Kavanagh’s poem Inniskeen Road.

Inniskeen Road:  July Evening
The bicycles go by in twos and threes -
There's a dance in Billy Brennan's barn tonight,
And there's the half-talk code of mysteries
And the wink-and-elbow language of delight.
Half-past eight and there is not a spot
Upon a mile of road, no shadow thrown
That might turn out a man or woman, not
A footfall tapping secrecies of stone.

A number of Kavanagh’s poems featured in secondary school syllabi down the years and represented a time in Ireland which may be gone now but remerge vividly for older generations when they happen to read Kavanagh’s poems. Kavanagh wrote two tribute poems commemorating his parents.

‘Memory of My Father’,
Every old man I see
Reminds me of my father’

Ending with the powerful last verse

‘Every old man I see
In October-coloured weather
Seems to say to me
"I was once your father."

This was for me a veiled view of his father whereas the images of his mother are very clear. A little oddly I suppose we can view our parents differently in that way.

‘In Memory of My Mother’.
‘I do not think of you lying in the wet clay
Of a Monaghan graveyard’

Kavanagh’s most famous strident denouement is Stony Grey Soil of Monaghan

O stony grey soil of Monaghan
The laugh from my love you thieved;
You took the gay child of my passion
And gave me your clod-conceived.

I am looking through a pretty battered book of school poetry ‘Soundings’ as I write. It was re-published a year or two ago and contains many classics. It is true to say that many people are able to recite lines from the poems they learned in their youth, ‘As in wild earth a Grecian vase’, which is the last line of Padraic Colum’s poem  ‘A Poor Scholar Of The 'Forties’.

Boyle Library

Since I have started with two paragraphs on a book and then the poetry of Kavanagh I might continue the theme. When was the last time you visited a library?  When I was in Boyle Abbey local people would occasionally come with visitors from abroad and whisper guiltily  ‘I haven’t been in here since…………..’ (Maybe some people are saying that now about the local church!). Anyway we are so lucky in Boyle to have a beautiful library. Indeed other Libraries in the county such as Castlerea, Ballaghaderreen and the Roscommon are also fine libraries. Elphin and Strokestown are more constrained. It is one of the great  free (almost) services. Libraries today offer a broad range of services and activities and have kept up well with modern technology. The access to digitised collections especially the local county newspapers is of particular interest. I referred to a recent very successful event there a few weeks ago when Chris O’Dowd and Nick V. Murphy read from their recent publication, Moone Boy: The Blunder Years to a number of national school classes. The library is also involved in a county-wide national schools quiz.
One of the great advantages the  Irish have is their knowledge of the English language which they are wont to use with flair and abandon. This reputation is internationally accepted and endorsed. Four Irish writers have received the Nobel Prize for literature, George Bernard Shaw, W.B. Yeats, Samuel Beckett and Seamus Heaney. James Joyce was certainly in that league but did not get the accolade for reasons I forget now. When I attended secondary school in Roscommon C.B.S. I was a pretty regular visitor to the library just across the road. My specialist subject then was World War Two! In talking to Father Tony Conry, who was home from Brazil last summer where he works particularly in the education sector, he referenced the odd fact that Brazilians do not read in any way near the degree that we do and that this is a significant deficit for them. One little piece of advice I would give a reader is; do not struggle too much with a book there are multitudes of books which will just sweep you along without that struggle.  

I know there are dedicated members in each library. For children especially it is an oasis of wonderment. So I would encourage you to visit and explore this huge resource in its imposing setting  on our doorsteps.  Patricia Flaherty and her staff will be only too happy to see and guide you.  


Thousandaire. Next week, Saturday the 6th sees Boyle GAA’s ambitious fund-raising extravaganza Who Wants to be a Thousandaire. I expect it to be a great success and worthy of the huge efforts which the club members have put into the organisation of the event.
The annual Christmas GAA Quiz is scheduled for Saturday December 27th and we hope to see many faces which have been abroad and away on that occasion.
Boyle Senior GAA Club A.G.M. takes place on Saturday December the 13th in the Abbey Park Centre at 6.
Very best wishes to Cian Smith, a sentiment which I am sure is endorsed by so many in Boyle and all in the GAA club.
Corofin looked pretty awesome in their comprehensive win over Ballintubber in the Connacht Senior Club Final. It would have been some battle had St. Brigid’s been there as Corofin have a score to settle with Brigid’s from a few years ago.
Best wishes to St.Ciaran’s (Fuerty/Athleague/Creggs) Junior Ladies football team who play Murroe Boher from Limerick, at Duggan Park, Ballinasloe, on Saturday the 30th, at 1.30 in their all-Ireland Final.
It is expected that Boyle will play the semi-final of the U 21 ‘A’ championship the week-end of the 5th/6th of December.    


Forest View,
Co. Roscommon
Mob: 086 816 3399

Friday, November 21, 2014

St. Martin’s Ale i.e. Water! / 'Grease', Boyle Musical Society / Congratulations / ‘The Man Who Shot the Great War’

St. Martin’s Ale i.e. Water!

I had intended, last week, to refer people to John Mulligan’s Column in The Roscommon Herald of Tuesday, November the 11th. ‘The Kettle’s Boyled’, regarding the Water Protest marches and attendant concerns. I forgot to do so. A certain number of his concerns surfaced in the ‘own goal’ of last week-end’s fracas in Tallaght involving Paul Murphy T.D. and Joan Burton. Paul Murphy’s subsequent claims regarding the peaceful nature of the protest rang very hollow and would not be acceptable to a number of those involved in the Water Protest movement. A lot has been achieved by the protest marches in redressing the current policies regarding water charges and the general framework involved. It is generally accepted that the Water Protest Movement is just a manifestation of the general disaffection with regard to taxation in so many different guises  and the injustices and inequalities therein. The Tallaght strategy though has the inherent danger of dividing the movement from being a large scale one supported by mobilised moderates to being a militant one dominated by what might be pigeon-holed as ‘the left’. Both the left and the peaceful march strategists might point to historical successes but rarely in unison. I am sure that the ruling classes are now becoming aware of the fact that the final straw has been reached and also if the Genii is let out of the bottle it will be difficult to redress the situation. If a general consensus is not reached, however tentative,  then the future is bleak and depressing. I have said before that this country has had such positive possibilities but managed to mess them up, mainly through greed it has to be said. The bleak vista was very evident with a lady caller to the Joe Duffy Show earlier this week. She was leaving Ireland with her kids to join her husband who had gone to England some time ago to get work. While overstated in parts her account illustrates the depressive weights on some people in this country that can push them to such difficult decisions. Then emigration has heretofore been a safety valve stemming radical reaction. The Donna Hartnett letter the Independent was another telling illustration of services deficit where she particularly focussed on child-care, costs, social, economic and psychological. Maybe current events are a wake-up call. Ireland in November is a challenging environment on many fronts.

'Grease', Boyle Musical Society

Considering the above it is uplifting to relate that the first night of Boyle’s musical, ‘Grease’ was a resounding success, played to a packed house and was warmly applauded. All the components are in place in this musical extravaganza with a generous number of recognisable songs. I was particularly impressed by the ‘T Birds’ group of Robert Reid, Conor Durkin, Marc Egan,  Daragh Beirne and Adrian King. Gavin Ward as Eugene was the stand-out character on the night with a very funny cameo performance. Even in the midst of trials and tribulations Boyle Musical is an uplifting occasion.


To St. Croan’s and their Boyle manager David Casey on their great Connacht Intermediate Championship victory last Sunday in Tuam. I can only imagine what the atmosphere is like in the Ballintubber area as a consequence. I had a taste of it last year following Fuerty Juniors all the way to the final in Croke Park. Fuerty morphed into St. Ciaran’s have gone to another final this year as the Fuerty ladies augmented from Creggs won their All-Ireland Semi-Final defeating Dromore of Tyrone in Fuerty also last Sunday. The introduction of All-Ireland series for lesser grades than senior has been one of the most successful recent innovations for the GAA.  

‘The Man Who Shot the Great War’

I tuned into this BBC 1 Documentary on Monday night dealing with a soldier and photographer George Hackney from Belfast who took many iconic images of the Western Front when the sons of Ulster and Ireland generally were involved. Huge numbers were killed in that appalling slaughter on such days as the Battle of the Somme (which was a series of battles) from July to November 1916 when I million men were either killed, wounded or listed as missing.   
The documentary supplemented by a story I was told on Sunday regarding the importance of old pictures has resulted in this reflection. I have a particular interest and regard for photographs as a record of the past. I am not in a minority in that I imagine. I am aware that the Regan family are currently preparing a tribute publication to Christy Regan which will include a variety of  photographs taken by Christy down the decades. This will of course be only a sample of Christy’s vast legacy to the region in that respect.  The story I was told on Sunday, by Barry Feely, related to a visitor to Boyle and King House some time ago. The visitor was viewing the Connaught Rangers exhibition and enquiring if there was any record there of his grandfather who was a member of the Regiment during the Great War. The most obliging of managers, Tommy Egan, contacted Mr. Paul Malpas whose area of expertise this is and Paul graciously came into King House to help the man, with his enquiries. He was from Malaga in Spain, where his father had settled after service in World War 2 and was accompanied by his wife and three children. When the gentleman named his grandfather with whatever details he had, Paul was quickly able to show him an actual picture of his grandfather amongst his peers. With this he was of course thrilled and immediately contacted his ninety two year old  dad-a Second World War veteran- in Spain to tell him the news and i Phoned a picture record to him of HIS dad who was a Capt. Tuite of the 6th Battalion of the Connaught Rangers, a Dubliner. Later a photograph was organised with Willie Beirne and Paul with the flags and uniform of the Connaught Rangers Association and the visitor with the said picture. So the gentleman’s quest was totally fulfilled and the regard and appreciation he had to have for all involved in King House and the Connaught Rangers Association could not have been higher. Paul and the Association deal with numerous similar requests on a regular basis and it projects another very positive image of Boyle and what it has to offer.  Paul also told me that this incident will feature in a booklet which is due for publication in January 2015 titled ‘The New Ranger’ dealing with the work of the Association.       

Regrettably, I am a poor photographer and there are a number of periods in my life of which few pictures exist. Organisations should have a regular photographic recorder especially sporting clubs. I have mentioned this here and there. In Boyle army barracks, apart from the Connaught Rangers exhibition, there is now a fine F.C.A./L.D.F. exhibition collected by Francie Geelan and colleagues.
There were never so many pictures being taken with the advances in technology today. This is good. I believe though that there is a reduction in the number of images being printed onto what I call ‘hard copy’. Many old pictures survive but I wonder how accessible those now stored on various hard  drives and discs will be. So I suggest that if you transfer to disc from your memory card you might print a cross section and remember to name and date them.
‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ the old saying goes. Soon I must put order on the pictures (Jimmy Murray used to call them ‘snaps’) I have of Roscommon football in the forties; Boyle G.A.A. down the years; Maureen O’Sullivan, St. Mary’s College and so on. I was going to end with ‘they will be a legacy of sorts’ I suppose.       

Forest View,
Co. Roscommon
Mob: 086/8163399

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Tony Conboy's Blog Update 13th November 2014

The Cian Smith Testimonial Game 

"A Testament to the Character of Local Community"
This central subject has been very well covered in local media since Saturday and there are excellent sets of photographs here on realboyle and elsewhere but I’d like to mention the spirit of the community as represented by it. It was a great celebratory yet poignant occasion. The best spirit of the community and the GAA community especially shone through on Saturday. Probably every club in the county was represented with the number of St. Brigid’s players present being especially remarkable. Boyle GAA came up trumps also as it always does for particular occasions. It represents a section of the great spirit of small communities and is part of the gel that binds those communities together. This is not just a Boyle thing but is  evident all over the county as can be seen with our neighbours  St. Michaels, Ballinameen, Shannon Gaels, Eastern Harps, St. Ronan’s and so on throughout the length and breadth of the country. These communities are under continuous pressure from emigration, lack of employment opportunities, the decline of the small and now medium farms, the closure of national schools, post offices, shops, bars, Garda stations and services generally. The spirit of those communities has often been tested but never broken. Chris O’Dowd in his acceptance address on receiving the Freedom of Roscommon recently spoke of the influence his home place had on him and his words are well worth remembering. Another huge example of this for me was on  an R.T.E. television programme of the seventies called ‘My Own Place’ which featured Micheal O’Callaghan then Editor of The Roscommon Herald. Micheal suggested that he had opportunities to go to the city as a natural career progression but stayed in his ‘native place’ because of its hold on him, I suppose, but also to contribute what he could to it. I think of Micheal from time to time and I regard him as one of the great Roscommon men and his contribution to his ‘Own Place’ was immense.  Anyway if you can take the time to source that programme on U tube or wherever it will reinforce what place and community can mean and it shone brightly on Saturday.
There are many examples of great community people and a good few were present on Saturday. Amongst them were John and Lily Murphy of Castlerea. John has been enormously generous to the GAA in Roscommon and is also a great advocate for the Mayo/Roscommon Hospice Foundation which was one of the two beneficiaries from Saturday. And what a contribution the visiting community to the game came up with, it being over €10,000 in just one fell swoop. The other beneficiary was the Kyle Casey Fund. I have known members of the Casey family for decades and Kyle’s dad Sean from St. Mary’s College days, a fine Ballinameen and Roscommon footballer and a gentleman to boot.
So well done to all involved and a special mention to Mark O’Donohoe and Liam Conroy who initiated the project. They could hardly have envisaged the success that it turned out to be. It was good to be a small part of it all and be present where such positive communal atmosphere and the will to make a social contribution  prevailed. We wish Cian and Kyle and their families well with the hurdles that lie ahead. The last word to Cian Smith who spoke eloquently at the close of proceedings and whose encouragement to Kyle Casey was heartfelt.

Plaque Unveiling

On Saturday also  last the County Board GAA Chairman Michael Fahey with the County History Committee Chairman, Tommy Kenoy,  unveiled a plaque in the Boyle GAA Centre commemorating the founding of the GAA in Roscommon on January the 23 rd., 1889 at a meeting in Boyle.
Eighteen clubs were represented at that meeting mostly from the north of the county including Crossna, Cootehall, Killaraght/Kingsland, Knockarush. Boyle was well represented with Lowparks J. Carroll, M.Henegan; Owen Roe's (Boyle) A MacManus and M. Connor; Democrats (Boyle) J. Tully and J. Keville; Tawnytaskin, T. Carmody and P. Sheerin. This shows that games were being played widely prior to that.
Jasper Tully, proprietor of The Roscommon Herald, was elected to the Chair (President of the Association in the county); James Lindsay of Boyle Treasurer; G.W.Tully (brother of Jasper) Secretary. Elphin are credited with winning the first County Championship thus winning The President’s (Jasper Tully)medals. They beat Kingsland in a replay. Boyle ‘Young Irelands’ are credited with winning the 1890 final beating Castlerea ‘Leos’. I have recently seen a nice and interesting 1890 medal. The Parnellite Split caused a decline in the GAA in the 1890s and the real revival began in 1902.

Boyle U 21's Fine Win

Boyle’s under 21 team qualified for the U 21 County Championship Semi-Final by virtue of a fine win over a good Padraig Pearse’s team in the Abbey Park on Sunday. It was a great all-round team performance with a high standard of play throughout. It was good, as it always is, to see the return of some players who I had not seen for a while. This win, one of the best performances of any Boyle team this year, will give momentum and encouragement to all involved. They now play Roscommon Gaels on Sunday but they are already assured, I’m told, of a place in the Semi-Finals.
St. Brigid’s went  down to Ballintubber of Mayo in the Connacht Senior Semi-Final. While they tried valiantly they were outgunned by the goal- scoring opponents who had top players in their full forward line in the O’Connors. While it will be a welcome break for many of their players it will be a test of their resolve for the next campaign.
We wish David Casey well with his very good St. Croan’s side who take on Killannin (from near Moycullen) of Galway on Sunday next in Tuam at 2 pm in the AIB Intermediate Final.
Congratulations to the St. Brendan’s Club in Dublin with which a number of Boyle people are involved such as John Healy,Tomas Conroy, Karl Feighan and their manager Justin McCormack. They continued their upward curve with their second promotion on the bounce last week end.
Well done to Boyle Celtic who had a very good 4:1 win over top Connacht team Castlebar in the All-Ireland Junior Soccer Cup at Castlebar on Sunday last.
Talking to a GAA Club stalwart regarding U 21 fixtures and the season going on so late he told me that their Junior team did not have a game for some seven weeks during the summer having had a number in close succession earlier. ‘Our mistake was that we played them as per the fixture list and not looking for an occasional postponement for this or that to spread them out’!


I was at the very well attended launch of Barry Feely’s book ‘A Life in Stone’ on Friday night last. It is a lovely production and mixes a biographical theme with that of the trials and tribulations of the stone business. The actual launch process with the interaction of the author Barry and North Roscommon writer Brian Leyden was very effective in which they complemented each other harmoniously. So well done to Barry for this further achievement.
The Regan family hope to present their tribute to Christy on November the 28th. This is a book of photographs from down the years taken by the most popular of photographers Christy Regan. There are certain to be some gems there.
The GAA County History Committee are scheduled to launch their updated History of the Association in the county on Saturday December the 13th.

So plenty there to occupy oneself with during the long nights.  


Forest View,
Co. Roscommon
Mob: 086/8163399

Saturday, November 8, 2014

An Oblique View update Friday 7th November

Hospital Visiting Experience

One imagines that when the Winter comes, to use a common phrase ‘things will settle down’ but that is not the case, at this point in time anyway. A few weeks ago I read a fine piece on the Sunday Independent by Rachael Lavin from Balymore in which she talks of the travails with the establishment of the National Children’s Hospital and her and her family’s experiences of attending medical clinics in Dublin. Last Tuesday I took a relative to a clinic in the Mater Public Hospital. We had been there a number of years ago when the clinic was a decrepit place. This hospital has been revamped now. I endorse Rachel’s description of the challenges for people travelling from the country to Dublin hospitals have in terms of traffic, parking especially and so on. We certainly could have no complaints with regard to the care, commitment and treatment that my relative received  One of the real hidden issues for those clinics is the ‘no shows’ for appointments.  In the clinic the administrator called out from the list people due to be present at one particular ‘clinic’ and the number of ‘no shows’ was extraordinary. On one of the walls a prominently displayed poster read; ‘We were here where were you?’  Of course the knock-on effects for those who would benefit and the costs involved are very considerable.
I had to go University College Hospital Galway a couple of days later for an check on a slight eye issue. One of the first challenges there was parking as it often is around hospitals. I was there around 12 noon. I was directed to go through casualty. I waited for a couple of hours and eventually was admitted into casualty. It was there that I observed the full panorama of the challenges in this environment. It was like a railway station at rush hour. The ubiquitous trolley dominated. The shoe box spaces were like Manhattan real estate in terms of demand. The term ‘excuse me’  dominated as the nurses and doctors hustled for their space. It was just incredible where people were required to administer and receive treatment. While those who work there and can make enough sense of the bedlam to enable them to carry out their onerous duties, for them and their patients it is so wrong. This will not come as a surprise to the many people for whom this environment is a regular experience.         

 Enda Smith

This is a very busy period for Boyle GAA. There has been a major response to the Cian Smith game on Saturday in the Abbey Park and a significant crowd is anticipated. As an event it is expected to both emotive and celebratory. Cian is hugely popular within the club and his cohort of contemporaries in various areas of his life. He has faced his huge challenges with great good grace. Ian Cooney captured his essence in an interview with Cian as published in the Roscommon Herald this week. So if you are in a position to attend at the Abbey Park on Saturday it would be a nice thing to do.

Representation on Top Team

Three Boyle players played with DCU in the Third Level Colleges Senior League against Jordanstown this week--Tadhg Lowe in goals with Donie and Enda Smith. Well done to all three. It's certainly a "first" for the Club to have three of our players on a such a star- studded team. It is nice to Tadhg return to a position where he was a contender for high levels just a couple of seasons ago and has been required to sacrifice this for club team benefits. I feel that players are best in the positions they prefer to play in.  
Congrats also to Enda who is attending an awards ceremony in Dublin tonight where he will be presented with a "Man of the Match" award which he won in this year's Senior Championship Qualifier win. It is hard to keep track of the awards in the Smith household.

Boyle GAA’s Fundraiser ‘Who Wants to Be a Thousandaire’

The club has put a major effort into this innovative fundraiser which will take place on December 6th. The home page of realboyle has link to a selection of photographs from a publicity launch which took place on Wednesday night in the club rooms. It is really great to see the involvement and initiative of new personnel in the various branches of the club. I am thinking especially, from Wednesday night and this project of Karen Brogan (McGee). Karen appears to me to have given this and other club GAA projects an injection of professionalism and impetus with the assistance of the other club officers and leaders. On Wednesday night  there was a test drive for the show proper with Noel Collins of Elphin in the hot seat. Had I been a more observant card player I might have been more help to him but it was not too costly. Still it demonstrated the shows capacity to generate the requisite balance of entertainment and desire to show one’s best side. Hopefully the numbers will turn out for the event proper. Tickets are on sale for €15 with groups of five for €50.                 

Of Mice and Men

It was a rare unique privilege to have seen the Steinbeck’s play ‘Of Mice and Men’ in Carrick cinema on Thursday night. For those who might like to share the experience it is on again on Monday night next. The performances of both Chris O’Dowd and James Franco were spellbinding. The interval explanation of the American social backdrop to the work was enlightening. The vulnerability of Chris’s character Lenny must have been challenging to watch especially for those close to him. For Chris it is acid test endorsement of his acting qualities and demonstrates that he can transfer from ‘lighter’ roles.
If I were to nominate a favourite writer overall as opposed to individual books it would be Steinbeck. His best known work ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ is monumental with its themes of despair, journey, courage and hope. I remember years ago reading a lesser book known of Stenibeck’s which became one of my favourites ‘Travels With Charlee’, Charly being his dog.

Political Landscape

I have tried to avoid mentioning water this week but I have failed. There is the slight possibility of a Government fall on the issue. There are a few idioms which might be considered in these circumstances such as ‘Be careful what you wish for’. The landscape of political possibility is very uncertain and fragmented in this country and an early election could have chaotic consequences. A certain number of Independent candidates are fine but there must be a plimsoll line in that respect.