Thursday, December 18, 2014

Update Thursday 18th December 2014

Christmas Memories

The first Christmas card arrived at the house on Wednesday the 10th of December. I was almost sure who the sender was before I opened it  as it is always the same person’s card which is the first to arrive each year. It was from an old Fuerty football colleague of decades ago. The two of us still follow the fortunes of our home club, he from London and I more discreetly from Boyle.
The arrival of Christmas cards has been part of the build-up and tradition which heralds the closeness of the season. In my youth there were family members living abroad, most of them in various parts of England. The cards and letters would arrive on cue some with welcome enclosures especially the ones from the U.S. Occasionally some family member would be home for Christmas and that added greatly to the pleasure of it all. It was counterbalanced of course by their departure a week or ten days later as it always is. Then the arrivals were met at the busy train station of Roscommon town. The crowds of young people home from England brightened the social scene and gave an extra vibrancy and economy. The men mainly from the building sites of London or Manchester with their shiny suits and brylcreem hair and the girls, many of them nurses, with their flared frocks and lacquered hair. There would be the odd time when the young men would crowd at the end of the church at midnight mass and being inebriated one of them might talk too loud or lose his footing and become a minor talking point over  Christmas Day. 

Preparations for Christmas Day began once December arrived and the tempo was raised after December the 8th. The mothers began making those lovely heavy Christmas cakes which were such a treat. Christmas trees were sourced in the local woods then being encouraged and the concertina decoration was again drawn across the kitchen with its welcoming open fire. Berried holly was spread on the window sashes and on top of presses and other vantage points. School holidays arrived and were greeted with a particular seasonal enthusiasm. Being farmers the tasks of the time continued. Cows had to be fed, cleaned out from and milked by hand. Cattle fed and sheep especially watched as lambing season then was a broad canvas of time. The storm lantern was used for the night-time inspection.
There were four boys in our house so there was a rough rota which was often the subject of debate! I did it yesterday and you are always asking me were regular exclamations of defence. Christmas is coming and the geese are getting fat. It was before the era of the turkey dinner and the goose was the bird of choice. Indeed sometimes a Christmas dinner bird would be posted to a family member in England. I wondered a little about it being edible after its journey and the time lapse. Inevitably the letter of thanks came recognising its arrival. Perhaps  they were just being  diplomatic. The geese were also the subject of prey to their mortal enemy the fox and very occasionally the results of his seasonal visit was a source of considerable upset especially to my mother.          

The arrival of the Christmas shopping in the house was a significant event as it included items that were then annual treats. As young children we studied this cache with enthusiasm as it was spread on the big ‘parlour’ table.    
While we only became aware incrementally of the reality, the Santa provision was also in train.  Dolls for the girls, comics, cap guns, a cowboy hat or pouch, a small train or some such items for the boys. (It was the era of the cowboy for us) These would be bulked up with more useful items like a school copy or pencils. It was a time also of the ‘lucky bag’ surprise. Once I felt that my older brother had done a bit better than I had and since I was up earlier I balanced the Santa offering more in my favour. This resulted in a subsequent interrogation which puzzled me. On Christmas Eve we listened closely to the radio regarding Santa’s final preparations and departure from the North Pole and ensured that he had some refreshments to tide him over from our house. I doubt if anyone of my generation would remember but for a couple of years Santa had a dilemma as one of his helpers wished to travel with him. This would require a bag of toys to be left behind so it was decided to bring the toys and see if the helper could be accommodated the following year, which we hoped he would. 
Christmas morning was one of frenzied joy as the toys were compared. The family then prepared for Mass in best attire where the atmosphere on exiting the church was of a happy, laughing, welcoming crowd. The dinner was of course special and the challenge with the desert of jelly and custard was in trying to have some left when my brothers had all  theirs eaten.  A while after it was time to have a bottle of lemonade and feel the fizz of it in your nose on first opening. The radio was the backdrop to the kitchen and if our cousins visited us later in the evening, from near Athleague, the ‘parlour’ also was in play on one of its rare occasions. A new deck of  cards were introduced the Joker dismissed and a serious game of twenty five ensued. The lit candles were checked from time to time to ensure basic safety. Those Christmas days of our youth are still vivid in the memory.
It is good to be able to say that much of what I have related above is still very much with us. The joy of Christmas day with its visitors, family solidarity and especially remembering our friends and relations abroad is still hugely strong. So I wish you all a great Christmas especially Damien and Ciaran Keenehan (congrats) in Oz, Killian with a K Egan and Johnny Lyons in Oz, Tadgh Egan, and Sean Mullaney in Kanada (!) Damien Dooley in the U.S.; Paddy Conlon in the Home Counties; John Harrington and Caoimhin Young in London;  Austin Beisty in N.Y., Darren Dockery in the Gulf, Sean Young and family Spain and A.N.Other everywhere. Also not forgetting the ladies.    
  (P.S. The best essays I have read on Christmas in Boyle have been from the pen of Christy Wynne and are well worth a reprint so maybe the R.H. might consider same).                      

Paddy McDermott R.I.P.

One of the great stalwarts of Boyle GAA, Paddy McDermott, passed away in the last week. Paddy gave a lifetime of service to the Club as a player and official. He was a member of the Junior Championship winning Boyle team of 1964. There was only Junior and Senior then. He also made a number of competitive appearances with Roscommon teams in the fifties. After finishing his playing career, Paddy performed the role of administrator, holding all of the key roles in Boyle Club over many decades. No task was too mundane for him. He was also a familiar face in the role of gate collector at many fixtures throughout the County. No one could be more conscientious in that role. The Club provided a guard of honour at Paddy’s removal on Sunday evening.
John Austin Beisty emailed me from New York on hearing of Paddy’s death, as follows; “I was saddened when Shane O'Dowd called to tell me that Paddy McDermott had passed away R.I.P.  All that remains from that GAA era would be Nerney, Bill Corcoran, Hal Cawley and I think Gerry Mullaney.  I always maintained that Paddy was the best clubman and player that Boyle had during that era.  Whenever fellows from other clubs would be talking about the Boyle team, invariably, the McDermott brothers- Paddy and Seamus would always be mentioned first. Paddy was in his prime in the fifties and deserved to be a regular on the Roscommon team but politics trumped ability in those days.  He was the last of the Marian Road McDermotts. They were all fine, decent and hard-working people- may they all rest in peace”.
The point he makes regarding Paddy’s ability was endorsed by a number of playing contemporaries I talked to over the week-end, Barry Feely, Bill McQuillan and Micheal Shivnan who referred to him as “A gentleman on the field and off the field”. Along with his football he was a huge community activist in ‘The Catholic Club’, ‘The Choir’ and ‘The Credit Union’ to mention but three.    

Brendan McQuillan R.I.P.

Sympathy also to the McQuillan family, Marian Road, on the death of Brendan. Brendan was an accomplished underage player with Boyle GAA Club  and was a valued member of the 1978 U 14 County Division ‘B’ winning team. Mary Martin Donagher of St. Mary’s College remembered him as a fine badminton player and recalled the fun and enjoyment with Brendan on board when badminton was a vibrant game in the College.  Ar dheis Dé go raibh a n-anamacha dilis.

GAA Annual Quiz

Arrangements are currently well under way for the Club’s annual social event of the year--the quiz which will be held in St Joseph’s Hall on Saturday night 27th December. This is always a most enjoyable social event where we can meet up with our former players and supporters who are home on holidays for the festive season. As an added bonus, it is intended to announce and present the various end of year awards. The quiz this year will start as early as possible after 8 and will conclude at say 10.45 enabling people to socialise at their leisure through the town.  

Gaelic Games in Roscommon 1990-2014

A  number of Boyle GAA people attended an understated (euphemism) launch of the above contribution of the Roscommon County GAA record on Saturday night the 13th last. The publication is an update on the History launched in 1990 which covered the period from 1889 to 1990. It was launched by the President of the GAA Liam O’Neill. In his short address Mister O’Neill emphasised one true and hugely important point regarding a practise which is too common especially at under-age games and that is the shouting at and criticism of young (often very young) players. He said that it is acknowledged that such criticism can greatly damage the confidence and self -esteem of a young person and it will take innumerable affirmative comments to redress the balance.  
There are many articles, photographs and references that are of particular interest to Boyle GAA supporters. The book is available from Boyle GAA Secretary Mary Clifford for €15 @ 086 8164541

Bright Mind

A star hurler visited a local national school to speak to the pupils. He explained that in achieving the skill levels that he had  he brought his hurley with him everywhere. “When I went down the field to bring in the cows I had the hurley clipping the thistles, when I went visiting my cousins, when I went to school, everywhere”.  At the end of his talk he asked if any boy had a question. Then a hand shot up. “Yes, what is your question?” asked the star. 
“Where is your hurley now?” came the response.   


I am sure that everybody will join me in expressing heartiest congratulations to Cian Smith and Michelle Garvin who announced their engagement in the last day or so.  

On that happy note ... Slán.

Forest View,
Co. Roscommon
Mob: 086/8163399

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Spirit of Boyle / Thousandaire Success / Christmas Lights / Book Launches and Shop Anniversaries / Grease / Cian Smith Day / Boyle GAA AGM Saturday the 13th

The Spirit of Boyle 

Thousandaire Success

I was just reflecting on the positive happenings in Boyle over the last few months and the list grew as I recalled them. It is a reflection on the efforts of so many people in the area and demonstrates the varied abilities, talents and commitment in the community. Some people might refer to the fact that very little happens in Boyle but that is just  not valid in various respects. 
Last Saturday night Boyle GAA had a tremendously successful event with their fundraiser ‘Who Wants to be a Thousandaire’. It was produced to a professional standard and really enjoyed by all who were present. The reward for the club was a great return of around €20,000. Few events can raise this in one fell swoop. I know that many levels of funding went into this in a scale from Major sponsors down to those who just bought a ticket. In fairness from what I have observed every effort has been made to advertise those who contributed to the event. The effort from many people and especially those who headed up and pushed the venture was magnificent. They deserve great credit. Running a Sports recreational club is a very expensive business. It can take in the region of €60,000 or more to run the club each year. Next Saturday at 5 pm we have the A.G.M. of Boyle GAA Club when those running costs will be on public view. The facilities at the Abbey Park are much admired and commented on by visiting clubs. There is still a substantial debt due on those developments that need annual repayments on top of the annual running costs of the three branches of the club that now exist, Ladies, Senior and Minor. So fundraising is an ongoing and challenging process 

Christmas Lights

On Friday night there was the official switching on of the revamped Christmas Lights of Boyle. The fundraising for this began, if I am not mistaken, with a very successful quiz last spring and was supplemented by business contributions.  The presentation of Friday was colourful  with a large crowd and great atmosphere. The word atmosphere could and might be used a number of times in the following paragraphs. The arrival of Santa, Matt Dowd’s Tullyboy train, the hot chocolate refreshments and novelties provided by the scouts and the subsequent market in King House made it a memorable night for all and especially the young people. And I suggest that the most pointed memories we have of Christmas are those of our childhood.

Scouts Celebrate 35th Anniversary

On Sunday December the 2nd I was in The Complex where Boyle Scouts celebrated 35 years of their present existence in Boyle. Again the effort was immense. I was a committee member of the Scouts a good while ago. I have great respect for the work being done by the leaders of this stand- out organisation in the town. It was the occasion of the Official Re-Opening and Blessing of Boyle Scout Den. There were a number of addresses from Trevor Conroy, Group Leader; Garrett Doyle, Chairperson; Wendy Power; and County commissioner, Charlie Gibbons. There were a number of presentations to and by the organisation. The Beirne family presented an original Scout shirt worn by Kevin Beirne from the 1933 Investiture when the Scouts were also a feature in Boyle. There was also the recognition of former Scout stalwart Tony Sweeney who passed away a year ago. Long serving leaders were also recognised. There was huge display of photographs on display. The event demonstrated another great effort from this fine movement and I wish it continued success.   

Book Launches and Shop Anniversaries

The variety in the mix of items I am referring to comes with the launch of two very different local records in November that of Barry Feely ‘Life in Stone’ and the Regan family’s ‘Through Christy’s Lens’.
A number of Boyle’s shops too celebrated notable Anniversaries.  Tawnytaskin too needs to be noted for its community activities. Also there was the opening of the fine F.C.A./L.D.F. exhibition in the army barracks. 


Boyle Musical in November was another huge success. It is interesting how the crowds emerge when the vibes go out that this a show ‘not to be missed’. The annual show continues the long tradition of Boyle as a town of musical talent  going back the decades. 

Chris O’Dowds  Honoured

Late October was dominated by a memorable few days as Chris O’Dowd returned to be  celebrated and honoured as a Freeman of Roscommon. Chris’s speech was another impressive and emotive one. I presume I have alerted people to an acceptance speech he made in New York around St. Patrick’s Day when he was awarded The Spirit of Ireland Award by the Irish community there. His presence and commitment to his native place displays an honesty and generosity that is striking. A few weeks ago his and co-writer Nick Murphy’s book  ‘Moone Boy the Blunder Years’ went on to win a national book award  in its category.  His status as an actor was endorsed for those who saw him in a cinematic presentation of his performance in the Broadway play, Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice and Men’. 

Cian Smith Day

Another great community response was on Saturday November the 8th in the Abbey Park when Cian Smith was honoured and supported with the goodwill of so many when he retired from playing football. While it was a day tinged with sadness and nostalgia it could also be said to have been a day the community could take pride in. The generosity on the day towards to the two causes benefitting; The Mayo/Roscommon Hospice and the Kyle Casey Fund; was fantastic. 

Those are  a selection of standout moments in the last couple of months. Sometimes people may say ‘sure there is not much happening in Boyle’ but the above contradicts that though it is hard to see them replicated.  
 All that and keeping the home fires burning, worrying about Ireland, and the multitude of items that go to form the totality of man’s and woman’s existence. 

Boyle GAA AGM Saturday the 13th

The most important meeting of Boyle GAA Club’s year takes place on Saturday evening next in the Club Centre at 5pm. Boyle GAA have been lucky in the quality and number of its officers in recent times especially. It is fair to say that it has been well served down the years also but the workload necessary to run a good club has increased incrementally with the years. The core officers today are: President, John Joe Nerney;  Vice President, Barry Feely; Chairman, Martin Dolan; Vice Chairperson, Kathleen Hanmore; Secretary, Mary Clifford; Ass. Secretary, Barry Lowe;  Treasurer,  Mary Smith; Insurance Officer, Ml. Furey;  Children’s Officer, Jan Flanagan; Registrar,  Cian Smith; Pitch Co-ordinator, Martin Purcell;  Lotto Co-ordinator, Aidan Lavin;  P.R.O. Mark O’Donohoe; Ass. P.R.O. Bernie Mullens. Then there are the officers of the ladies Club and the Minor Club plus those who have no specified role but are invariably there when called on. Sponsors of course are another  key element and Boyle have had great support, especially in recent years, in this area with loyal significant sponsorship. 
It has always been a challenge to fill officer positions and various vacancies. A most important vacancy now is that of Senior Team Manager. It seems as if there will not be a manager from within the club which is very regrettable. The expenses to an ‘outside’ manager can be substantial and at times questionably worthwhile.   


To Boyle Celtic who had a very impressive win in Dundalk on Sunday. They now play a Tipperary team, who are the actual 2013 winners of the F.A.I. Junior Cup, in the new year at home. 

Good Luck

To Sean Purcell and Brian Whelan on their business venture in Carrick-on-Shannon, the bar named ‘Percy Whelan’. Since Boyle people visit Carrick from time to time they might find their way to this venue especially over the coming festive season. In the seventies and eighties the roles were reversed with Carrick socialisers coming to Boyle!   

County GAA History Update

The update of the County GAA History is being launched in Hannon’s Hotel in Roscommon on Saturday at 8 pm. This volume covers the time span of from 1990 to the present and will be a valuable reference and record for the future. This is part of the Roscommon GAA’s 125th Commemoration of the founding of the Association in Boyle- for Roscommon- in 1889. The original book, printed in the Roscommon Herald Works under the supervision of Patsy Brennan, covering the period from 1889 to 1990, with which I was associated, has proved popular down the years and is now a collector’s item!    
Mick Rocke from Elphin club has also produced an update of their club history  printed by Purcell Print. It covers the years 1980-2014. It follows the ground-breaking first volume from Micheal Mulleady in 1980. 
If anyone was interested in having a go at doing a Boyle GAA History I have material which would be a fair help to them!

Organ Donation

I wish to endorse my old comrade and friend John McPhearson’s call for people to consider organ donation. John has been the beneficiary of  a noble gift in that regard. I have suggested in the past that while Donor Cards are ok they get mislaid, not carried and so on. Would there  be any merit in a ring or necklace attachment indicating that the bearer is a Donor? While I do not really know the full picture I am aware that Joe Brolly has been to the fore in the promotion of organ donation and set a great example himself in that respect.  

P.S. There was no response to my search for Roscommon GAA songs! 


Forest View,
Co. Roscommon
Mob: 086 816 3399

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Homeless in ... Dublin / ‘Ear to the Ground’ / Secondary Teachers Strike / Roscommon GAA Songs / Stephanie Roche Goal / Congratulations / Turtle Home for Christmas

Homeless in ... Dublin

As the water conflict takes a short break before next week’s protest in Dublin another issue has spiralled to the top of the agenda nationally but especially in the capital. Being homeless with all that entails is thankfully not something most of us have to contend with. A French socialist, Charles Peguy, once wrote that “Short of genius a rich man cannot imagine poverty”. 
• The death in a Dublin doorway of Jonathan Corrie has brought the issue to the fore. He was found at 8 am on Monday and removed, with little ceremony, at 10 am as recorded by Kate Holmquist in The Irish Times today.  Ironically this happened in Molesworth St. within view of the country’s Parliament. Of course he is not the first or will not be the last person to die in this way.
• The number of homeless continues to increase now into a strata of society that was possibly not endangered heretofore. The rising rents especially in Dublin, the lack of housing, the lack of the classic ‘bedsit’ due to recent constrictions and many other causes has led to this. Even in the famous Celtic Tiger years there were ‘homeless’ people on the streets of Dublin. At the turn of the 1900s’ Dublin was one of the worst cities in Europe in respect of tenements and overcrowding. Efforts to alleviate this needed the disasters of tenement collapse and deaths to prompt action by central authorities. Much of the resources of those central authorities now go towards the provision of ‘rental’ allowances and supplements. We have the crazy situation of families being accommodated in hotels! There are a number of voluntary agencies such as Focus Ireland who are trying to alleviate the trauma in this area. The figures suggest that there are 160 homeless individuals and 800 homeless families in Dublin. The problem is on such a scale that only Government intervention can alleviate it.
• Vincent Browne argued last night for the provision of basic shelter accommodation for people consigned to sleeping overnight on the streets. But the counter argument is always, apparently, it is not as simple as that, it is a complex issue, though it is a question of life –of a sort-and death.  One of the pictures of the past decade was one in which the famous Troika representatives first appeared in Dublin pictured as they walked past a person begging on the pavement. There has always been such people and apparently there always will. Is it as inevitable as that in this supposed Christian country? I am conscious that I am not very well qualified to write well or in a knowledgeable way on this subject but I felt that it is another indictment on Irish society  and deserved my two pence worth as the Christmas bells begin to jingle. 

‘Ear to the Ground’ Show

There are always little snippets that seem in such different relief to the paragraph above. From time to time I trip across the fine farming programme ‘Ear To The Ground’. The one on Thursday November 30th featured the preparation of animals for shows. The tender loving care that these animals got was something to behold. I suppose I should not have been surprised when I think of people who love their dogs and treat them so well. The programme dealt with the detail of the preparation pre show and of the grooming niceties of washing and blow-drying with the use of lacquer and spray paint.  Apparently there are people who make a good living preparing animals for these shows as one gentleman related. The final straw was the use of hair extensions to the tails of some animals!

Tuesday's Secondary Teachers Strike

The teachers unions went on strike for a day on Tuesday last and threaten to do so again in the new year. The issue is not pay this time but it is about changes to the Junior Certificate Examination and to how it is to be corrected with the allocation of 40% of a subject portfolio to teachers to assess their own students. Teachers cite their difficulties in doing this with attendant pressures in terms of knowing the children and their families too well, not letting themselves and their teaching qualities and their classes down by being severe and so on. While this may be done at third level there is a degree of anonymity there that does not occur locally. This of course is changing somewhat as many teachers avoid living in the town in which they work, a practise that also obtains with Gardai. Once the local teachers and Gardaí were very active members of the community in which they worked.
• Reading Colm O’Rourke’s assessment of the teacher union strategy in The Sunday Independent he wondered why they did not suggest that they  would just not go down the assessment road without the need for ‘strike’. He suggested that there many important educational issue to fight over in recent years especially pupil-teacher ratio, the withdrawal of career guidance hours, the severe cut to the wages of young teachers beginning their employment, the drastic reduction in promotional prospects for young teachers and the reduction to teachers’ pay and so. In terms of young teachers the unions, dominated by senior voices in my time, do not have a great track record of care of their interests. Then it was a system of posts for various school responsibilities which were carried out with a range of diligence from hero to zero. Teaching is a changing landscape so it is important that teachers choose the appropriate battleground and ally their interests with that of their students and the parents of those students.  

Roscommon GAA Songs

A lady from Frenchpark contacted me looking for a Roscommon GAA football song. She called it ‘A Roscommon Man’s Dream’. I had a few football songs some time ago but I think I gave them to someone who was collecting such songs. They were mostly referring to the exploits of the Roscommon teams of the forties. It was a tradition in counties and indeed also with clubs of yore to celebrate a great victory in song. If anyone is aware of or knows anything of the song above or any such songs they might contact me at 086 816 33 99.

Stephanie Roche Goal

The remarkable goal from Dublin soccer ladies player Stephanie Roche of Peamount Utd. is in the remaining three for FIFA’s soccer goal of the year. The other two goals are from current Manchester Utd. player Robin Van Persie of Netherlands in the World Cup and James Rodriguez of Real Madrid and Colombia. I imagine most people who follow such things have seen Stephanie’s  goal by now on U tube or wherever. Apparently the result rests on a public online vote.   


To the late Christy Regan's family on the publication of their book in memory of Boyle photographer Christy Regan. The turn-out on the night was testament to the regard Christy and the Regan family are held in by the Boyle community.
• Best Wishes to Boyle GAA on their major project on Saturday night next ‘Who Wants to be a Thousandaire’. The work they have done on the project deserves it being a huge success.
• Keep in mind the Boyle U 21 team play Clann na Gael in the county Semi-Final on Sunday in Knockcroghery. The delay in the running off of this competition has diluted the patience of some people who would usually be very supportive.    

A Soap Story

I saw somewhere that a number of North Korean people received a very strict sanction for watching the television programme EastEnders followed by the comment; ‘One would have thought that watching EastEnders was punishment enough ’ 

Turtle Home for Christmas

At the end of the news a couple of evenings ago there was this nice little story of the rescue and rehabilitation of a turtle and of its airline return to his more natural warm waters. While I have nothing against turtles and am pretty decent to and with animals in general it seemed incongruous in terms of what is happening in this country right now. Perhaps it had a platinum V.H.I. plan.


Forest View,
Co. Roscommon

Mob: 086/8163399