Thursday, December 15, 2016

Update 16th December

Launch of Roscommon GAA Book
      (Supporting Pieta House)

The Great Roscommon Team of the Seventies
As you can imagine I, with many more Roscommon supporters, would be very interested in a book which deals with a period of Roscommon GAA History. So thanks to Richard Canny we have a quite original one which was launched in the sumptuous surrounds of Kilronan Castle last Sunday night by Dermot Earley Jnr. ‘Roscommon Football Legends’ is ‘The Story of the Great Roscommon Team ‘77/’80’. It is not just a straight line narrative of the teams successes and disappointments during that period but it tries through the contributions of its players, opponents and supporters to get to heart and soul of that particular period from varied angles. Of course the progress of the team will be dealt with from the early seventies to becoming the power team in Connacht winning four Connacht finals in a row, contesting 5 All-Ireland Semi-Finals (’77 draw and replay), winning the League in ’79, doing a double over Kerry in Hyde Park in ’78 when winning the U 21 final and the Ceannáras Cup (that was a competition to help finance development of office structures at Croke Park). The book is laced with illustrations from teams and supporters, team lists, player profiles but most notably the deep feelings of many great days but also of the huge disappointments crowned by the defeat in 1980 in the All-Ireland Final to Kerry. It was unlucky that a great Roscommon team came up against probably the greatest Gaelic football team in the history of the game. That’s the hand that fate deals much of the time.

I have only begun to read the book since Sunday naturally enough so a snapshot of the contents shows the diversity of the contributions. They include the experiences of radio followers in London and the struggle to get decent reception by improvisation. It opens with an essay from Paul Healy, proprietor of the Roscommon People, titled; ‘Growing Up in the Company of Giants’. Liam Devine, columnist with the Roscommon Herald, provided the narrative outline of the various campaigns.
I wrote an essay for it also, beginning with the Connacht Final of July 15th 1979. It is easy to remember that date as I got married the previous day and we headed to Castlebar for the final!
There is a picture of Boyle National School students outside their school with their banner emblazoned ‘Roscommon are the Greatest’. Close but not fully accurate. Just for emphasis the picture turns up again on page 65.
The main thrust of my piece however was the journey to and especially home from that 1980 final. Patsy McGarry of The Irish Times has a piece  ‘Ballaghaderreen: where football can take away any little sense we had’. I’ve seen that happen regularly!
Martin Wynne from Boyle has his piece headed ‘The Heartbeat of Roscommon Football’. There are profiles/interviews with nearly every member of the team and what a team they were. Gay Sheeran in goals; a powerful full back line of Keegan, Lindsay and Connellan; Danny Murray the captain, a lovely footballer who drove forward with Donnellan and Fitzmaurice at half back; Earley the figurehead with the powerful Hayden in midfield.
The half forward line with probably the most talented Roscommon player I ever saw, Michael Finneran from Ballinagare; John O’Gara in the middle and Dooley from Pearses. At full forward was Tony Mac with his brother Eamon and the rock star of the team John ‘Jigger’ O’Connor in the corner. This was the a team which was to field without a substitute we all know well, the mercurial Gerry Emmett.  
There are profiles of most of them and also their manager Tom Heneghan who was a classmate of my own in Roscommon C.B.S.
Seamus Duke probably summed those years up best for us with his contributions headline, ‘A Truly Magical time for Roscommon Football’.

I was accompanied to the launch by Gerry Emmett, a substitute in ’80 and an All-Ireland U 21 winner in ’78 and John Kelly another U 21 winner, in ’66, and a great senior with Roscommon in the late sixties and early to mid -seventies. Phil Emmett was the nominated driver! At first it seemed as if there was only going to be a small group present but we were early. Soon it filled up as Gerry would extol the allegiance of the true supporters of North, North, Roscommon and the usual suspects were there of course. The Sheerans, Gay, Mary, Seamus and Stephen; (Dermot was marked absent) stalwarts Gerry Guihan, Alan Benson, Declan Killoran, Coxie as Emmett always referred to him with his partner and Sean Martin casting a knowing quiet eye on proceedings. A lady from Rooskey, Rita Bennett, was slightly apologising because she had missed one of the three county launches! The team was represented by Sheeran, Lindsay, Connellan and Emmett with apologies from O’Connor in Donegal. Rita Bennett assiduously did the rounds getting her autographs and I thought about the varied manifestations of Roscommon supporter, indeed county supporters everywhere. A gentleman who had written a poem, which is included on page 78, had driven up from Portlaoise for the occasion. There were the regular football heads there from various clubs which I have seen many times and nodded to down the years, occasionally getting their names only to forget them again when winter came. Also present was former County Board Secretary Tom Mullaney now of this parish as the old books used to announce. Tom was a big contributor and important motivator to the publication of the original Roscommon GAA County History in 1990 in which I was involved.        

Richard Canny’s book was launched by Dermot Earley Jnr. He spoke of his time as a boy when he and other members of the family accompanied their dad Dermot Snr. to training and games with Roscommon and the pull Roscommon had on them then and still has. Paddy Kenny gave a brief explanation of the work of Pieta House and the need for it.

Richard Canny and family were busy and they could be proud as it is a pretty big thing to produce a book of any kind. He dedicated his book to three people Dermot Earley; his father-in-law and to his own dad. Indeed a number of the memories relayed, by adult people now, included references to being at the matches then with their dad. I can empathise with that memory legacy.  
 You might consider looking up and purchasing the book for itself and for the cause it supports.   

**Proceeds of the book sales go to supporting the work of Pieta House. The books should be available at local outlets but if anyone has difficulty getting one they can do so by contacting me at 086 816 3399 as I have a number for sale, price €20.
There will be a Dublin ‘Launch’ of the book in the Palace Bar in central Dublin on Monday night. Apparently The Palace Bar is now a popular meeting place for young Roscommon people domiciled in the capital. So spread the word on that please.    

Aleppo, Syria; An Outpost of Hell on Earth
Why is it that ‘Man’s inhumanity to Man’ never ends and is constantly manifested in the wars, famines, prejudice that permeates this world of ours. In the recent past it has been Ethiopia, Rwanda,  Bosnia, Cambodia, Northern Ireland, Srebrenica, the Jewish Holocaust, the pogroms of Stalin in the 1930s’, the Turkish Armenian massacres and the endless list of similar atrocities. I saw the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Powers, nearly crack when talking about the crisis there and about the Russian delegate’s ‘lies’ as she saw them. (Miss Powers was born in Ireland of Irish parents but went with her mother to the U.S. aged nine. She has written on and is an expert in ‘genocide’ throughout the world.)
When I look at the pictures of Aleppo it reminds me of the Post-World War Two  pictures in the scale of the destruction.
I remember as a boy being in a school library and on a high shelf was a book of drawings by Dante, the subject being Hell. We as boys were forbidden to view it for its traumatic impact. It seems as if, for the seekers of power and influence, creating a hell on earth is a valid price to extract from those who oppose them. As this proceeds the world body that had been established in the aftermath of W.W.2 with such hope and possibility, the United Nations, meet in ‘emergency session’ on a regular basis on the Aleppo tragedy, wring their hands but the short cease fires end and the slaughtering resumes.   As the variation on the biblical saying goes;  'An eye for an eye leaves everybody blind’.   

St. Stephen’s Day Match Abbey Park
I got a post to tell me that Aaron Sharkey, Darren O Connor and Mark O’Donohoe are organising an over 30s’ V under 30's match on Stephen’s Day. These lads are trying to raise some ‘coin’ to enhance facilities and the environment of the gym with a donation going to Brothers of Charity from whatever proceeds accrue.

Well Done
To Mikey McGrath, a very visible presence in the Abbey Park, who represented Ireland recently in a soccer friendly v Northern Ireland for a second time as part of the Cerebral Palsy development squad. The result was a nil to nil draw.

Don’t mention the weather in case we alert the gods. We might get away with over the Christmas. I really felt I heard the jingle of an ice-cream van a few days ago and I certainly saw tables and chairs outside the ‘Open Table’ restaurant on the Crescent yesterday. Al Fresco dining in mid-December in Boyle now that is something for the brochure.    

Hello To
Michael and Maria Kelly and their family of Mario, Olivia baby and three soon. 
**I hope to gather the names that I’ve published here for one big shout in the middle of next week for the final blog for Christmas.

The Quiz
Boyle GAA Annual Quiz and Meet takes place on Wednesday Dec. 28th in the hall, time 7.30 for 7.45 finishing shortly after 10.

FBD Game in Boyle
Also another pretty significant occasion for the club takes place on January 8th at the Abbey Park when Roscommon begin their competitive season in the FBD League against Sligo I.T.

Railway Cup Sat. Carrick
On this Saturday Connacht, with quite a number of Roscommon players including Enda Smith of Boyle, take on Ulster in the Railway Cup Final in Carrick-on-Shannon at 2.

RTE Sports Awards Saturday 17th at 9pm.

Roscommon GAA Convention in Ballinameen Friday Night
The Roscommon GAA Convention is a significant event when it goes out to a club venue from Roscommon town. We had it in Boyle a number of times. I remember it being in St. Joseph’s Hall on a very snowy evening with Michael O’Callaghan in the Chair. That was in 1984. Was it later in The Forest Park Hotel? Anyway it was back to the hall in 2009. It is hard to believe that it is 7 years ago. Last year it was in Kilmore. It was very hard to actually find out in the media that it will be in Ballinameen on  Friday 16th. Even the Ballinameen GAA notes do not mention it. 

Sunday Independent Sports Attack
The slashing of Joe Brolly by The Sunday Independent columnist Tommy Conlon last Sunday was bizarre in its intensity. It was in response to Joe’s valid questioning of the GAA President’s suggestion that the national Flag and Anthem could be dispensed with as tokens of appeasement at some future time. Tommy Conlon would want to query his prescription.
Columnist Neil Francis will not be impressed either by the sympathetic suspension of England rugby captain, the karate kid, Dylan Hartley.

Sunday Independent’s Eamon Sweeney’s Critique on the RTE Sports Awards
Eamon Sweeney had a very critical look at the nominees for this year’s RTE’s Irish Sports Person of the Year awards and I agree with his analysis. He focuses mainly on the illogical omission of Gary O’Donovan and the relegation of his role in the Olympic silver win with his brother Paul. He talks of the restricted environment of GAA nominees in football, hurling, camogie and ladies football and the superior claims of Irish sports people who reach the heights against international opposition. He suggests a division in the awards between Irish National v Irish International achievements. I seem to remember the embarrassment of Henry Shevlin when he won the overall sports person award relegating international achievers. Eamon mentions the ‘senseless omission of McIlroy, Gary O’Donovan and Thomas Barr’. And rightly so, concluding with (if you vote) ‘vote for Paul O’Donovan you’ll be voting for Gary too’           

I paste to here the list of nominees;

“The nominees for the RTÉ Sport Awards Sportsperson of the Year in association with Sport Ireland were announced on RTÉ Radio One.

Voting is now open to the public to choose who they want to win the top gong ahead of the awards ceremony presented by Darragh Maloney on RTÉ One at 9pm on Saturday December 17.

The full list of nominees is;
1.         Seamus Callanan – The Sunday Game Hurler of the Year capped an incredible year by scoring 13 points to ensure Tipperary’s All Ireland victory.
2.         Eoghan Clifford – Claimed a road cycling Gold and a track cycling bronze at his first Paralympic Games
3.         Katie George Dunlevy & Eve McCrystal - Won Paralympic tandem cycling gold and silver medals
4.         Brian Fenton – Dublin’s midfield general continued his phenomenal record of being unbeaten in a Dublin jersey
5.         Carl Frampton – Became just the second ever Irishman ever to have held World Titles in two different weight classes
6.         Denise Gaule – Denise added the Camogie Player of the Year Award to her first O’Duffy Cup
7.         Jamie Heaslip – The World Rugby Player of the Year nominee was a colossus in Ireland’s victories over South Africa, New Zealand and Australia
8.         Daryl Horgan – Dundalk’s magic man was the outstanding player in a truly outstanding team
9.         Conor McGregor – The Notorious furthered his claim as Ireland’s most famous sportsman by stepping down a weight to claim his second UFC title
10.       Annalise Murphy – Annalise came back from her London 2012 heartbreak to claim an Olympic Sailing Silver Medal in Rio
11.       Paul O’Donovan – Added a World Championship Gold to the Olympic Silver he picked up with his brother (GARY) in Rio.
12.      Bríd  Stack – Bríd was named ladies footballer of the Year after picking up her 11th All Ireland medal.

You can vote online at or by text. Voting will close on Monday December 12, at 10am.  (Not the charges on those tv texts. t.c.)

Nominees and voting details for both the Team of the Year and Manager of the Year awards will be announced later.

Slan for now …..any comments etc.


Friday, December 9, 2016

Update 10th December

Boyle GAA AGM Sunday December 4th.

After the Annual AGM on Sunday a number of people met for the traditional post-meeting analysis. A ‘La na gClub’ game from May 2009 was referenced and it was suggested that I post again my account then of that game which I do here now. (I will refer to the AGM and other items that have backed up next week hopefully).  

(Wednesday, February 10, 2010)

La na gClub May 10th 2009 …..’Veterans’ V ‘Apprentice Boys’ game in the Abbey Park.

Experience of Veterans key to Historic Victory:

The ‘Veterans’ team, captained with great skill and guile, by Jnr. Smith and coached by the evergreen Sean Young saw off a determined challenge from the ‘Apprentice Boys’ during the ‘Blue Riband’ event at La na gClub. The Veterans employed some novel and effective tactics in pursuit of glory. These included the ‘weighting’ of the left wing by playing two contrasting players in that key strategic position, Kit O’Connor and ‘Lightening’ Michael Gilmartin, a scratch player. The quiet disguising of their players as umpires and linesmen created considerable confusion in the ‘Apprentice’ ranks with Coach Young making a Kamikaze intervention at one stage. Tom Kearney was coolness personified in goals, at one stage taking time batting the ball onto the upright before clearing effectively, always finding a team mate and so initiating those sweeping downfield attacks which became a feature of their play. The cleverness of John McLoughlin, at midfield, in pretending to go for the ball but waving it on to a better placed colleague was most interesting and visually, in a sort of ballet way, disarming. The scoring threat for the 'Veterans' came from the twin tubs (towers) up front Jnr. Smith and Bernard Shannon. Bernard had an intriguing duel with ‘Apprentice’ Conor Tivnan. The score of the game was a cracking Kevin O’Connor goal which sealed victory and this afforded the luxury of a penalty miss for the ‘Veterans’ as the ball boggled on the uneven ground. In an analysis of performances suffice to say that all contributed in their own unique way and as per pre-match coaching etc. Billy Hanmore, greying hair streaming in the wind of his slipstream as he confronted opposition raids, did well, Fergal O’Donnell scored one majestic point, Vinnie Flanagan was a rock at centre back, Pat Goldrick showed he was willing to learn from the tough tackling rugby he has seen recently in Croke Park, Aidan Lavin laid aside the demands of high office when called upon, like Obama going to Burger Queen. This demonstrates that the generals can also be formidable in ‘no man’s land’. Charlie Candon was flawless, towards the end, as referee, and, after the initial resistance, showed willingness to adapt to the advice of the ‘Veteran’ spokesmen on the interpretation of rules, of which there were a few. His initial reliance on rules reminded me of what Dominick Connolly of Fuerty said to me once: "The trouble with some young referees nowadays is that they don't seem to care who wins the game!"

Returning to the game; Stephen Bohan was the subject of some very robust tackling and the tapes are being reviewed to see if any further action will be taken. Paul Beirne and Gerry Cregg basically came from nowhere to create confusion. Paul was suitably attired for the sunshine. Paul Duignan, who cost so much on the transfer market earlier in the year, is adapting nicely and Brendan Tiernan really revels on these big occasions, though both of the latter missed the important team photograph. This may have to be reorganised at one of the functions. The Veterans led from start to finish by four points and their escape to victory was greeted with prolonged celebrations which demonstrated how much it all meant to these experienced players. (Indeed Martin Purcell was seen later proudly wearing the winner’s medal pinned to his lapel a la a GAA President). However the captain, Jnr. Smith and Vice-Captain Kit O’Connor, graciously, did visit the losing dressing room with words of encouragement and advice to the ‘Apprentices’ who were visibly shaken by the result.

A small group met afterwards in 'The Showboat Inn' and an ad hoc committee was formed to organise appropriate recognition for the achievement of the ‘Veterans’. The committee is conscious that some, though not all of the veterans, would not want an extravagant display in these straitened times. There is the possibility that members of the team will be visiting local schools and institutions, in the coming weeks, with the cup. Perhaps something like the 2006 All-Ireland winning minors. There may be a short trip through the town at some appropriate time to the sound of ‘Simply the Best’. Other possibilities include exhibition matches on other high profile days, acting as radio or T.V. analyists. Members will also be available for medal presentation ceremonies and such like (note: on a strict rota basis, as it a full panel effort, ‘one for all and all for one' kind of mantra) and of course they are now bound to be guests of honour at the Annual Dinner Dance. So we look forward to that. I know that people in New York, London and various Australian cities involved in GAA affairs read these notes religiously at mass times, so perhaps panel members might volunteer to do some promotional work, for the expansion of the games, in places like Dubai, Hong Kong, New York or Sydney. If this is a requirement all contacts are to be made through their accompanying liaison officer at:

T.K Whitaker Centenarian

The hugely important role of T. K. Whitaker in the establishment of a modern Ireland may have receded in recent times but that would be sad. Mister Whitaker has reached the venerable age of 100 today December the 8th.  An RTÉ television audience voted TK Whitaker “Irishman of the 20th Century” in 2001 ahead of such major figures as Michael Collins and I presume W.B. Yeats. People who are reading this can access the biographical background of Mister Whitaker for themselves I just give my slant on his role and the times in which he achieved what he did. Senior people today will have clear memories of the post war Ireland. We had avoided the war declaring ourselves ‘neutral’ generally because it was felt by the government of day that an alliance with G.B. then ‘occupying’ 6 counties would lead to potential chaos of opposition. When with the overall realisation of what the Nazi regime perpetuated in the Holocaust and other atrocities the morality of that stance stood starkly bare. Hindsight brings wisdom. Even if the Government of the day had they been more aware of the excesses of Nazism would they adopted a different policy? It is questionable.
The de Valera economic sentiment was that of an insular ‘self-sufficient’ state of ‘cosy homesteads’ protected by tariffs. This had emanated from the 30s’ and the Economic War with Britain involving Land Annuities and trade embargos
After the war most countries were impoverished with the exception of the United States which, despite the huge cost of the war and their decisive part in it, boomed economically for decades..
The U.S. post war helped rebuild Europe by forwarding finance under a scheme called ‘The Marshall Plan’. Ireland though not an ally of the allies got significant aid from this scheme also which was very generous indeed. The U.S. initiative to rebuild Europe was in large part to create a buffer to Communist expansion.
Ireland in the fifties was a bleak place. We may look at it with rose tinted glasses at times but when gauged on all the barometers of social provision we were in a bad place in terms of health, education, employment, industrial development and probably all the other markers. We complain today of some of those issues but we are for the most part a wealthy country with many progressive services.
I’ve wandered around the place here so back to T.K.
Mister Whitaker was appointed Secretary of the Department of Finance in 1956 and he established an economic plan for the development of the country. Eamon de Valera eventually stepped down, years late, from being Taoiseach and went to a large house in the Phoenix Park in a symbolic way. The new Taoiseach, Sean Lemass, though nearly withering in the waiting room was a progressive leader and formed a ‘dream team’ with Whitaker. Social programmes such as rural electrification, water schemes and eventually ‘free education’, opportunities for employment rather than the ‘boat’ to Holyhead, led to a new confidence emerging. While the EEC, especially Charles de Gaulle, resisted the inclusion of GB and by association Ireland, this was finally overcome when they both with Denmark joined the EEC in 1973. The sixties was a very good, bright, energetic, decade to be involved in and I enjoyed its many variations. All this was against the backdrop of the grey, bleak heart-breaking fifties.
The seventies are less memorable with strikes, inflation, depression and of course the terrible war in Northern Ireland. This continued until the mid-90s’ when the first stirrings of the ‘boom’ began.
I have said before that a small country like ours should be able to sort out the issues that obtain in a better and in more socially just way. It appears as if we have not got the guile or generosity of spirit to achieve that and the roller coaster will continue. Is there no TK Whitaker for our age?   

Connie Fallon

I’d like to endorse the tribute paid by John Mulligan to Connie Fallon in his piece in this week’s Roscommon Herald. Connie was a community worker and an advocate for social equality. She contributed generously with her time, effort and talents to her adopted town. This was recognised in a small way when a number of people gathered at the Community Information office in Elphin Street a short while ago to pay tribute to Connie and have a plaque symbol to remember her by, placed in the office. Connie was a founding member of the Community Information Centre in Boyle. In a very democratic and informal way anyone who wished to say a few words were welcome to do so. Present also were her husband Jack and son Oliver. It was one of those understated but heartfelt events laced with sincerity and respect for a generous woman. A tangible tribute that people could pay Connie and her colleagues is to use the Community Information Service when expertise or advice is needed in this world of forms and disguised entitlements. As John Mulligan alluded to ‘knowledge is power’ in getting those entitlements.   

Saint Vincent de Paul Collection This Weekend
Having referred to one group who help with information the activists in St. Vincent de Paul also contribute hugely to those in real need. They do this in a quiet most confidential way and their efforts are to applauded. Ireland is a great ‘community’  country. I do not know if there are other countries in which community groups contribute so much to the general well-being of society. This week-end we have a chance to contribute to St. Vincent de Paul and in the spirit of Christmas I am confident that many will.  

Greetings to
I had a couple of very positive communications from Matthew Scott recently. Mattie as he may be known to many of you has been resident in England for quite a while now but also spends a lot of time in sunny Portugal. So keep chipping away at the golf handicap Mattie.

Roscommon People and William Trevor
I see that Paul Healy, Editor of the Roscommon People, tapped into some information on William Trevor’s North Roscommon connections, in this blog, for last week’s People edition. Paul is a reader of William Trevor but wasn’t fully aware of the strong connections he had with Roscommon. Paul was also complimentary of the blog which is nice coming from a member of the ‘fourth estate’. My attitude to information, especially local knowledge, is that I like to share it as there is no dividend in not doing so. I am a big supporter of the people with local knowledge and we are blessed with having quite a number of them in the county to call on when searching for information on a variety of topics. While many of these are pretty well known one occasionally comes across a person who has a store of knowledge on a particular topic as I did recently with John McLoughlin when looking for a headstone in Assylinn old graveyard. I will return to this topic anon. 



Sunday, December 4, 2016

Update 4th December

The passing of Fidel Castro / What now for Cuba?

The death of the Cuban leader Fidel Castro aged 90 has really divided opinion with the Irish President, Michael D. Higgins, praising Castro’s contribution to his country in suggesting that he was “a giant among global leaders whose view was not only one of freedom for his people but for all of the oppressed and excluded peoples on the planet”. These sentiments provoked a huge reaction much of it negative and in total disagreement with Michael D’s sentiments. Castro was the leader of a Cuban Revolution in 1959 which deposed a military leader called Batista. Castro established a socialist state which was anathema to its close neighbour the United States. The foreign policy of the United States at that time and possibly still was governed by what was called the ‘Monroe Doctrine’ and the region was unequivocally seen as ‘within the sphere of influence’ of the U.S. In the Cuban Revolution Castro was supported by an iconic figure called Che Guevara who was actually born in Argentina and is said to have Irish ancestry i.e. Ennis in Clare! The famous portrait of Guevara was produced by the Irish artist Jim Fitzpatrick in 1968 based on a photograph by a famous photographer Korda.
The philosophy of Castro lead to huge concern in the United States and an invasion of Cuba by proxy took place at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba in 1961. By proxy I mean that it was carried out mainly by Cuban post -revolution exiles from Cuba in the U.S. and supported by the C.I.A. It was a mess of a failure from their point of view.
The opposition to the new regime by the U.S. led to Cuba becoming an ally of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union and the U.S. were then engaged in what was called the ‘Cold War’. Russia thought that Cuba presented and ideal location for placing missiles that would threaten the nearby U.S. mainland and thus give the Soviet Union a key bargaining tool. This very nearly led to a nuclear holocaust in October ’62 when the U.S demanded the dismantling by the Russians of their existing missiles on Cuba. For a number of days the world watched as the prospect of nuclear war grew by the day. It was the ultimate in brinkmanship. Eventually the Russians acceded to the demands of the U.S. and the catastrophe was avoided. This was during the presidency of John F. Kennedy with Nikita Khrushchev being the Soviet leader of the time. The United States placed an embargo on Cuba and it was only last spring that relations between the two countries improved significantly with the visit of President Obama to Cuba.
Fidel Castro had stepped down as the country’s leader a number of years ago and was succeeded by his brother Raul.

Cuba as Observed by a Boyle Visitor.

Cuba is a country I would like to visit but then there are many countries I would like to visit. I asked a friend who had visited Cuba in 2012 for his observations and the following are a few of those .

“It is very friendly place for the visitor and one of the safest countries I’ve ever been, by a distance. It’s a country of kinda crazy contradictions. You get doctors or engineers driving taxis as there is more money to made that way! We stayed in a series of Casa Particulars’ the equivalent of B.& B.s’ here I suppose. The food in restaurants was poor but in the Casas it was brilliant in volume and quality. There are no chains as in McDonald’s, Starbucks and so on. It is ironic that one of the country’s top sports is baseball. There are some anti-U.S. wall murals especially in the base area of the Revolution in Santa Clara. Internet is available only in hotels not in private houses. As with the traditional view old U.S. cars abound. Petrol is a commodity to be harvested as when our drivers regularly turned off engines going downhills. The streets of Havana have changed little since ’59. The great icons of achievement in the country are the health service and education both of which are free and accessible. A lot of the older people still were very pro Fidel Castro while the younger generation are not so. Raul Castro is not as popular as Fidel was. The more obvious hero is Che Guevara a cult figure especially around Santiago de Cuba.  
It is a spectacular country, the largest island in the Caribbean, with stunning beaches and a unique feel. Tourists pay in their currency whereas locals have their own. Of course the U.S. dollar and Euro are prized.            
The visitors you meet are Canadians, Italian some Irish and some from the U.S. Some of the Americans are just surveying the country on the expectation that the country will ‘open up’ soon after the death of Fidel Castro. Though Raul and his group may delay it but it seems only a matter of time before the dam will burst. Then there will be a flood of American investment and buying in Cuba which will radically change the country. So if one wanted to visit Cuba and get a flavour of it as a society frozen in time then they had better do so soon because the Americans are coming. There is an inaccessible zone where there is a U.S. base at Guantanamo where ‘terrorist’ prisoners are held not being the U.S. per se. This is a kind of present day Gulag  which is far from being an exemplary legacy to the area”.  

The passing of three very different people   

Joan Burke former Roscommon T.D. 
In Roscommon a former very popular T.D. Joan Burke of Tulsk passed away on Sunday last. She was born in February 1928 and became a T.D. in the summer of 1964 following the death of her husband James (Jimmy) Burke. Joan won the subsequent rugged by-election defeating Dr.Hugh Gibbons of Keadue and Fianna Fail. She repeated her win in the subsequent elections until she retired in the run up to the 1981 election. While she rarely contributed to debate in the Dail Chamber she was a very diligent, patient and effective advocate to the needs of her electorate, hence her consistent support at the ballot over her seventeen years.

Joe Lennon Down Football Star
The emergence of Down to win  two All-Irelands in ’60 and ’61 was a breakthrough in that it was the first time for the Sam McGuire Cup to brought in victory over the six county border. Joe Lennon was one the stars of an all-star team which included the McCartins, Doherty, Murphy, Mussen (Capt. in ’60), O’Neill and so on. They were like the Roscommon team of the forties. Growing up as a boy then I could name nearly all that Down team the. Joe Lennon was a teacher at Gormanstown College, County Meath and was a publisher of coaching books on Gaelic football. There are a number of former students of his around Boyle including I am nearly sure Lorcan and Tadgh Egan. He also visited our club here in Boyle on one occasion and is pictured with a young team in ‘the top field’ of St. Mary’s College with Sean Young and his acolytes. Joe went on to captain Down to a third victory in ’68. As Liam Devine noted in the Roscommon Herald this week he was a serious man and a serious footballer.

Andrew Sachs
Few people will instantly know who Andrew Sachs was but when you mention that he was the actor who played Manuel in Fawlty Towers then it will all be clear. Fawlty Towers is one of the great comedy shows in television history and Manuel was a very important element of that success. Manuel was the supposed Spanish waiter from Barcelona. When the series aired in Spain a city from a different country had to be dubbed in. His misadventures in Fawlty Towers and his bullying by the proprietor Basil Fawlty provided some of the magic television episodes. ‘I know nothing’ when covering for Basil who had gambled to his wife’s chagrin. Manuel’s fall-back position was always ‘I know nothing. I am from Barcelona’.  If you have not watched Fawlty Towers then you have missed a classic comedy series in which Andrew Sachs as Manuel was an integral part.  

Book Launches

Thomas J. Devine
I attended two book launches in the last week. The first one was on Sunday last in the lovely setting of St. George’s Heritage Centre in Carrick-on-Shannon. That was a book dealing with the 1917 Election in the Snows in North Roscommon which elected County Plunkett. The book focuses on the participation of Thomas J. Devine of St. Patrick’s Street, Boyle in that election. He has been the forgotten man of that historic event but that is now rectified by this book, by Rev. Tomás Flynn, which I am in the process of reading. Hopefully I will get back to it again soon. It’s been a busy week!

Christy Regan Photographs
Last Friday I attended the launch by the Regan family, of the second book of photographs by Christy Regan the wellknown and respected Boyle and Roscommon Herald photographer. A photograph is said to be better than a thousand words. The book includes pictures of many social events down the years, the Church fire of ’77, the Maureen O’Sullivan visit in ’88, Pleasure Grounds Soccer, Darts, retirements and visits by celebrities. It is a potpourri of the life of a rural area recorded in pictures through the years. The book was launched by a former student of mine and St. Mary’s, Harry Keaney now of Ocean FM in Sligo. Harry was/is a gentleman and a scholar who worked in the Roscommon Herald for a number of years from 1981 and thus got to know Christy very well. He thus gave us a clear and eloquent insight into working with Christy during that time. A descriptive line he used with regard to photography was; ‘When you photograph in colour you picture clothes but when you photograph in black and white you photograph the soul’.
A number of the pictures have name gaps in them as it would be a very big challenge to source them all before publication. Now that they are out there I am sure there are people who will be able to fill the gaps. I am a real advocate of having pictures named for future reference as some people will know. So if anyone wishes to forward me missing names I’d forward same to Mary.

St. Mary’s College/ Boyle Vocational School Staff Re-Union
As can be seen from the photograph on the home page of realboyle we had a very enjoyable get-together in King House on Thursday night last. It has contributed to my ‘late’ blog this week. King House is a fine venue for such a ‘party’ and Kieran Roddy formerly of Grange, now based in Sligo, provided an excellent food menu at a reasonable rate. Also as I’ve said before the staff at King House and especially the ‘Govenor’ there Tommy Egan were hugely supportive and could not have done more for us. I think this is my third such event there with that of Mrs. Cooney and May Morris. The added attraction was the opportunity of those who had not visited recently to view the splendid Mary McAleese collection. Well done to all involved.                        

Corofin Blitz St. Brigid’s
 What was expected to be an absorbing Connacht Club Final between St. Brigid’s and Corofin of Galway turned out to be a non-event in Carrick-on-Shannon on Sunday. Accepting that Corofin look an exceptional side and probable winners this year the collapse of St. Brigid’s was a puzzle. The pattern of the game was set from the beginning with Corofin creating a number of goal chances and then getting a cracking goal which suggested that this was not going to be St. Brigid’s day. Corofin played fine expansive, exhibition football and were given the freedom of the park to do so. They had a substantial lead at half time and when the expected early second half resurgence from Brigid’s did not materialise it was a stroll to the finish for the Galway champions. 
It is fair to say the St. Brigid’s are a team in transition and having swept up many of the under-age titles this summer they will in theory have the material to re-calibrate the side. However once a serious dip comes it is difficult to do that.
Recognising that Castlebar Mitchell’s ran Corofin close in the semi-final says that the gap at senior club level between the Roscommon title winners and that of Galway and Mayo has widened ominously from an overall county quality perspective. It is unlikely that the sparkling spring we (over) enjoyed this year will repeat itself in 2017. Still the darkest hours are said to be before the dawn. We haven’t long to wait now to see how that develops. The final score on Sunday Corofin 2.13 St. Brigid’s 0.05. Corofin now play the Gooch’s Dr. Croke's of Kerry in the semi-final in February.

Late Late Show Story
While I rarely watch the Late Late Show I was watching it last week-Nov. 25th- when a Norwegian lady married to an Irishman, told of her life with her totally disabled ‘child’ now aged 32. She told of her struggle to get the necessary supports from the health providers to avoid making her life a never ending struggle. This scenario is repeated in many and varied permutations throughout the country. The lady told her story with a disarming style of humour and stoicism. She talked of the constant repetitive and ‘boring’ nature of her life as a 24/7 carer for her ‘child’. An advocate for carers rights made the point of the state’s debt to the thousands of family carers throughout the country. The theme of supporting people with illness, disability or age in their own home was repeated. The ultimate way to do this is to support family carers of their own people. It is recognised that this is the preferred option, where practicable, of the vast majority of people. But they need to be supported in doing so. However as one  sees the expansion of the private homes model in recent decades in this country it is a contracting ideal.

Looking through  Saturday’s Irish Independent newspaper  

“103-year-old woman left waiting on trolley in hospital (Midland Regional Hospital Hospital, Tullamore) for 15 hours”. Certainly not the Cuban model (page 12)

Sarah Olney of the Liberal Democratic party in G.B. turned over a former huge 23,000 Conservative majority to win a by-election in London. The Lib-Dems finally have a raison deter as they said they would fight the next general election on the basis of ‘returning the U.K. to the EU!  ( p. 30)

I see Donald Trump has appointed as Defence Secretary, General James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis who once suggested that war was ‘a hoot’. All very re-assuring… the N.R.A. (p. 28)

Boyle GAA Senior AGM
Sunday at 5 a cauldron of debate and intrigue. The Minor AGM takes place on Tuesday night. A Junior version of same. The County AGM takes place this year in Ballinameen. Santa Claus is coming, Santa Claus is coming Santa Cl……   

Well Done To
Miss Anna McGrath from Boyle who gave an assured performance with her Lego architecture on the Late Late Show last night.

Greetings To
Eliabeth Hemi Taute (Sweeney) and son Cian in N.Z.
Christine Marnell daughter of Marie Paul also in New Zealand.


Friday, November 25, 2016

Update 26th November

The Writer William Trevor Dies
I wrote a paragraph in this blog just a year ago about the writer William Trevor and his connections to North Roscommon. William Trevor’s father, grandfather and great-grandfathers were all natives of Croghan. William Trevor is the ‘nom de plume’ for William Trevor Cox, who was born in Mitchelstown, Co. Cork in 1928 and associated most with Youghal. His great grandfather was Mark Cox and he lived at Knockroe later moving to the adjacent townland of Killapogue and a house called ‘Millbrook’.  The landlord family in the area then were the Lloyds. The fortunes of this family in the 19th and 20th century are recalled in many of Trevor’s ‘big house’ stories such as ‘The News from Ireland’. In early days many of the Cox family went to school in Bishop Hudson Grammar School in Elphin. Bill, Trevor’s father went to a business school in Dublin and started work with The Bank of Ireland in 1913. The job meant numerous relocations and William Trevor Cox was born in Mitchelstown in 1928. He referred to himself being ‘carted around the country’. He attended boarding school in St. Columba’s College Dublin and graduated from Trinity College in 1950. He emigrated to England in 1954 and settled in Devon. He made a reputation as a novelist, playwright and particularly as a short story writer. One of the elder statesmen of the Irish literary world, he is widely regarded as one of the greatest contemporary writers of short stories in the English language.

He has won the Whitbread Prize three times and has been nominated five times for the Booker Prize, more recently for his novel ‘Love and Summer’ (2009), which was also shortlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award in 2011. His name has also been mentioned in relation to the Nobel Prize in Literature.

One of his early stories was ‘The Ballroom of Romance’  became a well-known Irish film starring Brenda Fricker, Mick Lally and John Kavanagh. I became aware of William Trevor Cox’s link to the area around ten years ago. I  wrote to him and sent him a collections of items publicising the place of his ancestors, probably trying to sow the seed in him of re-visiting the area. He kindly responded thanking me for my contact and the material I sent. That letter of reply is ‘submerged’ at the moment. Hopefully it will re-surface as; ‘nothing gets lost but is only submerged’ in this house.

He was a friend of Kenneth and Ingrid Stewart of Carrick Road. He and Kenneth  were student colleagues being educated at St. Columba's College. Trevor went on to Trinity College from which he received a degree in history. He worked as a sculptor under the name Trevor Cox after his graduation from Trinity College, supplementing his income by teaching. He married Jane Ryan in 1952 and emigrated to Great Britain two years later and settled in Devon where he spent the rest of his life as a writer. Amongst his most regarded books are; ‘Mrs Eckdorf in O'Neill's Hotel’,  ‘The Story of Lucy Gault’ and  ‘Cheating at Canasta’

From his early days he maintained regular contact with Kenneth Stewart and his wife Ingrid through the years. I talked to Ingrid a number of years ago about Mister Trevor and also to a loyal employee of Trevor’s friend Kenneth Stewart, Rosemary O’Gara Carty on Wednesday. She talked of meeting Mister Trevor in The Royal Hotel when he was on a visit to Boyle. Perhaps it was the influence of his friend that encouraged Kenneth as Rosemary said he too loved to write. She also said that William Trevor had relations buried in Croghan.

So passes another great Irish writer and joins recent deaths of Friel, McGahern and Heaney with whom he is entitled to be talked of.  

“The Election of the Snows” –1917- Book Launch – next Sunday in Carrick-on-Shannon
While remembering 1916 has led to a light  industry of re-enactment, remembrance, commemoration and publication this particular book possibility interests me.  It deals with a very important event in that period which eventually led to the Independence of 26 counties from British rule. This was the by-election of spring 1917 which took place in North Roscommon. This followed the death of the Irish (Home Rule) Party M.P. James J. Kelly. Three candidates contested the vacated seat. They were George Noble Count Plunkett, father of the executed 1916 leader Joseph Mary Plunkett; Jasper Tully a former M.P. and Proprietor of the Roscommon Herald and Thomas J. Devine, Co. Cllr. of St. Patrick’s Street, Boyle. Thomas J. Devine is basically the forgotten man in the race. I have a thing about ‘forgotten’ men who should be more respected, regarded and better known.

The election is referred to as ‘The Election in the Snows’ due to the prevailing weather of the election period. A major figure in the election was a priest named Father Michael O’Flangan who supported Plunkett. There were many notable Sinn Fein members who came to Boyle also to work for Plunkett who won comfortably. The count, which took place in Boyle courthouse, was; Plunkett 3,022; Thomas J. Devine, 1, 708; Jasper Tully, 687. Plunkett afterwards declared that he would NOT go to a foreign parliament i.e. Westminster but just to Dublin and so became the foundation stone of the new Dail which emerged when Sinn Fein swept the Home Rule Party aside in the general election of 1918.

As you can see I am writing about Count Plunkett while I wanted to talk about Thomas J. Devine but I know little of him. I expect that will be rectified with the book on Mister Devine from Sunday. Thomas J. Devine was a County Councillor and obviously a member of the Home Rule Party, then led by John Redmond, in the early years of the 1900s’. He was in business in St. Patrick’s Street in what is now The Patrick’s Well. Prior to that it was the ‘Three Counties’ with Michael and Anne Gilmartin.

Before Michael Gilmartin acquired the premises it was owned by an iconic Boyle lady Agnes Josephine Devine Conlon. I actually ‘roomed’ there for a period in the early seventies. Aggie Devine was a daughter of Thomas J. Devine and spent some time in the U.S. in the 20s’ where she met with John McCormack. Aggie was a fine singer and was ever present in Boyle musical presentations and choirs. Her premises was both a grocery and bar. It was the classic, old style now-business format. Aggie loved to hum and sing and did so as she worked in her premises. I remember an incident where she told me that she had sent a Boyle publication to a relative in the U.S. as it featured her father but they returned it as it did not do him justice!

Aggie married a Mister Conlon who I am told was from the Ballyfarnon area and so the business became known as Devine-Conlon's.  Aggie was a great lady and I really admired her.  A brother of Aggie’s was Father Michael Devine who I remember as a highly regarded curate in Cloverhill. A brother Bertie Devine lived in Elphin Street and later on the Crescent. So his  family of Dermot, Michael, Willie and Sister Mary are the grandchildren of Thomas J.

After Sunday I hope to become more acquainted with Thomas J. Devine the forgotten man of the ‘Election in the snows’ 1917. 
(The Book will be launched by Sen. Michael McDowell on Sun., 27th Nov., 4pm, in St. George’s Heritage Centre and all are invited)

Connacht GAA Club Final;
What promises to be an enthralling encounter takes place on Sunday at 2 o’clock in Carrick-on-Shannon in the Connacht Final when St. Brigid’s, Roscommon’s kingpins, face the top Galway club Corofin. There is history between these two clubs as St. Brigid’s defeated Corofin in 2006 and 2011 in drama filled, tense and thrilling affairs.
Corofin feel that they have not done themselves justice in recent times and I am told they are really ‘up for’ this game. St. Brigid’s too have no lack of experience. It could be said that they are in a period of transition so we will see how that goes. These games are supposed to be held in the county ground of the entitled club.  Hyde Park is unavailable and St. Brigid’s own ground disqualified on the basis of it being a ‘home’ ground for the Roscommon club so Brigid’s nominated Carrick where they had an easy win over the Leitrim champions.
I am looking forward to this game at 2 and then it is on to history book launch talked of above!

Roscommon Farmer and ‘cyanide’
A Roscommon farmer made the news this week as he brought to a ‘Farm Hazardous Waste Collection Point’, a couple of weeks ago, a quantity of ‘cyanide’-4kg- that an expert suggested was enough to ‘kill most of the population of the county’. Apparently he had the stock for over forty years when he got it to ‘kill rabbits’.  Another chemical that was said to have been brought for safe disposal was one that contained components of ‘agent orange’ infamous for its use during the Vietnam War for defoliating the jungle areas of conflict. It is really staggering the things that will turn up in old barns and to a lesser extent old attics.

The Sligo Train Rumbles in the Ether
I saw on the front page of the Sligo Champion an article suggesting that the Dublin to Sligo train service could come under some sort of threat again in terms of cost management by Iarnrod Eireann. There was an even greater threat around twenty years ago when it was suggested that the service terminate in Longford. The combined Chambers of Commerce of Sligo, Boyle and Carrick on-Shannon and all the politicians in the area mounted a vigorous campaign and the line was retained and upgraded. I remember Frankie Feighan and Seamus Cooney of Boyle Chamber being to the fore in that. The train service to Dublin is a really great and necessary asset to this region and its continuation is sacrosanct. I cannot imagine that its downgrading would be even contemplated.  

St. Mary’s College Staff Re-Union
All staff who were, for any duration, engaged in service at St. Mary’s College and Boyle Vocational School  through the decades are welcome to attend a re-union function at King House on Thursday next December 1st. It is amazing the number of people who have passed through those schools as staff in those years. Most people have been contacted but if anyone wants to hear details you can contact me at    

Boyle GAA AGM Sunday Dec. 4th.     

Linda Shevlin’s  ‘ Radical Actions Seminar’

I got an email from Linda Shevlin regarding an event she is organising (curating) in King House on Friday December 2nd involving a number of differing facets. The title is that of ‘ Radical Actions Seminar’ plus. I imagine that if there was anyone interested and they googled that title they will get an outline of the seminar content.
I met Linda first, a few years ago, when she was involved in some artistic expo in the tower in Lough Key. Now there was a challenge. We met later as she and her partner were composing a project to take ‘All the way to……India’.

Writing that sentence reminds me of some lines by the Major in Fawlty Towers regarding a lady he was enamoured with long before ;

Major: ‘I must have been keen on her Fawlty I took her to see India’. 
Fawlty: ‘To see India Major?
Major: ‘Yes Fawlty, at the Oval.
I gave her my wallet to buy a programme and I haven’t seen her since’.
Fawlty: ‘I doubt she is still looking for you at the Oval Major’
Major: ‘Perhaps not.  Truman was bowling you see’

Sorry about that indulgent diversion...!!

King House, Boyle
Adm: €10 including lunch
BOOKINGS: 090 662 5824

‘This seminar will look at the legacy of revolution & activism in Ireland and the artists' role in shaping future states with speakers including Professor Luke Gibbons, artists Sarah Browne, Jesse Jones, Gareth Kennedy & Seamus Nolan, film maker Treasa O’Brien and photojournalist/videographer Paula Geraghty’.
There is also a screening of ‘Eat Your Children’ !!   

Abroad Roster
My abroad roster grows a little with greeting to the Mattimoe clan in England; Paddy Spellman and family in New York and other places in the U.S. Kate Gilmartin in Japan. I presume I mentioned Darren Dockery earlier.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Update 19th November

The Death of Leonard Cohen
Similar to answering the question as to one’s favourite writer is the question of favourite singer. It changes by times and mood swings. I suppose if I was to give a quick answer as to my favourite singers the short list would include Bob Dylan, the early Bob; The Beatles, Niall Young, Joan Baez, Bruce Springsteen, Hank Williams, Dolores Keane and Leonard Cohen. I was disappointed after being at concerts of Dylan and Niall Young. I was disappointed with myself for not making a better effort to see Bruce Springsteen  in Croke Park last summer. However there was one big positive in that I did go to hear Leonard Cohen with encouragement from a friend. The concert was in the grounds of Lissadell House north of Sligo town.
The suave, polished Cohen had been forced to return to touring as a result of being robbed by his manager of much of his wealth. He had performed at Dublin venues but Lissadell was just down the road. He had come as near as possible to me.
The setting of course was pretty unique not just in its landscape environment but the ghost of Yeats permeated that environment also. It was the last day of July 2010. If I remember correctly we made our way to the performance amphitheatre via the beach. When Leonard Cohen came on stage he quickly imbued the audience with his spirit. He announced that he hoped we would enjoy the concert and assured us that ‘we are going to give it our all’. He had wonderful musicians and backing singers which layered his performance. Once he was regarded as the ‘poet laureate of pessimism’ but now he seemed more optimistic and engaging. He is quoted as saying ‘The older I get, the surer I am that I am not running the show’. Indeed with the death of a muse of his and the inspiration for one of his great songs, Norwegian Marianne Mollestad, he suggested that she “Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine.”  So it transpired.
At Lissadell he coursed through the catalogue of iconic songs from Suzanne, Sisters of Mercy, Everybody Knows, Chelsea Hotel and

Bird on the Wire

Like a bird on the wire,
Like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free.
If I, if I have been unkind,
I hope that you can just let it go by.
If I, if I have been untrue
I hope you know it was never to you.

His encore song was the great hymn Hallelujah. He suggested that many of his songs were ‘muffled prayers’ but ‘So Long, Marianne’ is just a great if forlorn love song.

‘So long, Marianne, it's time that we began
to laugh and cry and cry and laugh about it all again’.

At Lissadell Leonard Cohen certainly reached out and touched his audience with his mind. It’s a fond and meaningful  memory.

Congratulations to Phil Emmett on being nominated ‘Lady Golfer of the Year’ in Carrick-on-Shannon Golf Club. It is suggested that her husband is thinking of taking up the position of  full time caddy for his achieving partner.

On a totally different theme the said Mister Emmett suggested that he has read more poetry in this blog than he did at secondary school. Many people remember fragments of poetry that they touched on in school, for much of their lives. Those fragments are awakened and expanded by references to them or tripping across them in adulthood. Poetry can of course be challenging but there is much of it accessible also. For some people their favourite book is a book of poetry such as a Seamus Heaney collection. One of Heaney’s poetry collection published in 1996 is called ‘The Spirit Level’. I think the title is really clever. For someone who wishes to return, as it were, to poetry I suggest that you search out an anthology such as ‘The Oxford Book of English Verse’ where a selection of the classic recognisable poems are to be found. There are anthologies dedicated to the work of Irish poets in English. Maybe a collection like ‘Favourite poems we learned at school’.  Actually, now that I think of it, the classic poetry book used by many in secondary schools, ‘Soundings’, is a great collection of poems of varying degrees of difficulty. The bonus with ‘Soundings’ is that you might be familiar with a selection of the poems already. Also you might have a copy in a box in the attic! If not it was re-published a short number of years ago and I am sure it can be sourced easily enough. The first stage for many people is overcoming their prejudice towards the medium of poetry as being too difficult, an echo of grey school days, forced feeding and so on. Yet the purest writing is poetry, the finest ideas and images with the most economical use of words. Leonard Cohen was a poet first and then a singer of his poems/songs.

Speaker of (Irish) House
I was kinda watching the news, on Thursday evening, over my shoulder as I do when an image came up from some Leinster House political coverage. It didn’t seem fully right. Still with modern television technology I was able to rewind, then forward in slow-mo, freeze, and there he was as large as life in the Ceann Comhairle’s seat our own Eugene Murphy T.D. I only bumped him in Boyle on Monday with Micheal Martin leader of Fianna Fail. Now he has been elevated to being Chairman of the Dail. Since the regular Ceann Comhairle is Sean Ó Fearghaíl I presume Eugene’s elevation is as a substitute. Still it is a pretty meteoric rise for him in such a short time. But if Trump and Farage can do it then why cannot a more benign likeable politician like Eugene make his own waves.     

The U.S. Election…… Epilogue
I imagine that my views on the U.S. election are pretty clear to regular readers of these paragraphs. I received an interesting email from a friend of mine who has been in the  U.S. going on thirty years. It shows a confusion with it all. (I have encouraged readers before to submit short pieces/letters for consideration to publish here. The aspiration has been that this is a community site/forum. So please do.)   

“Hi there Tony, just a few quick comments on the election.
First would be the great sense of relief that it is finally over. Everyone I know and talk to here are just fed up listening to it day in and night out.
As to the result it was a shock in some ways but I believe the comment of Bernie Sanders today that he was disappointed with the Democratic Party as a whole because they were not in touch with the common people. That goes a long way to describe what happened.
The campaign itself was the most negative childish and disgraceful show of everything that is wrong with politics here.
We watched three debates where not one positive policy item was even touched upon. Instead they both were delving into the past mistakes of the other side which just came across as dirty laundry and would make anyone ashamed that these two could be considered the best candidates that should be chosen out of the over 400 million people here.

As to the pollsters one would do well to remember how wrong the mainstream media were until you consider the money involved. The Donald has claimed he spent $120 million on the campaign of his own money there are rumours that the Democratic war chest was closer to $1 Billion. When you take into account that most of which was spent on media advertising you can see how the different stations were forced to become a part of the process
One of the facts that has emerged from this whole debacle is how the news media was manipulated by the both sides and as such have lost all credibility as independent agencies. Even on election night we had the mainstream stations calling it fairly even until about one thirty in the morning when Fox News were already claiming victory about an hour ahead of that and both sides were getting the news from each state at the same time .
And now the aftermath we have our president elect and the lunacy continues. They are riots/protests in the streets, you have Harvard professors telling their students that the mid-term exams are optional for students that may be upset with the outcome. And most of the big Ivy League schools were providing grief counselling for anyone effected by it . Mind you we would expect that these great institutions would be producing our future leaders so it does not bode well for us

As for Trump himself it is emerging that he is already starting to soften his tone a little regarding the main issues like getting rid of ‘Obama Care’. Now he is saying that certain parts of it make sense to keep and he will not dismiss it until he has a replacement system in place etc.
See, not to worry, he is becoming a politician already.
Good night Irene I’ll see you in my dreams”.

Hello To
In my list of Boyle people abroad, two weeks ago, I missed out on a number of people as I knew I would. So hi to Nicky in London, Niall Mc Cr. in the U.S. James Candon in Brussels, Joseph Moran in Sydney, Catriona Moran and family in Singapore, the boys in Vietnam, Kate Gilmartin Japan, Neil Nangle in Bahrain not Dubai, as I said last time. I’m sure there are many more and we would like to have a more complete list in the run up to Christmas!

Gaeilge Bheo
I see that the Roscommon Herald is making an effort to introduce some Irish in their paper this week (page 91). I’d like to try and improve my Irish or recover the capacity I once had with the language. The page is being written by Fergal Jennings who now lives near Frenchpark. I liked the idea of a short piece written in Irish and then translated into English which facilitates the meaning of some unfamiliar words. So I would disagree with not continuing that element of the page. Anyway it is an effort in what has always been a difficult task.

Congratulations to the Boyle U 12 Keenan Cup winning team and commiserations to the under 20 team on a close run thing.
I meant to congratulate the Abbey Community College’s traditional group on their recent success in Kerry which I do now. I presume it will get a local hearing sometime. Such exercises add a sparkle to school-going days.

I haven’t been there yet as I take up my annual stewarding duties tonight Friday night. I look forward to it as I always do. It is a great community effort and an antidote to the bleak winter weather which has just arrived after a considerable great reprieve.
I see Abbey Community College is also ‘putting on’ a musical next spring so that too will add to calendar of events. Perhaps it will act as starting block for another Chris O’Dowd.         

The Influence of Fox.
Barack Obama comment on U.S. T.V. show Bill Maher “If I watched Fox News regularly I wouldn’t vote for me either”.