Thursday, April 28, 2016

Update 29th April

New York, New York

So good they named it twice. The city that never sleeps. The championship game involving Roscommon and New York on Sunday next reminded me of three great summers I spent on a J1 Visa in the States when a student. The summers were ’68, ’69 and ’70. I actually spent two of the summers in New York and the third in Philadelphia. It was early days for the J1 exodus and I travelled with my friend from Creggs, Jim Mulligan. Jim had been there in ’67 and had considerable back-up with three sisters in residence there.

It was June ’68 and interestingly the day before departure I was with my father and older brother cutting the turf. At the end of the day we walked out of the bog accompanied by a neighbour John Crehan. As we parted from John at his house gate he said to me ‘See you tomorrow Tony’ to which I replied ‘No John I am actually going to New York tomorrow’. This was a big surprise to John as going to the States was still a big adventure then. ‘Wait there a minute’ he said going into his house, returning and pressing a ten shilling note into my hand.

My memory is a bit confused as to whether it was Shannon or Dublin we left from. There was an issue with Jim’s ticket and the possibility of the plane being overbooked but Jim was not to be denied and I was much relieved when he appeared on board. It was a probably my first time on a plane but the atmosphere was like a subdued party.

On arrival at John F. Kennedy Airport in Queens the first viewing made a considerable impact especially in the sixties. One’s impressions of such airports were all taken from films or movies and Kennedy Airport lived up to all the images. The hustle, the bustle, the jostling crowd, the sheriff-style police with the holstered guns and the cacophony of differing languages and voices. It was all there and more, just as it said in the movies.  After clearing immigration and passport control it was through to the arrivals hall and the pleasure of seeing Jim’s three sisters there to welcome us. Apparently we had to get a larger ‘chequered’ taxi because of our numbers. In any event we arrived at our destination which was University Avenue off 183rd Street in the Bronx where a small reception party ensued.

The next day was, for me, local exploration since Jim had been there before. It takes some adapting to the idea that one is 3000 miles or so from home and all the securities involved there. On the corner of 183rd St. was a ‘shop’ /store with the letters A&P with which I was to become familiar. My first day dealing there, with my raw Irish accent, was a self-conscious experience.  In the same area was the local church ‘Nicholas and Tolentine’  and not far away a church of different kind ‘The Aqueduct Bar’ run by the Moynihan brothers from Kerry. As the summer progressed there were many bars with familiar names like ‘The Leitrim and Mayo Inns’ and so on.

After a couple of days getting the feel of things the search for work began.  Our first job was on a regular tour boat from Manhattan up the Hudson for perhaps forty miles or so. It was called the ‘Day Line’ (there is also a famous Circle Line tour of Manhattan) tour and a Roscommon man had the food and beverages concessions on the boat. My role was to attend to a ‘frankfurter’ kiosk. Sometimes the frankfurter might look a bit mouldy but a run on the rolling grill solved those reservations. The boat travelled under the impressive George Washington Bridge, past a place pronounced Pikipsie with a stop at West Point Military Academy. While it was ‘cool’ as they say today the dollars were not in it and we were there for a few dollars more. So I departed from my sailing days in short order. Construction was where the dollars were and I had some experience of that in London town. (To be continued I expect.)

Government Formation or Lack of It … 60 Days On

The present efforts to form a Government are just depressing and the politicians are digging a huge hole for themselves and their class. Their credibility is diminished by it all. 
The current ‘negotiations’ have resulted in the old political animosities and positions flourishing. How can trust be engendered by the bitterness and brinkmanship of the current ‘negotiations’?  Irish Water has become the rock on which all this is being played out. Obviously Fine Gael think that a single utility and charging for water with concessions is the way to go and I agree with that.
Now, whichever way this is dealt with, it is certain to leave a widespread legacy of resentment. One could hear that in remarks on Thursday morning radio from Leo Varadkar. As someone who actually paid my water bills what happens this group now? I believe that paying a reasonable amount for water is acceptable. I believe that a single utility for the provision of and maintenance of same is appropriate. To back-track on all that has been put in place, whether shoddily or not, is trying to change horses in mid-stream. I also listened to Roscommon East Galway T.D. Ml. Fitzmaurice in the background this am and the clich├ęs came ‘thick and fast’ such as ‘at the end of the day’, ‘the bottom line’, ‘water charges are dead in the water! , ‘being honest’,  ‘Lookit’ and ‘I’ll be very clear’. Alan Kelly had very strong words for the current policy developments calling them ‘environmental treason’. This seems to be the e-voting system (cost 50m) multiplied by X.

The posturing and attempts at points-scoring of the political negotiating groups as they walk towards their meeting venue in Trinity College or wherever is something to behold. 

My own view is that a minority Government, if put in place at all, will be short lived.  The question then is, will the result of another election be any clearer? 

And bending a Maureen Potter 'spake' to apply to politicians and another election ‘If you fall off that wall and break your leg don’t come running to me’. 

There are several critical issues which are not getting the attention they should as the hiatus continues such as: The constant of the health service with  the length of time  people have to wait for a multiplicity of procedures and also the position of housing provision for the homeless and those who wish to get on the ‘property ladder’, to name but two.
As Laurel used to say to Hardy ‘Another fine mess you’ve got me into’. 

The Continued Rise of Trump.

If one is depressed about all that is happening or not happening here I imagine that there are huge numbers of people in the United States becoming more than depressed about the rise of Donald Trump. He seems to be getting a broad vote from varied zones while at the same time alienating certain groups especially women. It will certainly be a big challenge for Hillary Clinton who I expect to win the Democratic nomination unless a thinking middle ground emerges to support her. What is it about the system in such a great country, in so many ways, that it ends up presenting its people with such a choice? Then what do I know either?    

The Roscommon Herald Centenary Supplement

Once again the Roscommon Herald has come up trumps with a fine supplement dealing with a particular area of interest. This time it deals with the Centenary of the Rising and Roscommon’s connections with it and the War of Independence which followed. An older touchstone document, which is a collector’s item for Roscommon people now, is that which was published by The Roscommon Herald in 1959 on the Centenary of the establishment of the paper in 1859. The paper has published a number of ‘supplements’ since then on sport and such and also on the papers 75th Anniversary.  All these form a collection of interesting snapshots of those events. By including a number of photographs of schools commemorating the Rising Centenary the current publication has added a contemporary link and I imagine the supplement will be a valued document into the future for those students and the many people pictured or whose forbears are mentioned therein.      

Some Sports References

Boyle GAA

Seniors win provides window of opportunity

Boyle 0. 14  Oran 1.9

Boyle by virtue of their necessary win over Oran on Sunday last maintain the possibility of retaining senior league status for next year. There are still very stiff hurdles to overcome with probably three points necessary from the remaining games. Boyle have played Pearse's (won)/Kilmore (lost)/Elphin (lost) Strokestown (lost) Oran (won) i.e. 2 won 3 lost. Teams to be played are Western Gaels/Roscommon Gaels/Clann na nGael/ St. Brigid’s.

The Boyle performance last Sunday was a big improvement on the second half against Strokestown. Donie Smith was a key player for Boyle on Sunday with 9 of Boyle’s tally. At half time the score stood at Oran 1.6 Boyle 0. 8. After an even first half Boyle dominated the second half and finished pretty strongly. The classic error of ‘giving away’ possession with misplaced passes still remains. It also has be said that Oran did not appear near as strong as the prospects coming down the track.  Again as I have mentioned last week Boyle are still missing key players and if they can get 99% of the team out together they should be a good side. It was good to see the return of Roch Hanmore and Conor McGowan back from injury and coming on last Sunday.
Boyle’s next big game is their first championship outing of the year and that is against Castlerea St. Kevin’s on the week end of the 7th/8th of May.  

Boyle Celtic’s Final League Game

As happened a couple of years ago the Sligo Leitrim Super League decider will come down the last game on Friday the 29th at 7.45 when Boyle Celtic take on Calry in Boyle. Celtic have ground out a couple of results this last week against Yeats and Manor to arrive at this point. It is some achievement that having drawn the first game they have gone the next 19 games winning all. The margin for error is so narrow with City just a shade behind. Apparently many games in this league have been ‘no shows’ and it looks as if the league is a creaking vehicle at this time and in urgent need of rejuvenation.   

Dublin Boss Kerry

It is rare to see Kerry being bossed at Croke Park. While the dismissal of Kerry’s Aidan O’Mahoney had some impact on the latter part of the game Dublin ended in full control. They were hugely impressive on Sunday against the one team which would be expected to challenge them in what was a great game of football. Dublin now have such an extended panel of fine players and a bit like Kilkenny a few years ago perhaps could field two intimidating teams. It is hard to envisage any team derailing their All-Ireland march again this year. Of course great sides have been beaten before and showed vulnerability that we did not anticipate but this team looks really special. 

Leicester City’s League Win

Sport is speckled with unlikely winners and that is the beauty of sport. This is what inspires teams and individuals to dream and very occasionally have the dream come through. Leicester will go down as one of the greatest sporting successes in the history of sport. I mentioned above being in New York in the late sixties. In 1969 New York’s  Shea Stadium was home to the New York Mets baseball team and they came from the basement to not only win their own league but win ‘The World Series’ which is the pinnacle of baseball. Even I got involved in their progress. They were labelled ‘The Amazing Mets’ or ‘The Miracle Mets’ and I have a book on their ’69 season sub-titled ‘The Year the Mets Lost Last Place’. This time it is the ‘Amazing Foxes of Leicester City’. They will surely be contenders for the sporting success story of the ages.    

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