Friday, May 27, 2016

Update 27th May

Summer days and the turf campaign

Of course the recurring topic of conversation consistently in this country is ‘the weather’. ‘Grand day, great day, lovely day. I hope it lasts. It looks as if it will for a few days anyway. Wouldn’t that be great. It makes such a difference and people can get so much work done especially the famers. It really dries up the land, maybe Hyde Park will become playable. There’s a great burst of growth these last few days. Yes you can see that with the lawns. Everything, everyplace, looks so well.  It’s still a bit cold though. The forecast is for rain tomorrow’.
Note to self: I must go see if the turf is cut and what the prospects are there. In the days of the Tuam beet factory there used to be what was called then ‘the beet campaign’, like one of those WW1 plans on the Western Front. For generations there has been ‘the turf campaign’. While some of us query whether it is worth the work and trouble it seems to be part of our DNA, ‘you can take the man out of the bog but not the bog out of the man’ and all that. I wrote an essay about the ‘turf cutting process of my youth’ here last year which may be out there in some cloud. That process is no  more. It’s all machinery nowadays. 
Anyway I checked out ‘the bog’ in the last few days and it is in pretty good shape. A good number of people have begun their turf saving ‘campaign’ and so as not to be paddy last I got stuck in. A few weeks ago it would have taken some imagination to envisage the trail of dust on the Tonroe Bog road but it has re-emerged as we rush to the front. We are a couple of weeks ahead of last year it seems so that is re-assuring. I once asked the following question in a Winter quiz in The Ceili House Bar quiz; ‘what product cannot be burned?’ The answer I was looking for was ‘asbestos’ but Mick Murphy proffered, ‘last summer’s turf’. The prospects look a bit brighter than that as of now. Things can change and maybe we are having our summer now! Pessimism.
Because of the summer campaigns and the long bright evenings when one needs to address the ‘gate and low wall painting’ it may lead to more truncated ‘Oblique Views’. Which might not be such a bad thing on two fronts.

The death of a Warrior of the West, Joe McDonagh aged 62.

I attended the funeral of Galway’s Joe McDonagh on Tuesday last. I got know Joe in his early days, and my latter days, at UCG in the early seventies. Father Liam Devine gives a good deal of detail regarding Joe life and achievements in his popular column in this week’s Roscommon Herald. He was a man of many talents. He was a fine hurler and won a famous All-Ireland  final with Galway in 1980 when he, after Joe Connolly’s rousing speech, added the rallying song ‘The West’s Awake’. I mentioned this event just a week or so ago here when talking of great post All-Ireland victory speeches. I did not know that Joe was ill then. ‘Coming events cast their shadows’ it is said. As well as being a fine hurler Joe was also a top footballer and it was in my association with the UCG Gaelic football team that I met him first. He was a member of both the college’s Sigerson Cup football team then as well as the Fitzgibbon hurling side. I met a number of that team on Tuesday including Oran’s and Roscommon’s footballer Tony Regan who gave decades of service to UCG as ‘Director of Sport’ there.
Joe McDonagh became a very young President of the Connacht Council and subsequently President of the GAA from 1997 to 2000. During his term as President he toured many schools and came to St. Joseph’s  B
Boys National School and St. Mary’s College in Boyle when President. He was a great advocate of Gaelic culture in terms of sport, language and in all its other facets. He was great speaker and a great personality, a really a larger than life character who endeared himself to the many people who got to know and admire him. The regard in which he was held was in evidence in the numbers of people who attended his funeral to Rahoon Cemetery in Galway City on Tuesday. May he rest in peace.

Two  Nonagenarians

If Joe McDonagh died a relatively young man I see that two men of widely differing life experiences are celebrating becoming ninety years of age. One is a Ballinlough, Roscommon man with connections to Boyle and the other is an English man who has a legacy in his interpretation of ‘the natural world’ might be regarded as akin to that of Shakespeare with the English language.
If you look up the name Michael Fitzmaurice you are swamped by entries for the T.D. Michael but long before the Glinsk man came to the attention of the public there was a gentleman from Ballinlough, Michael Fitzmaurice, married to a lady from Boyle, Attracta Drury, daughter of the postmaster who supported him in his Roscommon cause. The Michael I am speaking of has been at the core of the Dublin Roscommon Association activities for over sixty years. Dublin in the forties was a considerable distance from Roscommon and many older people would never have gone there. Anyway the Roscommon Association had its genesis in the organising of receptions for Roscommon teams in the forties. In September 2014, in the Gresham Hotel, I was at the 75th Anniversary of the first one which celebrated the 1939 All-Ireland minor victory. From 1939 on the Roscommon Association in Dublin supported the home county in many of its endeavours especially the senior teams appearances in the Croke Park. Michael Fitzmaurice was the dynamo with a dedicated committee that included Boyle’s Bill Corcoran, Mike Lennon from Strokestown and an irrepressible lady, Rita Dorr.
For over twenty years Michael was Editor of the Association’s Roscommon Annual Magazine which dealt with numerous facets of the county’s life cycle. These are now precious records of events and an important collection of local lore and history. So Michael Fitzmaurice 0f Ballinlough you have retained your Roscommon citizenship and kept the county’s flag flying for such a long time and we are indebted to you for your loyalty.

The Englishman I refer to is David Attenborough the great interpreter of the wonders of nature to at first a British audience and later a world audience. Beginning with ‘Life on Earth’ in 1979, Attenborough set about creating a body of work which became a benchmark of quality in wildlife film-making and influenced a generation of documentary film-makers. Attenborough's contribution to broadcasting and wildlife film-making has brought him international recognition. He has been called "the great communicator, the peerless educator" and "the greatest broadcaster of our time." His programmes are often cited as an example of what public service broadcasting should be. While the quality of his programmes are consistently superb there are numerous memorable episodes including his interaction with the gorilla group in Rwanda and in the Galápagos Islands with the tortoise ’Lonesome George’. Of course Mister Attenborough was the head of a team which included many gifted cameramen and with the advances in this technology so the quality and innovation of the filming became stunning. Attenborough and his teams have compiled a huge body of incredible work which will, I imagine, stand as a record of the natural world of our time long into the future.            

Brendan Howlin as the new leader of the Labour Party

The decimated Labour Party have a huge task on hand to try and recover from the last general election. I do not think that Joan Burton was really to blame for all that. She contributed but there were many contributions including Mister Howlin himself. His appointment is hardly refreshing for a party in deep crisis. It is something that not one of those who could, wished to nominate the other contender for the leadership, Alan Kelly. It is ironic that Alan Kelly’s best Dail contribution was in defence of water charges and Irish Water Inc. as he was about to be beached by his ‘colleagues’. Labour is perhaps the oldest party in the state and it is needs a miracle now to reinstate itself as a party of numbers and consequence.


It appears as if the Brexit vote is going down to the wire. While I would have little competence to comment on the economic implications for such a result one haunting consequence could/would emerge. With the U.K. including Northern Ireland leaving the EU the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic could return in a number of its manifestations. This would also reintroduce the re-establishment of a presently dissolving wound and could reignite the sickness of the violence we have experienced for decades.

Garda Documentary

While the Gardaí  are under pressure at various levels a recent two part television programme on the work of the Dublin City Central Gardai in their fight against drug dealing was enlightening. The programme highlighted the almost impossible task facing the police. I have walked in Dublin streets and while I have not seen any ‘dealing’ per se I have seen  its consequences. I used to wonder how so much of this was so obvious in the centre of the city and why it could not be eradicated. The programme demonstrated the circular nature of the culture of drug use and abuse. Apparently many of the drug treatment clinics are located close to the city centre. These attract hundreds of drug users there each day which in turn attracts drug suppliers. The police do what they can and catch some dealers which forces other dealers to relocate to a different area and it all becomes a game of cat and mouse, an ongoing carousel with no end or resolution in sight. The term being used to describe this eternal campaign is ‘fire-fighting’. On top of this currently is a most violent gang war as represented by the recent unbelievable Regency Hotel attack and the morning shooting dead of a person in open view of the public. It’s a barely credible and a crazy scenario.             

Roscommon’s comfortable win over Leitrim

Despite taking twenty minutes or so to get going Roscommon ran out easy winners against Leitrim on Sunday last. Roscommon are lucky to have a regular gradient in terms of the quality of opposing teams though New York bucked that suggestion to a point. This was one of the poorest Leitrim teams that I have seen. After Mulligan  and Wrynne it is hard to nominate another Leitrim player who stood out. For Roscommon Donie Shine’s positioning at corner forward worked well and for the goal the wave of support that materialised was a throwback to the displays of earlier in the year. We all recognise the fact that Roscommon have numerous injuries which make things difficult especially with midfield. McDermott, did pretty well in the first half at midfield an area in which Leitrim were competitive and the Roscommon full back line was again impressive though it plays like a half back line. Which is ok if you can get away with it. In the next game against Sligo the memory of last year must be a huge motivating factor from the off. They have to be a good deal better than Leitrim. So on home soil in Hyde Park there is a sense, if an uneasy one, that we should scale the Sligo hurdle this time- forewarned is forearmed and all that-to reach the Connacht final probably against Mayo.  

PS. The €25 entrance charge which many people had to pay was too steep in my view and while it might have been just €15 the top limit should have been €20 for  a Connacht quarter final.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Update 20th May

A Tangled Web with ‘Politics as ... Unusual’

“Oh what a tangled web we weave
When first we practice to deceive”
(by Sir Walter Scott not the Bard)

The early days of the Dail have been caught up in a real tangle as a number of contradictions and suggestions have emerged surrounding the recent O’Higgins report on the McCabe whistle-blower controversy. In the Dail it led to an early impressive contribution by Independent TD Claire Daly and a very lame response from the Minister for Justice and Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald. Of course embedded institutions have little or no empathy for ‘whistle-blowers’ and Sgt. McCabe has been through the ringer as a consequence of his stance over the years.
In the Dail the new arrangements whereby Fianna Fail acquiesce with the Government on a range of issues has seen them hobbled on this controversy. It is a clear example of how Fianna Fail may not really be fulfilling their role as ‘opposition’ which they claim, in their dual world. It is a tightrope and could, as was envisaged in the lead up to their ‘understanding’ with Fine Gael, concede the ‘opposition role’ to Sinn Fein and the more radical Independents with Fianna Fail’s relevance being side-lined. Fianna Fail could have a real identity crisis in all of this. 

Government Ministers

With the formation of every new Government it takes considerable time for one to get grips with who are the main players or prime ministers. (They also provide a regular source of quiz questions). Anyway I’ve done some excavating and this, for your convenience, is the result. Now it regularly puzzles me that an individual can be given such major responsibility without having any qualifications in an area and that they can almost immediately become authorities in their allocated field. I heard it suggested that in Canada a prospective minister has to have some expertise in his nominated ministry. Are politicians immediately endowed with the spirit and inspiration of a heavenly power that they can be so transformed? Personally if I was ever appointed to a ministry (!) I could eliminate most departments on the basis of ‘not a clue’.  Then you have the curious situation where Leo Varadkar a doctor and outgoing Minster for Health is redeployed to a totally different portfolio and Simon Harris, a terrier of a politician, takes over health and is out on the plinth the following day announcing ‘ten year plans’ . Was Shane Ross ever engaged in sport? Does Heather Humphreys speak gaeilge? The appointment of Mary Mitchell O’Connor as Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation may revive images of her ‘innovation’ in driving down the steps of Leinster House as a young TD in 2011. Finian McGrath has a very broad ‘brief’ and has hit a number of fences in his first days. He will need to reduce the nicotine consumption and be a good boy on water charges. The picture of Finian beside Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald as she struggles with questions on the Garda Commissioner’s role in the McCabe controversy is a sight to behold. ‘For what doth it profit a man to gain…’  and all that.

Taoiseach and Minister of Defence: Enda Kenny
Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality: Frances Fitzgerald
Minister for Finance: Michael Noonan
Minister for Education and Skills: Richard Bruton

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government: Simon Coveney

Minister for Social Protection: Leo Varadkar

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade: Charles Flanagan

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform: Paschal Donohoe

Minister Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts & the Gaeltacht: (A real mix there - the poor Arts) Heather Humphreys

Minister for Health

Simon Harris

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Michael Creed

Minister for Communications, Climate Change and Natural Resources

Denis Naughten

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport

Shane Ross

Mary Mitchell O’Connor
Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

Katherine Zappone
Minister for Children and Youth Affairs

Ministers of State
Government Chief Whip and Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach  Regina Doherty.

Minister of State at the Departments of the Taoiseach and Defence with special responsibility for Defence
Paul Kehoe.
Minister of State at the Departments of Social Protection, Justice & Equality and Health with special responsibility for Disability Issues Finnian McGrath

(A new group of Junior Ministers has been announced this Thursday evening but I feel that you have enough homework with the above.)

The cost of Motor Insurance
I’ve mentioned this previously and of course I have only a basic layman’s or consumer’s knowledge of the machinations of the business. As all who seek car insurance know to their cost insurance premiums are rocketing. Apparently premiums have increased by 30% in the last year.
In listening to the Sean O’Rourke Radio programme with a representative of the Insurance industry a number the headline reasons for this issues were suggested as follows:
1.     Apparently €50 of each premium goes as a levy to pay for the collapse of an insurance company called  Setanta which was apparently registered in Malta. 
2.     The high level of awards in the courts. (In a different context altogether we saw a recent generous award to a lady who tripped on a Wicklow walkway.) Of course courts are a law unto themselves in these matters. There is little consistency in awards.
3.     Fraudulent claims are said to add €30 to our premiums. Even taking the €50 and that €30 they make up just a fraction of current quotes.
4.     Motor insurance companies claim a loss in the area of car insurance in recent years.
5.     Legal costs add significantly to the cost of claims. 
6.     Apparently the vast majority of claims are for ‘whiplash’ injuries.
7.     There is an ‘Injuries Board’ to try and avoid litigation but apparently 40% of these awards are rejected and then go to the courts.

The high costs of motor insurance mean that many more drivers do not take out insurance at all which is a real danger. There is a real issue here with policing this particular crime.

There were many and varied calls to the programme on the difficulties of people getting insurance and its spiralling costs. One group who find it really difficult  are young drivers and those seeking insurance for the first time. Motor insurance is just another one of the impossible financial challenges being heaped on young people/young couples in these years as they start laying the foundations for their own lives.

Refuse Charges and Changes

From July 1st a system of ‘pay by weight’ is being introduced by refuse companies by regulation. There seems to be a change emerging regarding the recycling element or bin. I imagine there would be a concern about people just dumping litter if the costs get too prohibitive. At the moment people pay by having particular refuse bags or bin tags/labels. Yellow tags for refuse and blue for recycling. In Boyle we have an excellent Council amenity for recycling which is open on Monday, Friday and Saturday with what might be called a nominal cost. It surprises me that people pay for recycling collection with this amenity in place. Apparently Ireland has developed a good record for recycling being around 34%.
It will be interesting to see what the costs of the ‘pay by weight’ will be. New tags are now being phased out which will potentially cause some issues of supply in the changeover through June. There are also rumours suggesting that the collection contractors have not the weighing technology in place.
I perform the humble task of ‘putting out the bins’ at the GAA’s Abbey Park and trying to develop a considered culture to the litter- in- bins aspect there, is problematic. 

(As a footnote while the vast majority of people in this area are very compliant with their attitude to ‘litter’ one comes across occasional examples of littering as I did during the week  on the road up to the Assylinn).  

Arigna Mining Experience

It is great to see that Arigna Mining Experience has been nominated at number 8 in the list of 10 recommended sites for visitors to Ireland. I have been to Arigna a number of times and brought friends there from time to time and I have suggested it often to visitors. It is a unique experience and a raw insight into the kind of slavery that the miners of that region had to endure in their work environment. All this is effectively on show in the museum. Also on a clear bright day the panoramic view from the site is just spectacular. So once more I recommend you consider visiting Arigna Mining Experience a jewel in the bracelet of varied and impressive sites we are lucky to have on our doorsteps.

Green Party Meeting

I saw a notice in the Roscommon Herald, page 12, for a meeting which is proposing to form a branch of the Green Party in the area. It takes place on  Saturday May 21st in The Bush Hotel at 12noon.  Also in the Roscommon Herald this week-on page 15- there is a short piece outlining the recruitment of significant numbers to the army. 

Dublin/Monaghan Bombings May 17, 1974.

One of the major outrages of ‘The Troubles’ were the bombings in Dublin and Monaghan in May, 1974. The bombings were a series of co-ordinated terrorist attacks in Dublin and Monaghan. Three bombs exploded in Dublin during Friday evening rush hour and a fourth exploded in Monaghan almost ninety minutes later. 34 people were killed, 27 in Dublin, and 300 injured. Those regarded as responsible were the UVF but nobody has ever been brought to justice for the murders and the whole episode is shrouded in mystery. If you walk from Connolly Railway Station up a dingy Talbot Street there is a stone memorial there with the names of those murdered inscribed on it.
I knew someone who was working in Dublin and passed the location of the Talbot street bomb just minutes before it exploded on their way to Connolly Station. Then while on the train seeing shocked passengers arrive a little later. As the Sligo bound train called to the various stations on route there were many anxious people on the platforms, including Boyle, waiting and hoping to see family members arrive home safely.

Sports Review

Roscommon v Leitrim on Sunday in Carrick-on-Shannon.

After the shock of Roscommon’s near defeat in New York it is on to Carrick-on-Shannon on Sunday next in search of rehabilitation. I heard it suggested that Roscommon has not lost in Carrick to Leitrim in decades. Correct me if I am wrong with that. The resilience of the Roscommon team and of the supporters is being tested again right now. Still fixtures against Leitrim and, if successful, against Sligo ‘should’ provide the launch pads for a Connacht final appearance. Of course that was part of the thought process last year and we remember what happened then. Roscommon are really having serious issues with injuries at this time. There seems to a be a plague of injuries widespread in clubs, counties and across sports. I presume the causative reasons for this are being investigated.
The optimism from the wins over Kerry, Cork and especially Donegal has been dampened especially by the New York escape. I have heard this question debated; Would Roscommon have a ‘back door’ into the championship if they had lost in New York?
Leitrim are said to be not the force they can be but they have regularly given Roscommon a real test. While we in Roscommon bemoan our prospects and disappointments one has to feel for the regular supporters of Leitrim and such counties who very rarely progress or can only dream but are still sustained by those dreams. I wonder will the Leicester achievement  be used as a motivational tool in these cases this summer. There was considerable satisfaction in Offaly after their first Leinster first round championship win in nine years on Sunday last. Those of us who were in Hyde Park for Leitrim’s second ever Connacht win in 1994 will remember their dream come through joy that day.
So Roscommon are expected to win on Sunday and all be watching the performance for a renewal of bright shoots.  

County U 16 Panel
I was disappointed to see that in a picture of 36 players on the county U 16 panel there was not one player from Boyle present.    

The passing of ‘Himself’
One of Ireland’s greatest sportsmen Christy O’Connor Snr. has passed away aged 91. While I have little contact with golf I was as a teenager very aware of ‘Himself’ when sport seemed to be much purer than it is today. Galway man Christy’s nephew Christy Jnr, another golfing hero, died just four months ago aged 67. The 10-times Ryder Cup player died at the weekend, aged 91.

In 2009, O'Connor Snr. became only the second Irishman to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame, following the amateur Joe Carr two years earlier.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Update 13th May

The play ‘Pleasure Ground’.
I admit to a connection to the principals involved in the play ‘Pleasure Ground’ in recommending you might consider attending it on Saturday night, May 14th, in St. Joseph’s Hall at 8.30.   

Roscommon Political Representation
Congratulations to Deputy Denis Naughten on his appointment as Minister for Communications/Climate Change/Natural Resources. Denis of course is recognised as a very able politician and in a GAA sense he has arrived at this high position ‘through the back door’. It is probably a repatriation to his original roots of Fine Gael and that will make many of his supporters happy that they can return ‘home’ from the twilight zone of being supporters of an ‘independent’ T.D. Of course Denis will courteously deny this for a requisite period. It is interesting that is a big ministry representation from the group who once attempted a ‘heave’ against Enda Kenny. Such are the ways of politics.
Michael Fitzmaurice was obviously close to some post, perhaps a ‘super junior’ ministry, but just missed out because of some intractable issues relating to the turf campaign. It must have engendered some agonising to be so close to such a historic prize which would cap his meteoric rise in politics.   
Old hand now, Terry Leyden retained his Senate seat for another term. Terry loves ‘politics light’ as practised in the Senate and has made a nice career of it. 
Maura Hopkins did very well to top the poll in her panel constituency and so keep her in ‘the game’. It will be interesting to see who Fine Gael will nominate to replace Maura in the Council.
I must admit that I know little of Fianna Fail Senator Dr Keith Swanick. Keith is originally from Castlerea now lives in County Mayo. So Roscommon/East Galway now has three T.Ds. and three Senators.
Dr. Martin Daly did not-obviously- get elected on the NUI panel where three high profile names came to the fore in Michael McDowell, Ronan Mullens and Alice-Mary Higgins daughter of the President Michael D. Oddly I got only one card canvassing my vote and that came from Barry Johnstone who lives in London.

The Good News Story of Lynne Ruane
In the Trinity constituency which elects three senators, there was one of the really good stories with the achievement of Lynne Ruane who came from humble disadvantaged origins in Dublin city, had a difficult childhood but fought back. She was admitted to Trinity as part of an ‘access programme’ and became President of the students’ union there. She has been visible on TV discussion programmes in the last year or so and fought off high profile opposition displacing Sean Barrett as the third Trinity Senator with David Norris and Ivana Bacik.

That time of Year
Most people have a particular time of year that they favour. Perhaps May is one of those. As is evidenced from Sean’s pics on the ‘home page of realboyle' May presents stunning pictures as nature begins to flourish and the colours bloom. Amongst those pictures presented are the annual Derreen Wood bluebells which never looked better, the greening of the trees in an adolescent kind of way as represented by the Forest Park entry picture and the lovely cherry blossoms which always present such photographic opportunities. Then there are as Patrick Kavanagh wrote  “Dandelions growing on headlands, showing/Their unloved hearts to everyone”  

‘I Saw the Light’ - Film.
I visited Carrick Cineplex on Tuesday night to see the film ‘I saw the Light’ because I suppose my music listening journey began to become more circumspect in the mid-sixties when I became the owner of small record player. While The Beatles dominated as they still do I bought an LP titled ‘Hank Williams’ Greatest Hits’. While many people will not be familiar with Hank Williams they will certainly know many of the songs he wrote. Amongst them are ‘Take These Chains from my Heart’, ‘Your Cheatin’ Heart’, ‘I Saw the Light’. He wrote of love, happiness, lonesomeness and misery in a unique Southern US style. I remember being in the Cellar Bar in Galway and a few of us got talking to some people from one of those southern states and someone saying they loved their accents to which one of them replied “And we like the way y’all talk too’. 
Hank Williams when asked regarding his favourite song replied in his quiet drawl “I don’t have any favourite. I reckon a man feels something special for EVERY song he writes”. In a short number of years from the late forties to his death in 1953 he wrote and sang some of the great country music songs.  He had a pretty tragic life with drink, drugs and marital distress but left a legacy that is one of the foundations of a particular genre of music. He has been referred to as ‘the Hillbilly Shakespeare who wrote simple beautiful melodies and straightforward plaintive stories of life as he knew it’.
In the movie, while what music we hear is fine and the performance of English actor (!) Tom Hiddlestone (The Night Manager) is equally so it is an  indifferent film and considering the material it should have been a cracker but its focus is not on the music but on the flawed – drink, drugs, women-genius of Hank Williams. (There was an earlier 1964 film on Hank Williams and his music called ‘Your Cheatin’ Heart with George Hamilton in the lead role).  

RTE One- ‘The Geansie ‘ All-Ireland Winning Speeches.
I was not taken to the title but I happened to watch this programme on Monday evening last. It deals with ‘oblique’ elements of the GAA. On this occasion it dealt with memorable post All-Ireland game speeches and there were a number. It is the dream of many young GAA players to play in an All-Ireland final. It is an even greater dream to captain their county team to victory thus ensuring that they will be the ones to raise the Sam McGuire or Liam McCarthy Cup and giving the acceptance speech. I’ll refer to just a few here. One curious one is that of Kilkenny hurling captain Lester Ryan of Clara in 2014. A Kilkenny youngster has a real chance of lifting the McCarthy Cup of course. The curiosity with the fine speech of Lester Ryan was that there was a video insert of Lester giving a parallel speech, in practise for a Feile event as a ten year old boy!

Sean Og O Hailpin’s stirring speech with references to his journey from Fiji to Cork and from Cork to Croke Park and his salute of ‘Up the Rebels’ as a finale was music to the ears of the Cork supporters in 2005.

In 1995 Clare finally made the breakthrough by winning the Liam McCarthy Cup for the first time in 81 years since 1914. The Clare Captain, Anthony Daly gave a stirring speech to a Clare support whose joy was unconfined. He dedicated his speech to all the great teams of the past who had not been as lucky as they were that day, finishing with recognition of ‘the great Ger Loughnane’. This is probably the game I would most like to have been at, as in emotional terms and what it meant to a county, it could hardly be surpassed and it was capped by Daly’s rousing speech.

Both the speeches of Paidi O’Shea and Dara O’Cinneide as  fior gaelige were able to use the gaelic term Riocht (try pronouncing that) –the kingdom- to effect and as Paidi deliberately and clearly spoke of the pride in bringing the cup back to ‘an Gaeltacht’ and honed in on his very local supporters from the Ventry area of West Kerry.

For us in the west it is the speech of  Joe Connolly of Galway after them winning the 1980 final against Limerick is most significant. It was Galway’s first All-Ireland Hurling title in 57 years (since 1923). The speech is often cited as one of the most memorable of those post-match speeches. Galway had missed out on a win the previous two years so this was their breakthrough year. Connolly, a native speaker, addressed not only those in Croke Park and watching on TV in Ireland but Galway people ‘ar fud and domhain’ and tapped into the joy and pride of those Galway people seeing them succeed in far flung places and being there in spirit. Joe was not the only Galway star on the podium as team-mate Joe McDonagh (later President of the GAA) led the delirious Galway support with ‘The West’s Awake’. 
Two weeks later, in 1980, Roscommon were there for the football final but it was the Kerry captain, Ger Power, who had the honour over Danny Murray. It was mooted then if Roscommon also won that both cups would come to Ballygar for a special western celebration. Alas and alack.

Congratulations to 'Ardcarne Remembers'
To the Ardcarne organising committee of two weeks ago, ‘Ardcarne Remembers (1913-1923)’ commemorative week-end. While I could not attend all of the events I was there on Saturday and really enjoyed the lectures of Luke Gibbons, Turtle Bunburry, Patricia Molloy, Dr. John Morrissey and especially May Moran. Regrettably I missed Kieran O’Connor, Oliver Fallon and Michael McDowell. It presented a broad ecumenical and forensic treatment of the period and it was obviously an emotive occasion for the family connections of those who were central to the remembrance.  

GAA Notes

Boyle Win championship Opener
Boyle 1.12 Castlerea 1.7.
After the deluge of Saturday it was a perfectly lovely day for good football on Sunday in the perfect setting of the Abbey Park. There was not an abundance of ‘good’ football however. While things did not look good after the first twenty minutes when Boyle failed to score they came with a surge to lead at half-time by 1.6 to Castlerea 0.2. Both teams were short quite a number of regular players. Boyle coped better with this deficit. The telling score of the half was a goal palmed to the net by Conor Flanagan. ‘Man of the Match’ Tadgh McKenna had done much of the work for the goal with a strong run along the end line and Flanagan showed good awareness with the finish. Halt time Boyle 1.6 Castlerea 0.2.

Castlerea did come out to more effect in the early stages of the second half and reduced the lead to three points with a goal after 18 minutes and things looked shaky for the home side for a short while. They came good in the final period with fine scores from Michael Hanmore, Jim Suffin and Donie Smith to ease out comfortable winners in the end.

Best for Boyle were Tadgh McKenna who is back to his best with his driving runs forward, Aaron Sharkey, Cillian Cox, Tadgh Lowe, Colin Goldrick and Donie Smith. One caveat regarding Donie. I would prefer to have him closer to goal rather than being in his own half. As the wife of Tom Brady of the New England Patriots exclaimed to critics of Tom, ”He cannot throw the ball and also catch it when he does so”.
Boyle; T. Lowe/A. Sharkey/ K. Cox/ C. Beirne/ M. Hanmore/ C. McGowan/ T. McKenna/ K. Cox/ J. Suffin/ C. Flanagan/ D. O’Callaghan/ G. Gilmartin/C. Goldrick/D. Smith/D. O’Connor with M. O’Connor/C. Beirne/ R. Hanmore   

Hurling League Final
Clare 1.23 Waterford 2.19.  
This was a cracking game of hurling. It looked as if it was Waterford’s win but Clare came with the vital winning scores at the death. The teams meet again in the Munster Championship so another hugely competitive game is in prospect.  

Community Games
Might I commend also Noel Scally and the Community Games Committee for their gallant efforts in running –off the Boyle games in terrible weather conditions on Saturday. Obviously Community Games has contracted a good deal since I was involved over twenty years ago. For me it was a return to ‘the top field’ where I spent many, many, hours during my time at St. Mary’s College. It is a fine sports field now and great recreational resource.   

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Update 6th May

‘Pleasure Grounds’ Returns to Boyle Saturday May 14th
‘Pleasure Grounds’, a play written by Boyle’s own Jarlath Tivnan, was first performed in Galway Town Hall Theatre last summer. It did a short national tour subsequently and was very well received. It came to Boyle last December and got a near full attendance. It generated a lot of interest and comment in Boyle and the company has been encouraged to return for a second performance. This will take place on Saturday May 14th in St. Joseph’s Hall. This gives people an opportunity to revisit the play and to those who missed the first opportunity to see for themselves what so engaged those who saw it first time around.
   The play is produced by Fregoli Theatre company Galway who have been at Boyle Art’s Festival a number of times and is directed by Jarlath’s cousin Maria Tivnan.  
   The story of the play centres around, ‘a group of friends who’ve gone their separate ways who meet back at their teenage haunt, the town park and playground, known as the Pleasure Ground. The town is in limbo, the Pleasure Ground’s glory has faded, and life hasn’t quite matched up to youthful expectations. Over their night together, buried secrets become unearthed, past grievances boil over, and scores are settled’.
   The play's performers: Kate Murray, Peter Shine, Eilish McCarthy & Jarlath Tivnan
The company have just ended a very successful national tour with the play from Belfast to Cork. After its showing in the ‘Smock Alley Theatre’ in Dublin the Irish Times critic had this to say in his review; “Tivnan’s play, directed with an engagingly light touch, is finally more optimistic than you might expect (or, in places, accept), but it sketches the damages and potential within this generation with unshowy, vivid insights. These are characters struggling to put away childish things, but still yearning to play, and on some level it knows that life beyond the Pleasure Ground may not be so different: it’s all swings and roundabouts”.
   Other Reviews remarked on it being;
“bog gothic… reminiscent of Patrick McCabe”
“a marriage of brutality and tenderness” Irish Theatre

Thank You!
I see on television that the census organisers are saying; ‘Thanks!’ to the general public for their participation and cooperation with the process. I presume the public have generally cooperated with it. I am not aware of any diary or account of the trials of a census enumerator! I imagine there is material for one. Anyway my few lines on this, focus on the word THANKS. Some time ago I overheard a radio programme on the topic of differences in the nuances of interaction between people in this country and in, as it happened on the occasion, England. A lady who had returned to Ireland was outlining some of the positives in this country. She used a very simple example of getting off a Dublin bus and a male passenger saying ‘thank you’ to the bus driver. She suggested that it would be a very rare occurrence In London. There are all kinds of situations when common courtesy and basic good manners can be practised or abused. The simple phrase ‘thank you’ enunciated clearly has an endearing ring to it.

Flying the Flag
A neighbour of ours in Forest View  regularly flies the national flag. This is done for St. Patrick’s Day, Easter and for special occasions when appropriate. This person has even gone to the trouble and expense of having a decent flag pole. It demonstrates a high regard for the flag’s symbolism  and in this year there are many occasions when the flag can be flown. On the road to Roscommon at Fourmilehouse one sees a group of flags ‘of the day’ flying regularly. This is a tradition initiated by Roscommon barber and GAA enthusiast Paddy Joe Burke. 
 At the launch of Barry Feely’s book recently his relation Frank Feighan in outlying the family connection- James Feely being Frank’s grandfather-  to what it all meant referred to ‘the flag’. He mentioned that there was a time, in the not too distant past, when flying the flag had certain extreme connotations but that in this Centenary year it could now be taken back by the general public and be flown proudly by all without fear or favour. So in recent times especially one sees the flag being flown a good deal more, not in the aggressive assertive manner of say Northern Ireland both Union Jack and Tricolour. People in many countries hold their flag in high regard notably the United States and France. Perhaps we in Ireland can adopt our flag with more respect and mindfulness from here.

Robert Troy F.F. T.D. for Longford /Westmeath on Mental Health 
It is recognised that mental health and suicide rates are a huge issue in this country. I imagine that these issues have no boundaries and even the most ‘unlikely’ people are affected by them. Recently Robert Troy T.D. had the courage to speak publicly on his personal experience of this issue in the Dail during a cut to the mental heaIth budget.  I imagine that even amongst his immediate Dail listeners there were a number quietly and privately hearing elements of their own mental health dilemma being enunciated. 
   I post just the opening lines from Robert’s speech and if you wish you can of course access  the full account further. “Like many over the past few weeks I was getting totally frustrated by the length of time it was taking for the government to be formed.
   The talks seemed to be focusing exclusively on Irish Water to the detriment of many other important issues, such as mental health.
   This week after announcing €12m cuts in mental health service, the Government made time available (for me) to make (a)statement on Mental Health in the Dáil. Having considered speaking on the issue I decided to share some real life experience. I was scared, nervous, and anxious about the prospect of speaking out in front of my peers knowing that they would all know my weaknesses and sufferings.”  He stated.

Olivia O’Leary Speaks on Her Dark Time 
On Wednesday am Olivia O’Leary spoke to Sean O’Rourke  of a time in her young life when ‘depression’ nearly overcame her. With her it was linked to alcohol abuse as it often is. She used an example of how deep it went in that, on one occasion on a train journey she was unable to get off at her stop. She was young, hugely busy as a 24 year old reporter, making a name for herself, making sure she was ‘one of the boys’ in terms of drinking and the journalistic culture that prevailed but was privately in turmoil. Eventually she sought help and got to grips with her ‘mental health issues’ and established a healthier lifestyle regime but was quick to point out “I know it could happen again”.  
I imagine there are many who continue to struggle on in silence thinking that their condition is somewhat irrational and up to themselves to resolve.

A Government … Hallelujah
‘Oh Joy’ as Basil Fawlty exclaimed in the episode ‘The Kipper and the Corpse’. 
   How many days since the last government ended? Now we seem to be reaching the end game as Fine Gael engage with a number of independents. The arrangement between Fine Gael and Fianna Fail is said to cover 3 budgets, about up to late 2018. That is being optimistic and it is going to a be one roller coaster of a ride. Fasten your (Dail) seat belts.
   I was once on the fringes of a car discussion as I know zero technically about them. The talk referred to a process, if I remember correctly, called ‘cut and shut’. Apparently this involves the welding together of two halves of different cars and the possibility in a severe crash of it splitting along those lines. This current political arrangement sounds to me somewhat a bit like that ‘cut and shut’ car. 
   The ‘Water Question’ still bubbles. I hear from Fianna Fail T.D. Jim O’Callaghan, of the party’s negotiating team, that Water Bills are still being issued and will be until the end of June and his expectation that  they will be paid! Now that is a man of faith. 
   Of course Fianna Fail were, not too long ago advocates of water charges up to €500 it is said. Fianna Fail now go forward as both supporting (in) government and also being the opposition. So members will be issued with the dual county jersey! A cliché phrase returns ‘I used to be indecisive but now I’m not so sure’.
   I will not attempt any analysis of the possibilities at this stage, but, as the psychiatrist character in Fawlty Towers suggested; “There's enough material there for an entire conference.”

Roscommon Near Disaster in New York
The Roscommon GAA Project nearly took a huge hit in New York on Sunday last. What I mean by the Roscommon GAA project is that of having a very good team, the redevelopment of Hyde Park and the development of the ‘centre of excellence’ in Oran and the massive work that has been done at clubs and at county level in recent years in terms of coaching young players. The optimism of the spring league campaign has taken a severe hit.
   While the Kerry defeat was a reality check the New York result sounds like a serious reversal of fortunes. Much goodwill in terms of necessary support for the various projects now in train in the county are predicated on decent results by the senior team. This was seen to be expanding through the spring but it a case of a number of steps of forward and then it backwards again.
   I feel that the team has a number of serious deficits and most GAA people are aware of those. The regular attempts at improvisation have failed to rectify these deficits.
   Fergal O’Donnell in his immediate post-match interview with Willie Hegarty was very forthright in his view of the game and Kevin Mc Stay looked a bit shocked as he too was very honest in his assessment. Tides turn of course and in a few weeks it will be Leitrim in Carrick that is the challenge. Hopefully the rehabilitation will start there!

Boyle GAA Notes
Next Sunday Boyle play Castlerea in the first round of the 2016 senior championship at Boyle at 2. This is a big game for Boyle of course and they have prepared well. The real problem is that they have a number of key players injured including such as Enda Smith, Sean Purcell and Evan McGrath.    The return of Donie Smith will be a big addition and some players such as Roch Hanmore are on the way back also. The epidemic of injuries in Gaelic and Rugby is very serious and it is impossible to see where it is going. So Sunday will tell us where the Boyle senior team are at and if they can start with a win on Sunday that would be a very positive thing. Hopefully there will be a good crowd of local support present.
   Boyle Juniors had a good run against St. Ronan’s on Saturday evening last . Ronan’s led by 8 points to 6 at half time and winners by 4 points. St. Ronan's 0.16 Boyle 012. It was a good competitive game. I have a soft spot for the junior or second team as they seem to represent the original ethos of the game as sporting recreation rather than sporting work. The Boyle Junior team was; T. McGarty, who did very well in goals, C. Horan, C. Beirne, C. O’Donoghue , C. Tivnan, M. Goldrick (0.1), C. Lavin, T. Halligan (0.1), S. Tonra, M. O’Connor, C. Conboy (0.6 2 frs.), L. Casey (0.1), K. Kelly, P. Lavin, C. Flanagan (0.3) with S. Mullens and R. Finneran.

To Tadgh Egan in Canada….Megan& Co.+ Niall Nangle in the Middle East /Damien Dooley, Frankie Flaherty, Austin Beisty in New York, Marcus Kennedy further on/ Seamie Gallagher, Ciaran Conlon, Conor Nangle, Paraic Sweeney and Co. in Oz/Aishling in N.Z. big family day looming/Paddy Conlon and the London gang ….London is just over the road nowadays/ Liam and Rory in Edinburgh . 

(New York 1968 episode 2 next week?)