Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Update 20th December

Ciaran Conlon and family/ Paraic Sweeney & Sarah/ Conor Nangle/ Enda, Jacquie and Emer O’Callaghan/ Seamie Gallagher/ Damien Keenehan/ Ciaran Keenehan/Clodagh Egan from Green St. in Sydney/Ger. O’Gara and clan including Joan and honorary Boyle man, Sean Casey/ Joseph Moran in Sydney/ Jenny Jessop (O'Dowd) from Abbeytown/ Dr. Timothy O'Dowd/ Benny Sheerin, Sydney.

The U.S.
Damien Dooley/ Frankie Flaherty/ Marcus Kennedy/ Joseph Mahon/ Brendan O’Callaghan/ Chris O’Dowd/ Doirbhle O'Dowd/ Austin and Paraic Beisty/ The Spellman family x Forest View/ Pat and Margaret Lavin also x Forest View now/ Niall Mc Crann  /Pat and Peter Nicholson/ Arnold Gaffney, Boston/ Hillary and Kenneth Beirne.  (I’m sure there are many more but….)

Tadgh Egan/ Sean Mullaney/ Miss Compton/ Dearbhaile Mac Namara in Toronto/ Dr.Patrick Nicholson, formerly Sheegora now in Toronto.

Caoimhin Young/ Killian (with a K) Egan/ John Harrington/ Gary Tiernan/ Nicky Emmett/Sarah Mullaney/ John O'Dowd from Abbeytown/ Niall Greenan/ Christy and Jim Toolan, London.

Liam Young & family /Rory Nangle.

James Candon in Brussels

Germany and Belgrade
The Gannon family Belgrade/ Michael and Maria Kelly and family in Munich/ Gareth Gilmartin.

Sean Young & family/ John & Joan Gallagher and family, thanks again for your hospitality in October./ Gavin, Declan and Anthony in various places.

Mattie Scott in sunny Portugal.

Paddy Conlon stationed in The Gulf temporarily/ Darren Dockery, the Gulf!/ Neil Nangle in Bahrain.

Abu Dhabi
Ronan Smith and Gratiana Lyons, Maple Drive (home for Christmas)

South Africa
Carmel Finneran.

Fr. Tony Conry.

Kate Gilmartin coming home for Christmas.

Catriona Moran and family. 

New Zealand
Elisabeth Hemi Taute (Sweeney) husband and son Cian in N.Z. 

                         Christina Marnell daughter of Marie Paul also in New Zealand.

(Above is just a guesstimate as to Boyle people in far flung places. We would like very much to have a comprehensive list so if people let us know we will add names to the record).

Boyle Celtic Back on Track Connacht Cup Boyle Celtic 4 Galway Hibernians 2 at Lecarrow.
Boyle Celtic with a very good second half performance on Sunday last showed many of the qualities which were so evident last season. This was a key game being in the knock-out tournament the Connacht Cup against Galway Hibernians in Lecarrow. At half time things were still problematic as Hibernian pushed forward with determination and led by 2 goals to 1 at half time. The Boyle goal came from an excellent header by Ml. Corrigan. Shortly into the second half the switch of Martin Doherty to the right side, the introduction of Jake McCrann and the more forward role of Dylan Edwards saw Boyle come good. A cracking long range goal from Gerard Mc Dermotroe levelled things and Boyle were going up the gears. Dylan Edwards added a third goal with a brilliant mazy run which would have graced any level, 3 : 1 to Boyle. While Hibernian tried hard to get back in the game Boyle secured the points in emphatic fashion with a fantastic goal from a free by Gerard McDermotroe close to the end. Gerard had shown this great dead ball skill regularly last season.
So they now break until the new year when, if they can repeat the quality of their second half performance, they should certainly be more consistent than heretofore.  

"Banged Up Abroad"
Many of you will be familiar with the series of that name or at least what it means. On Monday’s online edition of the Independent there was a telling story of Tyrone footballer Dean McNally on a stag party in las Vegas and what happened to him. I’ll just suggest that you check it out as it is too long to sum up here.  

An Post   
There are confusing reports coming from An Post these days. On the one hand there is a surge of package mail through online shopping and a fall-off in letters due to email. I am a regular user of An Post for letters/books etc. and I find that An Post have contributed themselves to the downturn through charges which are steep. I sent a medium sized book to Dublin a couple of weeks ago and it cost me 8 or 9 euro. A tad dear I would have thought. I believe in doing that rather than having the said book getting a sun tan inside the back window of the car for months waiting until I meet up with the person.
Christmas cards to the U.K. and U.S.A. €1.35 I think. The same price and so on. The post has been a huge community service for over a century and a half so it is a pity that it is under pressure.   

Roscommon People Highlights
On last week’s Roscommon People there was a series of mini interviews with a number of people regarding their favourite sporting moment of the year, sportsman of the year and so on. Now if I was nominating such I might have followed Athleague Camogie player Kelley Hopkins (a new name in Athleague to me) who nominated Kerry’s  precocious Gaelic player at minor level David Clifford. I have seen some young Gaelic stars in my time and until this summer I had Michael Finneran aged 16/17/18 of Ballinagare as my number one but David Clifford was majestic this season. 

I digress to cricket here. When the Olympics went to Sydney in 2000 there was a case to have cricketer Don Bradman light the Olympic Torch because he was Australia’s greatest ever sportsman. Cricket of course was not an Olympic sport. In nearly all sports there are arguments regarding the number one-Messi v Ronaldo- but what put Bradman on the lunar pinnacle is that he stands so far ahead of the second person.  Bradman’s Test batting average stands at 99.94 runs in tests while in second place is the Indian god of cricket Sachin Tendulkar who stands at 55.44. Why I go to that analogy is that David Clifford similarly is so far ahead of any player his age that I’ve seen. I look forward to him in the future. He carries a huge expectation.  

Miriam Kerins Columnist
Since I have referenced the Roscommon People one of the most energetic columnists that I tune into from time to time plies her trade there. Last week Miriam covered Mister Jack Brennan’s telling contribution on the RTE programme on the challenges facing Carers. Miriam Kerins tells it as she sees it in a very forthright manner. A couple of weeks ago she reminded us that Mel Gibson was not the benign character he seems in ‘Daddy’s Home 2’. And so it goes. 
So if I was chairing say Brendan O’Connor’s ‘The Cutting Edge’ and was in charge of the panel for a week or so Miriam would be there with Joe Brolly, Gerry Emmett and Eamonn Sweeney. It’s a sports ‘Edge’ that week Miriam so I hope that is ok with you.  Being a Dub. I imagine it would.  

The Season of Dickens
I often associate many of the books of Dickens with Christmas. In the magical ‘A Christmas Carol’ there is an enduring relevance in the character of Ebenezer Scrooge. Indeed in every book of Dickens there are memorable characters. The list would include;

Ebenezer Scrooge (A Christmas Carol)/Uriah Heep (David Copperfield)/ Estella (Great Expectations)/ Joe Gargery (Great Expectations)/ Bill Sikes and Nancy in Oliver/Pip in Great Expectations/ Mr Pickwick (The Pickwick Papers)/Micawber (David Copperfield)/Miss Havisham (Great Expectations). 
There are many more. From my list there are four from my favourite of all books Great Expectations. I suppose my favouring of Great Expectations is reinforced by my exposure to it as the classic film by David Lean in the late forties. Dickens was the greatest ever story teller. The most popular early representation of a coach and horses on many Christmas cards, which I well remember and continues a little, may have been inspired by his writing.  

Great Sports Books
We are really spoiled with a selection of great sports books this year. It is a bit of a mantra of mine which says if  book does not carry you on, then leave it as there are millions of books that will. We have had a number of banal sports books of course where top names like Coady, Shevlin and perhaps The Gooch this year trade on their names and profiles and produce  disappointing books. However at this year’s end there seems to be, if the widespread reviews are valid, some riveting sports books.     

I’ve mentioned the sports books of the year some weeks back and it seems as if the ones that are getting the top reviews consistently include ‘The Choice’, Philly McMahon with Niall Kelly (Gill Books). A gripe here is that Philly gives no credit or mention to the ‘ghost’ writer Nially Kelly. 
A book that is getting rave reviews is ‘Centaur’ and is a possible William Hill Sports Book of the Year. It is by jockey Declan Murphy who was close to death after a fall.
“Coping with your own death, when you are not yet dead, is a strange thing... This is a story of triumph, fear, love and loss, by turns primal, heart-breaking and inspirational, and ultimately, it is the story of hope, and of life”.
The one I will probably go for initially is ‘The Warrior’s Code: My Autobiography, Jackie Tyrell with Christy O’ Connor. O’Connor wrote an award winning book called The Club some years ago. This one is the first real glimpse inside the Kilkenny hurling dynasty and I am tuned into that. 

Other worthy titles include The Ascent: Séan Kelly, Stephen Roche and the Rise of Irish Cycling’s Golden Generation, Barry Ryan (Gill Books); Form: My Autobiography, Kieran Fallon with Oliver Holt (Simon & Schuster UK) and The Pursuit of Perfection: The Life, Death and Legacy of Cormac McAnallen, by Donal McAnallen, published by Penguin Ireland.

An Irish Political Leonardo da Vinci 
In googling through Ministers and Junior Ministers for a quiz question for next week I came across an astonishing Irish politician -who I had never heard of- by the name of Pat Breen. Pat is listed as;    
‘Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise and Innovation, the Department of Employment and Social Protection, the Department of the Taoiseach and the Department of Justice and Equality with special responsibility for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection’.

Not since Ray Burke, in the final days of Brian Cowan, have I seen such capability and range! 

The passing of two Boyle Ladies.

Mary Daly R.I.P.
Surrounding Christmas is always a particularly sad time for a family bereavement. There were two such bereavements in Boyle within the last week.  
The death occurred last week of Mary Daly of Plunkett Avenue. Mary was predeceased some time ago by her husband PJ. I remember Mary as being an activist with Boyle Scouts of which her sons were members. I was told that she was also a member of Foroige and a Boyle Celtic supporter.  I met her  down the years when she worked in Mick Gilmartin’s Three Counties and in Feighan’s Newsagents. She was always a pleasant and courteous lady. She will be sadly missed by her sons Martin and Phillip, who I have known for many years, and her extended family.

Frances McGee R.I.P. 
The death also occurred of Frances McGee (nee Beatty). Mrs. McGee with her husband Paddy was a founder of Marians Fashions, an iconic Boyle ladies fashion outlet, in 1954. I came to a bustling busy town which was Boyle in 1972. Marians was known the country over and had a top reputation for ladies fashion for all occasions. Boyle, particularly then, was a great shopping town and had a wide catchment area. Marians contributed greatly to that. That reputation has stood the test of time by consistently retaining the highest standards and presentation.
I always saw her as ‘Marian’ personifying her own place and not Frances. She was an iconic figure as she walked the short distance from her home on the Crescent to her shop. She was a formidable lady, a great innovator and supporter of the town. The Chairman of Boyle Chamber of Commerce, Michael Keville, pays Mrs. McGee a worthy tribute in the Boyle Notes of the Roscommon Herald. 
My sympathy to both the Daly and McGee families at this time.  

News Headlines
The story of the questionable reading and now review of over 40 thousand scans in a Tralee Hospital is top of the news this evening Wednesday. Now I have a question? How was it that a single (it appears) radiologist in a Tralee Hospital had over 40,000 scans to work on over a period of I think 18 months, March ’16 to July ’17. As they say in the U.S. ‘do the Math.’ 40. 000 divided by 18 months = 2,222 i.e. 555 per week. Even our Da Vinci, Pat Breen would be challenged with that. 
The other constant theme is to do with homelessness - 8,100 including 3,000 children; tracker mortgages, rising rents, the lack of prospect of young people buying a house, especially in Dublin.
Now if I am here in Dec. 2018 I doubt that this housing story will be much different. Perhaps Eoghan Murphy will do a runner as Simon Coveney did. 

I’ll leave it at that for now.           

I wish you all a Happy Christmas and 2018.

Drink Responsibly. Drive Safely. Never Drink and Drive.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Update 12th December

It’s that time of year…. again.  Boyle GAA Quiz will take place on Wednesday Dec. 27th in St. Joseph’s Hall from 8 (sharp) to 10.15 not so sharp. There will also be some presentations to Snr., Jnr and U 20 Players of the Year and ‘Hall of Fame’.  Do whatever the ‘Whats Apping’ thing is re. spreading the word. 

Boyle Celtic: Connacht Cup….Sunday next at Boyle at 2 against Galway Hibs

The Big Freeze
The Met office personnel have become the new kids on the block and ‘celebs’ of the T.V. screen this winter. After their win with Storm Ophelia they are out front again with the freeze of the week-end. While it not possible to quantify they have in all probability saved lives. The warnings and recommendations are out there early now, loud and clear. So the Met. Service does just that with good direction for coming days. So no need to watch which the goat is facing. And if there are people who wish to ignore them- as at Salthill during Storm Ophelia- then there isn’t much more that can be done.

The Morning Car Challenge
Keeping the car ready for morning take-off is a challenge. Over time I have adopted a few practises that help. From the bottom up they would be; (c) instead of newspaper on the windscreen try a plastic turf/fertiliser bag. Lock it in place with upright windscreen wipers. That will give a visual windscreen but the rest will have to come with car heating (b) the windscreen foil cover which is available in many shops. This will give you a full as opposed to partially clear windscreen with the plastic bag. It can be locked on with the doors closing over the flaps. (a) the real deal is the full car cover which looks after all windows and gives full visibility when taken off. It may be a bit of a struggle for one person to place this over the car and secure on mudguard points but with two it is a breeze. The frost and snow will keep it in place but it is unlikely to stay on board with wind. But then there should be less need for it in those conditions. Sin e. Terms and conditions of course apply to any recommendation. 284

Trip to South Roscommon
Visiting the fine memorial remembering Roscommon’s great footballer and hurler Gerry O’Malley in Brideswell, South Roscommon.  Gerry died in early 2016 and is buried in the nearby cemetery of Cam. Left to right: Charlie Finneran, (Chairman of the Memorial Committee and proprietor of the very impressive Derryglad Museum); Michael Costello; Paddy Cummins (Roscommon GAA stalwart, Killina); Tony Conboy

In growing older in Fuerty/Athleague there were parts of Roscommon which were just not on our radar for social activities such as dances etc. My first time through Boyle was in FCA uniform on the way to Finner Camp between Bundoran and Ballyshannon in the mid-sixties. Later it was the Fleadhs which put Boyle on our map. While we in Boyle visit Roscommon town with regularity for matches, meetings, car tax in the past, courts(!), marts and so on it is rare enough to see a Roscommon town person on the streets of Boyle. Through GAA activity I have been to most corners of this county. ‘God’s County’ as Jimmy Murray used to refer to it.  
Anyway in October a committee in Brideswell unveiled a memorial to probably Roscommon’s greatest ever footballer, Gerry O’Malley and I attended of course. It was a crowded busy evening. A senior friend of mine Paddy was to come with me but to his great disappointment he was hospitalised for a number of days and was unable to be there on the occasion. I promised to take him up when all the stars were in line and that happened a couple of weeks ago. With another senior friend I collected Paddy en route and set off a little like the group in the lovely television series ‘Last of the Summer Wine’. I tried to take a short cut via Athleague-for exploratory and show-off purposes - but going against my pretty good directional instincts at a crossroads found myself out near Knockcroghery on a regular road.
On arrival in Curraghaboy we picked up Charlie Finneran, Chairman of the Gerry O’Malley Memorial Committee at his Derryglad Museum, more about which anon. Then we went to Gerry’s Memorial in Brideswell and a very fine one it is. There to meet us was Sean Kilbride of St. Brigid’s club out of respect for our effort in travelling from North Roscommon to the deep south. An appropriate record in pictures of our visit was easily facilitated in the quiet village where Gerry spent his childhood and never forgot. Then we called to see the famous little field -O’Malley’s Field- or The Stand as it is referred to where he first began to develop his skills as a footballer. Our last homage to Gerry was to call to Cam Graveyard, within sight of his original home, where he was laid to rest in 2016. The Gaelic warrior had returned, as he always said he would, to his native shore. We too, a little like the traveller in Walter de La Mare’s evocative poem ‘The Listeners’ had done our duty; 
“‘Tell them I came, and no one answered,   
   That I kept my word,’ he said.

Duty done we returned with Charlie Finneran to his labour of love, Derrglad Museum, and his generous welcome and hospitality. If any group wish to do a journey back in time and nostalgia many of the benchmarks of our youth are on display here. With over 6000 items on show it is a gem of an award winning museum. It includes dedicated ‘rooms’ such as a classroom of the fifties, an excellent Sports Section on Roscommon with Gerry O’Malley at the heart of it, a ‘Medical Hall’, Photography Room, a representation of a bar cum grocery, a broad collection of farm implements including a 1951 Ferguson T20 TVO. It is growing collection but the dedication and commitment that Charlie and his wife Bridie have put into it is hugely evident in its detailed presentation and depth. It is a location to visit and revisit and I highly recommend it. With the Gerry O’Malley Memorial it is sure to welcome many more Roscommon people and groups next year and beyond. 
 web site

Television Review
Since I watch a good deal of T.V. I might as well get a return on it here. 

‘The Vietnam War’
I’ve already mentioned my top programme of the recent times as being ‘The Vietnam War’. It is a war that many in the United States are still trying to come to terms with. This is represented by the contributions of veterans. It is not all about the war but about the muddied politics surrounding it where the next election dominated and the attendant lies were an ongoing thread. For a history of the United States from the mid-fifties to mid-seventies this is a text book requirement. Like that of ‘Band of Brothers’ the fine World War 2 series the music soundtrack is haunting. The series is close to the greatest war series by Channel 4 in the seventies covering the Second World War titled ‘The World at War’ with the eloquent narration of Laurence Olivier.

David Brophy’s Choir of Ages
While I just tinkered initially in watching this series I got engaged with it. It had a number of positives including the presenter himself. It is about putting together a choir from groups of people from Leitrim and Dublin. There are two groups in each constituency one senior and one national school children. So it coalesces the senior and young people plus the rural and urban. A first outing in Leitrim looked as if this was fraught with the giddy youngsters irritating a serious senior lady. But all was resolved and it is a positive experience that those involved will remember long into the future. There are many stand-out characters but a wee girl who has come to Leitrim with her returning parents from Australia was a star. The series concludes on Thursday 14 at 10.15 on R.T.E. 1.

Prime Time: Carers in Crisis
This was a telling picture of a nearly underground movement of people who care for their loved ones in their homes. It was good that Miriam O’Callaghan choose to go to the frontline herself on this one. This she did in a sympathetic and empathetic way. It is just incredible in a wealthy country that it takes such a battle (not always successful) to get basic support in the home for those who care for relatives who need it. It is widely accepted that care in their own homes is what senior people and people with disability desire. It is also accepted that it is cost effective. Now there will be exceptions to the axiom of course. The Minister responsible Finnian McGrath -like Ministers dealing with homelessness- said all the right things about reports, strategies and financial allocations but little changes. The penny pinching in terms of care worker visits of 30 and 45 minutes and the restrictions on what they are actually allowed to do would make one pull ones hair out. I am a little aware of a senior connection of mine in England who manages to remain is in his own home with considerable issues because of the input from the NHS agencies there. So this is probably the number one issue of the frontline issues that deserve resolution.

The Chaotic Court Service
Last night (Monday) we saw the chaos in another very important area of Irish civil life provision i.e. the court service. It is too big a question to even touch on here but again it is a bad story of mismanagement and is just a mess. Again the politician Fergus O’Dowd, Chairman of some committee or other made all the right noises about looking into this and that but of course come back in say five years time and nothing will have changed.     

‘My Astonishing Self’ 
I just recorded this programme dealing with Ireland’s first of four Nobel Literature winners George Bernard Shaw. He is the only writer who has also received an Oscar.  George Bernard Shaw won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1925, and an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay (Pygmalion) in 1938. 
The only other ‘writer’ to do that was Bob Dylan who won the Nobel prize in Literature in 2016, and an Academy Award for Best Original Song (Things have Changed) in 2000. 
I have never tuned in to George Bernard who always struck me as an Irishman who would have qualified to play for England. 
This week’s television writer is James Joyce on Wednesday night on R.T.E. 1 at 9.35. 

Blues Sisters
This was a documentary form a short time ago on RTÉ called 'Blues Sisters' which followed the fortunes of the Dublin Ladies Football team on their way to All-Ireland glory this year. It is worth tracking down. The rise of Ladies Gaelic Football is really something with the final Dublin v Mayo being drawing the biggest crowd to a ladies sporting event forever perhaps. 

Say Yes to the Dress
If ‘Carers in Crisis’ was a major insightful programme which should awaken consciousness, who comes up with such a trite ‘series’ for 9.30 pm. viewing on RTE 2 titled ‘Say Yes to the Dress’? I presume it will be followed by a series on ‘The Suit’, ‘The Shoes’ the possibilities are all there!     

Irish interest in Golden Globes
Congratulations to a number of Irish nominations with their Golden globes nominations. First to Cartoon Saloon and its co-founder Paul Young whose production ‘The Breadwinner’ supported by Angelina Jolie is nominated in the best Animated Film category and carries on the tradition of ‘The Secret of Kells’ and ‘Song of the Sea. 
Carlow born Saoirse Ronan has received her third nomination for her role in ‘Lady Bird’ . Perhaps this is her year (2018) to get the top gong Oscar.
Daniel Day Lewis who is said to be retiring from film making is also nominated as is London Irish writer-director Martin McDonagh and a lady I am not familiar with Caitriona Balfe. 
So the Irish are performing at the top level in the toughest trade.

Last Sunday’s Independent
There were a number of sports articles in the Sunday Independent which engaged me. Eamon Sweeney came through with a gem (again) article on County final winners especially first time winners. There are several references in this collector’s item. Too many to mention here.  One of the most unlikely was that Liam Mellows from Renmore in Galway City winning the Galway hurling final for the first time since 1970. Hurling has not been a big thing in Galway but this should give it a real shot. One comic story involved St. John’s Antrim keeper getting a red card following an altercation with an opposing Lámh Dearg forward who kicked his tee away. They were brothers! The keepers manager was cool about the incident in a post-match interview as he was …the father of the duo!
The heroic sporting incident to look for on You Tube is that of Kerry jockey Kennedy staying aboard his horse with the result…..I’ll let you go there to find out. Magic. 
In the Sunday Indo if Eamonn was tops Brolly and O’Rourke were interesting also.      

The Premiership on Television  
I had nearly given up on watching premiership games on television a couple of months ago because I was getting to feel it was mundane. However in the last month or so it has blossomed. There have been classic games, performances and classic goals. As the Spanish dominance in the entertainment stakes has declined the English Premiership has taken centre stage. This now has Man City/Man Utd./ Spurs/ Liverpool and Chelsea in the final 16 of the Champions league and Arsenal in the hardly worth mentioning Europa league. There have been classic games like Arsenal v Manchester Utd. when David de Gea produced a performance of relentless brilliance in goal for Utd.  Liverpool’s 7 goal fest against CSKA Moscow. Wayne Rooney’s hat trick for Everton v West Ham with a sensational goal from his own half. There are many more goals in this past 6 weeks or so also. While the destination of the League title looks pretty much decided in Manchester City’s favour the role of English clubs in The Campions League will be intriguing. In the last 16 they line up as follows; Chelsea v Barcelona/ Liverpool v F.C. Porto/ Spurs v Juventus/ Manchester Utd. v Seville and Manchester City v Basel. Still the top game is Real Madrid v Paris P.S.G. Those should keep things boiling in early February.   

Boyle Celtic Struggle
I was amongst a dozen spectators at most who saw Boyle Celtic 0 go down to Shiven Rovers 2 on Sunday Dec. 3rd at a bleak Celtic Park.  It was a game that Boyle would have been expected to win but failed similar to some others they have lost this season. Conditions were poor with the pitch itself which is understandable because of the weather and the number of teams now playing on the single pitch available. In that way Celtic are a victim of its own success and expansion at under-age level. A questionable pitch means that games may have to be postponed which are not always allowed as seen with St. Peter’s. So in that case it can mean conceding home advantage. League winning possibilities, while still alive, are receding. So the one competition which they will certainly want a good run in is the Connacht Cup. This will get a good test on Sunday next at Boyle at 2 against Galway Hibs.
Boyle GAA Club are in a similar position regarding demands on limited space. In my opinion what is really needed is a Community area which both Boyle Celtic and Boyle GAA can develop  grounds with ‘regulatory alignment’ as the speak of the moment goes. It is said that there are considerable grants available for such ‘community’ developed facilities. This would be necessary as both clubs are challenged to meet current expenses. I hope the energy and personnel are there and willing to take on such a challenge. 

Patrick Kavanagh - the 50th Anniversary of his death.
In my last post here I missed referring to the 50th anniversary of the death of Patrick Kavanagh. Mea culpa, mea culpa.  So rather than some commentary I post one of his memorable poems. I don’t know of course if any former students remember but I tried to imbue in them respect and regard for that most significant lady in their lives. I wonder. Many senior people, if you have got this far in a too long blog, will identify with the Kavanagh’s imagery, sentiment and feelings in this collection of pictures from a bygone age.   

IN MEMORY OF MY MOTHER. Patrick Kavanagh.

I do not think of you lying in the wet clay 
Of a Monaghan graveyard; I see 
You walking down a lane among the poplars 
On your way to the station, or happily 

Going to second Mass on a summer Sunday - 
You meet me and you say: 
'Don't forget to see about the cattle - ' 
Among your earthiest words the angels stray. 

And I think of you walking along a headland 
Of green oats in June, 
So full of repose, so rich with life - 
And I see us meeting at the end of a town 

On a fair day by accident, after 
The bargains are all made and we can walk 
Together through the shops and stalls and markets 
Free in the oriental streets of thought. 

O you are not lying in the wet clay, 
For it is a harvest evening now and we 
Are piling up the ricks against the moonlight 
And you smile up at us - eternally.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Update 1st December

Storm Frances

It was a close run thing. I think that was said by Wellington after the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo. The Frances Fitzgerald storm has passed but it was also a close run thing. I had a headline in my head for this blog topic at the week-end. It was ‘Outrageous’. Outrageous in the sense that causing an election at this time would be so. We are apparently on the brink of a decisions which will impact on future generations in this country. This may take place at a meeting regarding Brexit in a couple of weeks.
Frances Fitzgerald was holding firm on her mantra and holding the country to ransom. ‘I did nothing wrong’ with the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar endorsing that while Michael Martin was looking for a victim. I readily accept that I am not an expert and what I say can only be an opinion of what I assess from the evidence. This is presented from evaluating the media commentary and sentiment that comes my way. In all things that is all I can do or be.
Had there been an election the sentiment that would have prevailed would have been a plague on all your political houses. I am a collector of phrases with messages. While the election was averted, just about, and the former minister may get credit for her stepping down especially in her Dublin constituency the phrase that comes to me ‘something given at first asking is twice given’. The then Tánaiste went to the wire and a lot of damage was done. Perhaps the phrase that ‘a week is a long time in politics’ and that this storm will be forgotten soon obtains but the incident highlighted the political instinct to survive whatever the cost.
Nobody wanted an election was the cry yet it nearly happened and the feather of a late email tipped the balance. Simon Coveney was still batting for his colleague late on Monday night saying that everyone should wait until a tribunal beginning in six weeks and reporting God knows when would clear it all up.  Fintan O’Toole suggested that the electorate would be apoplectic and you cannot get more upset than that.
I wondered how I might vote in a possible election and the options were not at all inviting. So an election before Christmas would be a like very  upset child tipping his jig saw in the air and see how it settled when gravity prevailed.   
Now that storm is over and we are safe and well, for now. The next spat will see confidence and supply in short supply.

The Bord Gáis Energy, Irish Book Awards on RTE.
I tuned into the Irish Book Awards presented by Keelin Shanley and Evelyn O’Rourke on RTE last night, Wednesday. I have always loved books and will be in Heaven (hopefully….I have John Joe on speed dial!) a good few years before I have all the books I have collected read. I do not read enough now. I used to. Even when I was say fifteen or sixteen I used to read quite a lot. The fact that the county library was located across the road from the CBS in Roscommon was a great help. My topic then was World War 2! In recent times I have gravitated towards sports books. I think Camus wrote that all he learned about life he learned from sport. Some of the greatest sports books come from the U.S. dealing with sport there especially Baseball. It is a game I got the bug for when in New York in the summer of ’69, The Year the Mets lost place and won The World Series defeating Baltimore. The Amazing Mets. Others I have read The Summer of ’49 which was the battle between The New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox and ‘The Boys of Summer’ relating to the Brooklyn Dodgers and the emergence of the first black star of the game Jackie Robinson. I am going to arrange to get a tv channel which broadcasts baseball next year to see if the appetite is still there.  

There are other great sports books such as those by tennis player Andre Agassi and Manchester Utd. player Zlatan Ibrahimović.
Gaelic games has quite a number including my favourite ‘Fairytale in New York’ relating to Cavan's great adventure and win in the All-Ireland of ’47 in New York’s Polo Grounds. Another was ‘The Club’ by Christy O’Connor, a raw telling of a Clare hurling club over the course of a year.

In last night’s awards the Nominated Sports Book of the Year Were;

The Choice, Philly McMahon with Niall Kelly (Gill Books)
The Ascent: Séan Kelly, Stephen Roche and the Rise of Irish Cycling’s Golden Generation, Barry Ryan (Gill Books)
Shay: Any Given Saturday, The Autobiography- Shay Given (Trinity Mirror Sport Media )
The Warrior’s Code: My Autobiography, Jackie Tyrell with Christy O’ Connor (Trinity Mirror Sport Media)
Gooch: The Autobiography, Colm Cooper with Vincent Hogan (Transworld Ireland)
Form: My Autobiography, Kieran Fallon with Oliver Holt (Simon & Schuster UK)

The winner was ‘The Choice’ by Dublin footballer Philly McMahon with Niall Kelly. The story is not really about football but about the decline of his brother into drug addiction and early death. The book is a great achievement for Philly from Ballymun and is a validation of when a person makes the right and wrong choices how their lives diverge.

The winner in The Novel of the Year Award went to ‘Midwinter Break’, Bernard MacLaverty (Johnathan Cape)

Eavan Boland, one of Ireland’s greatest poets, was honoured with the Bob Hughes Lifetime Achievement Award. There were a number of testimonials to her standing internationally as a poet.
Miss Boland will be familiar to many people since she has been on the English Leaving Certificate syllabus for a number of years. I remember part of the poem titled ‘Love’, actually.

“And yet I want to return to you
on the bridge of the Iowa river as you were,
with snow on the shoulders of your coat
and a car passing with its headlights on:
Will we ever live so intensely again?”

Blues Sisters No Longer Blue.
Maybe I could do a stint as  a television reviewer as I seem to be going through a period of watching a good deal of it. On Monday night I tuned into a programme titled ‘Blues Sisters’. It followed the fortunes of the Dublin Ladies Senior Football team in their 2017 campaign. It was a very good year for such a documentary as the team, which had been defeated in the last three All-Ireland Finals by Cork, often dramatically, finally came good in a final against………Mayo.  
The programme highlighted the intensive preparation of the squad and the supports provided to that team. Once again a steep hill featured in the core stamina input. There was a hill in the Clare hurlers preparation for their great win in ’95. (I used to use the embankment to the top field at times in St. Mary’s College!).
Anyway Dublin easily got over a number of early hurdles in Leinster and then met Kerry in the Semi-Final before eventually overcoming Mayo. Their score flattered with a number of late goals but having been beaten for the last three years the joy was unconfined before a record crowd. The trick now is to win an All-Ireland by defeating the kingpins Cork in a final. Jimmy Murray saw the win over Kerry in ’44 as cementing the label of a great team on the then Roscommon team. A 2018 final between Dublin and Cork would be one I might go to myself.  

Boyle Celtic Hitting Fences
Boyle Celtic would probably have had higher expectations from themselves on their return to the Roscommon League in August. There was a slightly careless approach to the first game which  they lost to Castlerea Celtic. The loss in The FAI Junior Cup to Moore Utd., which they had done so well in last year, was a big disappointment. Last Saturday, though playing well, they went down to a single goal by League leaders St. Peter’s at Lecarrow, between Knockcroghery and Kiltoom. It is the Roscommon League’s headquarters pitch. Boyle’s pitch was unplayable due to the persistent rain of the day and eventually Boyle had to travel to Lecarrow over 35 miles away. The late call and rush would not have helped. Celtic have a good panel this year but can ill afford further slip ups if they are to be contenders at the end of the season. As Oscar Wilde said; “To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness”. But to lose three is…  
Celtic play Shiven Rovers in Boyle at 2 pm. on Sunday next in the league.

Boyle Publicity
The Irish at Home and Abroad
Boyle continues to get positive publicity regularly. I tuned into a nice soft magazine type programme recently called ‘The Irish at Home and Abroad’ which Anne Smith was responsible for bringing to Boyle.   
Then there were the very positive comments of the actor Brendan Gleeson in The Examiner newspaper highlighting a film of his. Brendan came to Boyle first in the mid-seventies and due to the reception and kindness afforded to him then he has become a regular visitor to the area since. He reflected on his positive initiation to the area then and the lifelong friends he made and makes the area special for him.
Of course Chris O’Dowd is a beacon for Boyle recognition regularly especially with Moone Boy.  More under the radar is the profile of Paul Young with his Cartoon Saloon based in Kilkenny having two Oscar nominated animation films ‘The Secret of Kells’ and ‘Song of the Sea’.

Being on T.V. or radio now is not the wonder it once was of course. There was a time when being on T.V. was a major kudo for a person or area and the viewing of same was something special. A really significant programme from the mid-seventies was that which featured Micheal O’Callaghan called ‘My Own Place’. Segments of this turn up on YouTube and such. The visit of Maureen O’Sullivan in 1988 was well highlighted on RTE main news.      
A Rare Type of Scam
On Sunday the 19th I attended the Kilglass Gaels pitch where the Boyle U 14 team put in a fine performance, especially in the first half, to overcome Roscommon Gaels in the Roscommon Feile qualifying final. The tournament takes place in Louth next year. On the way home I stopped to deliver a book to a friend who was waiting for me outside his house at Rooskey by arrangement. As I approached he was talking to a person whose car was parked on the opposite  side of the road and looked puzzled when I approached him. His puzzlement arose from the person he had been talking to who was looking for some money. Her story was that she was on her way to a Dublin Hospital from Donegal and had left her purse and card at home inadvertently. She wanted to ‘borrow’ some money to continue her journey! She was pulling away by the time I was with them so she missed out!

Christmas GAA Quiz
The Annual Christmas GAA Quiz will take place on Wednesday December 27th in St. Joseph’s Hall from 8 to 10. 25. This has become an established event in the Christmas Calendar and hopefully it will be as successful as it has traditionally been. There was some discussion regarding the appropriate night but there is no perfect time and it was on Wednesday last year so the committee stayed with it.      

Boyle Senior GAA AGM
Takes place on Sunday next December the 3rd at 4 o’clock.

Who is the Minister of State for Equality, Immigration and Integration?
Answer; David Stanton.
Sorry David never heard of you.
He was in Roscommon recently. What’s with the ‘Integration’ segment of that portfolio?   

Congratulations to Patsy Hanley.
On his ‘Lifetime Achievement/Gradam Saoil’ which will be presented in Cork’s Opera House in February 2018. Patsy, another regular visitor to Boyle, is the godfather now of traditional music in county Roscommon.   

Coalition of Sinn Fein and Green Party
Some smart aleck came up with a possible title for a possible coalition of Sinn Fein and The Green Party as……Guns & Roses. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Update 16th November

Visiting Barcelona in Interesting Times 
We arrived in Barcelona on Tuesday morning October 24th. It was the first half of a very interesting trip to Catalonia. The second half I dealt with last time, it relating to Sitges with a large Boyle group. 
After arriving at Barcelona airport we took the bus to our mid-city destination, Placa de Catalunya. At just €8 for two it was pretty good value. Then, as a friend of mine is wont to say ‘going anywhere abroad, from Ireland, is invariably cost effective. The most expensive thing, proportionally, is if you have something to eat at …..Dublin Airport.”   

Our fairly basic hotel Lloret –at a basic cost- was on the main street of La Rambla. Having booked online to visit the Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s cathedral masterpiece, we took the Metro after the usual exploration regarding route and tickets. The Metro has a reputation for pickpockets so care is needed and the basic safety strategies of the tourist are required. The primary one being is to try and not look or act like a tourist! Not easy on the first day. With a couple of days familiarisation things improve. 
At 3.30 we join our booked tour. This is an extraordinary building. I have been in many cathedrals in different countries but the Sagrada is certainly a once off in every sense of the word. Its problems around the outside are the milling crowds, however within this abated. After the insights given by the tour guide we are allowed to spend time absorbing the unique features of the building and the use of natural light to enhance the experience through the stained glass windows. On journeys later we see other examples of Gaudi’s work with other buildings.
 Later we walk along much of La Rambla which is an open theatre in itself with various artists, picture painters, restaurants, stalls, gymnasts and an audience of strolling people. We have good food and wine –a rarity for me-in a side street café.
The following day we take the Orange line tour on an open-topped bus. This is the most efficient way to see Barcelona.  We had pre-booked at €70 for two days for two people on two different circuits. There are too many sights to mention here but we got off on the hill where we visited the Olympic Stadium (free) of ’92. I had a memory of this from an Olympic iconic picture of a diver with the city underneath him.  There were stunning views over the city from this hill. The next stop I got off at was the home of Barcelona Soccer, the Nou Camp. I did a self-tour there for €25. It was very impressive and again value for the charge. It is a magnificent stadium if a bit dated now and had an incredible museum. It requires a much longer time than I allowed, perhaps a half a day. Near the end of the bus tour we see another example of Gaudi’s work a house with the fish scaled roof.
Later that evening we discovered a really impressive and bustling colourful market just off Ramble not far from our hotel. It was an occasion to eat Paella on La Rambla. Later we visited a  tourist port area at end of Rambla. Huge reconstruction work had been done there in preparation for the Olympics. 

On our third day we took the Green line tour. The early part of the tour was all along the restored waterfront which was very impressive.  We passed the Sagrada Familia and stopped off at Park Guell another Gaudi must see. We did not go into the heart of it but there was plenty to take in plus two very good sessions of Spanish music and dance. The two bus tours were very impressive and a great introduction to the city of Barcelona and great value.

While I was well aware of the political climate it was not strikingly obvious in the first days but that changed by Thursday and a student rally. We found our way to the epicentre of political activity and possibility which was the Generalitat (Government) Square where there was an independence rally with huge international media interest. There I talked for over half an hour to a local who was mildly in favour of Independence. Later that night we sought out the actual Parliament itself. It was a long trek but eventually we found it but it was screened off by Guardia Civil police. The possibility of the Catalan Parliamentary Declaration of Independence was very much in the ether all the time and so it came to pass on Friday at midday by which time we were in Sitges still Catalonia but politically inactive.
Barcelona is a very interesting city to visit. The beauty of visiting these Mediterranean cities is that the weather is invariably on your side.

Our two bookings were a real help so consider those. Try not to carry vital documents –passports- and more money than you need for the day on your person and ‘own your space’.        

Catalonia declared Independence on Friday October 27th. I scanned the Spanish papers the following day and one sidebar article described this declaration as ‘Frivolous and Irresponsible’. While a section of the Catalan people feel historically and currently at odds with greater Spain they are trying to adopt a very difficult path. A number of their local Parliamentary Independence leaders have been arrested and are in prison. Their leader-a very mild leader indeed- Carles Puigdemont is in Belgium currently and will possibly be returned to Spain. There are certain parallels with Northern Ireland in the politics of the region. It will be very interesting to see what emerges from the December elections called by the national Government. Certainly as an example of a Revolution, so far it is the mildest one that I am aware of historically. Of course the danger is that some sparks or hot heads could set things on a more dangerous course which could be volcanic. Hopefully that will not happen and that, as in many disputes, compromises will be enough to avoid a more belligerent conflict.

Week End Sport
Like so many week-ends these past few days have been festooned with major sporting events.

Ireland Collapse v Denmark
I will not say a lot about this as there is so much ‘out there’ generally on the event. The Friday night draw in Copenhagen was accepted as being reasonably good though the famous ‘away’ goal possibility was a big ache.

The build-up to Tuesday night was tinged with this element also and the difficulty of Ireland getting the two goals that most thought they would need thus accepting that Denmark would score one. When Ireland scored there was a sense of disbelief but a good sense. Then the frailty with two Danish goals and the dream of going to the World Cup evaporating. The two Irish  substitutions at half- time gave the star player Christian Erikson the space to demonstrate his world class skills with some help from Irish mistakes. By the 75th minute the Irish defence and challenge had collapsed and it was sad to see a bedraggled Irish team towards the end. It was not that they did not try as was evidenced by the efforts of James McClean but the heart had been shredded from the Irish effort and Denmark was in a different class at this stage. The only consolation was that it was all clear cut and not like the Northern Ireland exit at the hands of a very poor refereeing decision.

The pain was shown by James McClean as he tried to converse with a post-match interviewer Tony O’Donoghue. That was understandable as the team would now miss out on the biggest tournament in world sport. O’Donoghue was sympathetic to McClean as was right but tried a different approach with team Manager Martin O’Neill. I thought this unfair to an obviously shell-shocked manager so soon after a devastating defeat.

In summary; Denmark were clear and deserving winners on the night. The Ireland team had achieved a considerable amount by getting so close. Their limitations showed up at the last hurdle. A sad thing for Irish soccer is that the future does not look bright as there does not appear to be many if any young stars emerging. This is evidenced by the barometer of playing at a decent level in English football. 

And the World Rugby Cup 2023 goes to ... France
After all the hype about Ireland’s application to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup they finished third of the three applications. While Ireland might feel somewhat aggrieved South Africa can feel worse. They were ahead at the end of a technical review etc. Ireland were well behind in this which was a major failing. They had placed their bid on a number of stadia including GAA grounds Pair Ui Caoimh, Killarney, Salthill, Castlebar and Belfast. When these were put under the microscope they did not front up. I suppose a big negative for say Belfast was that Casement Park did not even have planning permission! As one advocate for the hosting suggested; “Ireland had the best of things that could not be measured” such a big following in rugby heartlands like Mayo, Galway and Cork would you believe. There was a lot of puff pastry in the submission when it came under scrutiny and in the end facilities in situ and money won out with France. We can moan about not being supported by Wales and Scotland which is historical of course! The only country who really believed all the hype was of course Ireland!

I could go on but if you are really interested in the Devil’s Advocate position you can source it from;   “In praise of losing the Rugby World Cup”....Nov. 3rd '17. Ewan MacKenna.

Boyle Celtic Slip Up and Out of FAI Junior Cup 
There must have been considerable disappointment in the Boyle Celtic community seeing their team go out of the FAI Junior Cup at a very early stage last Sunday. They were defeated by Moore Utd. 4 -2. This is the competition in which they had reached the All-Ireland Semi-Finals last spring only to go out on penalties to Evergreen of Kilkenny before a large Boyle following at Sligo Rovers grounds ‘The Showgrounds’.

 It was felt that the team had added to the overall strength of their panel this year. While they have hardly ever had a full group to choose from they seemed to have the strength in depth which would see them through the early stages of such a competition. The injury to Sean Purcell has been telling. I have been at the league game v Moore early in the season which Boyle won after a tough challenge. I still I felt that, while Moore would be a tough team to crack, the quality in the Boyle side would see them advance.

So now it is back to the Roscommon League and especially the Connacht Cup where they got to the Semi-Finals also last year.  Still we will miss last year’s journey or journeys.    

St. Brigid’s v Corofin.    
St. Brigid’s and Corofin played out a top game in the Connacht Senior club Final at Tuam on Sunday last. Corofin who had overwhelmed St. Brigid’s last year in Carrick-on Shannon were probably deserved winners in extra time. But it is obvious that St. Brigid’s are on the rise again after a blip in 2015. Their minor team won the Connacht minor competition, in its first year. Liam Clifford suggested to me that this was the best Roscommon club minor team that he has seen in decades. So with wins in minor, junior and senior (the U 20 competition is in progress at the moment) it seems as if the St. Brigid’s Organisation/Juggernaut is the future.
There were a couple of interesting results at the week-end. Perhaps the most telling was the Rathnew, Wicklow victory over hot favourites St. Vincent’s of Dublin.

I watched a poor Portlaoise v Moorfield (Kildare) game. The most notable feature of the game were the numerous outfield interventions of the Portlaoise goalkeeper. I know Shane Curran had his moments but the Portlaoise keeper must have the imprimatur of his management team to be such an outfield participant. Perhaps he has set a trend!

Ireland v Australia Compromise Rules
I hope Enda Smith is ok to participate in next Saturday’s game in Perth. The first game in Adelaide was a pretty polite affair with the Australians coming out on top and they now lead by over ten points going into Perth. The Irish stars from the first game were Ml. Murphy from Donegal and Conor Mac Manus from Monaghan. Whether they win or lose is not going to get people too energised but it is nice that players from a variety of counties get a pat on the back for their efforts.

Melbourne Cup Unique Result.
The first, second and third of Irish horses in ‘the race which stops a nation’ (Australia) has to be one of the really great international sporting achievements of recent times. There are incredible sub-stories there also. The fact that 25 year Joseph O’Brien trained to winner ‘Rekindling’ to defeat his dad Aidan’s horse  ‘Vermeer’ into second must be unique in racing history. I am not a racing person so my knowledge of it would be very sketchy. Third was a Willie Mullen’s trained Max Dynamite.

The death of Mayo GAA star of the sixties ‘Jinkin’  Joe Corcoran
Mayo has of course produced a huge number of great players. Amongst that group is one of my favourite players Joe Corcoran who played for Mayo in the sixties. He was a gifted player with great ball control and a signature swerve/dummy during his electric solo runs.  He was also a fine golfer. He was school caretaker in Ballina. Apparently he was a very private man who subsequently avoided the limelight. However when he played at his best the spotlight was very much on him with a fine Mayo team of the late 60s’.

Congratulations To
Congrats to Ronan Garvin from Ballinameen who is part of the Athlone Town U15 side who are in the Semi-Finals of the National League teams U 15 competition. Ronan must be a pretty good soccer player to be achieving at this level.

Topics I might have touched on; Homelessness, House and Rent Prices, lack of optimism with house building, Roscommon politics and so. 


Thursday, November 2, 2017

Update 2nd November

A Memorable Week-end in Sitges by the Mediterranean.

Festival d’Arts Irlandes-Catala 26-29 October 2017.

Where to begin is the question. To do it all justice is the challenge.
After a number of days in Barcelona, during historic times, we arrived in Sitges some forty minutes south of Barcelona for an arts Festival of music, song and dance intertwining both Irish and Catalan culture. It was a many-faceted festival as could be seen from the detailed programme and one needed the dexterity of bi-location with a reservoir of energy to catch a decent percentage of all that one might like to see and hear. One of the mainstays of the Festival organisation is Caroline Wynne from Croghan and during the festival events she was regularly commended on her trojan work for it.  

Two different groups had been invited out from Boyle to participate in the Festival. St. Joseph’s Church Choir was the major group. It comprised of over twenty members of the regular choir, those who were able to make the trip at this time. They had practised diligently under the watchful eye and immense energy and talent of Director Anne Kielty.  They had been really looking forward to it and now their time had come. 
A smaller group of very familiar traditional musicians from Boyle also made the trip as they have done for some years now. These were Maurice ‘Mossie’ Martin, Bernard Flaherty and Donie O’Connor with sean nós dancer Edwina Guckian from Carrick on Shannon, under the title ‘Western Roots’. They were joined on an ad hoc basis by Anne Conboy and Brendan Gaffney for the bar sessions which they anchored.  
The sun and blue sky was a comforting backdrop to the various performances. It was a Fleadh in guaranteed sunshine.
The initial challenge of finding venues was quickly overcome since most of the activity centred on one Prado and garden. ‘Western Roots’ and  ‘No Crows’ from Sligo were amongst the stage highlights on that Friday with the evening capped by an energetic session in the Tres Courts sports bar following a viewing of Connacht defeating Munster. So all was positive there.   

On Saturday after a hearty breakfast a very pleasant and helpful gentleman called Brandon gave us a guided tour of the town of Sitges referring to its artistic and historic legacy ending in his own bar for ‘refreshments’. The afternoon was benchmarked by ‘a session’ in the Café del Mon owned by a Scottish couple where different nationalities participated.

Later that evening one of the stand-out events took place which was the creation of the Human Towers or Castellers. This has been a long-standing local tradition and involved a number of different groups in their own colours. A large number of these formed a broad base and these supported a number of other levels extending to six or seven high. The pillar was capped by very small and obviously young helmeted children. During my viewing one of the towers collapsed with some slight injuries. After the initial collapse there were a number of successful towers going to six or seven people high. It was a pretty dramatic event.

The highlight of the night was a Concert in two parts featuring ‘The Best of Irish and Catalan Contemporary Songwriting’. The Catalan side was contributed by local Felip Carbonnell, now resident in Sligo I am told. Felip got a great reception and came across as a very pleasant and gifted performer accompanied towards the end by Ray Coen of No Crows.
Donie O’Connor represented the Irish half flourishing with a tapestry of songs familiar to many of us and getting vocal encouragement from the energetic Boyle travelling support.

Sunday The Choir in Church
The main event, as it were, was the Sunday performance of the choir in Sitges church for the crowded 12 o’clock mass. They had been unable to access the church for practise so it was more challenging than it might have been. So too was the interaction with the mass celebrant. This led to a post mass rendition of two pieces which had earlier been lost in translation. In any event the choir performed to the highest standard, enhanced by soloists Rhona Feely, Catherine Bolger and Josephine Moran.  After prolonged applause in appreciation all was well with the world. After the performance members relaxed at the rooftop bar of The Hotel Platajor with members of the Gallagher family, originally from Boyle but domiciled in Sitges for a good few years now.
Later in the afternoon the choir performed on the festival garden stage in more relaxed mode as ‘The Lough Key Singers’ incorporating some of their church material and two folk songs ‘The Parting Glass’ and ‘Will You Go Lassie Go’. At a restaurant later a group of choir members engaged in an impromptu rendition of some of their material which had a emotive response from the owner of the establishment.
At a wrap up group meal we encountered a ‘Green Lady’ who would have frightened even the ‘Green Lady’ who was resident caretaker in the folklore of King House years ago.  
Later that night one of the best traditional sessions of the festivals wowed the crowds in the crowded El Cable Bar.
Apart from the slight referencing of some of the events in which Boyle people participated there was also a great ‘feel good’ factor amongst the collective. One could drift seamlessly from one group within the company to the next. Usually when travelling abroad with a group drawn from all corners one would gravitate towards another couple or at best a very small number but here it was a ‘one for all and all for one’ ethos.
And so it came to the final wrap party back at the central venue. This began with a host of young musicians with the five large groups from Armagh, Beaumont in Dublin, Bray and Carlow to be followed by a traditional session anchored by ‘Western Roots’ again. This included all the strands, where driving tunes, songs, story-telling and dance prevailed into the late night with a large number of contributors. Since this was a finale the atmosphere was at a heightened level as people were reluctant to call an end to a magical and memorable week-end.

Conscious of being diplomatic if I was to nominate my Oscar winners over the week-end the main accolades would go thus:
Producer: Caroline Wynne.
Director: Anne Kielty.
Leading Lady: Maura McGann.
Leading Man: Donie O’Connor.
Cheerleader: Cathal Tivnan.   

Post Script.
What a coincidence!
We all have stories of coincidences of varying degrees. So this is mine from Sitges involving an Irish couple, long- time residents in Alberta Canada who were in Sitges as part of a long planned holiday. I had met Noel and Bernie a few times through Friday as they were staying in the same hotel as I was and we got talking. (It was a great talking week-end also!) It emerged that Noel was from Bray and still had generational relations there and remarked that the younger connections were ‘into’ Irish music et al. I told him that there was a substantial Bray group present as part of the Festival and perhaps some of them would know their connections. Later that day Noel and Bernie were walking the prom and a little distance away a group with red tops were practising their music. Then they saw a couple of the group’s youngsters wave in their direction. Since there was nobody else in the vicinity just then, they felt they were the subjects of the wave. It turned out that the youngsters were in fact their grand- nieces! They were there with the Bray band one of whose leaders was Noel’s adult nephew. They had observed Noel walking nearby and one suggested that he was the image of their own grandad (being his brother) and hence the exploratory wave.
Noel and Bernie became an ever present at Bray and Boyle events subsequently and I received an ‘Alberta Broach of Honour’ for my little part in that coincidence maturing.    

(I am very conscious that there were many, many more, highly regarded performers –local and Irish-present other than the Boyle contribution but this piece is written for our local constituency).                    


Saturday, October 21, 2017

Update 21st October

• Best wishes to Eastern Harps Senior GAA team and their manager Shane King from Corrigeenroe. Harps are in the Sligo County Final on Sunday v Tourlestrane in Markievicz Park.  
• Two YouTube series of shorts courtesy of Allied Irish Banks. One involves the Roscommon Championship Campaign and the other a very entertaining one involving David Stelling and Chris Kamara of Sky Sports Soccer Saturday on their ‘Road to Croker.’
• The search is on for tickets for Ireland v Denmark away Sat. 11th and home Tuesday 14th. Why would there be no mention of using Croke Park for a possible 83,000 crowd for the 14th?
• I have mentioned that I was looking for a good coloured copy of the 1983 Intermediate winning team from the Frenchpark final v St. Ronan’s. I still am looking for it.
• No news yet on that big medieval table ‘borrowed’ from the Abbey Park during the late summer.
• Boyle Celtic soccer club are beginning to purr and we look forward to a clash with St. Peter’s Athlone when that is sorted.
• “The saddest thing that has ever happened to what was Great Britain” Richard Branson on Brexit.     
Ophelia Storms Through
Ophelia passed over/through our area without doing too much damage. Tragically three people died nationally and more seemed intent on reckless endangerment in Salthill and elsewhere.  Most of us hunkered down on Monday fearing the worst but we were spared. Though, even from my window I could see some cars and a few high sided trucks on the main road over the Curlews.  Cork, the south and the south-east took the brunt of the storm. The three most dramatic scenes of destruction were in Cork City. The flying roof of a school in Douglas, the damaged stand of Cork City F.C. at Turner’s Cross and the felled line of trees on a city street. In fairness the Meteorological services got it right for the most part and we had time to batten down the hatches as they say at sea.

The original Ophelia is one of the great tragic heroines of literature. She is the love possibility of Hamlet Prince of Denmark, the daughter of Polonius and sister of Laertes. She observes the disturbed Hamlet during the famous soliloquy ‘To be or not to be….’  where Hamlet considers (and keeps considering) his own journey. Hamlet dismisses Ophelia with ‘Get thee to a nunnery…’. This and subsequent misunderstandings leads to her tragic end. How the single mind, that of Shakespeare, could create such characters and characterization with a body of phrasing that is a benchmark of the English language, is a miracle of genius. From time to time when I was ‘treating of’ those plays I felt that Shakespeare would have to be a mad genius if a smidgen of the interpretations that are applied to his characters were designed. (It is suggested that it was another man, Marlowe, who was the true author!).

I was disappointed that those who name storms at the Irish and U.K. Met. Services did not continue with the Shakespeare names. Then we would have had Hamlet; Juliet; Lear; Lady Macbeth and so on which would take us through a winter or two.

Speaking of the English language, which gives the Irish as a people such a starting advantage in this crazy world of ours, I came across a documentary during the week on a religious writer and theologian called William Tyndale. He was from the time of The Reformation. Despite the opposition of Henry V111 and the Roman Church he insisted on the translation of the Latin/Greek Bible into the language of the people – the vernacular -. While Tyndale did not get much credit this translation became the basis of King James’s Bible of the early 1600s’ which is one of the great works of English literature and another of the major contributors to the English language. The Bible of course is to Christianity what the Koran is to the Muslim religion. It is the benchmark of Christianity. That is why Tyndale wished that it be translated into say English so that the people – who could read of course - could interpret it for themselves if they so wished. That seems pretty reasonable by modern standards. The Roman Church had protected the Bible from dispersed interpretation by keeping it in the language of the classics. The church would tell the people what it all meant and knowledge is power of course. The presenter of the programme on Tyndale was Melvyn Bragg of The South Bank Show.

BBC 4 is a source of many fine and educational documentaries. A two part film/documentary currently showing is on The Reformation and the life of Martin Luther in German and subtitled. The advantage of modern television, apart from recording, is the facility to backtrack and fast forward etc.  ‘Did he (President Trump) really say that?

In fairness RTE is showing a major documentary series on the Vietnam War at the moment. Amongst the many telling observations in this, is one which relates that Robert Mac Namara (U.S. Secretary of Defence from President Kennedy’s time), was aware that the War was a lost cause as early as ’67. Still the U.S. continued to send thousands of troops into the conflict until 1973 with the fall of Saigon coming in ’75. Over 50,000 Americans died in that war with thousands more wounded, injured and held prisoners. This is just that side of the equation with horrific numbers of Vietnamese being victims also.  

Of course if all that is too heavy for you on Wednesday on RTE 1 there was a ‘Rachael Allen; All Things Sweet’ dish with the promo as follows; “Rachael makes chocolate and hazelnut praline ice cream, roasted plums with white chocolate sauce and raspberry and white chocolate meringue roulade” (R). They should give the Allen family a channel of their own. There are a few words there that Melvyn would have bother with.                

The Abbey (Community) Park on Saturday the 14th.
Last Saturday October 14th was another very significant day for Boyle GAA and the Abbey Park. The Club unveiled a mural in the stand representing John Joe Nerney in determined pose. This was based on a forties action picture. The mural was painted by local artist Sian Costello. The stand too was named in honour of John Joe. The Nerney family was present in force with a large attendance from Boyle with other adjacent clubs generously represented.

After the Mural unveiling the first or initial segment of the ‘Boyle GAA Historical Record in Pictures’ was presented. This has 10 frames each including up to a dozen notable pictures from the early days of the club up to the present. Amongst these was one dedicated also to John Joe and a second to the great handballer of the thirties, from Boyle, Paddy Perry. Present to witness this inaugural recognition of Paddy was his daughter Marjorie and her husband Dermott McDonnell and nephews Peter and Eamon Perry. All frames are sponsored with the sponsors name nominated on the frame. The project could expand greatly, encompassing various themes such as Ladies Football, the role of national and second level schools, major figures like Sean Young and Michael O’Callaghan and so on. To it could also, if the finance was available, could be added a pictorial record of Roscommon GAA teams. So if you would like to be involved in sponsoring a frame you may contact me. Credit for the quality of the pictures goes to photographer Tony Murphy of Visionary Studios on The Crescent. The generous wall space courtesy of designing architect Chris O’Dowd provides an ideal gallery for such an exhibition.            

The third event of the day was the popular Garda Cup Final in which a Shannon Gaels/Kilmore combination were convincing winners over Castlerea. The presentation was overseen and Garda Michael Pilkington and Sgt. Frank Egan who represented the Garda Division of Castlerea/Boyle.
Through the day there was a fund raising event for ‘Niamh’s Journey There’ which was also very well supported.

The day ended well for Boyle with victory over St. Faithleach’s in the Intermediate League Final for the O’Gara Cup. This was proudly accepted by Boyle captain Roch Hanmore as he cradled Bobby, the family’s very young baby.

It was just one crowded day, a great Boyle Community Day in the Abbey Park, one of the most used recreational facilities in the town. There were many people who deserve great credit for seeing the day through successfully led by the Club Chairperson, Kathleen Hanmore.

The Catalonia/Spain Dilemma For Beginners
Since Catalonia is so much in the news I decided to make a very cursory study of it to be able to follow what is really going on and I share it with you!

The region of Catalonia is divided into four provinces of which Barcelona is the most significant. It is bordered in the north by France and the small Pyrenees country of Andorra. To the west it is bordered by the region of Aaragon and to the south by Valencia. It official languages are Catalan and Spanish. Like so many regions its geographic/historic existence has been shaped and re-shaped by centuries of time and conflict.

In the 1640s’ Catalonia revolted against the more centralised federal state of Spain ruled by a monarchy Charles/Philip and so on. Its latest royal family being the Bourbons from the late 1800s’ to the present with the gap for the Franco period. It became a Republic under the protection of France but France grew more protective and took it over altogether until they were pushed back by an army of Greater Spain.

It was also one of the regions which saw more conflict during the French wars in the era of Napoleon (early 1800s’), Wellington and the Peninsular wars.

With the Industrial Revolution the region became more prosperous than other regions of Spain. There is a certain echo of Northern Italy v Peninsular Italy there.

One needs to bear in mind that the desire for a separate nation-state remains more or less constant if fluctuating. We would know a bit about that.

In 1914 the four provinces formed a Commonwealth. From 1931 to ’39 what is referred to as The Second Spanish Republic (the first being in the 1870s) is declared and Catalonia establishes an autonomous government. This was a desperate period in Spanish history with a bitter Civil War. The legacy of that war obtains to this day especially in Catalonia which paid a heavy price at the hands of General Franco and the Fascist regime which it had bitterly opposed. The victorious General Franco abolished many of Catalonia’s institutions and attacked its cultural inheritance including its language.
From the decade of the 50s, through the 70s’ however the region prospered with the added industry of a tourism boom. This of course led to a surge of migrants from other regions of Spain ‘diluting’ the Catalan population.
The Bourbon monarchy with King Juan Carlos returned after Franco’s death in 1975. After ’75 there was a was a period of rapid ‘Transition to Democracy’. Catalonia was able to reinstate many of the features of autonomy from their short period of sovereignty in the 1930’s. It continued to prosper and this culminated in the hosting of the Olympic games in 1992. There are wider problems with a region like Catalonia getting varied independent rights. There are other areas in Spain like the Basque region who would wish for those rights also, so a possible domino effect obtains. This would have major effects not just in Spain but in other EU countries also, like Belgium for instance.

In 2010 ‘The Constitutional Court of Spain’ restricted many of these autonomous rights to Catalonia and this led to a call for Independence.

In a 2014 Referendum (like 2017) 80% voted in favour of Independence but the vote was in the mid- 30% . This agitation continued in 2015 with a possible secession date being set for 2017. We are in that process now. In 2017 only 43% voted but 91% of those voted to break with Spain. It is still probable, however, that the actual majority even within Catalonia still wish to remain part of Spain. As can be seen this is a hugely divisive and dangerous issue.

It is said that Catalonia provides over 19% of government tax but gets just 14% in return. The Government is known as The Generalitat and its current President is Charles Puigdemont. The state has its own police force while the national police- Civil Guardia- retains personnel within the state for a range of significant functions such as security and border supervision. We saw a clash of police roles recently.

We will leave it at that for now and maybe in my next report I’ll be better informed after a field trip.  

Slán for now.