My Christmas Just Past
December 1st RE-Union
Generally I have a reserved opinion on Christmas. However I can say that I enjoyed the Christmas just gone. So these notes are just a review of Christmas Past for me. It was pretty busy and started early. It had a mix of television viewing, book launches, quizzes, more television viewing, walks, social and family occasions.
The first real ‘occasion’ was a very successful St. Mary’s College/Boyle Vocational School Re-Union on Thursday December 1st. I’ve noted this here previously but it set the tone of sociability and good feeling for the rest of the month. It is always great to meet old friends who one might not have seen for years. This was the case here with the presence of Frank Fahey from Loughrea, a very popular teacher in the college back the years and Tom Colleran from Ballaghaderreen, Phil Fannon/Cooney and John Moyles amongst others.
Mary Regan’s Book Launch
The following night saw the launch of Mary Regan’s book of her husband Christy’s pictures. This is the second such publication and it was launched by a former excellent student I remember well, Harry Keaney who had worked with Christy at the Roscommon Herald in the 80s’. Harry spent a good period of time afterwards in New York and at one time was voted Sligo ‘Person of the Year’ there. He returned to Ireland and became Editor of the Sligo Champion and now works with Ocean FM.
T.J. Devine and the Election in the Snows February 3rd 1917.
Mary’s book of pictures ‘Through Christy’s Lens’ was my second ‘book launch’ as I had attended when Michael McDowell presented Father Tomás Flynn’s book on the 1917 By-Election in North Roscommon titled ‘Thomas J. Devine and The Election in the Snows The North Roscommon By-Election of 1917’. This book deals with the forgotten candidate of that 1917 election, T.J. Devine. The event is particularly remembered for the election of George Nobel Count Plunkett father of Joseph Mary Plunkett one of the 1916 Rising leaders. T. J. Devine lived in St. Patrick’s Street and has a number of close relations living in Boyle.
The election took place on February 3rd so its Centenary is just a month away. It is a very important event in the historical progression of the time and I am surprised to hear so little about it being remembered, at present.
Sunday December 4th
The event of the day was Boyle GAA AGM. There was general satisfaction with the cabinet and saw the first Lady Chairperson, Kathleen Hanmore, take office. The County GAA Convention took place in Ballinameen for the first time on December 16th and was a more contentious affair especially with dis-satisfaction expressed with the financial state of play. Perhaps I will return to this.
‘Roscommon Legends Book-Launch’ the 11th.
Richard Canny’s book on the great Roscommon team of the second half of the 80s’ was launched by Dermot Earley Jnr. in Kilronan Castle and turned out to be a very social affair as I have related here previously. There are some copies of the book still available with me.
Ecumenical Service Church of Ireland
Keeping in mind the religious tenor of the season I always try and be present for this light religious occasion with its emphasis on sung Hymns.
By this time the Christmas tree was put in place so the festive season as evidenced by the fine town lighting and various carol renditions at various locations. Now I missed quite a few events so it demonstrates what a full programme is there if one wishes or has the energy to participate.
Railway Cup Final and Remembering a Railway Cup Legend
On Saturday the 17th with friends I attended the Railway Cup Final between Connacht and Ulster at Pairc Sean Mac Diarmaida, Carrick-on-Shannon. It was a disappointing game and one yearned for the great days of the Railway Cup of my youth when over 40,000 people attended the finals on St. Patrick’s Day at Croke Park. It gave us a rare enough occasion to see football and hurling legends play such as hurling maestro Christy Ring of Cork. It was also a time when Connacht had some of its greatest football stars in each county.
On that Saturday night I travelled with my old friend Paddy Cummins of Killina to the village of Brideswell, in the St. Brigid’s Club area of South Roscommon to attend the launch of fund-raising campaign to provide a memorial to the legendary Gerry O’Malley who died on January 6th 2016.
At the back of my mind was the Annual Boyle GAA Christmas Quiz so that had to be moved a bit forward in the mind then with some prepping as its date came closer.
On the Monday a number of us had a very congenial little party for a close friend in a local home.
Late Christmas cards were dispatched supplemented by a little foray into card emailing.
The week progressed with the usual last day chores and the arrival of family members which would see a first ‘all-present’ for the occasion in a number of years.
Christmas Eve Saturday
Since I was aware of the considerable preparation of the Boyle Church Choir I attended in good time for the Christmas Eve Vigil Mass and it was heartening. After the conscience alerting messages regarding the terrible situation in Aleppo in Syria the Choir demonstrated the breadth of singing quality, in its programme. After the Christmas day mass there is the bustle and bonhomie of goodwill and greeting people not seen since perhaps a Christmas past, “Happy Christmas” being echoed with “And a Happy Christmas to you too”.
A Bright Christmas Day
The lovely weather had to have a considerable cheering effect on all as only a year ago some people were struggling with floods and such elements. I would have to remind myself that while things with me were following a fairly benign path there were people ‘out there’ who were not so lucky. Christmas Day started with a family gathering and following food it was a real search of the television programme to find something reasonable to watch for a lazy evening. That search was in vain unless you were a fan of ‘Mrs. Browne’ which I am not.
St. Stephen’s Day ‘The wren the wren the king of all birds..’
It was down to the Abbey Park for what might be termed a ‘novelty game’ in which an ‘over 30s’ panel played an ‘under 30s’. It turned out to be more ‘meet and greet’ causally watching proceedings on the field which was played in a seasonal spirit. Well done to all involved in that. I indulged myself later in ‘going into town’ to watch a Munster v Leinster rugby game and moved location to Clarke’s to catch up with the tail end of the St. Stephen’s Day, Lough Key Treasure Hunt. The welcome from former students was generous and a pleasant couple of hours passed quickly with one particularly good young musical ‘wren boy’s’ group from Knockvicar.
The GAA Quiz
Boyle GAA Quiz is at present an established event in the Christmas social calendar of Boyle. While it is a fund-raiser of a kind for the club, the club is as pleased with its social ambience as anything else. The hall got an early morning make-over from a very capable crew. This was the ninth Christmas Quiz starting with a humble outing in the Moylurg, transferring to The Moving Stairs for a Rally Quiz and for about three in that venue under the GAA banner. Having outgrown our venue we moved to ‘the hall’ which had a slight risk element to it. Francis Candon provided a disco element to it for a couple of times which only Francis can do and progressed to higher tech presentation and earlier ending so people could first meet up and then disperse to their own favoured venues. Each year I get a little nervous as to its continuity but this year’s success guaranteed another year at least.
Dodd’s, a topping Trad Session
The Christmas traditional session is one of the best of the year and this year was no different. The usual suspects, O’Connors, Morrises, Tivnans, Brendan Gaffney and Bernie Flaherty were present. I like music sessions to be interspersed with songs and on this occasion that was done in spades. Donie sang the Boyle song in tribute to a subject in the song who was present on the night, Bernie Tansey, and he followed later with a clever song involving Angeline Jolie romantic dilemmas. There were songs also from Kit, Brendan, Bernie and a Galway visitor Grace. John McGuinn was cajoled into singing a couple and added to the diversity as did Gerard Tivnan with the classic ‘Rocks of Bawn’. I was in the good company of a music devotee Kevin and his visiting niece as we traded stories of Kieran Emmett, Peter Horan and Patsy Hanley. One story I heard on the night was ‘credited’, if that is appropriate, to Paddy Daly who disallowed singing in his bar on the basis that: “ It was nearly impossible to get a very good singer to sing and it was equally difficult to get a person who couldn’t sing to stop”
Anyways, as my uncle used to remark, it was a very enjoyable night.
The Night they brought Liam McCarthy to Ballyfarnon
|Gaye Sheeran, Master Lynam, Cian Flanagan Tipp. minor winner; Tommy Lynam, Gerry Emmett, Ray Lynam with the McCarthy and Irish Press Cups at Killoran’s in Ballyfarnon on Sunday Jan. 1st.|
|Tony with the Liam McCarthy All-Ireland Senior Championship winning trophy with the Irish Press Cup for the winning All-Ireland Minor Hurling winners both being Tipperary in 2016.|
I have Gerry Emmett to thank for the fact that I have now a snap, as Jimmy Murray used to call them, of mé féin holding two prestigious All-Ireland Cups, the Liam McCarthy, All-Ireland Senior Hurling Cup and the ‘Irish Press Cup’ for All-Ireland Minor Hurling. This event took place in Killoran’s Bar in Ballyfarnon on Sunday evening. While it was hosted by the Killoran family it was facilitated by the Flanagan family from North Tipperary which I will explain. Edel Killoran/Flanagan of Ballyfarnon now lives in North Tipperary and her son Cian Flanagan played wing-back on the All-Ireland winning Tipp. minor team. For the family to be able to have the two cups for key days at this time of year was a pretty good achievement and to have them to bring to Roscommon was a generous gesture. It was well appreciated on the night and young Cian played his role as a modest guardian of the silverware as well as he can play the game. A number of St. Ronan's veterans were present such as Cian’s grandfather Michael and uncle Damien with cousins and extended family. It was good to see Tommy Lyman, Patsy McKiernan, Gaye, Mary and Dermot Sheeran, Francie Cooney, Travers, Phil and Gerry, John O’Connor, Bernard Mulhern and many ladies, whose names I would not know, and youngsters present. Plenty of pictures were taken and I imagine there will be a few on display ‘into the future’ as they say. Sean Martin gave an appropriate speech of welcome and thanks to the Flanagan family for their effort in making it happen. He recalled the All-Ireland day and of the extended Killoran family meeting before the game outside the Croke Park Hotel and the nervousness then, overshadowed later by the excitement of victory and pride in having a very tangible link to this big sporting day for Tipperary.
As a postscript Gaye Sheeran told me of Bob Carr and a Garda Delaney (?) promoting hurling in Ballyfarnon once. Now if anyone could come up with that picture it would be a collector’s item.
As you can see it was a pretty busy and top Christmas for me. Meeting people home from the many places contributed to that as it does to all here.
A Happy and prosperous 2017 to all our Boyle area emigres (I am sure below is only a representative sample).
Australia --- Timmy O’Dowd/ Ciaran Conlon and family/ Paraic Sweeney & Ms. O’Connor/ Conor Nangle/ Enda & Jacquie and Emer O’Callaghan/ Seamie Gallagher/ Damien Keenehan/ Ciaran Keenehan. Miss Egan from Green St./Ger. O’Gara and clan including Joan and honorary Boyle man, Sean Casey/ Joseph Moran in Sydney/Karl Keenan, Perth. I hear you met a Conboy there recently.
The U.S.--- Damien Dooley/ Frankie Flaherty/ Marcus Kennedy and friend who I had a nice talk with after the quiz/ 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 in the U.S.
Canada; Tadgh Egan/ Sean Mullaney/ Brian and Jake McCrann/ Miss Compton/ Dearbhaile Mac Namara.
England --- Caoimhin Young, Quiz winner/ Killian Egan/ John Harrington/ / Gary Tiernan/ Nicky Emmett in London/Sarah Mullaney/Liam Scott who I meant to get back to have a few more words with in Dodds/Peter Cryan and friend from Clarkes.
Scotland --- Liam Young & family / Rory Nangle.
Belgium --- James Candon in Brussels
Germany and Belgrade --- The Gannon family/ In Munich--Michael and Maria Kelly and their family of Mario, Olivia and baby three soon. Thanking Michael for his nice and recent post.
Spain--- Conor Tivnan/ Sean Young & family/ John & Joan Gallagher and family/ Gavin, Declan and Anthony in various places.
Portugal----Mattie Scott in sunny Portugal.
Dubai --- Megan Morris, Aoife Brady/ Paddy Conlon stationed in The Gulf temporarily/ Darren Dockery, the Gulf!/ Neil Nangle in Bahrain.
South Africa --- Carmel Finneran.
Brazil---Fr. Tony Conry.
Japan ---Kate Gilmartin if still abroad at this time.
Singapore --- Catriona Moran and family.
New Zealand--Niamh Brennan and Kiwi partner Phil though I think they are in Boyle / Elisabeth Hemi Taute (Sweeney) husband and son Cian in N.Z. Christina Marnell daughter of Marie Paul also in New Zealand.