Thursday, February 2, 2017

Update 3rd February

Boyle Celtic Showdown

Boyle Celtic will have, arguably, their biggest game ever on Sunday next in the FAI Junior Cup last 16 contest in Boyle at 2 pm. Celtic are the last Connacht team standing in the competition. Having a home venue puts them in with a chance of progressing to the last eight. In saying that we know little of the Dublin team, VEC from Terenure,  but being from Dublin, and the winners of a number of trophies lately, they are certain to be a quality team. Still it is a big occasion for the club and we wish them and the team the best. Hopefully there will be a big crowd in attendance for what should be a top game.   

International Holocaust Day Friday January 27th.

Each year we are reminded of the horror of the Nazi attempt to exterminate the Jewish people from throughout Europe during the Second World War. Over 6 million Jews were killed in the Concentration Camps that sprang up in German and some occupied countries, including Poland, during the Second World War. The names of these camps (or vast complexes of death) have become bywords for man’s inhumanity to his fellow man. Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen, Treblinka and many more.  One film which represented this cruelty counterpointed by humanity was Schindler’s List with Liam Neeson playing the part of Oskar Schindler and Ralph Fiennes with a scary performance as the cruel Nazi Camp Commandant. We in Ireland remember The Famine when over 1 million people died and over another million emigrated.  In scale it pales in significance to the German destruction of the Jews which was done deliberately and by a supposedly ‘advanced society’. It is incredible to think that a people can be so brain-washed that they would think that this was an acceptable policy. Or is it ? A forgotten and little known equivalent to that of the Nazis were the pogroms of Stalin in the 1930s’ Soviet Union when any number around 20 million, it is suggested, were killed.
Anyway each year I watch the film clips from the Concentration Camps and one in particular stays with me. It is of a child of around four as she tugs up the sleeve of her coat to disclose her brand number for a camera.
They say that people have to know their history in order not to repeat the mistakes of the past. As a reader of history the mistakes of the past are regularly repeated.           

Remembering the ‘Elections of the Snows’
Friday the 3rd of February is the Centenary Anniversary of the Election of the Snows in 1917 which saw the election of George Noble Count Plunkett in North Roscommon. After the election Plunkett declared that he was not going to represent his constituents in Westminster but would go no farther than Dublin laying the basic policy benchmark for the subsequent First Dáil which came together in January 1919. While there is some play on the fact that Count Plunkett was not a Sinn Fein candidate in the North Roscommon Election of February 1917 he did align with the party not long after that with the coalescing of nationalist groupings under the Sinn Fein banner. So I would not get cranky about it being enlisted as a Sinn Fein first  understanding well why Sinn Fein would wish it to be so even if retrospectively. One gets on the bus or opportunity that comes one’s way. 
An aspect of it that might be overlooked is that it was the electorate of North Roscommon who made it happen and we should be conscious of that. It wasn’t the last time that Roscommon voters did that.
(As I referred to last week there is an extended, illustrated essay on the election, in this week’s Roscommon Herald pages 40/41).   

Roscommon v Tyrone.
The real challenge begins next Sunday for Roscommon Senior team in Omagh against Tyrone. Roscommon lost to Galway in the Final of the FBD league on Sunday last in Kiltoom. Galway deserved their win. It was a reasonable game but there were a good few discernible gaps in the Roscommon line–up. Hopefully Featherstone can develop into a full back and that the same can happen for Corcoran and O’Rourke at midfield. It was great to see Donie Smith put in a Roscommon ‘Man of the Match’ performance and score 7 points in all. So on Sunday we will see a ‘full’ Roscommon team and also see how equipped they are to stand up to the challenge of the Division One League. (See team selected for game v Tyrone at bottom).

*I heard a story last Sunday regarding Tyrone v Derry football. At a game, back in the day as they say, the one ball ended up and flowed away in a nearby river. The ‘referee’ asked the acting captains; ‘What’ll youse do now?’ to which the ‘captains’ replied, ‘Ay sure we’ll play on without it!’.

*A different question; Why is that the Roscommon GAA clothing attire has adopted the Dublin colour sky blue?

I wish Cathal Cregg and Neil Collins the best of luck in their retirement, for now anyway, from the Roscommon team. I should also include those who stepped down a while ago such as Geoffrey Claffey and Senan Kilbride. Eaten bread Is soon forgotten.

Visiting Robins
A number of countries have as national symbols birds such as the United States the bald eagle; New Zealand the Kiwi; Australia, the emu; Denmark the swan; Italy the sparrow and so on.
What would it be if one was adopted in this country? Near the top of the list would be the robin. In our house we have a glass door to the back looking out at the Curlew hills and a veranda we’ll call it. Looking into the kitchen for a few seasons now are some robins. I don’t know if they are the same ones which reminds me of a story I will tell at the end. Each morning I give our robins their breakfast. They now see it as their right. They are getting more and more comfortable with human encroachment and I look forward to them ‘eating out of my hand’ someday! This reminds me of Seamus Heaney’s poem St. Kevin and the Blackbird where the venerable saint had to hold his hand out for a long period to feed his blackbird. There is a kind of short therapy in watching them as they watch me and wind up from the railing before swooping down on their crumbs. It is a little task to discriminate against bigger stronger birds who should be able to look after themselves. When young we were told a story of the robin’s red breast, got while keeping the embers of a fire alive in some meaningful situation which I forget now.
A thing that really impresses me about my robins is that before their ‘breakfast’ they are nowhere to be seen but almost immediately on it being presented they are there as if I had rung a refectory bell. How is this?  This brings me to my story. Years ago, and happy years they were, as I walked over the Salmon Weir Bridge in Galway on a sunny day I stopped to watch a Galwegian who was trying to poach salmon from the river Corrib below with a line and a ‘gaff’ which was a number of strong hooks. An American visitor joined us. A short talk ensued focussing on salmon and their epic journeys. Eventually the visitor declared his question; ‘How is it that salmon can travel every year, all the way from New Found land, back to their breeding grounds here, with such accuracy?’ Maybe the Galwegian had heard the question before and had the answer on file which he gave as; ‘Until salmon can talk we won’t know that!’     
Brexit with James Candon Jnr.
There is so much about Brexit and its implications ongoing that it may be seen an overload to add to it here. I have encouraged people to submit pieces for consideration of publication  here and I received these lines from James Candon Jnr. at the end of November and I add them here. James had reason to travel in England and in doing so pick up some observations as to why they voted as they did. One of the themes James rightly emphasises is in what the EU has achieved. In a Referendum of fear in the U.K. of June 2016 these were never really clearly  laid out. So here is what James wrote in the last days of November, for which delay I apologise to him;  

“Hi Tony,
Well I made it to Swindon and back in the end despite the attentions of storm Angus. I have to go over to the UK about once a month and occasionally I meet up with some people from home. Most recently Tim McDonagh from Ballinafad and Martin Egan from Mockmoyne way.
The reason for the visit to Swindon was some business with a client in the financial and technology sector and thus we were both particularly interested in the issues surrounding Brexit. Before diving into the economic or business issues around Brexit I thought it would be interesting to get some views from the ordinary person in the area. The taxi man in Swindon said he voted for Brexit because of the immigrants and the NHS. When asked what he disliked about the immigrants he said he had nothing against the Polish because they are hard grafters but he does not like those from Eastern Europe who, as he sees it- are always begging and being involved in organised crime and the like! He did accept that he had been lied to about NHS issues.
At the reception desk to my client's building, the security officer turned out to be a Polish lady but she did not want to be drawn on Brexit. Maybe that was because there were locals close by.
With regard to the issue around immigration or rather around freedom of movement. This is one of the four pillars of the single market. This is something we learned in EU Law 101 way back in the day at UCD. The pillars are interdependent and inseparable. To think otherwise would be delusional. Note the word FREEDOM. The EU has managed to maintain the peace in Europe for almost 70 years. It has outlived communism and brought former authoritarian countries into the fold where they have slowly but surely been developing into modern democracies. This seems to be coming under threat due to the perceived advances of the forces of nationalism and populism embodied by the Brexit vote and some of the current elites in central European countries. It seems as if the infamous Boris Johnson has managed to unite the other 27 nations against the UK even before negotiations on Brexit have even started. His most recent tirade (back in November) was to describe the principle of freedom of movement as "Bollix". Well Bollix Johnson it shall be from now on.

Later in the day I was delivered to the Hilton Bankside and into the welcoming care of my cousin James Clarke who is the general manager there and never fails with the cead mile failte. This was not before I got talking with a man from Sheffield on the train back from Swindon. He works as a telecoms engineer and did not vote in the referendum himself but claims that he understands why people did vote to leave the EU: Basically it was two fingers to the establishment. However he did go on to say "without being racist or nationalist or populist, what is the point of having countries if you cannot control who comes in and what goes on in them, if you can't maintain your own values!?".

The view from Brussel in say the pub or at the side of the rugby training pitch varies from "one less problem for Europe if they go" to "I can't believe that the British people are that selfish and misguided"
The EU has given freedom and hope to millions and millions of people. It cannot be right to allow that hope and freedom to be dashed by certain leaders and wannabe leaders who play on the fear of people of migrant "others". It is high time that the EU be given the credit that it is due. It may not be a perfect union but where would we be without it? How could we hope to have any chance of coping with problems which cross national boundaries such as climate change and terrorism if like-minded peoples do not coalesce and face these problems united shoulder to shoulder?
One question that the man from Sheffield put to me though was "Do you see any other country leaving". I think we need to see that Ireland is in a very precarious position and if Britain does go we may have a referendum of our own which could be as divisive as the Treaty of 1921. I do hope I am wrong.
Is mise le meas
James Candon
High and Low
One cannot mention Brexit without some reference to the U. S. state of being. During the election one of the mantras of Hillary (Who?) was, ‘When they go low we go high’. This, I think was credited to Michelle Obama. Anyway Mexicans could adapt Hillary’s spake with; When they go high (wall) we’ll go low (underneath)’

I had a rare enough visit to a local tavern and in a satiric environment where a number of people contributed I was asked the question;

‘What is the first sign of madness?’ I could have offered a few ideas but they would have been well off the mark when I was eventually given the answer required as;

“Suds coming up the driveway” !!

Musical Back to the 80s’

I have my piece for posting above but as a finale on coming in from the Abbey Community College musical I have to commend all for the effort with it. It was colourful, crowded with players, enthusiastic and energetic. It is an experience that the participants will long remember and it is an education in itself. These sentiments were endorsed by the Principal David Harding who showed his own pleasure and enthusiasm for the production. Interestingly he touched on an old sentiment promoted by Father Dodd in his time at St. Mary’s College in having the College at the centre of the Boyle and catchment area community. In nominating my standout performances I was taken by Kevin Horan as the Nerd Feargal McFerrin 111 with his supporting ‘Outcasts’. There were two but three listed on the programme. So two from Megan McKenna, Georgina O’Connor and Rose Chilton. It continues on Friday and Saturday nights.   

Roscommon Team to play Tyrone.

1. Colm Lavin (Éire Óg)

2. David Murray (Padraig Pearse's)
3. Thomas Featherston (Oran)
4. Niall McInerney (St Brigid’s)

5. Ronan Stack (St Brigid’s)
6. Seán Mullooly (Strokestown)
7. Conor Devaney (Kilbride)

8. Kevin Higgins (Western Gaels)
9. Tadhg O’Rourke (Tulsk)

10. Niall Daly (Padraig Pearse’s)
11. Seán McDermott (Western Gaels)
12. Enda Smith (Boyle)

13. Donie Smith (Boyle)
14. Ultan Harney (Clann na nGael
15. Ciaráin Murtagh (C) (St Faithleachs)

16 Darren O’Malley (Michael Galley’s)
17 Paddy Brogan (Strokestown)
18 Ciaran Cafferkey (Western Gaels)
19 Cian Connolly (Roscommon Gaels)
20 Tom Corcoran (Strokestown)
21 Fintan Cregg (Elphin)
22 Shane Killoran (Elphin)
23 Niall Kilroy (Fuerty)
24 John McManus (Roscommon Gaels)
25 Brian Murtagh (St Faithleach's)
26 Gary Patterson (Michael Glavey’s)

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