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.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Update 13th October

Toe in the water:
Perhaps some of you will be aware of the situation where you want to get started on something slightly intimidating. I feel that way now as I dip my toe back into the pool by returning to the ‘Oblique View’ again after some time otherwise engaged. I’ve been walking around it, getting diverted, having tea, bringing ‘in’ turf, had a walk and so on but if I’m to do it I have to take the plunge. The Bard with Macbeth;  "If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well It were done quickly".

It is not a bad time to do that as there are a number of things I wish to refer to especially with another busy week-end of sport just two days away.

Saturday next at Boyle GAA’s Abbey Park.
Boyle GAA will honour its most decorated player in dedicating the stand at the Abbey Park to John Joe Nerney at 11am on Saturday next. In the stand they will unveil a mural based on a significant picture of John Joe in action in the 1946 Final v Kerry. The picture clearly shows the determination of John Joe in his competing for the ball with opposite number Dinny Lyne of Kerry. The mural has been presented by local artist Sian Costello.
Following this in the GAA Common Room a frame with a representative number of pictures of John Joe’s football life will also be unveiled as will ten frames of Boyle GAA related photographs. These are part of a ‘Boyle GAA History in Pictures’ Permanent Exhibition which will be displayed in the spacious club rooms. These include pictures from the early 30s’ up to recent times at the moment and have been sponsored by various individuals. Of particular interest is a frame dedicated to another famous Boyle sportsman Paddy Perry and Boyle’s handball’s tradition. Paddy is best remembered as a handballer but was in fact an all-round sportsman playing Gaelic football and hurling, soccer under the name of Mickey Rooney for Sligo Rovers and badminton. He played for Dublin for a number of years. He was a member of the Garda inducted by the then Commissioner Eoin O’Duffy who enlisted many star sportsmen into the force. Paddy Perry has a unique distinguishing achievement in that he won three Dublin Senior Championship medals on the one day, they being senior hurling and football with the Garda Club and an individual senior handball medal though injured. It is for these reasons that I would regard Paddy Perry as probably Roscommon’s finest ever sportsman.

At 1 o’clock on Saturday the Garda Final takes place. Regrettably Boyle do not contest the final this year and it is between Shannon Gaels and Castlerea.
At 4 0’clock Boyle Seniors play St. Faithleach's in the Intermediate League Final i.e. O’Gara Cup. This should be an entertaining game as their previous game some time ago in the Senior Championship was a close and very fine game.
From 12.30 into the mix there is also a cake bring & buy sale in support of a most worthy local cause i.e. Niamh’s Journey. 

I must also commend Boyle GAA committee hard core on all the work that has been going on in terms of revamping the fine dressing room complex that obtains there designed by Chris O’Dowd. I’m sure it will look at its best this Saturday. Also Gerard Tivnan and his team have done great work also in preparation for the day. It reminds me of the preparation involved in ‘the house stations’ especially in rural areas down the decades. (‘House Stations’ for those not now in the know were when a mass was said in a house in a townland area with all the neighbouring houses being represented there. There was also, inevitably, a collection. After mass a bountiful breakfast or ‘high tea’ was provided where the priest and other local aristocracy were treated first in the ‘parlour’.
There is no mass in the GAA rooms on Saturday but it looks like there will be most everything else.

(I might also add that on Sunday at 11 in the said Abbey Park, Boyle play Clann na nGael in the Quarter Final of the ‘17/’18 Feile).

Fuerty v Michael Glavey’s Intermediate Final

‘The savage loves his native shore
Though rude the soil and chill the air”
James Orr (Irish Poet 1770-1816).

Thus I keep an eye on Fuerty who are in the Intermediate Final on Sunday at Hyde Park. I was there at the re -establishment of the club in the early seventies. The issue with the club is that there are four clubs pulling from the area. These are the two hurling clubs, Tremane and Athleague and the St. Ciaran’s Club which caters for under-age and includes Creggs. Fuerty were a force back decades ago at senior level and were a strong club until the mid-fifties. Emigration decimated that and it struggled for a couple of decades but has been on the up in recent times. A great shot in the arm for the club came in a huge act of generosity by a man called Brian Mulhern who had returned to the area from New York. Fuerty officers looking for a site for a field of their own went to Brian and asked him if he would agree to sell them a field they had identified as a possibility for developing into a decent grounds. He replied that he would NOT sell them the field……but that …he would GIVE them the field free gratis provided they attached his recently deceased young wife’s name to it which of course they were happy to do. Since then Mulhern Park has been developed into a very good facility and the fortunes of a club, wandering for decades from field to field, improved immeasurably. They got to the All-Ireland Junior Final at Croke Park in February 2014 and to the Intermediate final also against Ml. Glavey’s in 2015 which they lost narrowly at Strokes town. The Croke Park day was just very special. Their top player is Tremane man Niall Kilroy while Boyle connections other than myself are National School teacher Sean Melia and Abbey Community College teacher John Fitzmaurice.  
Amongst the well-known people from there are Senator Terry Leyden and his daughter Council Chairperson Orla as well as Cllr. Dominick Connolly and The Roscommon columnist Liam Devine. Talking of Fuerty, which I enjoy taking the opportunity of doing, the county’s winner in the Tidy Towns competition in Castlecoote my own place. It will continue to be a real contender for top national honours for the foreseeable future. The recent ‘big event’ there was the holding of the Roscommon County Fleadh last Easter Monday. An against the odds win on Sunday and promotion to senior ranks would be something very special to see.        

Ireland v Wales- More Drama
Ireland are still in the World Cup lifeboat and for a few I knew who were present at the game in Cardiff it was one in which they can proudly say ‘I was there’. Most of my sentiments follow the line of Roscommon Herald Editor Paul Healy in his column on page 5 of the Roscommon People. The obsession with poor Wes Holohan. I can’t understand if he is such a player that he has not played for Real Madrid or such. Then there is a game kick off time at 7.45 but the T.V. build-up starts at 7 (I think they call this…. ‘the framing of the game’ with……talk and …ads..and..more talk .). Then when the game is over the talk machines are switched on again especially if there are highlights of another  game you might like to see.
Anyway Ireland won due to some usual heroics by goalkeeper Randolph, defender Duffy and a cracking goal by James McClean…again. The ‘step-over’ by Arter was clever also. As they are wont to say -if this was done by a Barca player-there’s the difference, the class, why wouldn’t he paid a half a million a week? So now more drama early next week when we find out who Ireland play in the play-offs. When Paul Healy asked some people he was interviewing about matters in Roscommon pages 16/17 Cllr Kathleen Shanagher was sharply tuned in- assuming that they get to the finals- with; It’ll be “good for the credit unions”. The finals, by the way are down the road in…… Russia.

Postscript: One has to feel a bit for Wales who were big favourites going into the game but now miss out on their best chance. They have not qualified for the World Cup since 1958 in Sweden when they reached the quarter finals and Brazil won with a young fellow called Pele was at the start of his career. Northern Ireland were also there in ’58 and got to the semi-finals if my memory is on quiz key. Northern Ireland are also in the play-off hat next week. Who could they play in the play-offs? Italy/ Croatia/ Denmark/ Portugal or Switzerland.               

Gerry O’Malley Remembered
Maybe it is the season of memorials but last Saturday the 7th I attended the unveiling of a memorial to, arguably, Roscommon’s greatest ever footballer, Gerry O’Malley. Gerry O’Malley played for Roscommon from 1947 to ’65 and captained the county’s senior team in the All-Ireland final of ’62 which Kerry won. Gerry got injured in that game and had to ‘retire’.
Gerry was part of the great Connacht Railway Cup teams of the fifties when they had some of the greatest players ever from the province’s counties. They were Packie McGarty from Leitrim; Naas O’Dowd from Sligo; Sean Purcell and Frank Stockwell from Galway; Carney, Langan, Casey from Mayo and O’Malley from Roscommon. That was when the Railway Cup attracted around 40,000 to the finals and St. Patrick’s Day. It also gave people a chance to see the great hurlers of the day Ring, Reddan, Rackard and O’Donnell in the hurling side of the Railway Cup.
Anyway returning to last Saturday a large crowd gathered at Gerry’s home townland of Brideswell in the St. Brigid’s Club catchment area. Many of the’62 team were present and while one was sure to miss out on some I met Seamus Keane of Creggs; Tony Kenny and P.J. Shine of Clann; Peter Watson and Tom Turley of Pearses; Christy Grogan of St. Croan’s; Brian Mitchell from Four Roads and Eamon Curley also from the Pearse’s club. Eamon was much thinner man last Saturday than the virtual prop-forward of a powerful player with Roscommon in the early 60s’ .
The Chairman of the Memorial Committee, Charlie Finneran, introduced proceedings and M.C. Frankie Donnelly ran the show after that. The speakers included Gerry’s son Niall; Michael Conroy from Tulsk a long-time work colleague; Eugene Cummins C.E.O. Roscommon county Council; Brian Carroll Secretary of Roscommon County Board GAA and R.T.E. Radio Brian Carthy from Strokestown another long term friend of Gerry’s. As the old accounts of these occasions used to go ‘they all spoke appropriately’.
There were some nuggets amid the mass of ‘thank yous’ and the plaudits to Gerry’s ability as a player. Apparently when asked why he left Castlerea to take up a position in North Dublin Gerry replied; ‘I like the farmers and the people around west Roscommon but with me all they want to do is talk football with the result that it was hard to get anything done. In North Dublin it was different!’ As I listened to Brian Carroll’s short but effective relating of his friendship with Gerry it struck me, a friend of Gerry’s also, how lucky we were in being able to say that. On one occasion Brian related while visiting Gerry he was asked to take a football sock out of drawer in the bed room which turned out to hold some football medals. Gerry took one of them -a county senior medal- and gave it to Brian with the guidance; ‘Brian I’m passing that onto you now but when your time comes you can pass it on again”.
The Gerry 0’Malley legacy will live long in Roscommon and the fine memorial at Brideswell will cement that so I commend them for their efforts.

·       If anyone has a good coloured picture of the 1983 Intermediate team which won in Frenchpark v St. Ronan’s I’d appreciate same.
·       An odd take away from the Abbey Park during the late summer months was a big green bench/table. It would have taken two people with a decent trailer to remove same. It was being used at the time with the construction of clubhouse lockers. That bench originated, I am nearly certain, in the old Catholic Club later GAA Social club and I may have been party to it arriving in the Abbey Park as I seem remember putting my mark on it. So if anyone has any knowledge of its whereabouts please let us know. It has the look of a Medieval table with its X legs etc.
·       T. V. series of the moment on T.V. is ‘The Vietnam War’ RTE Mondays at 11.35 or BBC 4 Mondays at 10. There are a number of episodes transmitted at this stage.   

That’s more than enough for this week so no mention of Catalonia; Trump, Boris Johnson, Theresa Maye, Weinstein, Che, Gooch et al     

I hope this column to be a two-weekly one so the next should be showing around the end of October.