Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Update 23rd January

Treating the Robins.

Few wild birds are as close to domesticity as the Robin. I’ll give her a her and a capital R. here, if you don’t mind, out of respect. For some years now at this time of year a number of Robins call to my raised back patio. They have an expectation of being welcomed and treated well. Hopefully they are not disappointed. Each morning I donate a few spoonful’s of porridge for their breakfast. They are near eating out my hand and we exchange the salutations of the day. Natural instincts are just amazing. Many times there is not a Robin to be seen but when feeding time comes they just emerge from, wherever. Of course when I am a bit late they arrive pecking at the empty feeding bowl and staring in the window kind of chastising me for my lapse. The Robin must be a brave soul as it tries its best to defend its territory from other larger predators and even has dust ups with its own kind. Keeping the feed solely for the Robin is a challenge at times as the blackbird and occasionally the magpie have got in on the act now. The robin will peck and fly a short distance and return regularly. She is not one to gorge but eats in steady portions.  
The Robin quickly appears also when one has the spade or other implement and they follow your course seeing the possibility of the odd worm.  The Robin’s red breast is traditionally regarded as having sprung from its attendance at Calvary when a splash of blood marked it distinctively. It is suggested that this happened when the Robin pulled a thorn from Christ's brow.
Certain birds down the aeons of  time were often caged for amusement. I suppose some still are. A poet once wrote of the Robin in this situation “A Robin redbreast in a cage/Puts all heaven in a rage”. I remember Pat Feely at an occasional party relating the monologue of ‘Who Killed Cock Robin’ . ‘Not I’ was the response of a succession of suspects.  
I look forward to seeing my cheeky Robins giving me the eye and suggesting that I get on with the chore of their feeding which I am happy to do. They deserve that for the diversion of their pretentious presence.   

Robbie Burns Scotland’s National Poet.
Thursday of last week, January 18th , was Rabbie Burns Night, the annual celebration of the great Scottish poet who has given us some of the iconic poems of the English language. Nearly everyone will have recited/sang and shed a tear in doing so with his New Year’s Eve rallying call ‘For Auld lang syne’ (for the sake of old times)
Robert Burns, also known as Rabbie Burns, Ploughman Poet, is widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland and is celebrated worldwide.
He was born on  January 25, 1759 in Alloway Scotland and died on July 21, 1796 in Dumfries aged just 37.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne!

Chorus - For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll take a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

His great love poem/song and an inspiration to many like Bob Dylan is…

A Red, Red Rose

O my Luve's like a red, red rose
That's newly sprung in June;
O my Luve's like the melodie
That's sweetly play'd in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I:
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a' the seas gang dry:

Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi' the sun:
I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o' life shall run.

And fare thee well, my only Luve
And fare thee well, a while!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho' it were ten thousand mile.

Amongst the notable stand out quotes from Burns, regularly adapted, is the following  

“The best laid schemes o' mice an' men Gang aft a-gley, An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain For promis'd joy”.

As can be seen ‘O’ Mice and Men’ was used by my overall favourite  writer John Steinbeck for a novel of the same name in the 30s’.  Many Boyle people may remember this as a New York Broadway play transmitted to the screen in Carrick starring Chris O’Dowd and James Franco in April 2014.  

Shane McGowan at 60
Since I am in the literary vein I see that another poet/song-writer with similarities to Rabbie Burns i.e. Shane McGowan celebrated his 60th birthday last week January 15th.  He was actually born on Christmas Day 1957. The concert took place at the National concert Hall  organised by his friends to mark the occasion. It was a celebration to mark this notable birthday since it was widely felt back the years that Shane might not make a significant birthday of any consequence due to his lifestyle where drink and excess was dominant. (I go on a related diversion here; I have a friend, a Roscommon town legend, named T. Hill. A few years ago he visited his doctor’s centre and was met by a new doctor to him. T. enquired  about his former doctor whom he had not seen for a number of years at this stage. ‘Oh he died some five years ago’ answered his now doc, ’Any particular reason why you ask?’ ‘Well he was the doctor who told me fifteen years ago that I wouldn’t make another five if I did not make drastic changes to MY lifestyle’ replied T.)
Anyway Shane has made 60 in the company of his patient and tolerant partner Victoria Mary Clarke. Once when the members of  'The Pogues' could no longer tolerate Shane’s erratic behaviour they fired him from the band to which Shane stoically responded ‘What took you so long?’   

While ‘Fairytale of New York’ is the dominant song of the airwaves  Shane has been the author of a number of other fine songs such as ‘Rainy Day in Soho which I transfer to below. I’ll paste a verse of a favoured Dodd’s session song first;        

Sally MacLennane sung from time to time by Francis Gaffney.

We walked him to the station in the rain
We kissed him as we put him on the train
And we sang him a song of times long gone
Though we knew that we'd be seeing him again (Far away)
Sad to say I must be on my way
So buy me beer and whiskey cause I'm going far away (far away)
I'd like to think of me returning when I can
To the greatest little boozer and to Sally MacLennane

If Burns’s love song is ‘Red Red Rose’ Shane’s Rainy Night in Soho is a fine song in a similar vein.  


I've been loving you a long time
Down all the years, down all the days
And I've cried for all your troubles
Smiled at your funny little ways
We watched our friends grow up together
And we saw them as they fell
Some of them fell into Heaven
Some of them fell into Hell

I took shelter from a shower
And I stepped into your arms
On a rainy night in Soho
The wind was whistling all its charms
I sang you all my sorrows
You told me all your joys
Whatever happened to that old song
To all those little girls and boys

Sometimes I wake up in the morning
The ginger lady by my bed
Covered in a cloak of silence
I hear you in my head
I'm not singing for the future
I'm not dreaming of the past
I'm not talking of the first time
I never think about the last

Now the song is nearly over
We may never find out what it means
Still there's a light I hold before me
You're the measure of my dreams
The measure of my dreams

I really like the repetition in the last two lines, like Frost with ‘I have miles to go before I sleep and miles to go before I sleep’ in ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’.

The Passing of Dolores
As I write Limerick bids farewell to their iconic singer Dolores O’Riordan. Barry Egan in the Sunday independent Living Supplement wrote “(It is) heart-breaking to imagine Dolores O‘Riordan’s short, brilliant life is truly over. Heart-breaking to think that she is gone forever, this beautiful young woman with more talent in her little finger than a dozen Beyonces, this voice of a generation who could sing like an angel with a damaged wing soaring over Mount Olympus”. I do not know enough to comment on the talent or music and songs of Dolores so I rely on her friend Barry to be the voice of commendation.

*The Robin outside my window has ushered me down the road the ‘View’ has taken today and leaves a small list of subjects that I meant to touch on for another day, perhaps. Today I’m being indulgent. ‘Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both …’ and all that.

I’ll make one exception though with my final paragraph. I don’t want the meringue to get stale.

Boyle Celtic Shine Under the Southern Lights
For the first 45 minutes of this Roscommon League game in Lecarrow, on a cold Saturday night, Boyle Celtic were in the doldrums against table toppers Castlerea Celtic. Castlerea played with speed, quality and threat in that first half and finished 2 goals up at the break. One would have to be a real optimist to suggest a dramatic turnaround. This encouraged a member of the significant Castlerea support to ask of one the meagre Boyle support, ‘How did Boyle get to where they did in competitions last year?’ By the end of the game the Boyle supporter had a gilded answer but his side-line adversary had left before the referee had called the final curtain.
In the second half a revitalised Boyle had awoken from their slumber to play champagne football and after five minutes or so it was 2 all and shortly after 3 to 2 for Boyle. Boyle were now playing with style and determination and continued to the end by which time the score had reached Boyle 6 Castlerea 2.  For the partisan 8 or 9 Boyle supporters it was ridiculously entertaining, a performance and game which those 8/9 will remember for some time and smile at the recollection.
Boyle Kyle Sweeney/ Dessie Carlos/ John Connolly Capt./ Sean Purcell 1/ Gerard McDermotroe/ Ml. Corrigan 2/ Danny Browne 1 penalty/ Aaron Calpin/Shane Battles/ Niall Brennan/ Dylan Edwards 2  with Luka Roddy/ Brian McCrann/ Lochlainn Conboy/ Lee McKilleen/ Martin Doherty. Manager Darren Hurd.
(Boyle are 4th in the League which Castlerea still lead with two games more played. The favourites to challenge Castlerea at this stage are St. Peter’s Athlone but ‘there is many a slip twixt cup and lip’.  If Boyle can consistently replicate the form of last Saturday night then they could get in the mix. A key game is the return game against St. Peter’s who won the first one by 1 to 0 also at Lecarrow. The Roscommon and District website has much detail on the progress of the games in the games including leading goal scorers with Ml. Corrigan in second place and Dylan Edwards in third).



Thursday, January 11, 2018

Update 11th January

·       While 2018 will be the Centenary of a number of events in the 26 counties it can be regarded I feel as the 50th Anniversary year of the Northern Ireland ‘Troubles’… 50 years … imagine!
·       • I had intended to refer to the Christmas Quiz – which I set too hard- but may do so next time.
·       • As I expected there were a number of names –some very obvious!- which were not on our Christmas Wishes list. Must do better.
·       • A highlight of my year the Sitges trip.

 Young Scientist of the Year
There are a number of events that bookmark the year as it progresses. The current one is The Young Scientist of the Year. I only attended once when a family friend had a project on display there. It was a pretty impressive occasion and it seems as if that is consistent through the years. There have been impressive winners also with quite a number cropping up in subsequent years at advanced levels in their respective fields. I am not aware of outstanding projects from this region but perhaps that is just my perception. There are many areas which have a wide spread for investigation especially the environment and its abuse by, I suppose, all of us. So on Saturday we will see the winners and their projects but I imagine many students will visit the RDS to get an overview and hopefully they will be inspired by some of what they see there.

The GAA in a Turbulent Time
The County Conventions and AGMs are mostly over with the major annual GAA Annual Conference remaining i.e. Annual Congress. A Boyle motion regarding a sensitive issue of the moment was passed at Roscommon Convention and should be discussed at Congress. The motion is as follows;
“That Cumann Luth Chleas Gael do not renew nor enter contracts with television companies that require ‘pay per view’ for coverage of our national games after the current contract expires”. Sky is probably the TV company most in the sights of such a motion.
Clann na nGael had a similar motion but it was withdrawn in favour of the Boyle motion. In last Sunday’s Independent Joe Brolly gave an incisive outline of his views on the march of Sky and its potential dominance of sports coverage with the attendant spread of a Sky sports culture and influence. Joe Brolly’s article looks to be really well researched and those who go to Congress and speak on the Boyle motion will do well to study it. If the GAA with all its traditions, cultural philosophy and being rooted in the wide community cannot resist the March of a Sky culture and its dominance then it indicative of the power of the great multi-nationals with their huge financial resources. (I’ll try and deal with some of the GAA issues into the future as they get some cohesion in my head).
A further issue emerged last Saturday with a Martin Brehony article regarding the criteria stipulated for a person seeking the position of Director General to succeed Paraic Duffy. The GAA has now extended the deadline for applications to Jan. 19th. The power of the pen and a bit of common sense.

The Golden Globes
What a great achievement it was for young Carlow actress Saoirse Ronan to win the Golden Globe Award for best actress in a musical or comedy for her role in the coming-of-age story, Ladybird.
While London Irishman with very strong Irish connections, Martin McDonagh's 'Three Billboard's Outside Ebbing Missouri' won four awards, including best film, and best screenplay.
Also nominated for a gong was Paul Young’s Cartoon Saloon’s ‘Breadwinner’ .
Meanwhile the majority of women wore black to the Golden Globe awards to highlight sexual harassment in the industry.
Hundreds of actors, writers and directors have signed up to the ‘Times Up’ campaign calling for new laws to tackle the issue.
Comedian Seth Meyers opened the ceremony by saying "Welcome ladies and remaining gentlemen".
Also on the night Oprah Winfrey on receiving an award for her extensive range of media skills and achievements used the occasion to give a powerful speech on various issues of the moment. It is being suggested that the speech was an opening salvo in her possible run for President of the United States.  

Observations on Some Television Programmes
I may watch too much television. I like to think though that I am pretty selective! There is a whole swathe of television programmes that I avoid with due diligence. Amongst those are ‘the soaps’. (Why are they called soaps? Ans. Because they were originally sponsored by soap producing companies).  My self-indulgence lies with Champions League soccer. In the latter months of the ’17 there was a good deal of excellent games from the Premier League in England also.  
Over Christmas I watched Shane again. It must be nearly a score of times I’ve seen that western classic which first came to the screens in 1952 with Alan Ladd and the bad guy Wilson played by Jack Palance. I watched ‘The Big Country’ not for Charlton Heston who I avoid, since his famous ‘From these dead hands’ speech to the N.R.A. in the U.S. It was for the performance of Burl Ives as Rufus Hannassey in opposition to Charles Bickford’s Major Tyrell. Burl Ives was also a popular singer and I seem to remember, when I was a boy, him singing Big Rock Candy Mountain.
There were a good few quizzes on tv and with University Challenge and others being dumbed down they were entertaining.
With the advance in technology making it easy to record a programme and view it when convenient there is no need to miss a programme that interests you. That happened with the Monday night RTE transmission of ‘Micko’ on the life and football career of Mick O’Dwyer. It was in many ways subdued as it outlined his fierce commitment to Gaelic games first as an outstanding player himself and then as the most successful Gaelic football team trainer ever. It was sad to see what time does to us all in his decline and muted speech. Still it was not one of those boring undiluted patronising programmes of the man as is often the case. So having it recorded I will watch again at a more studied pace.
Having regularly recommended viewing the series on The Vietnam War the one I have begun to watch now is ‘The House of Saud’. It deals with the Royal House of Saudi Arabia and its influence in contemporary history of the Middle East. That region is being shredded by complicated conflicts where the toxic mix of religion and tradition are to the fore. (In this country we know a bit about that). UNESCO, which includes the Ancient City of Aleppo on its World Heritage List, describes it as having "exceptional universal value because it represents medieval Arab architectural styles that are rare and authentic”. Thousands have been killed there and a city that was one of the jewels of The Middle East has been brought to rubble. The conflict and destruction seems as if it will continue for decades as the divisions are so deep rooted.  (Northern Ireland 50 years)  

Barry McElduff M.P. West Tyrone
A Sinn Fein MP has been suspended by his party for three months for posting a social media video of himself balancing a loaf of Kingsmill bread on his head on the anniversary of the Kingsmill massacre of ‘76. West Tyrone MP Barry McElduff said he accepted the sanction imposed by an embarrassed Sinn Fein leadership! He claims; “He had not realised or imagined for a second any possible link between the product brand name and the Kingsmill Anniversary”. Would you believe that? He is in the category of the clown that can ruin a party or the Leitrim footballer who, a number of years ago, mentioned a bomb at Kennedy airport in some sensitive area. Only that his gimmick can cause so much hurt and reinforce the bitterness that is taking so long to subside in Northern Ireland. McElduff is an M.P. so being suspended for three months does not impinge on that since Sinn Fein M.P.s’ do not attend there anyway. There is a school of thought that suggests that they should at this opportune time. Indeed the suspension of political presence at the N.I. parliament at Stormont must be a big issue for the weary community in the North from all sides.
The Kingsmill massacre took place on 5 January 1976, when IRA gunmen stopped a minibus in rural south Armagh and murdered ten Protestant workmen. Alan Black was the only survivor, despite being shot 18 times. A Catholic workman also survived being picked out by the gunmen and allowed to go on his way.
Karen Bradley has been named as the new Northern Ireland Secretary of State. She takes over from James Brokenshire who has stepped down for health reasons!

Bereavements Over the past Week
In the weeks after Christmas there seems to be more bereavements than at other times. I do not know if that stacks up but it seems to have validity this week.  
Paddy Mulvey the great Shannon Gaels clubman for decades was laid to rest in Drumlion Cemetery on Sunday. Paddy was aged 88 and originally played with Elphin and Boheroe before coming to the Shannon Gaels area in the early 60s’. With them he was a jack of all trades as player, selector, pitch organiser, trainer of many under-age teams, taxi man for teams, custodian of team jerseys, county team selector, delegate to County Board, Secretary of Northern Board, Scor organiser and more. A number of years ago, in 2011, the GAA nationally awarded Paddy with its equivalent of their Medal of Honour by the Association’s President, Christy Cooney. There was a huge crowd at his funeral on Sunday and quite a few amusing stories were swapped about Paddy’s interaction with referees, opposing teams and their managers and his running of various meetings especially of the North board. (Another constituency would be familiar with Paddy from their attendance at Bingo in the Patrician Hall, Cortober).  Paddy was of course unique and there are very few surviving of his like in the Association.

On Monday I attended the funeral of Diarmuid O’Donovan who had been a teacher in the Mercy Convent. I did not know him very well but I was influenced by Micheal O’Callaghan in that. Once at a small funeral in Assylinn, I, in some way, asked Micheal how he happened to be attending there and I paraphrase his answer,  ‘I knew it would be a small funeral. The great can have their great funerals but this person was also a Boyle man and I wasn’t for forgetting that’.

On Wednesday we attended at the home of the Brennan family mourning the death of the wife and mother of the house Bernadette. It was not long ago that I watched on Television a telling documentary as her husband Jackie cared for her in their home.

On today’s realboyle I see notice of the death of Pat Malone husband of Frances Grehan. Pat has been a regular visitor to Boyle down the years and I often met him and enjoyed his company. A true, kind and jovial Dub.

Also there is the notice of the death of Ted (Timothy) Brennan of Manorhamilton;  Lisserdrea, Boyle and Melbourne the father of Maureen Carty and grandfather of James and Maggie. I had met Ted just a couple of times. On one of those occasions we talked of his being in Australia and a big construction job inland. There was reference in our talk to Snowy Mountain. I was to meet him again but I didn’t.  There is a poem in my head submerged dealing with that theme. Perhaps it will have surfaced for the next time I visit here.  So since I like to add the occasional few verses I will add one of the fourteen verses of an iconic Australian poem which Ted would have been aware of.   

The Man from Snowy River

There was movement at the station, for the word had passed around

That the colt from old Regret had got away,

And had joined the wild bush horses - he was worth a thousand pound,

So all the cracks had gathered to the fray.

All the tried and noted riders from the stations near and far

Had mustered at the homestead overnight,

For the bushmen love hard riding where the wild bush horses are,

And the stock-horse snuffs the battle with delight.