· 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Clann na nGael had a similar motion but it was withdrawn in favour of the Boyle motion.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.