Saturday, April 28, 2018

Update April 28th

Vótáil 100 Roscommon Commemoration Lecture Series of Wednesday the 25th
I was very pleased that I attended the above on Wednesday last. As I sit down to write some notes on it I am a bit intimidated by the prospect of doing justice to it. By and large the day dealt with the struggle of women generally and Irish women in particular to achieve recognition as equal citizens in a male dominated society in the last 100 to 150 years. The slogan which emanated from a political party was echoed a number of times ‘A Lot Done More to Do’ which is certainly the case. The relegation of women to the background of Irish society has to have been amongst the many injustices perpetuated by the dominant faction in that society i.e. men. Women still encounter equality struggles in terms of many things such as equal pay, their role in political representation, their difficulty in progression to the top in many facets of society. This is popularly referred to as the ‘glass ceiling’.
The initial broad movement to agitate for women’s rights was through the Suffragette Movement mobilised by the Pankhurst family in England in the late 1800s’. This emerged in Ireland also in the early 1900s’ with people like Hannah Sheehy Skeffington, Margaret Cousins (from Boyle) , Constance Markievicz amongst others. The famous 1916 Proclamation is addressed to Irish Men and Irish Women and guarantees equal rights to both. Women played a significant role in the Rebellion with the now Countess Markievicz being the best known. However even with the establishment of the Free State women did not emerge into an equal state and their position in a sense regressed and it was only in the 1970s that a feminist movement began the second movement for equality of the sexes.
The Seminar dealt with many of the issues and struggles which women had to endure through the last hundred years in this country. The day was overseen by former librarian Richie Farrell. There was a  very personal and impressive opening address by the Cathaoirleach of Roscommon County Council Cllr Orla Leyden on her journey and life in a political family and the challenges of being a young mother while also being a Councillor herself. She also referred to the 5 Cs’ of challenges to a woman in politics as; culture, cash, confidence, candidate selection and child care. 
Ivana Bacik was a very impressive and confident speaker  who referenced Margaret Cousins and explained the restrictions imposed when some women got to vote for the first time in 1918. They had to be over 30 and ratepayers in terms of owing property or university graduates. There were a number of amusing anecdotes regarding the election voting in 1918 and the practise of ‘personations’. She outlined the initial small numbers of ladies who got elected and though Markievicz was nominated a Minister in the first Government in 1919 she was the last lady Minister until Maire Geoghegan Quinn in 1979. Amusingly she said that the Westminster authorities had agreed to hang a portrait (by Noel Murphy titled ‘A woman’s Place’) of the first lady elected to Westminster Constance Markievicz in 1918 with one condition that in the portrait she would not be in her iconic military uniform!     

*The term Suffragette was first used by an English newspaper in the mid-1800s’.  The Suffrage part refers to voting the ‘ette’ is a popular French ending of the time. (Farmerette!!!). In the 1860s’ there was a group seeking the vote called Suffragist. The difference between them was that the ‘ists’ were for getting  the vote by peaceful means while the ‘ettes’ were prepared -as they practised- to employ militant means.
There were 9 speakers including Boyle’s Marie Egan Paul on Margaret Cousins and I will ‘treat of them’ in future blogs as the subject is so relevant in this Centenary Year of women first getting the vote in 1918 and the fact that there is still, incredibly, ’A Lot Done More to Do ‘  
(Is that ok as a start D.?)

** Oddly there was little reference to the role of the Catholic Church and Archbishop John Charles Mc Quaid  who was so influential in a dour constricted social policy in Ireland for decades. One commentator gave me a brighter shivery comment on the venerable archbishop thus; “He had a smile like the moonlight glistening off a tombstone”. That took some imaginative construction!

Community Games
I return to the Community Games this Friday evening at 5.30 + in the Abbey College sports field. It was where I first started broadcasting some forty or so years ago. I am still using the East European equipment salvaged at that time! The Boyle regularly take place in wet conditions so hopefully this evening will be different!     holding your breath and all that…

Friday May 11th ‘ A Day in the Life of Boyle’ in pictures;
I see on the Home Page of realboyle that Boyle Camera Club will be out and about in Boyle town on Friday May 11th getting a record in pictures of the town and its people. I seem to remember a pretty famous photographer John Minihan doing a regular collective picture of a Kildare town perhaps Naas or Athy at intervals of years. I hope Boyle Camera Club’s project is a big success and that it will be the first of a regular series. 

Bob Carr a Boyle Icon of the Sixties
I asked here a while ago about a man called Bob Carr who had a sawmill out at Ardcarne through the sixties and was a highly regarded GAA promoter in the town for over a decade. I acknowledge some details from a number of people since I mentioned Bob. Austin Biesty in New York talked to me of Bob in glowing terms and of his knowledge and love of the game and addressing a proper structure to team-play and regime. He talked of visiting Bob in a home not too far from Dublin in Bob’s late years. 

My good friend Paddy Conlon emailed me from the Home Counties (Outside London) with the following:

“Bob brought a new football dimension to the Boyle Club. He introduced, very quickly, a plan to get a structure to the 'senior team'. We had regular training sessions twice a week, something we did not have before his arrival.   There was discipline and a serious approach which everybody bought into.  Bob had a lovely persuasive attitude which got the best out of everybody.
He also read the individual players very well, for example, Paddy Mac RIP was always an outfield player and Bob selected him as our Full Back;   Des Kennedy RIP was always a back and Bob played him at full forward and Eamon Perry played off Des as did Eamon Mullen and that worked very well.   He picked  Barry Feely, Jamsie Clarke and Seamus Downs as probably the best line of the whole team (half backs). I remember them as a very solid group who held the line against all teams through the 1964 campaign. (They won the Junior Championship that year).
Noel Carroll RIP, was persuaded to return to the fold and what a great player he was, strong, a great fielder with a great engine, myself, Hal Cawley and John Mc Dermott combined pretty well in the half forward line. He was ahead of his time” Paddy concluded.
I have to talk to more people who knew Bob such as Donal Costello, Jim Clarke and Hal Cawley in the near future. If anyone has a picture of Bob they could scan and email it to me@    

‘Across the Border’ Linda Ronstadt
I suppose the term for it is browsing which I rarely do but a week ago I did  and was rewarded. I was playing some country songs by lady singers EmmyLou Harris, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins  and tuned into a song called ‘Across The Border’ being sung by Linda Ronstadt and EmmyLou.  I was smitten. Usually it would take a number of times of listening to a song before I would take to it but it resonated straight off. If I could ‘loop’ it in a car player it would shorten a long journey. The song was written by Bruce Springsteen and in this rendition Linda is accompanied by Neil Young on mouth organ. It has a haunting sadness and Linda Ronstadt is now on my list of favourites. It is from an album titled Western Wall.   

Thomas Kinsella ‘Mirror in February’
I have two copies of a book of poetry called ‘Soundings’. The title of the book may resonate with a number of you. It was the book which contained the Leaving Certificate syllabus poems of the seventies, eighties and into the nineties. There are two poems there by Thomas Kinsella, ‘Another September’ and ‘Mirror in February’.
Like many poems ‘Mirror in February’ gives me a favoured final pair of lines which I will place below. The theme is aging and revelation of that stage in the poet’s life as he studies his inner and outer self in the mirror;

I towel my shaven jaw and stop and stare,
Riveted by a dark exhausted eye,
A dry downturning mouth’
‘I read that I have looked my last on youth’. 

It ends with a kind of acceptance which is the best we can do with the condition in any event

I fold my towel with what grace I can
Not young and not renewable, but man’. 

It is best that you look up the poem in its totality as I do not wish to preach here but there is bigger story there.
Kinsella will feature on RTE Radio on Sunday Night next.

The Fuel Light is on Yellow.
Like the farmers running out of animal fodder my turf fuel store is almost cleared out. It has been that kind of winter. Long, wet, cold. I judge the fuel requirement fairly well usually having a small surplus but this time I was mistaken. I remember a former teaching colleague who was a year ahead. This was in the sense that the turf he used in 2017/’18 was that of 2016. He had the storage of course but it was way as well. I should have adopted the ‘spake’ in early winter which suggests; ‘Always spare the corn at the top of the bag’!   

                                                                                                                                             Sport’s Review

The Record’s Show
Since my last blog Boyle senior GAA team have played and lost their two opening games. The first game was against Strokestown in Strokestown and last Sunday’s game was in  the Abbey Park against Western Gaels. The senior grade in the county is, on any given day, pretty even. Having said that the reality is that the usual suspects come to the top and invariably take the spoils. St. Brigid’s are the dominant club now as Clann na nGael were in the 80s’. The winners since 1990 are St. Brigid’s with 11/Clann 6/ Ros. Gaels 5/ Castlerea 4/ Strokestown 2 and Kilbride 1.
Pearses have lost out in their 4 finals; Kilmore in 3; Western Gaels 2 / Kilbride and Ml. Glaveys in 1 each. 

The leading clubs overall have been Clann na nGael with 20; Roscommon Gaels with 19; St. Brigid’s with 16; Elphin 14; Tarmon/Castlerea with 13 and Strokestown with 10.
The few memorable breakthrough wins would be Kilbride in 2000, Strokestown in ’92 and particularly Kilmore in ’83 with Shannon Gaels, St. Faithleach’s and the only combination win United Stars (Oran-Creggs) in 1960.
The big surprise there is the fact that a town like Boyle has not won a senior since an army assisted win in the late 20s’. The other surprises are the demise of Tulsk once a powerhouse and St. Dominick’s/Knockcroghery and especially the dominant club of the fifties Elphin. The feeling in Western Gaels is that if they do not win a senior championship in the next year or two then they will slip back down the pack as contenders. The same might be said of Boyle. The current team is the best Boyle side since probably ‘94 and for decades before that. 
The two defeats leave them with three games towards the end of summer into the Autumn against St. Brigid’s, Clann nan Gael and Roscommon Gaels. There are no gimmes there!    
N.B. Boyle Juniors v Fuerty on Sat. at 6 in the Abbey Park.
A consistent effort has been made to field a Junior team down the years. This gives players on the fringe of the senior team game time and contributes to options there perhaps. The junior team also does not carry the commitment requirements that is de rigueur for senior teams. This year we have a new luck team with current manager Stephen Tonra assisted by Kevin Mullen and I am hearing that he has gone to great lengths in recruiting former stars and would-be stars thus providing this year’s juniors with a wealth of experience. Whether they still have the appetite for the rigours of slightly competitive play is to be seen. The team is sponsored by Cooney Motors and it seems as if considerable resources have been diverted in their direction.
So I look forward very much to seeing them on Saturday evening at 6 in the Abbey Park against my old club Fuerty. You would be welcome to join me in the Abbey Park then on Sat. at 6. 

Champions League More Drama
I have said that the T.V. series of the past winter has been The Champions League especially the knockout stages. Last Tuesday night was no different as Liverpool got to a 5 to nil scoreline against Roma and having the tie won and entry into the final 99% assured but 2 late goals by Roma sowed the seeds of doubt and the tie has yet to be resolved on Wednesday night next.
Unfortunately before the game a man with Boyle connections-Sean Cox- was seriously injured. Sean is the son of Martin Cox and grandson of John H. Cox who were in business on The Crescent up to circa the 1950s where Dodd’s is now. Sean and family live in Meath. I do not know if there are Cox connections to that family in Boyle still but there are first cousins in Roscommon town. We wish Sean well.
This incident sets a threatening tone for the second leg of the fixture in Rome on Wednesday of next week. Hopefully good sense and appropriate stewarding will prevail.  
The second semi-final between Bayern Munich and Real Madrid was a pretty boring and error ridden game by contrast with the Liverpool game. Madrid were the winners here by 2 goals to 1, in Munich.  

Boyle Celtic
Boyle Celtic play Dysart on Friday evening at 7.45 NOT Saturday in Boyle.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Update April 13th

The Good Friday Agreement April 10th 1998.
They really got a top cast for the celebration, if it could be one, for the God Friday Agreement signing of 20 years ago.
Fifteen minutes before five o'clock on Good Friday 1998, Senator George Mitchell was informed that his long and difficult quest for an Irish peace effort had succeeded. The Protestants and Catholics of Northern Ireland, and the governments of the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom, would sign the agreement that evening. It was a great achievement by George Mitchell then. Of course there was a big supporting cast with Bertie Ahern, Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, Tony Blair, John Hume and Seamus Mallon, David Tremble. The ace in the jigsaw was the U.S. President Bill Clinton who exercised his considerable influence when required to do so. There were ten differing groups whose requirements had to be considered. While it did not guarantee peace, stability or reconciliation it made it possible. The reasons for the present impasse of no Northern Ireland Government for the past fifteen months, would seem to be minor issues by comparison with those of ’98. As George Mitchell has said;       
“Keep this in mind: the solution to every human problem contains within itself the seeds of a new problem”.
The last time I wrote here I was after returning from a trip to Belfast. I have reflected on that trip and Belfast quite a number of times since then. Isn’t it almost incredible that there are more ‘Peace Walls’ now than there were in ’98. (A ‘Peace Wall’ is a wall which divides the Unionist community from the nationalist community). On my trip to Belfast in February I visited those walls and the areas synonymous with the troubles The Shankhill and The Falls. There I saw a multitude of murals on the gable ends of houses extolling the attributes of men from both sides who are local heroes in their communities though they would be regarded as killers by the opposing community. The ‘peace’ process started with a decommissioning of arms. How long will it be before there is a decommissioning of MURALS? I would be very pessimistic about anything like that happening for say 25 years. 
While the centre of Belfast is a business zone the dark cloud of ‘The Troubles’ permeates the air of the city and despite the Titanic Expo and the growing tourist and economic surge there is a long journey yet to be travelled by the city. And as suggested by Tommy Gorman on RTE News the present crop of politicians Foster, O’Neill, Coveney and Bradley hardly constitute a  reasonable ‘B’ team by comparison with those of ’98. Sad also to see in all of this the stark decline of the SDLP whose twin giants Hume and Mallon were so pivotal at that time.


Roscommon Progress
It has been a successful spring campaign for Roscommon football with promotion back to Division One after just one year. Also the winning of the Division Two title v Cavan in Croke Park and the entertaining style of it gave supporters a lift. The Connacht Championship is not too far away and Roscommon face the winners of the Leitrim v New York on the 26th of May. Leitrim are not going well at the moment and they will be really tested by New York. I have heard that former Boyle goalkeeper Tadgh Lowe has been doing very well as an outfield player in New York and will probably feature against Leitrim. Roscommon should win over whoever comes out of that game and go on to the Connacht Final against the winners of the Galway v Mayo game which takes place on Sunday May 13th. The clash of the great rivals Galway and Mayo looks set to be a real gladiatorial contest and one that will attract a huge crowd including a good few Roscommon people. 
Where the Connacht Final will take place is being debated and it seems as if Hyde Park has too much to do to reach the standards now required. This is  through health & safety, crowd management in terms of ‘ingress & egress’   meaning the safe entry of large numbers of supporters and the capacity of safe dispersal of that crowd in the event of an emergency. The tragedy of the Hillsborough disaster of ’89 has cast its shadow over event management in Connacht 29 years on! While the pitch at Hyde Park has been brought up to standard the surrounding infrastructure is away behind as those who have been to, say O’Connor Park in Tullamore, can testify.

Club Football
Boyle Sparkle in Abbey Park & Boyle v Strokestown on Sunday next.
Boyle play the first game of the Senior championship on Sunday next v Strokestown in Strokestown at 3.45. (It is preceded by an interesting game St. Faithleach’s v Michael Glavey's at 2). Boyle have won their two opening O’Rourke Cup games. The first was a close encounter with St. Croan’s in Ballintubber and the second was against St. Faithleach’s on Saturday evening last in Boyle. For the first 15 minutes or more of last Saturday’s game Boyle were frozen and went behind by 2.8 to Boyle’s single point. However they awoke from this nightmare to reach half time just 3 points in arrears with the score Boyle 2.7 St. Faithleach’s 2.10. Boyle took control in the second half and the game ended Boyle 5.13 St. Faithleach’s 3.14. The score line was like that of Roscommon v Cavan. It was good to see the return of a player I had not  seen for a while and him playing very well i.e. Ryan Finneran. Done Smith gave on of the best performances I ever remember seeing in the Abbey Park scoring 3.6. So I look forward to Sunday next.  Boyle have a second senior championship game v Western Gaels on Sunday the 22nd at 3.45 in Boyle.  Boyle are managed this year by Basil Mannion from St. Brigid’s assisted by Gerry Emmett.   
          Boyle Team: R. Kearney, B. Furey, D. Callaghan, Killian Cox, D. East (1-00), T. McKenna, R. Finneran (0-01), Kieran Cox (0-01), E. Smith (1-01), C. Goldrick, D. Smith (3-06), M. Hanmore, S. Kane (0-02), C. McKeon (0-02), M. O’ Donohoe.
Subs used: C. Beirne for Goldrick.
There are also two games in the Abbey Park on Saturday in the Intermediate C’Ship with Eire Og v St. Barry’s at 5 followed by Kilmore v Tulsk at 6.45.

Classic Champions League
Probably the television series of the winter for me has been The Champions League soccer. There has been tremendous drama in many of the games. Last night, Wednesday, saw Juventus come from 3 down to go level with Real Madrid in Madrid but a controversial  injury time penalty was dispatched with venom by Ronaldo to leave them qualifying for the semi-finals of a competition they have dominate recently.  In the second game Roma proved unlikely winners over the Messi led Barcelona. On Tuesday night Liverpool got through convincingly against Manchester City after an early scare. Again there was controversy as a ‘good’ City goal was disallowed. Liverpool’s classic first round, first half  performance which resulted in a 3 goal lead was the foundation of their victory. So tomorrow morning Friday will see one team from England, Spain, Italy and Germany (Bayern Munich) contest the semi-finals and they promise to continue the drama.    

The Masters Golf Tournament
I tuned into a good deal of the highlights of The Masters especially in that period when Rory McIlroy looked a contender. However nothing really went well for him on Sunday and fair play to Patrick Reed who dug out his victory despite the threat from Spieth and Fowler. I’m a bit surprised that the BBC allows itself to be shunted into ‘highlights’ for most of the tournament. If they decided to show all or none showing some bottle then perhaps those who master the declining game of golf might show respect to a medium which helped it get to an exalted position once.
As a collector of ‘spakes’ Peter Allis again came up trumps when referring to senior player Freddie Couples putting up a good showing. Allis described Couples with; “There may be snow on the roof but there is a fire in the grate”.   

Bob Carr Former Boyle Resident and GAA Activist
I am looking for what information I can get on Bob Carr who lived in the Boyle area in the ‘60s’. He had a saw mill out near Ardcarne. He was very involved in Boyle and Roscommon GAA through the sixties but I do not seem to remember him being here when I came in 1972. He had more of a grá for hurling I believe. He was from Offaly and the last I heard of him was of him being in a ’home’ in Tullamore. A Boyle GAA player from that era said of Bob “No truer Gael lived than Bob Carr”. So if you know something or someone who has information on Bob please contact me at 086 816 3399. 

Joe Brolly on the Late Late Show
It was different Joe Brolly to the usual jester on last Friday night’s Late Late Show. It was a sadder more reflective Joe as he talked about being an advocate for cystic fibrosis patients and what it was like growing up in Northern Ireland during the height of the Troubles. He also talked about taking in a person into his own home who was on the streets. How he mangers to spread his energy over such a broad spectrum of activity, professional and caring I don’t know.  I wonder has he ever turned up on Rehab & RTE’s ‘People of the Year’ Awards?   

Organ Donor Awareness Week 
Donor Awareness Week has taken place while I was away a short time ago. Indeed awareness of organ Donation does not have time boundaries but the week is used to raise Awareness of the huge benefits and hopefully expand the number of donors.

My good friend John Mac Phearson, related to me, some time ago, his personal experience of receiving a life enhancing organ donation, the Gift of Life, in 2011 when he was diagnosed with liver cancer. He expressed his huge gratitude to those who participated in the scheme and urged people to become involved by having a donor card.  One of its great proponents is the former Derry footballer and TV analyst Joe Brolly referenced above.  Joe has himself donated a kidney to a friend.

It must be one of the most noble acts imaginable for someone to donate a life enriching bodily organ to another person. Organ Donor Cards can also be obtained by phoning the Irish Kidney Association  LoCall 1890 543639 or Freetext the word DONOR to 50050. Visit website It is now possible to store an organ donor card, the ‘ecard’ on Smart mobile phones.   Simply search for ‘Donor ECard’ at the IPhone Store or Android Market Place.

An Oddity
Recently at a small house party the conversation of a couple of us drifted into the ‘health and safety’ topic. My conversation colleague talked about being at a job requirement ‘Health and Safety’ course. He did some work in cable installation etc. One of the things mentioned by the course lecturer was the risk of Weil’s disease which originates in one of its manifestations from rodent urine. Why he mentioned it to me was that the lecturer also mentioned the unhygienic practise of people drinking direct from a bottle which may have been stored in sheds and unhygienic locations. As we were speaking I was drinking from a bottle…by the neck…..for the last time!     

Trip to London 1988.
A decade before the Northern Agreement St. Mary’s College had a re-union in Highgate in London at Easter 1988. The latter half of the eighties was one of those regular periods of depression leading to an emigration surge which is part of Irish social history. A lot of people from this area had moved to London looking for work. There had been a major St. Mary’s College Re-Union at Easter 1986 and with a number of people being home for the Christmas of ’87 and the idea emerged of having a second get-together this time in London. Hopefully I will be able to get to this in the next instalment here.