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.
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.
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 www.ika.ie 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.
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.