Friday, February 22, 2019

Update 22nd February

I imagine there are people who are shivering with fear at the prospect of ... dare I mention it again ... BREXIT. It is many people’s worst nightmare. In terms of personnel it seems that the U.K. was never as badly represented with its political leadership classes. The speed dating Theresa May and the pathetic Corbin. While May exhibits a demented visage as she tries to avoid a trauma in the Conservative party Corbin still acts as if this is a game of dare, if such exists. I have engaged myself  with a lot of radio, television and print coverage of that whole juggernaut. A few days ago I listened to Eoghan Corry a travel and communications writer as he rolled out the impending issues with air, sea and road travel and transportation in Ireland cross border, in reception ports in the U.K with ferries and at airports over Europe and so on. It Is incredible that an advanced society could plunge their people in such a backward manner. A huge jolt backwards of earthquake proportions.
Those in denial still imagine, I think, that it is like the captain of the Titanic directing the iceberg to shift its position a British liner is coming through here.

I have a caveat to all my misgivings. I had some happy times in England, around London, decades ago. I have been back there occasionally and talked to a good few Irish people who are still there as recently as last week. It is true to say that the wealthy (for a large part) south east, London and the ‘Home Counties’ is a different place to the large swathes of urban England with their ghettos and look of abandonment. For many people living in those areas of little hope the differentials of Brexit are abstract debates when just surviving is the daily chore.
I still believe that there will be a postponement of say three months at least ... though there are European elections in …May!!
With the jumble of it all it is a course that may haunt many for decades. 

Dermot Bannon ...’Just Amazing’
From time to time our national airwaves seem to be taken over by one person as they ride the crest of the wave of visibility if not popularity. (One time it was the Allen family of Ballymaloe). Dermot’s first television series ‘Room to Improve’ was apparently very popular and recently he has bought a new house for himself and his family for the tidy sum of €800,000 - in Dublin I presume! This, it looks like, will be a kind of laboratory for his own ideas, plans etc. I seem to remember Dermot at a kind of ‘Ideal Homes Expo’ in Boyle’s Complex some years ago. He is a very personable individual. Recently he fronted an advertising campaign for Vodaphone. This, to my mind, was presented in a way where the message was hammered into the viewer with repetition. (I remember an attempt at a joke analogy as follows; ‘What is the similarity shared by the Christin Brothers style of teaching students and  the original computer cards of long ago? Answer; ‘The information is punched into them).             

Anyway Dermot has returned with a variation on the theme with a new show called ‘Incredible Homes’ in which he is touring Australia to resurrect same. The first one I saw was in Sydney where a single lady with two special dogs resided. The presenter exhausted the full range of superlatives starting with the number one for all such occasions ... AMAZING ... there followed stunning, incredible, perfect (a very muted word) and a recent classic OMG (Oh My God ... never overestimate the x, y, z!). Dermot;  ‘OMG I’ve never been in a room like that’. After that he took off into the semi-bush and actually rented a house for a full day. This one was a number of the above superlatives with the addition of SPECTACULAR, unbelievable, takes your breath away (a song line there). ‘I could see myself living happily ...’ I lost the last few words as I had to go out for some turf for the tired fire. I imagine that the WOW factor got an airing.

Like Paul Newman’s character in the western film ‘Hombre’ I had a question here and it was; How on earth did someone get PLANNING PERMISSION for such a house overlooking a ravine from an eagle’s nest location on a cliff? They certainly were not dealing with Roscommon County Council. When writing, one is advised not to repeat the same word so I reflected on what the process is when Dermot is issuing forth amazing, incredible, unbelievable, stunning etc. Perhaps there is someone close by with a clip board noting the number of times each word is used and whose turn is next. At the eagle’s nest though Dermot declared he ‘had the house to himself for the day and there was nobody else present’. I speculated -just for amusement- how it was filmed. Perhaps the ubiquitous drone was at play. Amazing !!!         

In last week’s Roscommon Herald  Sport’s section there was a multitude of photographs recording the Herald/SuperValu Annual Sports Awards. The Guest of Honour was the genial Ray Houghton. In an empty moment I took to counting the number of photographs Chris participated in and it was ... 64. Amazing!

The Movies/films/pictures
I went to the movies over a week ago while in Galway. The film’s title was ‘Vice’ a pretty ambivalent title. It was actually about the once Vice-President of the United States, Dick Cheney.  Governor George W Bush of Texas picked Dick Cheney, the CEO of Halliburton Co, to be his Republican running mate in the 2000 presidential election. No stranger to politics, Cheney's impressive resumé included stints as White House chief of staff and defence secretary. When Bush wins by a narrow margin, Cheney begins to use his newfound power to help reshape the country and (if the film’s premise is valid) the world. The young Bush was somewhat immature and Cheney used the opportunity to push his unorthodox approach. He recruited an individual who I took a considerable aversion to back then, that is Donald Rumsfeld. The actor Christian Bale had to put on major weight and is brilliant as the calculating and medieval Cheney. Cheney’s great driver/mentor was his wife Lynne played by Amy Adams. (I feel that Adams and Bale featured in the very good film ‘The Fighter’ some  time ago). An odd incident where Cheney shoots a colleague on a shooting trip is not explored as if it is par for the course! It is an unusual film and I advise ‘do not exit too early’. When asked later, ‘Did you enjoy the film?’ I responded ‘No not at all. It frightened me a bit though’. “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power tends to..”.  I imagine it needs the appropriate host to do that and Cheney certainly was that .

My next film will be ‘On the Basis of Sex’. Do not jump to conclusions. It is about  significant moments in the career of the first lady to become a U.S. Supreme Court, Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She attended Harvard being amongst a very few women in her class and worked her way up to being the first woman on the U.S, Supreme Court. One of her landmark decisions was that nobody could be discriminated against on the basis of their sexuality. The irony of the case was that the protagonist was a male. The Supreme Court is the third arm of U.S. Government and is hugely influential and the recent contested hearings to nominate Brett Kavanaugh demonstrate this.

I have also recently seen Mary Queen of Scots with Saoirse Ronan in the lead. While not a classic I was surprised that Miss Ronan’s performance did not elicit more positivity. If I get a chance I would like to see Green Book from what I see of its reviews.


Port Authority
I fully agree with Sean’s (Home Page) thoughts on this play featuring Boyle’s Jarlath Tivnan in The Dock Theatre on Wednesday night. When I heard at the opening that it would be one hour forty minutes long, without an interval, I had doubts. But the time went very quickly indeed as three very different lives were relayed. It was a kind of the ‘three ages of man’ which, towards the end, had some threads of convergence. The highlight of the play for me was Jarlath’s character Kevin’s manic description of a volatile party in their chaotic bachelor rented a Donnycarney (Dublin) house. A few of those in attendance may have memories of a party akin to that (but hardly reaching its pitch) in the distant past and in distant locations. Well done to the large number of people from Boyle who made the trip to Carrick with the mixture of being entertained and also of supporting one of their own. I know from talking to Jarlath afterwards that he saw that and really appreciated it.

Gradam Ceoil Awards ‘The Waterfront Auditorium’ Belfast
The TG4 Gradam Ceoil Awards last year featured a Roscommon musician and friend of Boyle’s traditional scene down the years as musician of the year i.e. Patsy Hanly from Cloontuskert not far from Strokestown or Ballyleague. This year, again, the Musician of the Year had strong parental roots in Roscommon she being Catherine McEvoy. Catherine was born in Birmingham to Roscommon parents from the Kilmore area. There are a number of McEvoys around Kilmore many involved in GAA. I first saw and heard Catherine in the late seventies when a traditional group from Boyle went to Dublin to be recorded for RTE’s Ceili House Radio programme and since Patsy was unavailable on the day Catherine filled in. Prominent in film clips illustrating her Birmingham roots were members of the Laurie family who were to the fore in Birmingham Comhaltas. They are related to Martin Purcell. Catherine though now domiciled in Meath continues to play in what is referred to as The North Connacht Style.   

Roscommon v Cavan in Hallowed Breffni Park 
Roscommon return to Cavan on Sunday next for the fourth game in the Allianz National League. A pretty restructured team has shown a great fighting spirit in their local FBD league and the 3 Allianz League games to date. They had a fine win against Monaghan and went very close to adding the Tyrone scalp. An unfortunate impulsive mistake by a Roscommon player in the dying seconds against Tyrone meant the probable loss of a fourth point from six. How costly that turns out to be is to be seen. League results can be fluid as counties are generally not at championship pitch and have some wriggle room in terms of results. I am not a statistician with regard to how we have done v Cavan in Cavan. From memory in recent years we have done pretty well but there have been disappointments. There are a considerable number of positives from Roscommon games to date. These include commitment, an improved defensive record, some impressive scoring from long range, new players making their mark and an overall feeling of wellness surrounding possibilities. Staying in Division One is the target. Roscommon and Cavan were the two teams who were predicted as the fall guys for this spring campaign. While Cavan are at the bottom of the table Roscommon with 3 points are in the melting pot. I expect that they will do their very best on Sunday and I feel that it will be good enough to see them add a further two points to their total. Whether even that is good enough to see them remain in Division One is to be seen but without them it is much tougher project.
There was a time in the 40s’ when Cavan and Roscommon were powerhouses in the game and Breffni Park has seen a lot of GAA history with great Cavan teams and icons of the game. In the 30 or so years from the middle 20s’ to the mid-50s’ Cavan would have won approximately 25 Ulster titles. Roscommon beat them in the replayed All-Ireland Final of ’43 and in the semi-final of ’44 but lost in the Semi-final of ’47 when they went on to their most notable success in the Polo Grounds final in New York over Kerry. They have  great support which continue to yearn for the return of the glory days of the past.   

I have sourced the small booklet as named above. It is a lovely little booklet of 20 essays by women from the Boyle area and I’m sure it will be treasured especially by the family members of the contributors long into the future. It is also a contribution to the social history of our area and the people who live here. There is a  very nice variation in the earlier lives of the writers and I was particularly taken by the experiences of those who went to England, worked there for a time and returned to Boyle. One of those was Rose McTiernan (page 36) who worked for a time in Whipps Cross Hospital in the Leytonstone area of London. My cousins ‘hung out’ in that area and I had occasion to visit one of them a number of times in that huge hospital with its very individual buildings. Near it also was an Irish dance hall called, I think, ‘The Innisfáil’. Rose may correct me if I’m wrong in that! Anyway Rose it was a grand piece full of feeling and love.
Annie Egan’s essay (on page 24) reminded me of the challenge and dour attitude that obtained in the officials, when passing through Holyhead Customs. They were very overboard with Annie as she was treated badly. The influence of the war I guess was a factor though that superior attitude continued until both countries joined the E.U. A sentiment that obtains in Annie’s piece and prevails in all the contributions was the loyalty and love of partners (husbands) which enabled them to endure tough times. While the times may have been tough there were happy times also as Rose references regarding her happy London years. I will return to this lovely and significant collection of biographical essays when I have read it properly. 
The booklet is for sale in Una Bhán shop in the King House complex, price €7.  (They stock most books of local interest so you can investigate those also). 

‘Good Night and may your Gods go with you’.  Tony.

Update 7th February

Congrats to Hal
I wish to congratulate Boyle’s Hal Cawley who was presented with the Roscommon Herald/SuperValu Hall of Fame award at a presentation in The Abbey Hotel Roscommon on Friday night of last week. Hal received the award for his lifelong service to and support of Boyle Celtic Soccer Club. As a GAA person, while I do not want to interrupt the soccer theme, I note that Hal was a regular GAA player with Boyle in the latter fifties and on the winning Junior team in ’64. Now that said Hal got glowing commendations from many corners especially Boyle Celtic officials past and present who accompanied and supported him on the night. All these and Hal’s own thought s and reflections on his soccer journey are encapsulated in a lovely tribute by Kevin Egan of the Sport’s section of The Roscommon Herald page 8. It is titled ‘Guardian Angel Fulfilled by Football. The Guardian Angel caption is culled from Boyle Celtic Chairman Sean Kerins's reference to Hal as  ‘Guardian Angel’ (an overseer) of Boyle Celtic.
 "THE PORT AUTHORITY" & Jarlath Tivnan
There is a residue of support and good will for Boyle actor Jarlath Tivnan. Jarlath will be in The Dock in Carrick-on-Shannon on Wednesday February the 20th in a Decadent Theatre production of a play titled ‘The Port Authority’. The play revolves around three stories.  A young boy leaves home for the first time, a man begins a job for which he is not qualified, a pensioner receives a mysterious package. As each man confronts the significance of these events, they are forced to take stock of themselves, their feelings, and of the decisions they have made. The writer of the pay is the award-winning playwright Conor McPherson of Seafarer, The Weir & Shining City.
• Further afield John O’Dowd from Abbeytown takes part in Martin McDonagh’s ‘Skull in Connemara’ which is touring in the north of England.
Cartoon Saloon Another Oscar Nomination
'Late Afternoon' is the latest success story for Kilkenny-based Cartoon Saloon of which Boyle’s Paul Young is one of the founding fathers. The short was written and directed by Louise Bagnall for Cartoon Saloon. They have had previous Oscar nominations for ‘The Secret of Kells’, ‘Song of the Sea’ and ‘The Breadwinner’ so this is the fourth time at the Oscars for Cartoon Saloon which is an outstanding record.
Evan McGrath ‘Man of the Match’
So to using the word ‘outstanding’ again, this time in relation to the performance of Boyle’s Evan McGrath in last Sunday’s fine victory over Monaghan. Evan becomes the second Boyle to win the award this year as Donie Smith got it for his performance v Galway in the FBD final. This was a-top Roscommon performance of true grit, determination and skill with a number of excellent performances. Fair play to team captain Enda Smith for converting with a fine penalty at a crucial stage in the game. Had Evan’s goal- bound shot not been saved it would have been an early top goal award contender after his powerful run in the lead up to it.
So from periods of despair as the search for a manager stumbled along late last year the Roscommon supporters have a bounce in their step once again. Fair play to all involved and it looks very much as if Roscommon’s stumbling in the management quest has come up trumps in Anthony Cunningham and his team
 Launch of Boyle GAA’s ‘I’m a Celebrity… get me out of here’
This Boyle GAA fund-raising venture will be officially launched with bells and whistles on Friday night in The Moylurg Inn’. The Event proper will take place on Saturday March 16th. I imagine that we will hear the panel of ‘Celebrities' on this Friday night and hear plenty about the event from thereon in to the big night. A young energetic committee has taken this project in hand so we can look forward to that youthful energy and imagination resulting in an energetic and entertaining show on what could be a hectic St. Patrick’s weekend.
Brady Rules at Atlanta
It was a long late night on Sunday night /Monday morning watching the finale of the American Football season with what U.S sports fans regard as the greatest annual sporting show of all. This year’s game was a pretty muted and record low-scoring game where the New England Patriots defeated the Los Angeles Rams by the score of 13–3. This meant they had the same number of wins as the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most Super Bowl championships won with six. Tom Brady and the team manager Bill Belichick have been there for all six and three (I think) lost finals. In any assessment  of sports achievements it  is a remarkable record and one that is unlikely to be ever equalled in that sport. If we have issues here with defensive Tyrone style football then this too was an exhibition of similar play with the veteran Belichick and his on-field general Brady finally outwitting the novice Rams manager Sean McVay and the novice quarter back Jared Goff. The BBC coverage with Mark Chapman and his pundits Osi Umenyiors, Jason Bell and Mike Carlson made it an entertaining 11.30 to 3.30 four hour experience where Osi sang the praises of the defensive game. As an aside the cost of a 30 second advertisement during the game (which were not the BBC of course) was €5,250,000 !
An Balla … Great (!) Walls
This is an interesting series TG4 dealing with great modern walls established to keep people in or out but basically in their allotted place. The affable presenter Síle Nic Chonaonaigh visited the ‘great’ wall which already exists for a considerable length of the U.S. Mexico border; the wall and Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) dividing North and South Korea; the residue of The Berlin Wall and the grotesque wall which divides the Israeli and Palestinian peoples. There was one touch of levity here as a Palestinian business man showed her the hotel he had opened under the wall’s shadow which he called ‘The Walled Off Hotel’.
We live in historic times.
I doubt but that it was always so. Listening to the RTE News at 6 this Wednesday evening it had the full range of news ‘stories’ international and national.  BREXIT, for a change, had to compete with the two big national stories for top billing. They were the outrageous spiralling cost of the National Children’s Hospital and the nurses strike. The lack of control and transparency with the costing of the hospital is to use a word I use regularly …. unbelievable. if we were not in the middle of another huge issue i.e. Brexit, there would have been a case for it to bring down not just a few bureaucrats and a couple of ministers but the Government with them.
Nurses Strike
The nurses strike and its immediate impact on people who have had x, y, z cancelled/postponed is also incredible. But having thousands of procedures cancelled/postponed creates the ripple effect which will last for months on end. It is like a crash on a motorway. The saying that ‘all wars end’ could be transferred to strikes. So this strike too will end. Is there no way to reach the end before the beginning? It looks stark at the moment as both sides ‘dig in’ and try to win the hearts and minds battle. I have used the analogy  before that we are a small country which has its benefits. We have a population about the size of Birmingham. With all the resources and money being spent in the Health services here how can it be that such a tangle of what seems just now as intractable issues are allowed to fester until they just break and cause such hurt to a particularly vulnerable constituency.
And then Brexit! Do not get tired of it for it will shape, for ill, our (foreseeable) future. For a real insight/education into the phenomena I highly recommend two brilliant documentaries. The Brexit campaign features in a documentary shown on Channel 4 on Jan. 7th titled ‘Brexit: The Uncivil War’. The programme focuses on the P.R. battle between the top strategists on the ‘Leave’ and ‘Remain’ sides. Benedict Cumberbatch as Dominic Cummings wins all as top –behind the scenes- man for the ‘Leave’ side over Craig Oliver of the ‘Remain’ side. One significant scene is the development of a telling slogan e.g. ‘Make America Great Again’ and ‘Fake News’ etc. It is the slogan on the red ‘Leave’ bus. Initially it is ‘Take Control’ but a brainwave comes on Cummings to insert ‘Back’ so it became the transforming ‘Take Back Control’.
The second documentary is titled ‘Inside Europe: Ten years of Turmoil’ . Two episodes have already been transmitted. The first a really engrossing one on the dilemmas of David Cameron and how Party politics trumped national interest. This shows Cameron hurrying to and fro from Brussels as Theresa May is doing at the moment with the same mantra seeking a different result. Gliding or flying around but still stuck in the mire of it all. The second episode describes the Greek crisis and how it nearly brought down the euro. Of course we have ‘form’, as the cockneys say, in that ourselves.
These programmes show what the top bureaucrats Jean Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk are like and they are as they say in Munster ‘Senior Hurlers’. If that needs verification just listen to what Mister Tusk said today; ‘European Council President Donald Tusk has spoken of a "special place in hell" for "those who promoted Brexit without even a sketch of a plan of how to carry it out safely".
Still there was a little sliver of light tonight as I watched/listened to Tommy Gorman of RTE News report from Belfast. The Sligoman would be my ‘go to‘ man on who?, what? and where? in N.I. As he commented on the softer tone of the DUP he expressed a feeling that change may be in the air. To quote Churchill - hardly a ‘Remainer’ I’d venture- after the WW2 victory at El Alamein; "Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning”.

For me it is the end for tonight. ‘Good night and may your God go with you’.