Thursday, June 6, 2019

Update 6th June 2019

I’ll run this by you for consideration. At the launch of the Roscommon Historical Journal on Tuesday evening a friend of mine from Elphin said he had an idea regarding Boyle. His idea is that maybe Boyle should adapt its name to Abbeyboyle. Since the Abbey is the great architectural building in the town and there are many towns with the prefix of Abbey such as Abbeydorney · Abbeyfeale · Abbeyknockmoy · Abbeylara · Abbeyleix · Abbeyshrule amongst them. This would not be totally new as it was called Abbeyboyle centuries back. While I imagine people are very comfortable with the name of Boyle on its own, appending the Abbey would be highlighting its magnificent Cistercian church remains. It is there in the Irish version being Mainistir na Buille. What ‘Boyle’ itself stands for is a bit of a tangle and not easy to explain. It may relate to the practise of moving animals from one place to another across a river ford i.e. to ‘booley’. Another suggestion is that it is the name of the river and means beautiful! A small part of Boyle, Abbeytown, already has incorporated the abbey in its title.  I’ll leave it with you.         

Jarlath Tivnan and Decadent Theatre with new play.

Jarlath Tivnan of Boyle is very familiar to Boyle playgoers. Jarlath is a primary figure in possibly his most impressive initiative to date which will come to fruition in Galway’s Town Hall Theatre next week. With the assistance of Decadent Theatre Director Andrew Flynn they have embarked on a totally new play and production which will have its premiere on Thursday of next week June 13th. They have acquired the rights to adapt the acclaimed Tipperary writer Donal Ryan’s novel ‘The Thing About December’. This novel has been twice-nominated for the Man Booker Prize. Donal Ryan was reluctant to allow an adaption of his first book but since the Director Andrew Flynn was a fellow Nenagh man that made the decision easier. (Mister Ryan is also the author of the widely recognised novel ‘The Spinning Heart’). The play will be staged for ten days from June 13th (excluding Connacht Final Sunday the 16th).  

"I’m glad it’s in the hands of Andrew and Jarlath and Decadent Theatre Company, theatre-makers with a stellar record of bringing stories to life onstage with empathy, passion and verve," said Mr Ryan.

Andrew Flynn, the Artistic Director of Decadent Theatre Company, hopes to bring his adaptation of ‘The Thing About December’ on tour around Ireland. 

"Theatre needs new life. It has to keep evolving. All great classics are brilliant to stage but they have been done. This production aims at bringing new Irish drama to the stage” said Mr. Flynn.

‘The Thing About December’ is set in rural Tipperary at the turn of the 21st century as the Celtic Tiger begins to roar. 

The story of the play revolves around the character of Johnsey Cunliffe, a simple, naïve only child in his 20s, grieves the death of his much-loved parents. 

Harassed by local bullies and excluded by his peers, Johnsey’s isolation worsens when his inherited farm is re-zoned and becomes valuable.

The clouds gather as a local conglomerate connive to tempt him into giving up his family’s land, while Johnsey, the unlikeliest of heroes, tries to hold on to those things dearest to him.

People may remember an earlier work by Jarlath called ‘The Pleasure Ground’. This is on much more ambitious scale with a stellar cast. It is a huge achievement for Jarlath mentored by Decadent Director Flynn who obviously holds Jarlath in very high regard with so much of Decadent’s resources invested in this production. Hopefully it will make its mark in the theatrical world which would elevate Decadent, Jarlath and Flynn to high levels in their genre.
So if you have connections in Galway you might spread the word with them about its run from the 13th of June to Saturday the 22nd in the Town Hall Theatre which is a long run for a new work.  

Roscommon GAA Inc. See the Light
When I opened today’s Roscommon People I was pleasantly surprised to see that Roscommon GAA Inc. had decided to revaluate the location for the county’s ‘Centre of Excellence’ proposed for Runabracken, Oran and seek a new location near Roscommon town. Like quite a number of people I have always felt that the Oran location was unsuitable and that what is now proposed, a centre near Roscommon Town if it can be sourced, is a much better option. I give credit to the powers that be that they have seen fit to accede to the principle that there is a better way and that they are willing, with all the stakeholders mentioned in The People, to vigorously pursue an alternative course. I wish them well and if the acumen demonstrated by the famous ‘House Draw’ comes to the fore again it could all be achieved.            

 Searching for a Maria McKay married to Michael O’Grady with a daughter named Eileen:
I posted this query a couple of weeks ago and have made some progress in the meantime. I have learned that Patrick McKay was a gardener (succeeded by Christy Regan) for the Stewart family with the McKays living in the gate Lodge near Shilling Hill. My real query related to a daughter of Patrick i.e. Maria McKay married to Michael O’Grady and they having a daughter Eileen. It is probably there that there could still be a Boyle connection. Frank Tarpey showed me a reference to a Michael Grady  and a Mrs. Ellen Grady in Patrick Street in the late 30s’. Now Grady is not O’Grady but… There was another reference to an O’Grady/Grady getting the title of ‘The Durrango Kid’ because of a movie hero of that appendage. ‘The Kid’ is assumed to have emigrated to England. I did get some sources which might have been helpful but they seem to have disappeared on me now ! Anyway if anyone has any ideas on my quest you might contact me at or at 086 8163399.
I’d appreciate same of course.

Back to Boffin

I returned to the island of Innis boffin (Island of the White (?) Cow) off the Connemara coast for a couple of days last week. It is a favoured place of mine. However it too needs the sun. it was a 50:50 split of sunshine and the gloomy inclement weather we are experiencing presently. On the way over through Mayo I called into The National Museum of Ireland concentrating on County Life. There are about a dozen Exhibition themes covering Trades and Crafts, Life in the Community, The Natural Environment, The Times 1850 to 1950 and so on. This is part of the National Museum and is –in my opinion- really worth a visit. Admission is free. Turlough Park is approximately 5 miles on our side of Castlebar so if you are in those parts (an hour or so from Boyle) you could consider a visit. It is mentioned, from time to time, that the artefacts unearthed from the drainage of Lough Gara in the early 50s’ should be housed in a similar Museum in Boyle rather than being invisible in some Museum store in Dublin.  
After Turlough Park we went to Clifden which was busy with visitors. I stayed in the Station House Hotel. Clifden is not a big town but has numerous restaurants and music bars. The following  day I hit off for Cleggan which is the ferry port for Boffin. It was wet though, but the 45 minute journey across was not as intimidating as it can be. Island walks are one of the real pleasures of Boffin but walking in the rain was not an option. Later that night there was a fine traditional session in Andrew Murray’s Doonmore Hotel with Kerry singer Sean Garvey. Friday was good and the choice of walks was abundant.  I visited Inishbofin House Hotel which is also referred to as Day’s or by some locals as ‘The Posh’ hotel. There is a third hotel run by Pat Coyne called The Dolphin Hotel. Pat exclaimed when asked the time “There are two times THE time and Boffin time”. It does not take long before you get to know people and talking to strangers on the roads or bars is to be encouraged. Once I said to myself ‘He looks familiar” and when I suggested his name it was indeed Paul Muldoon. So we chatted as we walked up the hill. Mister Muldoon is from Armagh a notable poet, is a professor of English at Princetown University in New Jersey and winner of the Pulitzer prize for a suite of poetry. ‘Boffin’ is certainly a different place with the anthem of the corncrake as a background melody. 

Historic Anniversaries;
The 4th of June was the 30th Anniversary of the Tiananmen Square, Beijing student protest and its suppression by the Communist Government. I watched a two part documentary on it on RTE 1 on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. This showed how close that protest was to changing the path of China’s subsequent course to a more democratic model. About 20 years ago in a visit to a former history teacher at Roscommon CBS as I was about to leave he suggested; ‘And what about China? “ which meant another half hour parsing that conundrum. I have been meaning to write a piece on the China story and its ominous global spread for some time but that time is not now. One of the great iconic pictures/images of that Tiananmen student protest was that of a student (I presume) standing in front of a row of tanks which he stopped.

Thursday June 6th is the 75th Anniversary of the D Day landings in France in 1944. The American President Donald Trump will be in Normandy for those commemorations. D Day is often referred to as Deliverance Day for France but I believe that the D is actually a random code letter for the day. There have been a number of films depicting the landings such as ‘The Longest Day’ and the very graphic representation of the horror of the beaches in ‘Saving Private Ryan’. A good deal of that picture was filmed in County Wexford and Curracloe beach. A large number of  F.C.A./.L.D.F. personnel featured as extras in that film and I seem to remember one of them, the Roscommon Sports Editor, Ian Cooney, arriving in the Abbey Park from Wexford to play for St. Michael’s. The things you remember!

The Mayo Weather Forecaster’s key Role in D-Day.    
A Mayo post office worker Maureen Sweeney played a key role in the D Day landings. She was employed at Blacksod Post office in Mayo and the extra dimension to her work was taking readings from a weather ‘station’ in terms of air pressure, wind, rain etc. . These readings found their way to the heart of the D Day planning organisers in London. Those for the 5th of June anticipated a storm coming through for the Normandy area. Thus Eisenhower the Commander in Chief postponed the attack of the 5th and got some better weather for the 6th and so went on that day and the rest is history. This story is being told in a documentary on RTE on Thursday night at 10.15 titled ‘Storm Front in Mayo-The Story of the D Day Forecast’ in which the key role of Maureen Sweeney is highlighted. She featured in last Saturday’s independent as a vibrant 96 year old lady.

Irishtown and the Land League

Since I am mentioning a few pretty local places of interest that I have been to in recent times I’ll mention Irishtown. Usually Irishtown get its name from being the part of a larger urban area which is identified by its Irish population or ethnicity. People will have heard of Chinatown and so on. There is an Irishtown in Dublin not far from the Aviva Stadium. I digress. I was in Ballindine and decided to tick one of my long- term boxes by visiting Irishtown the home of the Land League. I drove slowly into the outskirts of the village looking for a museum commemorating the hugely important historic event which took place in Irishtown in 1879. On seeing some bunting and colour I felt that I was on course but it turned out to be National School. There wasn’t a soul to be seen on the humble street of houses and I had to knock on a door to seek information regarding my quest for a significant memorial to the achievements of Michael Davitt and the Land League. A lady told me I had passed the memorial and recited the Irish inscription on it which she had retained from her national school days. ‘First you have to turn around and you will see the memorial opposite the national school’. A couple of minutes later I was gazing at the humble marker and reading the inscription. The first Land League meeting promoting the realisation of the organisation’s slogan ”The land of Ireland for the People of Ireland” took place in Irishtown in April 1879 not long after Davitt had returned from England and promoted the idea though he was not at the inaugural rally. There is, in fairness, a Michael Davitt museum in his birthplace of Straide maybe 20 Kms. or so from Irishtown.
Michael Davitt is a somewhat forgotten man in Irish History yet the Land League led to one of the greatest legal transfers of land ownerships without huge strife anywhere in Europe. It formed the basis of land ownership of the small/smaller farming classes that exists today. Not being aware of the role and achievements of Michael Davitt is a real deficit in one’s knowledge of Irish history. 

Roscommon Historical and Archaeological Magazine Launch (RHAM)
I attended the launch of the RHAM magazine in Tuesday the 4th. This is the 14th of such publications. It includes a wide diversity of articles from all parts of Roscommon. The 14 magazines form an important collection of record on Roscommon history, archaeology and the general story of Roscommon down the centuries. The Society is very active and has a number of outstanding officers and members including Mary O’Connell, President; Albert Siggins, Secretary; Shane Lynskey Vice-President; Marian Harlow, Treasure; and Darragh Kelly P.R.O. The Editors of this year’s journal are James Ganley and James Hoban. The book costing €15 was launched by Roscommon County Council Arts Officer Nollaig Feeney. The launch took place in the very impressive County Council headquarters in Roscommon town.

Boyle Camera Club Pictures Very Impressive Display
As an aside I was pleasantly surprised to see the pictures from a single day in Boyle last summer by Boyle Camera Club on linear display in the large reception area of the building. They looked hugely impressive with Frankie Tarpey, Christy Wynne, Michael Conlon, Donal O’Connor and Mandy, Eileen Higgins, Jack Murphy, Imelda Maughan  and the full ensemble occupying a fine space. The highlight picture is an enlarged canvass of Roch Hanmore and his son. I would really encourage Boyle Camera Club to put them on display again in Boyle as they are a special collection and a credit to the camera club. If you are passing though Roscommon and have a half hour to spare call in to see the exhibition. As Council CEO Eugene Cummins said a number of times at the launch they are happy for people to do that as it is “your building”.

Some Sport….The Penalty Competition Follow Up
I missed the penalty competition last Saturday am in Boyle’s Abbey Park. I am told that it was a great success and great entertainment. The penalty competition is a really good idea. It could be extended to an all levels free-taking competition (maybe hand-passing over the bar as well!). Free-taking is one of the key elements of success. I do not know what time is put into free-taking in coaching and general match preparation or are 'the free-takers' expected to emerge of themselves. I have thought of such a competition within our club for a long time of a good few ideas that did not reach fruition....hurling another. Anyway seeing that the penalty competition has emerged maybe Boyle free-taking could follow. Only a few weeks ago against Fuerty their free-taker Gearoid Ennis must have scored all 8 frees he took and some from a real distance. I'll 'help' with the free -taking initiative if it is thought worthy. The great free-takers were key players in successful teams. Donal Keenan, Ros. in the 40s'/ Don Feely Ros. 60s'/ the sublime Mickie Kearins with Sligo in the '60s'-70s'/ Tony McTeague with Offaly '60s'-70s/ Jimmy y Keaveney for the Dubs '70s/ Mickie Sheehy, Kerry '70s -'8os/ Stafford for Meath/ the Kildare man from Cork, Tomkins/ Joyce for Galway/ Lohan Ros./ Michael Murphy for Donegal/ and Barney Rock for the Dubs today. They were all free-taking kings in football and hurling has them also.  

They saved the worst wine for last with the two European Football Finals last week or so . The Semi-Finals had it all but the finals were very disappointing. Fair play to Eamon Sweeney who gave Roscommon GAA a great blow in last Sunday’s Independent.  

I’ll leave you this week with one of my favourite Chris O’Dowd public ‘speeches’. It was given at the Irish Spirit Awards in New York on march 17 2013. So Google those and listen to his speech with a twist. You should enjoy it.

May your God’s go with you. T.C.  


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