Thursday, January 30, 2020

Update 30th January

The Election …Naturally
I remember a plasterer who had one person employed discouraging conversation on a Friday pay night for his employee with; ‘Don’t bother me now my head is full of figures’. Well after listening/viewing some of the ‘Debates’ my head is full of bumph whatever that is. The Monday night ‘Claire Byrne Live Leaders Debate’ was screened from U.C.G. and was two hours long with a further analysis in ‘The Spin Room’ for 50 minutes. Now that was five courses of spinage or whatever for insomniacs. I stayed with the Debate most of the time because I had seen a former student and footballer Kevin Tiernan in the front row of the audience. Although Kevin seemed primed to participate with a question he did not get the call. The spin analysis gave Mary Lou as the winner with Boy Barrett the clapometer winner. 
Last night, Tuesday, Miriam O’Call. hosted the ‘Prime Time’ debate from The Arts Centre in Castlerea. There was no candidate from the Roscommon /East Galway constituency which I thought ‘What’s the rationale behind that?’ or in more colloquial language ‘What was that about?’ There were some soundbites though, such as;
1.       a member of the audience stating that after paying €35 for a meal in a Dublin restaurant he told the proprietor that, ‘I paid €35 for 10 0unces of meat which is what I get for 10 Kilos when I sell my animal’. 
2.       The Green Party rep. being at odds with her party on Carbon Taxes and seemed iffy on others. You’ll have to get more economical with the truth Saoirse!
3.       A mister Kelly struck a logical note about decommissioning major structures in Dublin when he bemoaned the missed opportunity that not having considered ‘The National Children’s Hospital’ in, say, Athlone the centre of the country for instance. Apart from accessibility such a development would have huge positives for a whole region. But that would have been thinking outside the Pale of course.
Overall it was a harmless programme which even had Elphin mart doing a stand-in turn for Castlerea mart with manager Gerry Connellan giving his usual determined showing. 
A Brief Assessment of the Roscommon/ Donegal/ Leitrim/ Sligo/ Shepherd’s Bush constituency.
It will take me another election or more to get used to the idea of voting outside Roscommon. That is saying something. It looks like the ticket will run something like this;
Marian Harkin and Marc McSharry as certainties. Then there are three real contenders for two seats those being Martin Kenny Sinn Féin, Frankie Feighan Fine Gael and Eamon Scanlon Fianna Fáil. For Frankie Feighan to get over the line it obliges the county Roscommon section and Boyle loyalty to their native son to be considerate. I feel Frankie will have done a deal of work in Leitrim where he did well before but the first vote is very important as is local support for the ‘local’ man. It is common practise!
Martin Kenny will garner votes from all corners so that leaves Eamon Scanlon a nice man who I have met in Boyle a few times. The Green candidate is Blaithin Gallagher. While I think in kind of history terms there should be a Green tide I am not optimistic. It depends on whether the over 18s vote or have registered to vote. A radio piece interviewing 3rd level students in Limerick and Kilkenny did not suggest a huge interest or connection to the game. Perhaps there should be a movement towards giving the over 16s’ the vote. There was a suggestion after the Brexit vote in England that the voting age should be reduced at both ends of the spectrum!
In the Roscommon/East Galway constituency Dennis Naughten and Ml. Fitzmaurice are the certs there. With a real battle between the emerging talent of Orla Leyden against the resilient Eugene Murphy. Fine Gael looks unlikely to get a seat here and will not look too kindly on Maura Hopkins for her late call to withdraw from the race leaving no time to realign its strategy here. (P.S. I seem to have heard Dennis Naughten say something along the lines of; ‘If lime is spread it will help address ….carbon emissions?’ What’s that about? In the 1950s’ there was a huge campaign of lime spreading on land with Boyle being a hub of distribution.)  
Overall it is going to be another hung Dáil with the Coalition makers already with the drawing boards. While Fianna Fail might resist the idea that they do not have the obvious talent to form a Government there is truth in it. Sinn Féin ironically have some top liners in Doherty et al and their standing seems to have gained momentum. There seems also to be a climate for ‘change’ and Fine Gael need to be careful as Simon Coveney’s personal remarks regarding Michéal Martin, who has supported the Government and–against F.F. natural instinct- has done the country some service and the voters might know it.  
Brexit Friday, Jan. 31st.
And so it has come to pass. The U.K. has crossed the Rubicon. It is very sad and a regression and it certainly didn’t deserve the loutish valedictory comments of Nigel Farage in the chamber of the EU Parliament with the waving of the childish U.K. flags. This was after getting generous commentary from the hierarchy of the parliament. It was interesting that chairing the session was Irish MEP Mairead McGuinness who bade them goodbye (without the good riddance) with “and take your flags with you”. There would be a question of which bin to discard them in.
The reality is that a Churchillian classic WW2 spake, after the British and Australian victory in the North African desert in Nov. 1942 at El Alemaine is appropriate at this juncture;
  “This is not the end, this is not even the beginning of the end, this is just perhaps the end of the beginning.”   

A Speedy Decision
I possibly missed the lead-in but in the last week or so I’ve become aware from radio etc. of major extra taxes on second–hand cars being imported from Northern Ireland and the U.K. Obviously the car trade here would have been critical of this practice and probably ‘lobbied’ on it. It was/is, to a large degree, practiced by young men getting on the ‘car-owning ladder’. What puzzles me is the apparent speed with which it was introduced almost as if it was some health virus or such. This contrasts very much with many initiatives which might be more suitable to speedy initiatives.

Patsy Hanley Godfather of Roscommon Traditional Musicians
On Sunday night last TG4 transmitted a lovely programme on a Roscommon legend of traditional music, Patsy Hanley. Patsy comes from the townland of Killroosky near Ballyleague and was employed as a surveyor with Roscommon Co. Council for most of his working life. He was an All-Ireland champion flute player. Some years ago he was a regular visitor to North Roscommon, Boyle, Ballyfarnon and Keadue, He was known by traditional musicians all over the country and beyond. In the documentary he referenced Dominick Cosgrove’s pub in St. Patrick’s Street as an early venue. I will return to Patsy next time as I want to do it better than I feel I am going to do here at this hour. The notion of, ‘My imperfect self…’ comes into play.  
Patsy is a very humorous man an I’ll leave you with the following and I quote. “I was on the session etiquette committee and we decided the rules for a music session. These emphasised that there would be one guitar, one accordion, one bodhran and one spoon”.       

Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanayhu
It is rarely that I now refer to the U.S. President Donald Trump. I have my reasons for that! One being that I am a poor typist….very slow. Anyway, the Trump Government has come up with a plan that they suggest will solve that most intractable of issues the Palestinian v Israel dilemma. The solution is vested in the U.S. putting in place a very major financial package to assuage the Palestinian people. I suppose in a sense buy them off. However, it discounts several fundamental elements of Palestinian rights and requirements and is basically a non-runner. The deal was negotiated by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner not an intellectual like Sammy Wilson.
At the announcement of this, beside President Trump, was a smiling Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanahu. He was very happy with the proposition which was a sure sign that the Palestinians were being dealt a bad hand. A President of the U.S. who is being impeached dealing with the first Israeli Premier to be ‘up on charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust’. A likely couple.
If one were to do a survey of world leaders, I wonder what the balance would be between ‘the good the bad and the ugly’. 
With regard to the Pres. Trump impeachment … it is doomed of course as the Senate Republican majority will vote it down. The question really is; is it doing Trump’s re-election good or ill. I would say it is a plus for him with his constituency. Another four years, now that will be some penance for many of us. Still, how can it be that the Democrats cannot get a top candidate to challenge him and learn from the 2016 election with Hillary Clinton? While I have not studied or followed the Democratic possee much there is a definition of a junior team being made up of ‘the has-beens, the might-have -beens and they thought they should–have-beens’.  

Eco Eye in Boyle……
Duncan Stewart and his important television programme ‘Eco Eye’ was transmitted last Tuesday and ‘treated of Boyle for a time. There were contributions from locals including hairstylist Denise Sheridan, Barry and Finbar Feely, Sean and Catriona Purcell, Brian Nerney and County C.E.O. Eugene Cummins. All the speakers spoke optimistically of Boyle going forward and we all endorse that. Still, while not unique to Boyle, the derelict and empty houses and business premises were stark with the Royal Hotel frontage being a flag-bearer in that respect. The CEO spoke of the financial monies now available for regeneration and the hoped-for return of residents to the heart of the town. I often hear former residents talk of the numerous young people who resided along all the streets back the decades. I had some experience of that when I resided in my penthouse in Main Street where elements of Coronation Street were in the ether, in a communal way with Breda Dodd keeping an eye on things. Then new families were almost encouraged by the planners to seek the suburbs as we did. This created what is sometimes referred to as the ‘doughnut effect’ in medium to large scale towns. This is where commercial activity establishes itself on the outskirts and the centre declines certainly in terms of residential population.
Hopefully the initiatives that are spoken of now come to fruition and that the streets of Boyle resonate to the living of families again.
The Cycle Way from Lough Key to Boyle. 
Here is an impressive piece of infrastructure that has been talked of for some time but is now near complete. I have walked most of it and it should be a major asset to the town in terms of linkage to Lough Key. In summer the footfall on the streets of Boyle resonates especially around the Arts Festival period. This cycle way should encourage more people from Lough Key Park to the town. There are two impressive stretches of the Cycle Way. One is from the base of the dual carriageway in Lough Key entry through the forest (using old trails and service routes) to the Second Arch. There may be some tricky areas but the stretch along the canal bank is clear and inviting for cycle users, runners and walkers. I have mentioned a number of times the quality and diversity of the walkways around Boyle town. We are blessed with all that. So we look forward to the opening of the Greenway Cycle Route and will be observing with optimism its uptake. 

Cycling to School
For my five years attending Roscommon CBS in the sixties I cycled the six miles or so to secondary school. On that journey I joined lads from Creggs and places in between up to four and more miles. We were joined like a river from the tributary roads to Roscommon town. There are a number of stories of legendary distances travelled by students on their trusty Humber bikes to secondary schools the country over. Cycling has come back from the death of nearly twenty years ago or so. A few days ago I travelled through the town up Marian Road and past Abbey Community College. It was almost gridlocked with cars and buses between the hall and the college. There was no bicycle to be seen. Are there no students cycling to school anymore? Has the revival of cycle usage not spread to this basic and healthy way of doing business? Are there any initiatives within the schools-system encouraging this means of transport? Why is that? Apart from being a very good exercise it would be a training for college and city life later. It would also relieve some congestion in the large towns and cities.  
The Death of Seamus Mallon
It is odd really that a number of my heroes of recent decades happen to be from Northern Ireland. Maybe it is because I’ve been engrossed by the happenings there for nearly 50 years since I attended the funerals on Creggan Hill, Derry, after Bloody Sunday. A number of nationalist politicians emerged through those troubled times such as Bernadette Devlin, Austin Currie, Gerry Fitt and Ivan Cooper. The two giants of Nationalist history in Northern Ireland were John Hume and the understated personality that was Seamus Mallon.  
   Seamus Mallon was born in the largely Protestant village of Markethill, Armagh and was educated in Newry and Armagh schools. Like his father he became a teacher and became headmaster of the Primary School in Markethill.   Markethill being a largely a Protestant village made his and his family’s life all the more challenging during the Troubles. His father had been an active republican during the War of Independence.  While he inherited that he resisted violence totally despite the gross injustices which were the lot of Catholic Nationalists under the successive Unionist governments. He became a founder and prominent member of the SDLP and a Deputy First Minister for Northern Ireland after the Good Friday Agreement and also an M.P.
There has been much written about Seamus in recent days so I do not desire to be repetitious. Some years ago there was a fine documentary about Seamus which I had taped and saved but it got scrubbed subsequently. I hope it turns up again. For the story of the life of Seamus his biography of 2019 ‘A shared Home Place’ is where you will find out about that life of Gaelic sport, politics and the huge courage that was shared with his wife and family.
On Saturday evening last in Croke Park the crowd there for the Dublin v Kerry game stood for a minute’s silence ending in applause as a mark of respect for Seamus the peacemaker and one of their own as a former Armagh footballer. This echoed the same tribute by the same teams on Sept. 1st 2013 to the Derry poet Seamus Heaney on the weekend of his death at the end of August. Roscommon minors were also playing Tyrone on that day.
Ironically not long ago I was talking to Brendan McGee a member of the Boyle Arts Committee and suggested that Seamus would be an appropriate person to bring to Boyle to tell his remarkable and courageous story. 
Congratulations Cian
Congratulations to Boyle and Roscommon GAA player Cian McKeon who was a member of the DCU which won the Sigerson Cup on Wednesday evening over Carlow. Most people outside of the participants and their personal connections have no understanding of the significance of the Sigerson and Fitzgibbon (hurling) Cups. They form a lifetime bond for those involved especially on winning teams. 
Congrats also to the young Irish girl Billie Eilish who did so well at the Grammy awards and also Saoirse Ronan who has been nominated for a 5th time for an Oscar. This is some achievement for someone so young.
A sad note; as the Grammy awards proceeded on Sunday night the mood was darkened by the death in an accident earlier that day of basketball legend Kobe Bryant, who spent much of his NBA career playing at the arena where the show was held. Most of us would not be aware of this sportsman but in the U.S. he was special.

‘And so to bed’ from S.P.


Thursday, January 16, 2020

Update 16th January

What …Another Year!

So… the race is on and the General Election will take place on Saturday, February 8th. The first Saturday election they say since 1918.  An issue for us in Boyle is getting enthused by an election which, in the constituency boundary carve-up, has transposed us into the constituency of Sligo/Leitrim/ North Roscommon/ South Donegal. There is a bit of ‘sweepings of the floor’ about all that.
We now have to get to know most of the potential candidates. So here is my very rough thumbnail sketch-guide to it as of today Thursday January 16.
They are at the moment Marian Harkin former M.E.P. who topped the poll in the 2002 general election and three sitting T.D.s’ Marc Mc Sharry F.F., Eamon Scanlon F.F. and Martin Kenny S.F. With those is Frank Feighan F.G. who was impressively elected in 2007 and 2011 in Roscommon /South Leitrim. A Tony McLoughlin F.G. has stood down from contesting this time. For a time his daughter was seen as a strong candidate but also stood down. It is probable that F.G. will add another candidate while the Greens may do so as well. Other possibles are Ellis, Bree and some independents. There are some 6000 + votes in the Roscommon section of the constituency with some 4000 voting last time and the quota will come in around 12,000 with four seats.   
In Roscommon East Galway the sitting T.D.s’ are Dennis Naughton Ind.   …..but formerly F.G. / Ml. Fitzmaurice Ind. / Eugene Murphy F.F.
Both Maura Hopkins and Ivan Connaughton had close runs in recent times. The standing down of Maura Hopkins for family reasons this time is a big hit for F.G. and their chances of getting a candidate elected now are minimal.  Added to this is a strong second F.F. candidate in Orla Leyden. Orla, is the daughter of Terry, but is her own lady in politics and is an impressive presence as a County Councillor. While Sinn Fein with Claire Kerrane and a possible Green candidate will get decent votes the Sinn Fein transition from Gerry Adams to Mary Lou McDonald has flat-lined at best. The Greens will get seats nationally and deservedly so but in Roscommon… not this time. I was listening to Ml. Fitzmaurice on the ‘Tonight’ T.V. programme last night with Ivan Yates and he seemed almost bored and boring in answering the same questions!      
Nationally seeing F.G. have been there since 2011 it would be some coup to continue as the primary party. A certain arrogance can be seen from time to time with their party hierarchy. Paschal is seen as an able Minister but is inclined to be looking down his nose a lot of the time. The one thing that really hits parties who are in situ for a prolonged period is ARROGANCE and ENTITLEMENT. The Bard again ‘Pride comes before a fall’. While the country is said to be prospering that prosperity is very uneven. Rural Ireland is in a constant state of erosion while Dublin continues to be the magnet despite significant logistical issues there.
While Fine Gael will of course point to the country’s prosperity, its Brexit policies and dealings, and the Northern parties back on track with a devolved Government there are a number of Premier issues that will hurt them hard and often.
The two major issues are well flagged in Heath and Housing. The experience of many who visit hospitals is regularly one of shock. I have been in some accident and emergency and in simplistic terms I refer to them as like Beirut. It is impossible to get any understanding of how so much money can be spent but yet for the core elements within the health system to remain so log-jammed. It seems as if the crisis is just impossible to influence.      
The housing ‘crisis’ is just an ongoing saga too with huge amounts of blame to go around.  The issues include the impossibility of young couples to get on the property ladder in the cities where they work; the homeless who struggle even to get any kind of housing; the insane rent young workers in the cities are required to pay in rent; the transposing of families into temporary accommodation in hotels etc. Fine Gael made a mistake not to remove Eoghan Muphy as if that would help!
Last night on the ‘Tonight’ the farmers protest in Dublin which was criticised by some contributors. It is an odd thing that the mainstream representative organisations are side-lined by those organising these disruptive blockades. They could be counter-productive cheesing off the communities in the capital. Though one commentator made the interesting point that; “Dublin is our capital city it belongs to all of us. It is where power exists and where the message must be delivered to.” etc.   

Salute to Mary Clifford
Congratulations and best wishes to Mary on being awarded the Roscommon Herald GAA ‘Hall of Fame’ award on Friday night next in The Abbey Hotel in Roscommon. It is in recognition of Mary’s work and commitment to Boyle and Roscommon GAA allied to her continued support for her native county of Donegal.       
Sigerson Last Sunday
“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again” is the opening line in Daphne du Maurier’s  Gothic novel. Well last Sunday I returned to the Sigerson Gaelic football tournament in Galway after a long time. Four of us, former UCG GAA people, met in up in Salthill with the meeting being supplemented by attending a Sigerson Cup game between UCG and UCC. I’ve never adapted to the modern appendage of NUIG which stands for the National University of Ireland Galway. After meeting up we headed for UCG’s grounds at Dangan. It was a cold miserable day and the Fitzgibbon hurling game was in progress between the same two colleges. UCC in the familiar distinctive red jerseys with black band and skull and crossbones motif were winners in a game that UCG could have got a draw from. It was a difficult day for skilful hurling which happened in patches. The 30 man panel of UCG had only two from out of Galway.
There was a long break before the football game which was a do- or- die affair. UCG started brightly with a Robert Finnerty a lively player causing problems for Cork. However, when Cork settled they got two quick goals which of course were crucial to the result. Galway fought back and by half time the margin had narrowed to a couple of points. The introduction of Corofinn star Kieran Molloy promised good things for Galway but Kerry player Sean O’ Shea was a star turn. Galway had the chance to draw level and send the game into extra time but their free-taker missed from close in with the last kick of the game. It was the trauma that lands on a missed penalty taker in a shoot-out. There was no Roscommon player participating with just two substitutes Aaron Brady  and Padraic Halpin.
Through the decades Roscommon players have played an integral part of many Sigerson teams. From our own area, there is a number such as, in the 30s’,  Dr. Hugh Gibbons who was a star player with a UCG team that ruled the roost then as he won on 5 occasions. UCG won 8 in 10 Sigersons in the thirties. Bill McQuillan captained a College team to victory circa 1950. Paddy Nangle was also part of the winning UCG teams of the early 60s’.  John Kelly starred for UCD in the late sixties. Timmy O’ Dowd was a UCG player in the early 70s’ with Tom Ryan in the 90s’. Sean Daly and later Niall O’Donohoe featured with Sligo I.T. in their early days. Around four years ago the Smith brothers and Tadhg Lowe starred with DCU with a great win in Cork against Cork which a number of Boyle GAA supporters were happy to witness.  Evan McGrath was on the U.C.G. panel in 2019 when they lost a great game against UCC. UCC and UCG seem to have a real history which has tiltedin favour of Cork with 23 Sigersons wins, to UCG a creditable 22 wins bolstered by the golden era of the 30s’ with their 8 wins.  

‘It’s the little things that trip you up’
1. While it is not a little thing but the story on the radio as I write here is of a homeless man being seriously injured while some tents were being cleared from the banks of a Dublin’s Grand Canal. It emerged that underneath one of the tents that was being removed by a machine was a person. In the process, he was seriously injured and removed to hospital with life-changing injuries. It of course highlights again the plight of the homeless particularly in the cities and how the authorities find it impossible to redress those extreme issues. Numbers are being quoted as I speak and all that but there can be no confidence that the situation will get hugely better. An ‘incident’ that brought it into stark light was the death of a man in a doorway close to Leinster House around four years ago. There was an outcry then and things improved but they have regressed.
The argument from the Government is that; “There is no reason for anyone to sleep out on the streets as there is emergency accommodation available for everyone”. The issue- question there is…Why will people choose to sleep on the streets rather than access this supposed total accommodation? They are saying that it is safer to sleep in their tents than in the hostels! 
From a political/election point of view this ‘incident’ is a very unwelcome grenade.
2. While this has gone off the radar the stupidity of the printer for Leinster House and the remedial work needed to facilitate its location was mind-boggling.
3. The spiralling cost of the National Children’s Hospital which is being built in a very contentious restricted site will be a story for a number of years yet.
4. The decision that was short-circuited to commemorate the R.I.C. at Dublin Castle championed by the Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan. What a start to at least 3 years of very sensitive commemoration. Regularly on the high stool, a person will suggest; “I could have told them that…it wouldn’t fly.”  Regarding the assimilation of ‘Black and Tans’ into the R.I.C. in 1920 it really developed after a considerable number of RIC members left the organisation for a variety of reasons. A small number would have supported the emerging Irish Republic after the 1918 General Election. Others were frightened for their own safety and that of their families. A number would have emigrated to England and the U.S. The substantial reduction in numbers was filled by ‘recruits’ from England who were well remunerated. These were the ‘Black and Tan’ elements most with WW1 experience. So commemorating the RIC with its ‘Black and Tan’ connection at that particular period was an “I could have told them that …’ incident.      

5. School Secretaries were in the news last week as they picketed Leinster House too with issues of pay rate, no summer pay and no pension.  Their status when compared to internal Department of Education secretaries is stark. I know from my previous life that the work of school secretaries is immeasurable. They are the ‘first responders’ to so many issues in the school environment. They are the glue in the school framework. Without them, the running of schools would become a tangled web. So give them respect and their due.
(I’ll move on to a more positive zone).
56th BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition
There was a great picture of the winners of the primary award at the above on Saturday’s Independent. They were Cormac Harris and Alan O’Sullivan from Cork. Their project looked at; “Stereotyping in young children and how to combat it.” The reaction of the boys was hugely positive almost expressing the feeling that they found it hard to believe. They now go forward to a European equivalent of the exhibition. This initiative has to be a big driver of secondary student initiatives and many winners have gone on to great success in their lives. I may be wrong but were the Collison brothers of Strype winners here a decade or so ago? Good luck to the winners and I imagine there are many fine ideas in the projects that did not get the primary accolade. One which I saw referred to a drone delivery of defibrillators!   The Roscommon Herald features the Roscommon entrants. I visited the Young Scientist expo once in the mid-nineties when my neighbour had a project there. It is such a great initiative.

James Dodd the Hurler
Michael Caine had a two-part biography decades ago maybe. The first book was titled ‘Not a Lot of People Know That’…the second being ‘Not a Lot of People Know this Either’. At the launch of hurling in Boyle, I came in contact with Roscommon hurling official Kieran Farrell from Tremane. We talked a bit about the hurling teams of the late sixties and told me that they were going to ‘honour’ two Roscommon teams that had won ‘Special All-Irelands’  fifty years ago in 1969. One was a minor team and the other was U16. He mentioned about a young Boyle man called James Dodd and asked if I knew him, which of course I did. ‘Well he was part of the Roscommon U 16 hurling team, especially in the early games and we’d like to invite him to the re-union Kieran replied. So I contacted James and got his take on it and he was pleased to be remembered. He was involved in the early games being ferried there by Mister Hurling of then, Offaly man Bob Carr. He missed out, somewhat, subsequently after accompanying his uncle, Father Kieran Dodd, on a holiday abroad. Holidays had also contributed to his hurling initiation as they were to relations in Tipperary.
So in mid-December, James returned to the re-union in Roscommon’s hurling heartland of Athleague fearing he would know ‘no one’. But no, as a familiar face of someone from his current native town of Nenagh emerged with ‘What are you doing here?’ he being a member of the minor team while James had been on the U 16 team.
So the night turned out to be a nice acknowledgement of a sporting highlight from 50 years ago. 
As a postscript it is well to acknowledge that James played Gaelic football with distinction for St. Mary’s College; Boyle teams in a series of county finals and Roscommon minors in the seventies and coached the game in Boyle and in his adopted town of Nenagh. 
Changing Lanes
I travel to Galway regularly. By tradition, my road was via Frenchpark, Castlerea, Williamstown and Dunmore and Tuam. That is a challenging route, especially in darkness. I knew a lady once who in her early driving initiation, on that road actually, told me that when she passed a cyclist she used to check her rear- view mirror to ensure that the cyclist was still intact! Why I say that is that there are times when meeting large vehicles on that the margin of error is negligible. So now I have changed to Frenchpark, past Ballagaderreen, Swinford, Knock, Claremorris via Ballindine and Milltown and linking into Tuam. Apart from a number of miles between Milltown and Ballindine it is a much better road.
So I have ‘made the change’ which is something akin to ‘shop around’. It may be costing me some five or so minutes but the steering wheel grip has relaxed a little! 

Watch what you say, politician!
This is a given but Heather Humphries a former minister (I presume now) referred to the Fianna Fáil front bench as a Junior ‘B’ team. I took immediate offence to that reference as I have a fond attachment to the ‘Jnr. ‘B’ teams for many years and especially after the Boyle team’s exploits this year. Indeed Kilteevan St. Joseph’s celebrated their win over Boyle in 2018 as if it meant the world to them.
Heather was using the analogy that the Fianna Fáil front bench has not got the wherewithal to govern. It is hard to be a star when you are consigned to the subs bench for nine years…something FF would not be used to.
*Michéal Martin deserves an awful lot of credit for supporting the F.G. Government for so long with ‘confidence and supply’. I imagine that there were many in F.F. who had reservations about that and especially its duration.
Anyway, Heather when this note is brought to your attention ‘Give Respect Get Respect’.   

Windows 7
While I am no techno person I have seen this week that Microsoft are ‘not supporting Windows 7’ henceforth and the general advice to people is to upgrade or investigate their security status generally. As I say I’m not qualified in the elements of all this but a thing I don’t want is infection issues with the laptop.

There were a few things I thought I might mention this turn such as some reflection on the happenings of Christmas, meeting people home for Christmas who I wish well on their return to x, y, z; the Golden Globes some T.V. programmes good and bad and so on… but we will adjourn.
Slán for now