Oblique View - Wednesday, February 19th
Congratulations to; Louise Fitzpatrick, General Manager, and the staff of Lough Key Forest Park on their prestigious LAMA (Local Authorities Members Awards! As Michael Caine titled his biography …’Not a Lot of People Know That’)) Award for Best National Park. I visit the park regularly with often taking visitors and the sentiment regularly expressed is, ‘How lucky you are to have this on your doorstep’. I fully realise that and the incremental additions in recent years have enlarged its appeal. So well done to all and especially the energetic dynamo that is its general manager Louise.
Laurel and Hardy
A standard line with the iconic comedy duo Laurel and Hardy was one of them issuing ‘Another fine mess you’ve got us into’ (approx.).
It seems as if we (the Irish Electorate ) have left a very complicated government-building site post-election. It looks as Mary Lou McDonald is finding it well-nigh impossible to coalesce the fragmented ‘Left’ and that shouldn’t be hard to grasp. Fianna Fáil might have seemed the closest to Sinn Féin ideologically but Michéal Martin has been strongly denying any possibility (until recently at least) in this happening. The ‘Grand Coalition’ between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil is hardly a runner due to, history, tradition, arrogance, future possibilities, the danger of further decline. The reality is that there is very little between them really apart from the above!
A big issue with the ‘Grand Coalition’ is that it would be a national alley wall for huge criticism starting with; ‘This is not what the country voted for’. Well if a coalition can put together a government then they become what the people voted for! This is an international thing and in many countries parties with lesser voting numbers become Government. We only have to look at the U.K. where the single vote system has enabled two major parties to dominate for aeons. Brexit is also happening despite 48% of the people having voted against it.
Congratulations Are Due to;
Here in Boyle the success of Frank Feighan in winning a seat in the Sligo/Leitrim/Roscommon/Donegal Constituency. He certainly pulled out all the stops and by winning such votes in all areas such Leitrim, Donegal, North Roscommon and a load of transfer from Mister Walshe at the end demonstrated his credibility and popularity across the constituency. In this week’s The Roscommon Herald on pages 32/33 Darragh Kelly deals with a number of facets of Frank’s career, present and future. Under the headline ‘I closed down on myself. I was hurt’ he gives an insight into a traumatic time when the A & E. at Roscommon Hospital was closed. It showed how an important issue can become so difficult and corrosive and the toll a decision can have on a public representative from heavy-handed criticism.
Congratulations also to…
Claire Kerrane on her great victory for Sinn Féin in Roscommon East Galway. She too got the double spread in The Roscommon Herald in one instance holding a famous historic campaign picture from the 1917 Count Plunkett Election declaring ‘The West’s Awake’.
Indeed, I was somewhat surprised that commentators made hardly any reference to the Sinn Féin victory of 1918 when they swept the old Home Rule Party out of existence. While Sinn Féin did not do that to the ‘Grand’ old parties of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil it was a major shock to their comfortable ‘entitlement’ duopoly system.
Both were products of the War of Independence and are rooted in Arthur Griffith’s tree of Sinn Fein. The Free State government governed with the whip through the Civil War and the decade after. De Valera saw the futility of abstention and formed his own party Fianna Fáil in the late twenties and went into government in ’32 and was left there for 16 years using the whip also on dissidents during WW2. In ’48 a different ‘Grand Coalition’ was put in place with the basic mantra of ‘We have the shift de Valera’. This comprised of Fine Gael/the Labour Party/ the National Labour Party, Clann na Poblachta (Clann na Poblachtha was led by Sean McBride former IRA Chief, with Roscommon footballer and political radical Jack McQuillan as a T.D. /Clann na Talúin a farmers’ party plus independents. This was led by Taoiseach John Costello because the leader of Fine Gael, Richard (Dick) Mulcahy, was unacceptable to McBride and his party. That Government ironically declared the 26 counties a Republic having being a ‘Dominion’ and part of ‘The Commonwealth’.
It is now 25 years since the Good Friday Agreement and there is legitimacy in Sinn Féin being in government here and they should not be regarded as pariahs. There is a consensus that a single party will not dominate again and that even two parties will struggle to do so either. While the past should not be forgotten (and will not be) we no longer live there. (Even the colossal damage inflicted on the country by the BANKERS, so-called REGULATORS, and the Fianna Fáil Governments of the time are still there with Fine Gael coming on the inside with unsolved crises in Housing and Health plus etc. It is however impossible to predict what will emerge.
If there are political winners’ there are also losers of course and commiserations to Eugene Murphy in the Roscommon constituency. An affable individual as is Seamus Scanlon in our constituency.
(and now for something very different)
The Death of Kirk Douglas
For an early part of my life –football and hurling apart- going to the cinema was a most regular treat. In Roscommon town, there were two cinemas, The Royal (still there, as of now a night club) and ‘The Blue Moon’ (a name used not long ago for a Boyle Bar). The Royal Cinema looked down somewhat on ‘The Blue Moon’. Anyway, on many Sunday nights, a carload of us would travel to Roscommon to the pictures. Amongst the stars of the screen then were John Wayne, James Stewart, Alan Ladd, Glenn Ford, Burt Lancaster, Audie Murphy, Jack Palace and Kirk Douglas. As can be seen from that cast the films/pictures were mainly westerns. The legendary film director was John Ford –of Irish extraction-who made a series of Western –U.S. Cavalry v Indians- in which John Wayne and Victor McLaughlin stared ‘She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, ‘Rio Grande’ and ‘Fort Apache’ and so on. I suppose you could put ‘The Quiet Man’ in there also. The theme music for many of those had the lift of Irish music.
Alan Ladd and Jack Palance matched up in one of my favourite films, Shane.
Returning to Kirk Douglas who died on Feb. 5th aged 103 he was one the giants of the Hollywood screen. He starred in two of my favourite westerns ‘Last Train from Gunhill’ against Anthony Quinn in ’59 and accompanied Burt Lancaster in Gunfight at the O.K. Corral’ as Doc Holiday. He is probably best remembered as Spartacus in the ‘sword and sandals’ film of that name about the rebellion of Roman slaves and the cry is still heard occasionally on T.V. ads. etc. ‘I’m Spartacus’. His best film, for me though, was the classic anti-war WW1 film ‘Paths of Glory’ a masterpiece about a labelled ‘mutiny’ when a French division was ordered into an inevitable suicide attack across ‘No man’s Land’. A number of soldiers are brought up on trial for cowardice and Kirk’s character, Col Dax, is the defence lawyer with a bitter French general as opposition.
It was a golden age of cinema and was a social outlet in which we could glimpse in awe at the great world beyond the oceans especially the United States
A Shared Home Place…Seamus Mallon
I’m repeating myself here but if you can access a ‘podcast’ of the documentary shown on RTE of the life of the late great Seamus Mallon called ‘A shared Home Place’ I recommend you try to do so. The title covers the work in which he strived all his life. It is a telling record of the bigotry and discrimination in Northern Ireland which has coloured its history to date. As an aside when watching it Seamus refers to his boyhood highlight of visiting Croke for an All-Ireland final between Kerry and Roscommon. From my viewing, it would be 1946 when Roscommon leading by 6 points with 6 or so minutes remaining let Kerry in to score two goals and draw the match. (Kind of familiar!). They lost the replay in a great game. It was nice to see the short ‘action film’ of them and their preparation for the team picture and a short piece of the game.
My tribute reference to Seamus in my last blog or so prompted my friend and regular reader Boyle native John Austin Biesty to forward the following comment;
“Just to let you know how much I enjoyed reading this weeks 'View'. I was delighted you mentioned Seamus Mallon (R.I.P.) Ireland could do with a few more politicians like him. 'A society grows great and strong when old men plant trees whose shade they know they will never sit under.' Spoken by Seamus in the House of Commons. Powerful stuff”
John Austin keeps a very keen eye on the happenings in Boyle the town he left in the early sixties for the States. Not long after he arrived there he was ‘called up’ for service in the U.S. Army and on demobilisation he has spent his life in the New York area. He was Secretary of Boyle GAA before he left for New York and keeps another eye on the fortunes of the Boyle club and Roscommon. John Austin has visited his native town a number of times down the years a memorable one being for his 75th birthday if I am not mistaken. That could have been the ‘Year of the Gathering’ 2013 as I met him in the hall for that great party there. (I’m straying but it was when The Virginian Drury was also in town).
While John Austin lives in America it safe to suggest that Boyle, Roscommon and Ireland are constants in his heart. I wish you all the very best and thank you for your support, interest and communications.
Padraig Daly’s Radio Contribution
Once to be on national radio was a noticeable event but now even being on T.V. isn’t even so. Still, I am someone who notices such things. A couple of weeks ago amid the maelstrom of the impending election, I tuned into an RTE Radio One programme basically dealing with elements of the national infrastructure. The person being interviewed was Padraig Daly from Boyle. Padraig is Business Development Manager for well- known construction company JJ Rhatigan & Company.
With over 30 years' experience in the Construction Industry in Ireland, UK and mainland Europe, his role in JJ Rhatigan & Company is as Head of Recruitment enabling the company to attract the right calibre of staff to satisfy their requirements.
He was asked a number of questions regarding the challenges facing the construction companies in recruitment currently. While I do not remember the detail I do remember the forthright manner in answering the questions. The fact that there were difficulties in getting trained and experienced tradespeople. The graph in the training of those had dipped so much during the crash. The number of those tradespeople who emigrated and even if they wished to return -as many do- the cost of living in Dublin the hub of the current construction boom is prohibitive if it can be accessed at all. Then the rates of pay are marked against the expensive environment. Also the lack of accommodation for returning emigrants and migrants.
A phrase that I had not heard for some time surfaced and that was ‘wet trades’ which I presume is that of block layers and plasterers and concrete gangs. That Ireland a country that provided post-war England with a multitude for the ‘wet trades’ cannot now service its own demands is an irony.
Anyway, Padraig well done on that. To hear clear, telling and articulate answers to particular issues during an election campaign was refreshing.
Recently I have been driving a good deal more in darkness than usual and have adopted the Knock Airport/Ballindine/Milltown route to Galway. I have to say that the standard of driving and courtesy is very good. There is an issue though that I see too often. That is defective lighting. The worst case scenario here is an advancing car with a top inside light and little on the outside. At odd times it might seem as if it was a motorbike. I know that it is a defect that a person might not see automatically but it is a serious defect. In last Sunday's paper I saw in a travel article reference to French regulations which are very strict. There a driver must carry a warning triangle, high-vis vests, and a full set of light bulbs for all the vehicles lighting system. There is a fine auto supply premises on Boyle’s Green Street which will service these requirements.
I see that there are a large number of new speed checkpoints hot spots. The almost total road from Boyle to Carrick is a given. There are two nearer the town, one from the golf club access into the town and one I am very aware of and that is from the church to where the road connects with the N4. I walk that road often and the speeds I regularly encounter bear no resemblance to the nominated speed limits.
A Favourite Song;
I have heard the song the “Isle of Innisfree” a couple of times recently after funeral masses and it always resonates with me. I was just a very young boy when I first heard it, possibly on a radio programme called ‘The Ballad Makers on Saturday Night” which my father tuned into religiously. Today having heard it again I decided to investigate its origins and share them here.
(The song has no connection with the poem of W.B. Yeats, ‘Lake Isle of Innisfree”)
“The "Isle of Innisfree" is a song composed by Dick Farrelly (Irish songwriter and policeman) who wrote both the music and lyrics. Farrelly got the inspiration for "Isle of Innisfree", the song for which he is best remembered, while on a bus journey from his native Kells, County Meath to Dublin. The song was published in 1950.
Farrelly’s "Isle of Innisfree" is a haunting melody with lyrics expressing the longing of an Irish emigrant for his native land. When film director John Ford heard the song, he loved it so much that he chose it as the principal theme of his film The Quiet Man. The composition received no mention in the screen credits. "The Isle of Innisfree" became a worldwide hit for Bing Crosby in 1952 and continues to feature in the repertoires of many artists”.
It was a favoured song of a family friend, Tess Flaherty of Carrick Road
"Isle of Innisfree"
I've met some folks who say that I'm a dreamer
And I've no doubt there's truth in what they say
But sure a body's bound to be a dreamer
When all the things he loves are far away
And precious things are dreams unto an exile
They take him o'er the land across the sea
Especially when it happens he's an exile
From that dear lovely Isle of Innisfree
And when the moonlight peeps across the rooftops
Of this great city, wondrous though it be,
I scarcely feel its wonder or its laughter
I'm once again back home in Innisfree
I wander o'er green hills through dreamy valleys
And find a peace no other land could know
I hear the birds make music fit for angels
And watch the rivers laughing as they flow
But dreams don't last
Though dreams are not forgotten
And soon I'm back to stern reality
But though they pave the footways here with gold dust
I still would choose the Isle of Innisfree.