Friday, October 30, 2020

 Blog Thursday, October the 29th.

The Covid Marathon

Last spring, we battened down the hatches in a gesture of solidarity and defiance and by June or so we thought we were ‘round the corner’ as Trump says. But like the Marathon, we are now challenged by that twenty-kilometre barrier. The winter winds blow chilly and cold and the long dark nights envelop our existence. But we will survive and come next February, 3/4 months away, having survived, we will face a different brightening future. We will be tired, some even exhausted, but that famous ‘light in the tunnel’ will not be the proverbial train of the past year. The commentary on a vaccine is pretty positive endorsed his morning by a respected Dr Fauci. 

As the ongoing notifications from our guiding medical fraternity is that the next few weeks are critical. This reminds me of a jockey being asked the question; “Which fence in the Aintree Grand National do you fear the most?” to which he replied, “Always the next one”.

I am not competent to comment much on the Covid news like the difficulties with ‘track and trace’, the post-match, house party, travel breaches of guidelines, confusion around ‘pods’, some places being open and others not, some sports allowed and others not, the huge challenges in schools and the many more. There is an abundance of commentary on those ‘out there’. 

 Take care and if you feel uncomfortable in a situation to get out of there.  And I would request people who meet others in a social distancing way ‘mind the gap’. Months ago now, in the early days, I was at a small game and very much socially distancing and masked when someone came towards me and as I retreated he advanced until I was nearly going over the embankment. I left posing the question; How could it be that he could not interpret my situation?

I quote from Thomas Kinsella’s poem ‘Mirror in February’ which represents my attitude at this time;

“I fold my towel with what grace I can 

Not young and not renewable, but man.”

T.V. Films

Films and television programmes I have watched recently include a disproportionate number on United States issues. Issues with police treatment of Black people were front and centre in ‘Detroit’ and ‘16 Shots’. Both were shocking and Detroit was not for the squeamish. One film I enjoyed (!), ‘The Chicago Seven’ related to the protests of 1968 in Chicago (again) near the Democratic Convention. It is not a classic or anything and perhaps it was more a black comedy than a seriously themed picture. Still, the court scenes and the performances of a number of the principals are very good. I could be ‘overruled’ on that selection of course but give it a chance. Again the behaviour of the Chicago police at the behest of the city’s Mayor Daly was o.t.t. 

At that Convention, the Democrats nominated Hubert Humphrey as their candidate against Richard Nixon. Nixon won of course. While I am very interested in U.S. History it would take a lifetime to get a decent knowledge of it. I would like to read a book with the losing presidential candidates as a theme. It seems to me that while there have been few outstanding American Presidents hardly ever has one emerged from the ‘also-rans’ of which the label ‘the greatest President the U.S. could have had but missed out on’. The great Presidents would include Washington, Lincoln, Wilson perhaps, F.D. Roosevelt with a run of decent presidents including Eisenhower, Kennedy who could have been a first division contender as could Johnson. After that come, Nixon, Ford (accidentally), Carter, Regan (who many Americans see as a ‘great’ President but not me). H.G. Bush, Clinton I thought of as a good president; G.W. Bush; Obama hobbled by Congress, and now Trump.

What future event will probably have the greatest television audience of modern times? I’ll give my guess on that somewhere down the way.  

I am confused at the fact that in such an advanced society that there are queues to vote in the U.S. it is something one associates with say South Africa or some such. 

Book of Now

The runaway sports bestseller of the moment is ‘Champagne Football’ by Mark Tighe and Paul Rowan. It is an account of the Football Association of Ireland in John Delaney’s ‘care’. I have not read it yet but  I got a text from a friend as follows; “Wait until you read Champagne Football. The GAA should send a copy to houses through the country and complaints about the GAA would wither’! I saw a television interview with Mark Tighe and in a condensed way, it showed the style of Delaney. Delaney’s pathetic performance at the Dail Committee hearings was mind-boggling. A succession of; ‘On legal advice, I do not answer that question’ or some such. The high point of his tenure and a picture of his self-importance and power was the birthday party at Mount Juliet. So I look forward to reading ‘Champagne Football’. 

In stark contrast to the above one’s heart has to go out the Irish Ladies soccer team who lost out to Ukraine in such incredible circumstances late last week. If you want to see what I am talking of I’m sure you can source it on U Tube or such platforms. This defeat has denied the team to take part in the Ladies World Cup next year in England with the opening match featuring England at Old Trafford and the Final being in Wembley. The Irish goalkeeper will need a lot of t.l.c. for some time after this. 

It is the third Irish team which has missed out in going to world stages of their sport. The men’s soccer team lost out Slovakia on penalties (If Ireland won there they would have to meet Northern Ireland to go to the European Football Championships finals). A number of the games of the competition will be staged in the Aviva in Dublin.  I know of someone who has tickets for their first game v Sweden in the Aviva in June.  The games are dispersed around 12 cities including Dublin.

The Irish Men’s Hockey team lost out in very controversial circumstances to Canada in October 2019 to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. This hinged on a very dubious video refereeing decision. 

One glimmer is that the Irish Ladies Hockey team have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics. The game that got them over the line was also against Canada.     

Staying with Sport

While I only watch Formula One car racing accidentally I must mention the achievement of Lewis Hamilton who has won his 92nd Formula One Race at the Portuguese Grand Prix and so eclipses the record of Michael Schumacher a record that a short number of years ago was thought to be unbreakable.                        

Roscommon Go Up

The Roscommon team achieved a real goal with their promotion to Division One of the National League with their victory over a poor Cavan team last weekend. They seem to have a real strength-in-depth now as that victory showed. While it is always great for us GAA people to follow successful Roscommon teams a real bonus is when your own club members are part of the team. This is so now and is heightened by the fact that their contribution is of such quality with Donie getting ‘Man of the Match’ there. Enda would be regarded in the top echelons now by national commentators and more especially opposition managers while the emergence and progress of Cian is the real icing on the cake. So hats off to you ‘guys’ as they say in the states. Another very positive part of their contributions is in their after match contributions when interviewed. There was a deal of commentary on the interview with Enda after the Armagh game and the same could be said for Donie after the Cavan game. So Cian you have to, as the Scouts Motto goes ‘Be Prepared’ when your turn comes as it will!  

So now we look forward to a Connacht Championship Semi-final v Mayo which will be very, very, interesting in Hyde Park. 

Limerick looked very good in their Munster Championship dismissal of Clare on Sunday. A new feature to me was the yellowish sliothar. I presume it was because it was more visible to the television cameras. I’ve seen this before in cricket and tennis maybe?   

‘The West’s Awake’ …Revolution in Roscommon 1916 -1922.

I tuned into this ‘New History Ireland Podcast’ as part of the ‘Decades of Centenaries’ on Tuesday afternoon. This ‘Hedge School’ Podcast was facilitated by Roscommon County Council Arts Office whose Arts officer is Rhona McGrath.

The contributors were Tommy Grehan, Brian Hanley, John Burke and May Moran from Crossna a grand-niece of Paddy Moran who was executed by the British in 1920. One never ceases to learn and see facets of history that lie just beneath the surface and collectively contribute to major upheavals of historic importance. In Roscommon LAND was a major issue   

While Roscommon has regularly been seen as one of the quieter counties in the War of Independence this is not valid when one puts its cards on the table. The 1917 Election success of Count Plunket was a hugely influential event in the whole drama. It is good that Paddy Moran’s grand-niece May is to the fore in the playing a big role in this and her book on Paddy titled ‘Executed for Ireland’ is a big contribution. The book may still be available in the Una Bhán book shop at King House entrance.      

There certainly is material for a PhD student in addressing the acquisition and disbursement of land from the great landed estates in County Roscommon to the farming classes. While I mention Scholarly projects it surprises me that Jasper Tully has never been (to my knowledge) the subject of a biography. 

Television History Documentaries 

There have been a number of telling and sad television documentaries of late. The RTE programmes schedule presented a number. The first one dealt with the death of Terence Mac Sweeney Mayor of Cork who died on hunger strike in Brixton prison in 1920. 

Mac Sweeney had succeeded another Mayor Tomas McCurtain who was murdered by a group of men who were regarded as members of the R.I.C.

This week we saw the Nationwide programme in which the first half concentrated on the capture, trial and execution of Kevin Barry in Dublin. Part two dealt with the removal of the remains of 10 I.R.A. members who had been executed in a short period including Barry and buried in Mountjoy. Their remains were removed for reburial with full military honours and state honours in a Republican plot in Glasnevin Cemetery. The members of this group were often referred to as ‘The Forgotten Ten’. Their names were; Kevin Barry, Paddy Moran, Frank Flood, Thomas Whelan, Thomas Traynor, Patrick Doyle, Edmond Foley, Thomas Bryan, Bernard Ryan and Patrick Maher. This funeral through the crowded streets of Dublin, which was televised live, took place on the 14th of October 2001. It was a proud day for the many members of the Moran family who were in attendance. It is amongst my list of regrets that I did not go to Dublin for this event as I should have.

By the time my next Blog here it will be in the anniversary of Bloody Sunday November 21st 1920 and I’ll have a few words on that then.  

P. S. In 1937 when Kevin Barry’s mother was in dire straits and applied to the state pensions board for some monetary support for her and her family. Her request was denied. I know a little about the terms, conditions and layers of bureaucracy in the ‘Free State’ that was at play in this type of result.

 In a phrase I came across a long time ago they were like inverted Micawbers; ‘Waiting for something to turn down’.     

The Death of Patricia Mac Namara

The news of the death of Patricia Mac Namara was greeted with sadness by the community of the town of Boyle last week. She was an iconic figure in the town. I am aware of the various tributes to her spoken at her funeral mass and included in this week’s Roscommon Herald and the regard she was held in so I can only endorse them. I may even be borrowing some apt references used in those forums. I first met Patricia when she was helping her mother in their restaurant at Main Street in the middle seventies. I was living a few doors down the street and lunched there from time to time. I was usually there with Stanley Cox Secretary of the Leitrim Count Board.

As Canon Gerry said at her Mass “She had her own mind and was very direct in expressing her opinion and was linguistically colourful”.  

Her 60th birthday was announced in the church at a regular Sunday mass and this was greeted by Patricia in theatrical style with a wave to the crowd and a slight bow as the Choir led the congregation in her Happy Birthday salute. She enjoyed that. A regular African phrase of recent times ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ comes into play with her. While her family were, of course, her immediate diligent carers the village of Boyle helped out in watching out for her.

I met her regularly at the traditional music sessions which in recent years took place in Dodd’s bar. She took her premier seat and held onto it with the tenacity of a politician. She was part of the scene there and was treated well by the hosts and participants. Patricia was not one to drift home early and Liam’s appearance on occasions was not heartily welcome. Her 60th birthday party took place in St. Joseph’s Hall and was followed by a similar celebration for a close contact. Patricia starred on both those occasions. So when we return to Dodd’s, after this current trial, there will be a very visible gap in the traditional circle and perhaps a rendition of ‘The Parting Glass’ in Patricia’s honour.  

The World Holds its Breath

I am off now to the Trump Channel …no not Fox News but tonight Thursday, Oct. 29 he is on RTE 1 with ‘United States of Conspiracy’; Virgin One with ‘Trump’s America’; BBC  2 ‘The Trump Show’. I heard an accolade to Trump by whoever, as follows; “Trump is like a wealthy drunk uncle at a wedding”. I have no experience of that but maybe it fits. 

The BBC 2 ‘The Trump Show’ I’ve watched just now. It was a record of the past year which has been a dramatic, hard to believe, rollercoaster and despite the ‘Dettol’ and ‘light’ to the insides and all those other signals he has survived leaving a trail of chaos in his wake.   

What if Trump wins? Then there is the other side; what if Trump loses? Just take time out to imagine those options… one.. at… a… time! 

So, next Tuesday/ Wednesday , the whole world will (probably) be watching as Blue V Red and states begin to rock, roll, swing and lawyers begin to rub their hands (not in sanitiser mind). That will be the Super Bowl of television watching numbers. 

Can American voters do that-elect Donald Trump- to the world and especially to their own country? ‘Yes we can’ I hear them echo. "It’s a crazy world." 

May your Gods go with you      





Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Update 21st October

 Harry O’Connor of Ballinameen. All-Ireland Senior Football Winner 1943.

I very recently re-read the Ballinameen GAA History and re-visited the reputation of some former great footballers from that club back in the thirties and forties. The three stand-out players then were Harry Beirne, Paddy Kenny, and Harry O’Connor. Harry O’Connor is usually spelled without the ‘O’ but his sister insisted to her son Pat Cooney, decades ago, that the ‘O’ was also very much part of his name. Those three nominated players were part of the good Roscommon junior team which got to the Junior All-Ireland final of 1932 having beaten Cork in the Semi-Final. They lost the final to Louth. The Ballinameen trio would have come to the attention of selectors after winning the 1931 junior championship defeating Athlone (!) in Murray’s field Roscommon town. (Another member of the 1932 team who I got to know well in Castlecoote was Father Tomás O Láimhin brother of John Joe Lavin. A name that always rings a bell with me is Carlos and there was a Ned Carlos prominent with Ballinameen at this time). Ballinameen won the Junior again in ’34 the Golden Jubilee year of the GAA. Both Kenny and O’Connor are welcomed back to the Ballnameen team in early ’35 so they must have missed the ’34 win. Keep in mind the fact that there were only Senior and Junior championships until the late sixties and the junior championship was a really tough contest. Also, top players in Junior clubs were often head-hunted to reinforce good senior teams and this explains the reason why Kenny and O’ Connor might have tried their senior luck with neighbouring senior teams. It was also a better show-case for Senior county team selection. It crops up again in the forties when the Ballinameen team is absent and Paddy Paddy Kenny played with Mantua and Harry played with Boyle in the championship. If I was ever aware of this, I had forgotten about it. 

Both Harry and Paddy were members of the emerging Roscommon team which won their first Junior All-Ireland in 1940 defeating Westmeath with Harry in his favourite position of centre-back and Paddy Kenny at wing forward. Paddy retired from inter-county football after the defeat by one point to Galway in the senior Connacht Final of ’41. Harry was there with the panel in ’42 and ’43 when Roscommon finally won the Senior All-Ireland Final defeating Cavan in a replay. That Harry was not playing at centre-back is understandable as Roscommon had one of its greatest ever players in that position i.e. Bill Carlos of Ballintubber and Tarmon.

Roscommon had defeated Galway in the Connacht senior league of ’42 after which Harry, a veteran by now, is credited with the remark that; “We have won something senior at last”. Harry was still there with the Breedogue team towards the late forties. Harry was said to be “one of the most fearless defenders in the game and he always put his whole heart into it”. He continued to follow the game through the fifties. In family folklore, he was referred to as being a friend of a connection of mine Willie (Bill) Heavey from Fuerty a member also of the ’43 Roscommon team.   

He was employed as a ‘ganger’ with Roscommon County Council. I was told that he was engaged to be married to a lady from west Roscommon but on Christmas Eve 1957 he was involved in a car accident and though he recovered for a time he declined again and died in June (?) 1958. His death at the age of 44 was an occasion of great grief for his family the Ballinameen community and Roscommon GAA. At the Connacht championship match on the Sunday of his removal to St. Attractra’s Church the two teams and the estimated 10, 000 supporters stood in silence for two minutes as a mark of respect for this fine and popular Roscommon footballer. He is buried close to the gate in Caldra cemetery and his burial place is marked by a fine Celtic cross. 

His sister Mary was married a Garda Cooney who was stationed in Ballinameen. Then and they transferred to Granard. Harry had two brothers Pat and Jimmy who also played with Ballinameen. Harry was represented at various Roscommon events in later years, commemorating that great team of the forties, by his nephew Pat Cooney, a gentleman, from Granard and latterly Shankhill, Co. Dublin. I got to know Pat a little over the years and was very saddened to hear of his death late last year.  I only heard about that a week or so ago. 

So Harry with the Royal appendage of O’ to his Connor will not be forgotten in his native Ballinameen or for his contribution to the great Roscommon team of the 40s’. 

[Hopefully, I can explore the life and times of Paddy Kenny at some future date. I have a faint memory of seeing him and hearing him play the fiddle/violin in the then Kelly’s Bar in Ballinameen in the early seventies not long after me coming to North Roscommon in ’72.]          


Monday, October 12, 2020

Update 12th October


Back a couple of months ago we thought we had it beat but it came back with a vengeance. Now the challenge is there again and it is on our doorstep. So hopefully we as a community will stay the course and do the necessary to stem the tide. And it is certainly a tide in places like the Donegal border areas and Northern Ireland. The third level institutions are really a major issue right now and when the guard is let down it can jump in and create mayhem. The Elphin example is a lesson to us locally.

GAA Response… ‘Disappointing’.
‘Disappointing’ in the GAA context of today introduces me to one (of a series) of words I used in a different life like alliteration, onomatopoeia, simile with the classic being metaphor. ‘Disappointing’ in this line-up might be regarded as a ‘euphemism’ which is really a very mild understatement for something much more serious.  

 If the Covid 19 directions meant little or no personal contacting or hugging and the classic social distancing, then there were many and obvious GAA examples of this being ignored. The front runner of an example of this was following the Dungannon victory in the Tyrone Championship. It was joy unconfined that evening. Rarely have I seen such a celebratory expression of joy at a victory. (Perhaps after Clare won their All-Ireland in ’95.) That was on the pitch. One can only try and imagine what it was like when the ritual celebrations followed in the H.Q. bar of the Club. Apparently Blackrock the winners of a classic Cork county hurling final v Glenn Rovers Sunday had extravagant celebrations which flowed from social media. I have been told also that when Mountbellew-Moylough dethroned Corofin in the Galway Semi-final it was similar.

 It was not always so this summer season. The first final I watched was that of Wexford hurling and at the conclusion of the game it was a pretty muted if satisfying response. I think that may have been in the total lockdown period with no supporters present. Also a real template as to how it might be done was at a top Galway double header in Pearse Stadium. After the first game was over stewards tried to get the spectators for the first game to exit while the quota for the second game entered. How that worked is hard to know but the spirit of compliance was in place.

I have not seen much o.t.t. celebration in Roscommon. St. Brigid’s responded with a body language that suggested that they were confident of victory and were looking to the future. Their Intermediate ladies did however show an unhealthy exuberance in their celebrations after they defeated Boyle in Ballyforan. Recently in passing the Abbey Park where a junior game was in progress the number of cars in the neighbourhood suggested a ‘crowd’ exceeding the acceptable.

So it seems as if you just cannot play team games like these and pretend that ‘social-distancing’ exists and that the mantra of health guidelines is adhered to.

An odd contradiction emerged for me when watching a rugby match on television Leinster v Saracens. A couple of medics attended to an injured player all masked up and covered in protocol. Then, after the stoppage, the thirty players ripped into each other as if it was an experiment in Covid 19 distribution. As Doctor Spock used say ‘Not logical’.   

Shane Curran struck a blow for the concerned when he, the manager, absented himself from the Offaly County ‘B’ Final in which his team Durrow was involved and there were some Covid issue connections to his team. This was a small personal strike for individual care. An early rule was if you find yourself uncomfortable in a particular environment then get out of there.

It is a big pity as the streaming and Television coverage of games this summer was a great success for the cocooned and there many examples of great games with plenty of drama. It is all a learning process I guess.

The recent highlights came from Galway and Queens University in Belfast. The numbers in the 26 counties is very unnerving but those in Northern Ireland they are alarming. That cursed border, in so many ways, seems to be a penance from history for this small island.

So follow the rule if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck it is a ……. Get out of there.     

President Trump and that circus.
I’m back with my oft used exclamation of Victor Meldrew “I dooon’t believe it!”. The cliché with this is; ‘It would be mad funny if it wasn’t so serious’.

Well the past couple of weeks in Washington have been pure theatre. It is hard to have an appropriate title for the kind of ‘theatre’ it was, Macabre perhaps! Trump strode through as the cameras clicked and spectators watched open mouthed. Many applauding the ringmaster and many more just open-mouthed in disbelief.

I stayed up for a time for the debate but just couldn’t take any more. You may recall times when you are watching someone to whom you have no earthly connection but you get embarrassed for them. That whole debate as a unit was an embarrassment to the level of discourse in the United States and many of its citizens must have sensed that. As I have said before; how a great country, which has achieved so much and produced so many branches of arts and culture, cannot consistently have top grade candidates for the primary position in the country i.e. President, just depresses me. This, in fairness, isn’t that hard to do right now!

Trump, for reasonable people, by my code, is just their worst nightmare. Joe Biden looks like a weak opponent and a percentage of the U.S. electorate will reluctantly vote for him because they just cannot vote for Trump. I watched Mister Biden giving an address at Gettysburg (location of one of the great battles of the American Civil War and a famous speech by President Lincoln) yesterday (earlier this week) and he gave a good speech calling for unity of purpose and healing. There were many quotes from the classic original Abraham Lincoln speech so that had to be a big help. 

For my education I have tuned into the competing news channel the pro Trump Fox News and the opposing CNN. They show the polarised state of play there. The drama of Trump being hospitalised, giving his video messages, the outrageous motorcade to salute his supporters, his theatrical exit from the hospital …just incredible stuff. Then the comments about Coved and downplaying it with utterances not to be afraid of it (after 200,000 plus U.S. deaths) and so on. ‘Unbelievable’.

I presume that Rd. Sean Conley cannot be as dumb as the utterances at the ‘press briefings’. He sounds more like a ‘spin doctor’ than a top specialist.   A question; why does it take up to nine other doctors to accompany the one spokesperson at those briefings?

While supporters of Biden wear furrowed brows all of Trump’s spokespeople, many of them quite young, carry a visage of smugness and overbearing confidence with a ‘bring it on’ attitude. Many of them have brought it –Coved illness- on themselves and their boss has to take a lot of the blame for that. While all this was unbelievable drama, the probability is that it will continue for the next month and maybe more. The test will be November 3rd. But whatever way it goes it is not guaranteed to be written in stone either. So take an ‘abundance of caution’ in how you anticipate the great U.S.A. negotiating this strange time for their country. A country that impinges on us all which is why I am so engrossed with it.   

Television Watch and ‘University Challenge’
I presume I am not alone in watching more television than normal. What do I watch? You may not have asked but I’ll mention a few programmes. The one show I consistently make time for is ‘University Challenge’. It is not that I can answer many of the questions but it has a structure and lightness that appeals to me. It is also a team challenge which distributes the responsibility. The original quizmaster was named Bomber Gascoigne while today it is Jeremy Paxman. From early days it achieved cult status. From time to time an Irish student turns up on teams as with a Wicklow girl, Miss Clarke, last Monday night (Oct. 5th) for Edinburgh and one’s curiosity and support anchors there. Last April a Conor Mc Mel from Dublin was on the winning team, Imperial College London, which defeated a Cambridge College. The classic intro of ‘Starter for Ten’ was the title of a film which illustrated the prestige and background to the quiz-with a twist- and its participants. For students it is a real prestige C.V. reference.    

The Chase is now hugely popular as is ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’, 15 to 1 with Anne Robinson and finally the General Knowledge section of Mastermind is worth a shot if you are ‘into’ quizzes to a decent degree. A few days ago Ray D’Arcy had Shaun Williamson as a guest and he is a quiz anorak with his book ‘A matter of Facts’. While they can be addictive they are a great source of general knowledge. I always remember my great friend John Mac Nama when I reference quizzes. He was a master. It is odd that RTE does not have a regular quiz show. Years ago it had ones like ‘Rapid Roulette’, ‘Where in the World’ and for schools a very popular one called ‘Blackboard Jungle’ which a very good team from St. Mary’s College gave good shots at in the 80s’.   

Ray D’Arcy Show and Recording Grandparents
Whilst I do not listen to Ray much I did yesterday for a time while walking and he popped in a decent idea which came his way. It came from a listener who regretted not being able to hear his grandfather’s voice and stories. The listener suggested that people might record their grandparents (even their parents!) for posterity. Everyone has a unique voice and when that is stilled it cannot be replicated like photographs and such. I have experience of this in that I ‘taped’ my own mother in the early 80s’ (she died in 1984). The reason I taped her was to send the tape to my brother in Perth, Western Australia. I prepared for the task by writing a ‘script’ for her to speak into my microphone and this she did clearly. Following this I talked to her for a good length of time about whatever with her not knowing that I was still taping. I sent the tape top my brother in Oz and he was delighted with it. But …I made a mistake…I did not keep a copy of it! I regret that of course and when I asked my brother about it subsequently the regret was enhanced it was lost with him.    

Documentaries …Notorious RBG.
One could watch any strain of television programming all day if one wished but I am not an addict and I am a night owl in watching respect. Netflix is a pretty recent outlet for me. The early days of Covid cocooning was signposted in T.V. terms for me by a classic sports series involving the great American basketball player Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls. I seem to remember that I mentioned and recommended ‘The Last Dance’ documentary at the time.

About a week ago, on Netflex, I happened on another very different icon the Notorious RBJ (Ruth Bader Ginsburg). You may remember her death a few weeks ago on Sept. 18th in Washington and of her being the first lady to lie in state in the Capitol. She was a member of the U.S. Supreme Court and was only the second lady to achieve this accolade. She was a brilliant law student and a liberal member in a generally conservative and hugely influential branch the U.S. Government. The three branches of which are The Legislature comprising the Congress and Senate; second is the Executive comprising the President and his ‘ministers’ and the Courts, especially The Supreme Court. These branches are meant to act as a balance on each other but often they hobble the work of each other. Two years ago a Brett Kavanagh was nominated (after a struggle) to the Supreme Court and Trump hopes to have a second nominee Amy Coney Barrett –a Catholic- nominated before the election. This will reinforce the conservative numbers in the Supreme Court. It was in the Rose Garden of the White House for an introduction of Coney Barrett by Trump to his foremost supporters that the Covid allegedly took off. You may have seen (especially from U.S. news shows) a picture and nomination of up to a dozen who got the Coved then.

If you are a Netflix person you could do worse than tuning into the documentary on RBG as I can in no way do justice to her here.

Censorship in the Free (!) State
RTE 1 Tuesday Nights at 7 ‘Cosc’ which translates along the lines of ‘BAN’.

Well ‘Cosc’ focuses on morality in Ireland and the strident efforts to enforce a Catholic ethos in how people lived their lives. A big plank in all this were laws which introduced a broad raft of censorship on various forms of public diversion. These covered Books, Newspapers, Music and Cinema. It also extended into the ‘Ban’ on material of a very personal nature.

  The first programme in the series dealt with the extraordinary effort of a priest in Mohill, County Leitrim to Ban… Jazz. Now it was Jazz in a broad sense which would have included other music and dance. On Tuesday last the show dealt with censorship which had been introduced in the Free (!) State circa 1927. Many of Irelands greatest books were ‘banned’ as a result. Most people will be familiar with the notification of films being for various age groups ‘A’ etc. and the film censor’s names being scribbled at the bottom.  The film censorship Act came into being at the beginning of the State in 1922. The idea behind all this censorship is that Irish people would not be contaminated by film or written material especially if it were of a sexual nature.  A great promoter of this was Archbishop McQuaid of Dublin from 1940 until 1972. Mc Quaid had enormous political influence in his time and sexual material was a special taboo with the Cavan born cleric. Was it Gay Byrne himself who suggested that there was no sex in Ireland before ‘The Late Late Show’.    


One of my favourite songs;
These can change from time to time. A while ago it was Linda Ronstadt and ‘Across the Border’ but recently it has been ‘Forever Young’ written by the great Bob Dylan. There are many fine interpretations of the song including Bob himself. My favourite interpretation is by another of my favourite singers Joan Baez. One of my regrets is that I did not go to Dublin to hear Joanie (as Dylan used to call her) about four years ago. Anyway I regularly have her singing this song from my laptop You Tube. I have some very good reasons to link into the lyrics also. So I recommend you listen to it a few times to absorb the sentiments. 


Forever Young written by Bob Dylan sung by Joan Baez

May God's blessing keep you always

May your wishes all come true

May you always do for others

And let others do for you

May you build a ladder to the stars

And climb on every rung

May you stay

Forever young

May you grow up to be righteous

May you grow up to be true

May you always know the truth

And see the lights surrounding you

May you always be courageous

Stand upright and be strong

And may you stay

Forever young

Forever young

Forever young

May you stay

Forever young

May your hands always be busy

May your feet always be swift

May you have a strong foundation

When the winds of changes shift

May your heart always be joyful

May your song always be sung

And may you stay

Forever young

Forever young

Forever young

May you stay

Forever young

One should not leave a reference to great songs this week-end without mentioning that if John Lennon was alive now he would be aged 80 as he born on October 9 1940. He was shot on December 8th 1980 nearly forty years ago by a Mark David Chapman. It was one of those great artistic tragedies and with it surfaces the eternal question, ‘What if?’

John was responsible for the song which was voted at some stage as ‘the greatest of all (popular) songs’ i.e. ‘Imagine’.                                      


End Note
It has been a number of weeks since I posted to the blog. A good deal has happened since then and there were a number of items that I meant to mention here but looking at the word count in the bottom corner I better adjourn for now. You are taxed enough especially if you have reached HERE.

Take extra care at this dangerous time and if you are not comfortable in an environment …walk away.


t. c.