Thursday, December 23, 2021

Christmas Blog Thursday, December 23. 2021.

 Christmas Blog Thursday, December 23. 2021. 


Some Memories of my early Castlecoote Christmases


Christmas Shopping in the 50s’

Christmas shopping is always special, encapsulating joy, excitement, anticipation, and expectation. It crystallised on the day that the ‘big true Christmas Shop’ was brought home and the sturdy Raleigh bicycle hadn’t the capacity to cope with that. It was then that the donkey and cart, pony and trap (a lovely mode of transport), horse and cart, the odd tractor and carrier box, and the rare car were to jostle for staging posts around the shop. What a picture they made. (The car owners were few, Dr. Coyne, Fathers Fleming and Father Keane, Mattie Hughes and the returned ‘yank’ Johnny Kelly were representative.)

My friend Jimmy Coyne who worked in Hughes’ shop in Castlecoote then, relayed to me recently, when talking of those times, that on those Christmas days as the shop boy;

 “The atmosphere was such that I cannot describe but I can remember it as if it was yesterday. It was just magic.”

When this array of normal groceries enhanced with delicacies arrived at the home most of it was stored in a special room labelled as the ‘good room’ or the ‘top room’ of the house, not to be touched until the big day or the day before, if required. As youngsters, we were always curious to see the real treats and what the shop owner added to our ‘shopping list’ as a reward for being a loyal customer through the year. 

People would have saved some extra money for this special outing helped by some early Christmas-card money from members of the family in England or the magical dollar bills from connections in New York or other great cities in that dreamland of the fifties that was the United States.

A memorable staple of those years was the home-baked Christmas Cake rich with treacle, currants, and novelty.

Christmas Dinner.

With a fairly big family group, parents and four boys and three girls, there were two tables used. The usual large kitchen table with, perhaps, a new colourful oilcloth with a smaller table appended for the younger family members.

It was not turkey in those times but a ‘goose’ with slivers of rasher and stuffing. One of the highlights was the annual appearance of the ‘dessert’ always jelly and custard in my memory but exotic nonetheless. While my father might have his bottle of stout and mam a rare sherry we had Monica Duff (Ballaghaderreen) lemonade. We teased ourselves with it when removing the cap and letting the fizz shoot up our nose! We teased each other by trying to be the last one to have a decent amount of the dessert still remaining while the rest had cleared their plates.

The remainder of the evening was spent playing board games. Snakes and Ladders was pivotal. Later I got to really enjoy playing draughts something I could resurrect. Then came the card games. The new deck of cards would be taken from the box and had a special aura and odour. Sometimes the upturned tea chest served as a table of convenience. The game of choice was ‘25’. This was played with a steely determination and a caustic eye. Despite being the season of goodwill the fragile tea chest was sometimes tested as people played badly, reneged or seemed biased for or against another individual.

Christmas Day had begun early with the Santa devotees up early. I remember one incident in that phase of my childhood. I was the first person up to inspect the stocking for Santa’s delivery. I was a bit unhappy and felt that Santa had left me a mite shorter than my older brother. So I decided to balance the booty. It led to some puzzling- to me- later delicate interrogation. How it turned out has not been recorded.  

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve has been perhaps marginally the most atmospheric day of the calendar year. There was a real hustle and bustle around the house. There was an effort to ensure that everyone played their part. That did not always work!

I tended to the fires as maybe the ‘top room’ was brought into service then as opposed to ‘The Station’ or visiting ‘yanks’.  

The work of the farm went on of course with milking of cows and tending to their enclosure with hay from the loft and bedding from the stray pike. The rota for cow-milking sometimes was a subject of debate. Occasionally there were early lambs and watching over the sheep was a regular vigil with the storm lamp deep into the night as we sought the flock in the mist of darkness.  

Some family members went to Mass on Christmas Eve at 12 midnight. This would be a crowded church. There you would see those who were home on holidays from London, Manchester, Birmingham and the occasional star visitor from New York or Chicago. My sister Carmel, then a nurse in London, would visit some Christmases but preferred the summer of good weather and the Ballygar carnival. The rear of the church was often a mixture of those of little faith or some who had already spent some celebratory hours in Hughes’; Ansboro’s or Ward’s bar in the area. These construction workers (mostly) seemed to be doing well abroad as they had the shiny mohair suits, Brylcreem hair with a slick or a lick and a harlequin tie. Sometimes their manner was somewhat disrespectful and tested the patience of the stern Father Fleming. He was, I imagine, restrained by the probability of a surge in the Christmas collection and no major intervention was employed. I, at the requisite age, liked to be on the fringe of this group as an observer of course.

The more conservative group of the congregation went to mass on Christmas Day and welcomed the visitors with genuine good will and all was well with the world. Most families had a particular seating arrangement with blue bloods locating to something akin to the box seats in the front pews. There they would have the full family with members home from Dublin where they worked in the civil service.  

St. Stephen’s Day also Wren Boy’s Day.

I participated a few short years on St. Stephen’s Day as a ‘wren boy’. One year my older brother and I headed off. Across the bridge to Fuerty and met a man we thought would be a reasonable mark. So we gave it our all with the song ‘The Wild Colonial Boy’.  He listened to us attentively but his review on our conclusion I will not repeat here. That knocked Brendan out of the frame but I soldiered on. I suppose I’m a kind of a nightmare for an audience if I ever sang. I couldn’t sing but I would know all the words of a long song!

On that occasion, I knew that the Heavey family connections were home from Chicago and in residing in Castlestrange. Though it was maybe two miles on I didn’t want to abandon my odyssey and trudged to that house through the snow. There I sang my song, made sure my mask was at half-mast, was easily recognised and welcomed as if I was Bing Crosby. It was made worth my while by that family which I have always regarded highly. I had decided to abandon my tour and was helped by being brought home in a car by a visiting cousin.

There I prised open the treacle tin, tipped its content onto the table and counted. Though I had not made many calls I still had a pretty penny by being selective after my opening rebuff.

In thinking how to end this reflection I can think of no better way than repeating Jimmy Coyne’s summation;

“The atmosphere was such that I cannot describe but I can remember it as if it was yesterday. It was just magic.”

Sin é.

Slán is Beannacht.

Take care, try and follow the safety guidelines…get your jabs.

I wish you all the very best that you can be this Christmas and that 2022 will be a year of hope realised and that the magic returns in full.  

I especially include those from abroad who read my ramblings here as I am told. T.C. 

Friday, December 10, 2021

Update 11th December

 Saturday DECEMBER 11, 2021


 Remembering Hal Cawley

Many tributes have been paid to one of football’s most amiable characters in the region, Hal Cawley, who has gone to his eternal reward.

Boyle Celtic confirmed on Thursday that the club’s “father” Hal Cawley had passed away and the tributes poured to Celtic’s Facebook page. The word ‘gentleman’ was appended to many of those tributes.

The club described him as “a gentleman to one and all”, and although he was “quietly spoken, when Hal spoke it was always something worth hearing.”

In a statement, Boyle Celtic added that the club wouldn’t exist without Hal’s contribution, highlighting how Hal and a group of local friends brought Boyle Celtic back to life in 1966.

“Through the 70s’, 80s’ and 90s’ when the club literally had nothing, great men like Hal Cawley, John Cryan, Seán Daly, Mick Gilmartin, and a few others kept us open, behind the scenes, and it will never be possible to thank them enough for what they did,” reflected the club.


Boyle Celtic went on to say that Hal took great pride in the success of the club’s youth teams in the knowledge that the future would be bright for his beloved club who are currently top of the Roscommon and District League Premier Division table.

Hal Cawley always had a touch of class about him,” the club continued.

In February 2019, the Roscommon Herald and SUPERVALU honoured Hal with a Hall of Fame award, an accolade he was very proud to receive from Republic of Ireland soccer international and special guest Ray Houghton.

“When he spoke that night, many from outside the club got a flavour for his vast knowledge of the game, the incredible history of it that he had and names of local area players who had played at the highest level in England, that most had never heard of. Those of us involved in the club have been lucky enough to hear some of the great stories he had, stockpiled in that sharp mind,” Boyle Celtic recalled.


Another proud moment for Hal was seeing the club reach the FAI Junior Cup semi-final against Evergreen FC in April 2017 at the Showgrounds, Sligo. He was very close friends with the club’s secretary Richard Kennedy, and indeed all Boyle Celtic members and players who had the height of respect for him.

“Hal had many, many friends around the town, in football and outside of football. I know we will all miss him. Rest in peace, old friend,” Boyle Celtic’s statement concluded.


Hal as a Gaelic footballer.

When Hal was presented with the Roscommon Herald/SUPERVALU ‘Hall of Fame’ award at a presentation in The Abbey Hotel Roscommon last year I congratulated him here in a blog. Then I went on to bring attention to his place in Boyle GAA as I wish to do now. Hal was a regular GAA player with Boyle in the latter fifties and on the winning Junior team in ’64 when there were only Junior and Senior grades. The team won six games before defeating Rahara in the final. The manager of the team was Bob Carr. Another member of that team panel who died recently was Seamus Scally who died in Dublin and was a close friend of Hal. Another great friend of Hal’s was paddy McDermott who passed away some years ago.

Hal worked for Stewarts when they were supplying electricity to the town as they did from the early 1900s’. When the ESB took over the provision of electricity Hal transferred to the ESB. 

Hal was a very visible individual as he cycled around Boyle going into Daly’s or Boyle Celtic Park. I accompanied him to Bellmullet, Mayo for a Celtic game once with Gerry Emmett and Johnny Greenan and it was a memorable outing. So many people have their own memories of Hal and a lot of these are ‘up online’ on the forums of now.  All good. These background icons in clubs give a sense of security and continuity within a club. Hal was a thinker and his opinions were sincere and thought out. He will be missed at Celtic Park.


 This Week-Ends Sport
F1 Grand Prix Sunday at 1 Sky and Channel 4.

Might I alert you to the sports event of the week-end which is the last Formula One (F1) Car Race of the season in Abu Dhabi. This is Ali V Frazier territory. The two protagonists are Lewis Hamilton of England going for a record eighth World Title versus the new kid on the block, Max Verstappen of Netherlands going for his first win. A few races back Verstappen was well ahead in the points table and the series looked almost over. But Hamilton has won the last three (?) and they are now level on points. While I have been aware of motor racing for years I never tuned into it like this since I happened on the Brazilian Grand Prix. It has traditionally been broadcast on Sky but Channel Four have wrangled this Sunday’s event for viewing with them also, with a preliminary position on the grid trials on Friday and Saturday. You won’t be on your own as the viewing audience worldwide will be huge and the drama could be electric and possibly dramatic.


GAA Season still in progress.

The Pearses v Mountbellew –Moylough in the Connacht Club Championship will take place on Saturday in Hyde Park. Knockmore of Mayo await the winners in the final and the tournament is pretty wide open in my eyes so it is a real opportunity to go all the way as St. Brigid’s did in 2013.


 Boyle GAA Club’s AGM is being held virtually on Sunday evening at 8 pm


The Sunday Independent Tabloid Sports Supplement;

(Which I am still reading)

The Legacy of Tiger Woods

Last Sunday’s edition of the above presented a number of articles that caught my eye. Eamon Sweeney is consistently interesting and last Sunday profiled the role of one of the greatest sportsmen across all games i.e. the golfer Tiger Woods. He is only overshadowed slightly in the golf statistics by the Golden Bear, Jack Nicklaus. Nicklaus has won 18 majors while Tiger Woods in an interrupted career has won 15. As a black man, he broke through so many barriers as many in the game were jealous of his achievements probably because he had one obvious difference which was the colour of his skin. It must have been difficult for a ‘revered’ (!!) golf course like the Masters’ at Augusta was a reservoir of prejudice and discrimination. For golfers especially this essay is very worthy of your reading time. Eamonn ends his stellar piece with “Golf didn’t deserve him”.     


Joe Brolly and Referees

Joe had a rambling article in defence of referees. Soccer referees at schoolboy level in Leinster went on strike because of the abusive treatment they were victims of in their league. A Mayo T.D. and former footballer Alan Dillon suggested that the treatment that referees got during GAA games was “no different than that in soccer”.

While referees have got a deal of criticism down the years their treatment especially in Roscommon has been pretty good. I cannot remember any serious incident with a referee in a Roscommon club game. Actually, I can …it was in the early seventies Roscommon v Galway. You see how something like that sticks. Anyway, Joe inserted an incident from a game –I presume in Derry- when a referee got abused and his report to the county committee went as follows;

“Given the notorious history of this fixture I brought the two teams to the centre before the throw-in and exhorted them to conduct themselves in the true spirit of eh Gael, whereupon I was struck a strong blow from behind which rendered me unconscious. In the circumstances I have nothing further to report” Signed P. Haughey (Referee) (page 12)


Nadine Doherty’s Tribute to a GAA Backbencher (page 11)

This was a lovely story of Nadine’s GAA connections as a star player for Donegal ladies team, watching Michael Murphy raise the Sam Maguire Cup in 2012 and the being connected to a man called David Mackay. His name would not be out front in the Croke Park civil service but he was obviously proud of Nadine and his Donegal roots. He ensured that on great days like those of 2012 that she and her mam were close to the action on the big day by giving them his own tickets. David was Nadine’s uncle and he passed away recently. 


Dermot Gilleece on Golf (Page 20).

Dermot Gilleece is an outstanding golf journalist. On Sunday he wrote a piece under the headline of; “K Club strives for return to the top”.

As a sidebar was a piece titled “The end of a long road towards equality”. It talks of the breakthrough of ladies into the last bastions of ‘men only’ golf clubs. Apparently Portmarnock and Royal Dublin have opened the gate to that great advance, it smacks me as being like the delegate from Saudi Arabia at the U.N. when women’s rights there were being discussed and the delegate declaring that moves were afoot for women there being allowed to… drive! He declared it with such self -satisfaction that he seemed a tad disappointed when he did not get a round of applause for this great advance in women’s civil rights.  

Now and I quote Dermot “As a club of ordinary members, all that was required to bring women into the fold was a PROPOSER and a TWO SECONDS from the existing membership…and nobody thought to do so since its foundation in 1885”!  

I remember suggesting this to a lady member of Boyle Golf club maybe 40 years ago when having a talk on this issue. I suggest that she replied, ‘Oh no, don’t do that’

Rugby with Brendan Fanning

Connacht which at one stage were going to be disbanded as a rugby entity has really emerged and for 15 minutes or so looked very good against a star-studded Leinster. In Sunday’s Indo Brendan had articles on two Connacht players; that is if Robbie Henshaw of Athlone is allowed. The other is Jack Carty and his exclusion from the Irish team is a debateable question. Mentioning the absence of Carty from an Irish panel another omission crashes into my mind from tonight –Friday. It comes from the All-Star GAA awards.

The Hurling All-Stars

This has a hurling team of 12 yes 12 Limerick players and one each from Waterford, Kilkenny and Clare. This must be a record for one county to dominate to such a degree and it illustrates how dominant Limerick are right now. Also, the beaten All-Ireland finalists and the man not chosen Patrick Horgan who has been a consistent and major hurler for Cork. Maybe the selectors thought that Horgan had enough in the four he has already but that could hardly be the guideline. 

In looking at this team it brings to mind the famous Dublin team of the late fifties. There were fourteen of the team from the one club it being St. Vincent’s. The odd one not from that club was the goalkeeper. I wonder how the Vincent’s keeper felt about that.

This was the 50th Anniversary of the All Stars. Roscommon’s first winner was Mickey Freyne in ’72 followed Dermot Earley in ’74 and ’79; Pat Lindsay in ’77; Harry Keegan ‘78/ ‘80/ ’86; Tom Heneghan  ’79; Gerry Connellan ’80; Danny Murray ’79/ ’80; Paul Earley ’85; Tony McManus ’89; Enon Gavin ’91; Francie Grehan ’02. One real deserving Roscommon All-Star by my reckoning who was passed over was Frankie Dolan for 2013. Enda Smith was a nominee a few years back.

As you can see I got a lot out of that tight Sunday Independent Sport’s Supplement.   


The An Post Books of the year were announced this week

I was going to list a few of the books but changed my mind! Every year there are fine and lovely books for all tastes. I’ve just highlighted three that interest me more than the rest.


Eason Novel of the Year

Beautiful World, Where Are You – Sally Rooney


Irish Independent Crime Fiction Book of the Year

56 Days – Catherine Ryan Howard



Sport book of the Year in Association with Ireland AM.


Fight or Flight: My Life, My Choices – Keith Earls, with Tommy Conlon


Sunday Independent Newcomer of the Year

Snowflake – Louise Nealon

Odgers Berndtson Non-Fiction Book of the Year

·        We Don't Know Ourselves: A Personal History of Ireland Since 1958 – Fintan O’Toole.

This book was the overall winner.

Dubray Biography of the Year

Did Ye Hear Mammy Died? – Séamas O’Reilly

Bookselling Ireland Cookbook of the Year

Everyday Cook – Donal Skehan

National Book Tokens Popular Fiction Book of the Year

Aisling and the City – Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen

Bookstation Lifestyle Book of the Year

Décor Galore – Laura De Barra Best Irish Published Book of the Year

The Coastal Atlas of Ireland – Val Cummins, Robert Devoy Barry Brunt, Darius Bartlett, Sarah Kandrot

Specsavers Children’s Book of the Year (Junior)

·        A Hug for You – David King, illustrated by Rhiannon Archard

Specsavers Children’s Book of the Year (Senior)

The Summer I Robbed a Bank – David O’Doherty, illustrated by Chris Judge

Teen and Young Adult Book of the Year

The New Girl – Sinead Moriarty

RTÉ Audience Choice Award

Your One Wild And Precious Life - Maureen Gaffney

Library Association of Ireland Author of the Year

Marian Keyes Short Story of the Year

Little Lives – Deirdre Sullivan

Listowel Writers’ Week Irish Poem of the Year

Longboat at Portaferry – Siobhan Campbell

The Love Leabhar Gaeilge Irish Language Book of the Year

Madame Lazare – Tadgh Mac Dhonnagain

The An Post Bookshop of the Year

Kennys Bookshop and Art Gallery, Galway.  


I’ll adjourn with that for now.

Take care of yourselves and try and follow the golden rules. It’s difficult but despite life’s trials and tribulations it’s still popular.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Update 24th November

 Blog Thursday November 24

‘Cross Street’ by Jarlath Tivnan.

A lot of people will be familiar with the name Jarlath Tivnan by now. He has adapted and written a number of plays and this weekend he has his new play at ‘The Arts Centre’ in Roscommon town from Thursday night to Saturday night inclusive. The play has been developed with the theatre company Fregoli in which Jarlath’s first cousin, Maria Tivnan, is a founder member in 2007.

‘Cross Street’ is an actual street in the middle of Galway city that I know pretty well. There is a real ‘Bohemian’ atmosphere about that core of Galway with the Druid Theatre, many music pubs, great bookshops like Kenny’s and Byrnes and a great atmosphere especially on busy sunny summer days.

Jarlath is also an accomplished traditional musician with his brother Conor. 

Fregoli has been regular players at the Roscommon Arts Centre to the mutual benefit of both entities. Maria has also been involved in Boyle Arts.


Boyle People on the Box

A number of Boyle people have been visible on television in recent times. Earlier this week Rachael Lavin featured on the Claire Byrne programme in a discussion on the subject of the moment i.e. Covid. The other guest is now a very familiar face on television it being Luke O’ Neill. Luke had an article in the Sunday Independent last Sunday titled; ‘Don’t despair…Strength will Get Us Through’. I hope so ‘with a little help from friends’.

Anyway, Rachael was obviously well prepared as she shot out statistics on the status and twists and turns that are now the unending story of Covid infections, vaccinations, age profiles, the non-vaccinated and so on. Rachael is a rising star and the best of luck to her.

With regard to the ever-optimistic Luke O’Neill I hope he is right but it is a very tough journey and an awful number of people will be scarred by it all.   

The Oasis of Achill

I don’t know if oasis is an appropriate word but for many Achill is a special place. On Nationwide on RTE on Wednesday evening Donie O’ Connor appeared in a segment on his friend, the artist Paraic McCaul. Apparently, along with art Paraic is an accomplished musician also and of course Donie is a diamond in terms of his music which we all love here in Boyle. Achill is a significant part of ‘The Wild Atlantic Way’ and has been a tourist destination for many decades. An island I have visited a number of times, which I enjoy going to also, is ‘Inishbofin’ off the coast of Galway, not far from Clifden.


John Mulligan’s ‘The Kettle’s Boyled’ in the Roscommon Herald.

I am a regular reader of John’s short piece in ‘The Roscommon Herald’.  Last week the title of his piece was; ‘Would cutting the national herd affect farm incomes?’ In it John explores the various supports which farming benefits from. I am from a farming background but while I try a little to be informed I would have a long way to go in getting a grip on the various schemes and supports that obtain. John writes of farm incomes being made up of 74% of farm subsidies in 2018 and an astonishing 158% in the case of sheep and cattle.  It is somewhat difficult to get your head around that. I remember farmers getting a subsidy some years ago for ‘set aside’ land. Perhaps that was an environmental payment of sorts.

While farmers can lobby for greater subsidies on an ongoing basis people in the small business sector traditionally fell or progressed on a business model. Pre Covid these businesses could not seek supports if their business was not going well. All they could do was adapt or close down. They had no CAP.  

When I came to live in Forest View and looked out at the sweep of the Curlew Hills there was a certain amount of tillage and ploughed land for various crops, potatoes, turnips, oats, and so on. That was the case with what were titled mixed farms of my youth. There is hardly a sod turned on those hills now. Farming is now a different animal.

On the next page I read Gerry Boland’s letter on ‘Industrial Farming’. On this occasion Gerry was highlighting the fate of breeding pigs and the conditions in which they are incarcerated. It would nearly influence one to become a vegetarian.  

Apparently, a section of the farming community saw fit to bring their tractors to a protest rally in Dublin in the last week.

(A couple of days later some members of the haulage industry did like-wise with their trucks and were photographed going three abreast driving slowly down the M50. It certainly was not a way to ‘win friends and influence people’ with all the concerns that people have right now. That and the season that’s in it!) 

“Our Forestry industry is in crisis, but nobody cares”

This was John’s subject for this week’s column. I was a bit aware of this subject after a conversation some time ago with a retired forester. I will not treat too much of it here in any depth, John does that much better than I ever could. Licensing seems to be at the heart of the matter. A stark number stood out which was that over 24, 000 hectares were licensed for felling while around 5 and half thousand for planting. The Minister for Forestry is Senator Pippa Hackett. I never heard of her. Also, it is said that farmers are driven away from tree planting by bureaucracy and time delays. This is an industry that is seen as a significant element in absorbing carbon

I have walked in an area where timber has been harvested and thought about how much timber is actually wasted in terms of being left to rot after the cream has been taken away. Is there nobody licensed to make use of this renewable fuel?   


Book Season

This time of year seems to be the high point of the book season. I see that Sean O’Dowd highlights a book by his brother Michael on the ‘Home Page’ of realboyle.

Last week saw Barry Feely another of his books. Fair play to him as to have a book in print is a big task. This one is titled ‘Good Mercy…The Life & times of the Mercy Nuns, Building Boyle Community’.

It is a tribute, as the title says, to the role played by the Mercy nuns to a number of key elements in the life of Boyle and its people.

They arrived in Boyle in January 1875 and their involvement ended in April 2012.

While the educational work of the nuns is fully treated of the role of the nuns with their commercial laundry is also described.

While the official launch was cancelled due to Coved the book with his other publications is available in the Una Bhán Shop at King House. 


Dukie …The Game of Life

The above title was launched recently in Roscommon by Seamus Duke who has had a career in local Journalism and especially from his time as a political and sporting commentator with Shannonside Radio.

Seamus is one of the core group of those who go by the moniker true blue Rossies. I was not at the launch but as might he said, all the usual suspects were there in force. Seamus is a colourful character and has a very visible presence in Roscommon town and well beyond it. He has a zest for life and living it and that is displayed in this account of ‘The Game of Life’. The centrality of Roscommon town has been a help in all that and the book name-checks a myriad of sporting, political and social personalities. He developed a large circle of friends and colleagues with whom he associated and shared many memorable occasions. All these get the full and effective treatment in this enjoyable book.          

 His primary sporting reference is with Gaelic football. He begins with an account of the passage of the 2006 minor team to an All-Ireland final replay v Kerry in Ennis. While he describes several sporting highlights this was probably THE top of the list. As someone who was also there, I can say that he really does the victory that day justice.

He has always been a great supporter of Roscommon Gaels Club and devotes a number of chapters to their great days especially during the seventies when they had a fine team.

By association with Brian Keenan and Ollie Hannon, he shared great days and wins when their horses Montelado and Sir OJ were performing at top venues like Cheltenham. He also covers Leitrim’s memorable win in the Hyde when they won the Connacht title in ’94 for the second time the last being in 1927. He describes his interaction with many politicians and details the excitement of memorable election counts. Another highlight was his being, with friends, always with friends, when Padraig Harrington won the British Open golf title at Birkdale.

From page 104 he relays to story of a great young Roscommon golfer Ken Kearney. He was an outstanding amateur golfer. He then joined the professional circuit but reverted to the amateurs soon again. It was the era when Harrington, McGinley and Clarke and others were his contemporaries and went on to do great things. I had been aware of Ken at the time and wondered what he did then and this is the first time that I have read a brief account of his career.    

Another phase in life was Dukie’s support of Manchester Utd. and his visits to matches there, with friends. A highlight was interviewing George Best who was always an idol of his from boyhood days.

He obviously loved doing radio and could multi-task to a dizzying degree. After a long run with Shannonside the station was taken over by another group and the choice presented to Seamus was not palatable and he decided to leave. His account of this fracture is personal and emotive. He was leaving something he obviously loved doing. He was going to an uncertain future and he with a young family.

Seamus is the son of Seamus Duke senior from Elphin who died a young man leaving his mother with a young family. He pays tributes all around to his mother, wife and family. 

His very full life was a series of improvisations and he jumped many fences. It is all described in this very enjoyable book with great zest as he ticks off his bucket list of exciting sporting events, with friends and ‘banter’. The book is available in Boyle at Supervalu beside the wee entrance gate and costs €15. 


So in terms of Roscommon, there are books this year from Frankie Dolan a few months ago and also one by John Scally from Brideswell on ‘Great GAA Teams’ which includes the Roscommon team of the forties.

I would still and always recommend Mike Lennon’s monumental ‘A Dictionary of Roscommon Biography’ for aspiring young Roscommon local historians (and I hope they are out there). It has over 800 pages and lists thousands of Roscommon people of note and those connected with the county from outside. It will set you back 30/40 euro. 



Boyle Under 20 team takes on Strokestown in the Abbey Park on Saturday the 25th at 12 noon in the Division 2 Championship.


This weekend there are a number of interesting provincial games. A top one is Roscommon’s senior champions Padraig Pearses v Mountbelllew-Moylough of Galway, in Hyde Park. I presume it will be streamed some way.

‘Nothing compares to local’

This was the heading for ‘Hold the Back Page’ by Eamonn Sweeney (former St. Mary’s College student) in the Sunday Indo. of last Sunday. He went through a number of counties where some pretty extraordinary things were happening. In Tipp. for instance, the club players of Loughmore were out for the 17th weekend in a row playing competitive championship games. The reason for this lay in them being a dual club who were contenders for both football and hurling championship wins. A number of replays filled in any gaps there might have been!

In both Armagh and Galway the two great clubs lost out. The Armagh kingpins Crossmaglen-winners of 21 of the last 25 county- titles- being ousted by Clann Eireann of Lurgan. Corofin lost out to Mountbellew-Moylough. He them cited happenings in Clare and then came Antrim.

I got quite interested in the happenings in Antrim as a club called Creggan Kickhams won their first title in 67 years, the last one being in 1954. A phone call confirmed that Kickhams was the club of a really great Boyle Club activist, a while ago now, Kevin Young.  The winning injury-time goal was appropriately scored by Sam Maguire! Wasn’t it great and yes Kevin was there. Experiencing a moment like that is one of the great communal joys of life in this country. North, South, East or West there is nothing like winning a county final, only one that has not been won for a very long time such as this one. Cheers Kevin.


The Evergreen Beatles

BBC dedicate 3 to 4 hours of its Saturday night schedules to one group. It seems to have started with Abba but last Saturday it was the turn of Paul McCartney and The Beatles. I found it very interesting and it showed what great songwriters McCartney and John Lennon were. They began when I started to tune into pop music as such on Radio Luxembourg in the early sixties. Through the sixties, they were a phenomenon and it was a great period for good popular songs. Paul McCartney has always come across as a very humble, accessible and easy to talk with individual. This was very evident on Saturday night.  On Sunday morning listening to Miriam O’Callaghan one of her guests was the Belfast poet Paul Muldoon. He was there talking of his book on the Lyrics of the Beatles songs. While the early Beatles songs are fairly straightforward forward there are undercurrents to the many of the later ones that deserve scrutiny. So for the millions of people for whom the Beatles are still their music heroes Paul Muldoon’s treatise will be interesting.  

Next Saturday night it is Queen and Freddie Mercury who are in the Spotlight beginning at 8 and going on until 11.35.

‘The Lake District of England’

I saw this very interesting programme on Saturday last but in looking at the television programme now, for the times of the Queen series, it pops up again at 7 on BBC 2 on Saturday. The interpreter is the excellent Simon Reeve. The lake District has been made famous by its association with the poet William Wordsworth. The main river there is the Eden river and on one a number of occasions it caused Carlisle to be flooded to a major depth. Simon investigates efforts at rewilding and returning the Eden to its original windy way as mitigation during severe rainfalls. Another, of the number issues he looks at, is the impact of long-term tourism on The Lake District in terms of locals being unable to afford housing and employees having to be bused from long distances to service the tourist facilities there and so on. Could that happen in our superb lake District?

Anyway, it was interesting to me and Simon Reeve is a guide to follow on his many worldly travels.

It’s a Small World

We have all heard that said for decades now. But as I try to write here now on Thursday the 25th of November the following happening of 15 or so minutes ago may be a good example of that phenomenon. In another room I hear a set of Irish music. Nothing very strange in that you might say. However, when I investigate, it is a WhatsApp from Anne’s niece in…Abu Dhabi. 

She had just happened on an Irish music session in a hotel there, where there is a Board Fáilte promotion of Ireland in train. She recognises one of the musicians who was from… Boyle… and with whom she had played music when they were teenagers. It was… James Carty… and friends who were there courtesy of Bord Fáilte. So she gets on her phone and within seconds, James’s music is to be heard in our kitchen.

An early example of this, maybe 8 years ago now, went as follows (from my memory of it) made radio, maybe the Joe Duffy Show. A young man in Tulsk comes across sheep on a road in the area and puts it up on Facebook as ‘Gridlock in Tulsk traffic’. Looking into his Facebook in Perth Western Australia was another chap from Tulsk.  I’ll call him Tommy. The sheep area is very familiar to Tommy and he gets on his phone to his mam. ‘Hello mam’….’ Tommy is that you. OMG’. ‘Mam I just rang to tell you your sheep are out on the road’. Mam, another ‘OMG’. Tommy ‘Mam sort that out and I’ll ring you back’.  

In our next edition here we will be sending greetings to all (that we know of) Boyle people abroad, as we do. So if there is anyone you’d like to add to the list let me know.

My phone is down at the moment but should…’be back soon’.  

We will leave it at that. Go get your Booster. It is a gift for Christmas.

Take care wherever you are. Tony.









Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Update 3rd November

 Blog Sat. October 30 last one Oct. 5.

The Coming Weekend’s Sport;

Boyle GAA have two very important games this coming weekend, both finals. 

(So, from GAA Notes on realboyle)

Boyle LGFA

Intermediate Final.

The Ml. Kerins & ‘The Well’ -sponsored Intermediate Ladies will play St Dominick’s in the Championship Final this Saturday, November 6 at 1.30pm in Elphin. Your support would be very welcome. Note that gates will be in operation for this game with €10 standard admission and €5 for concession entry (cash only).

Boyle won their place in the final following a win in a thriller of a semi-final v Eire Og on Sunday the 24th. Boyle had a comfortable lead at half time on the score of 2. 7 to 0. 4 though playing against the wind. Eire Og were much more decisive in the second half and whittled Boyle’s lead down to 2 points. With virtually the last kick of the game Eire Og were awarded a penalty but the taker’s shot came back off the post. The final score was Boyle 3.7 Eire Og 1.12. I would not know anything about the team they meet in the final only to say that the vibes are that St. Dominick’s are a rising club over all aspects of GAA activity. Boyle have some fine players in Suzie Keenehan, Isabelle and Sophie King, Saoirse and Roisin Wynne, Megan McKeown, Caoimhe Cregg and Kate Harrington with the team manager being Vincent Flanagan. Quite a few well known surnames there in a Boyle GAA context. So every good wish to this team on Saturday.  

2021 Division 1 U17 Championship Final Boyle v Roscommon Gaels

The minor team, which you will have heard me talk about before, take on a strong Roscommon Gaels side in the Division 1 Championship Final on Sunday, November 7th, in Hyde Park, at 2:30pm. This could be a cracker with two highly skilled teams and little to divide them. In terms of favourites I am reminded of an old timer when asked what he thought the odds were for an upcoming big game put it at 60/50. That is nearly logical in terms of this game also! I referred to the Boyle team after their fine win over Michael Glavey’s/ Eire Og in Kilbride as a real exhibition of quality football. While they dipped somewhat in their win over Clann na nGael they still took a big scalp there also. So I look forward to this game with great interest. Boyle have won only three, that I know of, minor titles over the decades. They were in 1938 and ’39 and 2011 with a Donie Smith led team. So we wish the team and manager Shane Spellman and the other team mentors the very best in this final. I know that a migrant from Boyle to Spain will be glued to some device to follow the game’s progress.       

Masters Final

“Good luck to Club Men Lochlainn Conboy and Seamus Kane as they prepare to line out against Cavan with the Roscommon Masters in the GMA Plate Final on Saturday, November 6. The game is set to be played at 2pm in the Fr Manning Gaels GAA Grounds, Drumlish, Longford”. (per Boyle GAA Notes)

County Finals

I watched both of the county Intermediate and Senior football finals. The Intermediate final between St. Faithleach’s and St. Dominick’s was very disappointing. The quality of the football was poor. While I always like to say that players do not go out to play poorly (except you’re Harry Keane) and the conditions were bad also this certainly reflected all that. The game went to extra time by which time I had migrated to milking the cow.

The county needed a good game and it came in the senior final between Clann na nGael and Padraig Pearses. While there were the usual mistakes, slipping and sliding, loss of possession et al there was some fine moves and scores especially the two Pearses goals. Pearses thoroughly deserved their win. They had the better all-round team plus substitute options and the Daly trio are a formidable force for their team. So now South Roscommon has three top teams and an emerging St. Dominick’s while the North-West is still struggling to leave their mark on the Fahey cup.

It was good to see my old pal Patrick McKiernan from Ballyfarnon as the man with the whistle and fair play to him for doing a good job and working hard to progress in this challenging occupation. 

Athleague Take County Hurling Title;

This was a pretty unique final in the sense of the two teams contesting it,

Athleague and Tremane, come from the same parish. The final third of the parish is Fuerty which is a tad more into football though many of the hurlers here are also members of the Fuerty football team. Tremane is a small club in terms of size but had a really top era in the seventies, once toppling Kiltormer of Galway in the Provincial championship. Their top player is Niall Kilroy of the county football team. He was the only stand–out player for Tremane in this final also. Athleague is regarded as the old heart of hurling in Roscommon and its wins go back to the early 1900s’. My father, Pat Conboy, played hurling with Athleague and football with Fuerty away back and was a dual player with Roscommon. I played hurling with both Athleague and Tremane and had a rare outing at senior level with Athleague once. But in those years I was more a wandering soul being in England and spending summers in the U.S.

I wandered off there also. Athleague won but the standard was so very disappointing that I will not go into any detail on it.            


COP (Conference of Parties…not a lot of people know that. It is a very 'humble' title for such an enormous gathering of the great and the questionable)

This hugely important get-together of the supposed influencers within this little planet of ours is ongoing in Glasgow until Friday the 12th of this month. The lead stars will just take their bows and then the workers (as in bees) will try and achieve changes that might save the world. It is surprising that the old standard sign from Hyde Park, London. proclaiming ‘The End is Nigh’ is not blowing in the wind of Scotland. One participant interviewed by RTE suggested that she had a “Front row seat to the end of the world”. I also heard the Irish Minister for Agriculture Donegal man Charlie Mc Conalogue waffaling on with bull******** to top RTE presenter Sarah Mc Inerney about methane, the national herd and protein etc. I do not know how these well-briefed presenters can wear this ongoing cruelty.

My star (of) COP is David Attenborough who is to the world of nature what Shakespeare is to the English language. He will leave a legacy of film documentaries that could be stacked up in parallel to Hamlet, Macbeth and so on. Then there was the absence of the princes of India, Russia and China. That is like Manchester United playing with Ronaldo, Cavani and a goalkeeper. Even Bolsonaro of Brazil got someone to sign him in. An old Dáil trick.  

Hopefully no more collecting the tyres from Green Street to Felton. The prospects seem as if it is all on a knife edge. A big issue here is with farming reducing the ‘national herd’ which produces an inordinate amount of methane. Senior people look at their offspring but looking at the very young generation it is worrying to think what kind of a world we leave them. Fair play to Greta Thunberg for ringing the alarm bells and embarrassing the knobs.

A snippet of information that I overheard that interested me was as follows. The third largest contributor of greenhouse gases is…THE PRODUCTION OF CONCRETE. Not a lot of people know that either.        

Television Viewing

My Sports Highlights of this Year so Far.

Perhaps I watch too much television but (of course) it is the medium of our time. What do I watch? As you would expect I watch a lot of sport and a lot of sports. Probably the sports event of the year for me so far has been the Solheim Cup (ladies golf competition between Europe and the U.S.) with its highlight being the performance of Cavan’s Leona Maguire. It was magnetic.

The Ryder Cup had a whole range of drama and even if Padraig Harrington’s side was well beaten, the event overall was riveting.

The European Soccer Championships with Italy emerging as winners on penalties after extra time v England. Italy had the character of the competition too in their captain Giorgio Chiellini who possessed the characteristics of a pirate.

The Irish ladies’ soccer team with a win v Finland and a great performance, though losing v Sweden.

The win by Mayo over Dublin. The recovery of the Roscommon minors v Galway and the U 21-win v Down. The power displays of Limerick. Boyle minors v Michael Glaveys/Eire Og. I nearly forgot ‘The Edo Olympics’ and the Para Olympics’.  

While I also watch cricket from time to time and also some baseball games if they involve The Boston Red Sox, New York Mets, New York Yankees, especially the finals which they call ‘The World Series’. 

I imagine I’m leaving some sports out Ladies GAA games which are regularly top class. That is enough to be going on with!


 I have watched a number of really excellent documentaries during Covid. I started off with the great sports exposé titled ‘The Last Dance’. This was a series on the man who is regarded as the greatest basketball player ever, Michael Jordan. It follows his team ‘The Chicago Bulls’ in their relentless pursuit of national title number six. I have seen it written that the three greatest U.S. sportsmen are listed as Muhammad Ali; Babe Ruth who was a baseball player with the New York Yankees in the 1920s’; and Michael Jordan. Tiger Woods was on his way to being there but a tree got in the way.

‘The Salute’

At the Mexico Olympics of 1968 in the 200 hundred meters final two Black U.S. Carlos and smith took gold and bronze medals. They were divided by an Australian names Peter Norman. On the podium Carlos and Smith raised one arm each in a Black Power salute. Norman was wearing a human rights ‘button’. The reason that they wore just one glove each was because one of them forgot his gloves and Norman suggested the improvisation of wearing one glove each. The head of the Olympics an almost fascist American named Avery Brundage was outraged and the Americans were sent home. They were ostracised for decades and their careers were over. Norman too suffered a similar fate for, as it were, contributing to the protest kind of. Until this film was made by his nephew and released in 2008 very, very few remembered Peter Norman the great Australian and world class sprinter. He was ignored when Australia hosted the 2000 Olympics and died in 2006. Carlos and Smith, his life-long friends were pall bearers at his funeral. 

(*I tripped across the film ‘Salute’ on BT Sport, I think.)       

Political/Historical Documentaries.

1.     Blair & Brown. The New Labour Revolution.

Blair could have been a force for good but allowed himself and Britain to be sucked into the Iraq (Get Saddam Hussein) War by U.S. Hawks like Bush, Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld and an enthusiastic military power base with the ‘Big Lie’ of WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction.  

2.     America after 9/11. I just saw the second part of this on Tuesday night on RTE 1. Not for the sensitive.

3.     Once Upon a time in Iraq’ RTE 1 @ 11. 50 p.m. on Thursdays tells the story of the invasion of Iraq, the lack of any plan for after the invasion and the chaos that followed and will continue for decades. Some 3000 people were killed in the Twin Towers atrocity. In retribution tens of thousands, including American soldiers, have died in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. Those countries have been destroyed and they now face ongoing chaos, the threat of famine and, for many, persecution. All this in a purgatorial existence not to mention the trillions of dollars that were wasted through all of this madness.   

Two and three above are not for the squeamish.

After the French revolution an old aristocrat was asked the following question; “What did you do for the duration of the Revolution?” answered

“I survived”     

I’ll adjourn at that.

Take care, follow the guidelines.









Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Update 5th October


Blog October 5th.

Boyle U 16 s Convincing County ‘A’ title win.

I have been telling anyone interested in Gaelic football who I talk to in Boyle about a special town team who play pure Gaelic football. The proof of my mission was to be seen on Friday night last, under lights at Kilbride. It was a wintery, cold night but the football played was heart-warming. Their opposition on Friday last was a combination of Michael Glavey’s and Eire Og with a number of top-class players. They had beaten Boyle in the Abbey Park just a few weeks ago. This was in a league game for this year’s under-17 minor Championship. So this 2020 final was expected to be an even affair. However, it did not turn out that way. From ten minutes or so in Boyle began to assert themselves and at halftime, they led by 1.6 to 0.4.

The second half proceeded in a similar fashion and ended with a convincing victory for Boyle 1.13 to 1.7.  The detail of the game is clearly set out in Ronan Flanagan’s report for ‘The Roscommon Herald’, Sports Section page 8.

Ronan nominated Conor Kelly as ‘Man of the Match’ and it was a clear decision amongst many sterling performances. Conor is the son of John Jnr. and grandson of John Kelly Snr. who was an All-Ireland U 21 winner with Roscommon in ’66 and a regular county senior player from then to the mid-seventies. Colm was outstanding in this game displaying all the skills with an energy that was special. I will not go beyond mentioning Colm here as there were so many fine performances throughout the team that it is best to list the team and panellists in total as they all contributed to an outstanding and really enjoyable exhibition of Gaelic football. The skills of foot-passing, gathering and securing possession, understanding and support play, driving at and through opposition attempts at defence, unquenchable energy and pace, great free-taking, in other words all the skills a coach would delight in.

I don’t say this lightly but it’s as good as anything I have seen.

I saw this once before when watching a St. Jar lath’s team win one of their many Hogan Cups in Longford, maybe 30 years ago. The thing I brought from there also was that all was done in silence from the players which was replicated last Friday. Some side-line mentors were probably not on that hymn sheet. 

I left one skill for last. I saw one the finest high-fielding catches I have seen, from young Eden Kerins (grandson of Liam) about 15 minutes into the game.

The team: Sean Caravan/ Joseph Coyle/ Daniel Casey Capt./ Mark Dwyer/ Oran Henry/ Eden Kerins/ Mark Halligan/ Conor Kelly/ Niall O’Donnell/ David Duggan/ Luke McGrath/ Catha McKeon/ Shay Noone/ Gavin O’Connor/ David Flanagan with David Beirne/ Jamie Kennedy/ Nicholas Callan/ Oisin McDermott/ Andrew McGee/ Karl McKeon/ Tommy Walsh.

I congratulate especially their manager Shane Spellman for his contribution to this win. Well done Shane.

Also his acolytes Dessie Mcloughlin/ Kevin O’Connor/ Gerry Emmett and Jim McGrath. There is plenty of knowledge and passion there. It can boil over a little but…

I mention also the significant Boyle support that was in Kilbride on Friday night. Apart from Cathal Feely I did not see many of the Boyle senior team present but I might have missed them. The referee, Kerryman Gerry Carmody, deserves a mention also for his handling of the game.

This same team now face into the business end of this year’s (2021) U 17 Minor Championship. This is at the stage of a semi-final v Clann na Gael this week-end.

 It is hard to switch gear from the above so I’ll post it to Sean as a stand-alone item.

 Maybe I’ll come back with ‘normal stuff’ (!) like

1.     Crazy murders in the U.S. and London.

2.     The wild and crumbling Atlantic Way: Donegal's and Mayo’s mica crisis.

A scheme, which was to be administered by county councils predominately in Donegal and Mayo, would give homeowners up to €275,000 to reinstate their crumbling homes.  Apparently that is not enough. It is slated, as of now, to cost over €3 billion. Taking ‘The National Children’s Hospital’ cost inflation as a yardstick it is just a guess what it might really cost.

Where is that block supplier now? I have heard little of his company.

There are 6,600 houses in Donegal and Mayo crumbling due to the issue and the question is possible; Will it stop there?    

I have not used this term for a while…’unbelievable’.  

3.     A very disturbing issue at Cork University Hospital which defies logic.

4.     An Attorney General doing a decent ‘nixer’ over a year after his appointment as a Government apparatchik.

5.     The Irish army discrimination and ill-treatment of a number of female officers and the frightening trial procedures they have to face.

6.     The spiralling costs of fuels and electricity with threats of outages etc.

7.     The spiralling cost of house building materials.

8.     The cost and lack of availability of housing.

9.     Maybe I should just say the blanket spiralling costs of everything.

10.Online scams.

11. The streets of Dublin.

12.The struggle to adhere with climate change needs.

13.Oh Yes …Covid 19. 

14.(You get a small indulgence if you have read to here! I remember a ‘Plenary’ indulgence. What was the lesser one called? They were to do with Purgatory! It was defined as, “A place where some souls suffer for a time before they went to heaven”. There is a mill in my home village of Castlecoote and one potential poet defined it as;

“A place where some souls suffered for a time… before he went to England”    


Thanks for having me”, as contributors like to announce on U. S. News channels.