Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Update 26th January


Two Very Different Historic Topics of Now ...


The Covid War Continues

It would have been very difficult to imagine, in early March of last year, that we would still be battling THE virus. One really has to feel for the legion of frontline workers who have been struggling at those front lines trying, with great courage, to contain the pandemic. They had nearly succeeded and then seen a resurgence; nearly succeeded again and then came this current attack which seems like the most virulent resurgence of all. How those frontline workers have the resilience to continue is heroic? We will be forever in their debt.  

I presume one could say that most people have done their best but of course there are exceptions. The questions are not new about airports, cross-border travel, tracing, - which seems to be abandoned- and all those topics which seem to be on a loop on communication outlets.

One hears, from time to time, people who get infected expressing their puzzlement as to where they could have picked it up. The virus is so insidious with nightmarish tentacles.

The great hope is with the vaccines. So if we can continue with our adherence to guideline contribution, to our country and ourselves, as we enter the spring time of the year, we can once again renew our hope that the broad War may be receding. 

“This is not the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”


The Presidential Inauguration in the United (!) States;

The swearing-in of President Biden was a very interesting and relaxing event. In a sense millions of people exhaled a sigh of relief at a return of a kind of normality. There was also the end of a turbulent four years when an extraordinary President inflamed passions and was seen by so many to be so extreme in so many ways. (Now one always has to be conscious of the fact that Donald Trump got over 74 million votes).

Trump crashed in a number of the avenues he chose to go down especially in the post-election months. His insistence on the idea that the election was a fraud when so many pointers showed otherwise was one. It is referred to as ‘The Great Lie’, apparently having a historical precedent. The real crash came with the Rally of January 6th when President Trump encouraged his supporters to challenge the political establishment in the Capitol. This they did in a very unforgiving way and Trump’s response was neither reasonable or politically smart.

When someone makes a mistake he might ask himself ‘What was I thinking about’. More often that question is asked ‘What were you thinking about?’ So Trump, Giuliana and Donald Jnr. all lost it in that they could hardly have envisaged the carnage they were encouraging. Or could they?

This led to the second Impeachment which is proceeding now even if Trump is no longer a President. It is pretty obvious that President Biden is struggling with this action. On the one hand, there is a feeling of necessity to punish Tump’s behaviour and responsibility for the March on the Capitol and the deaths, destruction and Insurrection style symbolism of it all. Also, there is the idea that it is the only real opportunity to clear Trump from getting back on the political stage.

For Biden on the other hand it is going to be a big distraction from that precious first 100 days and keeps Trump in the limelight and indulge his huge support. Then, of course, there is the danger of making Trump some kind of martyr and we in Irish history know a bit about that.

The U.S. is said to be nearly as divided now as in the period after the Civil War of the 1860s’. The period after their Civil War was known the period of ‘Reconstruction’ but others also see it as a continuance of the Civil War with the Suppression of the rights of coloured people in the South and so on.

Perhaps some winter hence the Night Class scene could include a course on United States History.

Returning to the Inauguration, there was a great feel to it, of peace, hope and celebration. The theme was one of bipartisanship and coming together. While Biden is in in a strong position in the political houses it seems as if the ongoing policy of the Republicans in the Senate will be one of obstruction and delay. A lot of the sentiment expressed immediately after January 6th will be cast aside.

The big chess piece here is Mitch McConnell.

Getting back again to Jan. 20th, there was a big inclusion of faith and practitioners of faith with the huge Bible, priest friend and Reverend friend. The entertainment was loud and colourful with Lady Gaga punching it out with J Lo and Garth Brooks with Amazing Grace. Keep in mind the M.C. Amy Klobuchar whose joy was so evident. Last summer she was seen as a Vice President candidate but stepped back from it. The really happy face in it all was Vice-President Kamala Harris. She is the first woman to be such and a real contender. She is bound to attempt goin the extra step up when the opportunity arises.

For me though the lady who stole the show was the 22-year-old Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman with a ‘poem’ titled ‘The Hill We Climb’. It was not just a reading or recital of a poem but a performance of art as the clear voice, the gesticulating hands and all her body and soul exclaimed her message.

I encourage you to Google her performance on U Tube. It could join some of the great speech passages such as President J.F Kennedy’s

‘Ask not what your country can do for you ask what you can do for your country’

 or the great

‘I Have a Dream’ speech of Martin Luther King, who, in a sense, enabled Amanda and Kamala to be on the Capitol podium on Jan. 20th.   


For me to go onto some more mundane topics, after listening to Amanda again there now, does not seem appropriate.

 I think I’ll take a good break and end here with two favourite conclusion extracts, the first from Thomas Kinsella’s poem;

‘Mirror in February’ 

“I fold my towel with what grace I can,

Not young, and not renewable, but man”.


This vies with some closing lines from Robert Frost’s;

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’.

‘The woods are lovely, dark and deep.

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep’.

(Frost recited a poem at J.F. K’s inauguration)


Take Care


‘May your Gods go with you’ (Dave Allen).

Sin é.



Sunday, January 10, 2021

Update 11th January


I’d like to wish a good 2021 to some more Boyle people abroad who I missed in my pre-Christmas list; Damien Battles in the U.S.; Colm McQuaid in Melbourne; Killian with a K Egan in London.  


Covid Pandemic Over 6,000 Cases Today

It seems incredible that the Covid Pandemic has reached such heights and such virulence again. There are quite a number of times when we believed that we had it nearly under control. But like a forest fire which we thought under control, the embers explode again and the numbers follow suit. While it is ‘challenging’ for us all we can only try and imagine what it is like for those on the front lines. Those especially in the hospitals who had felt, surely, last July and again in late Autumn that they had it under control and that they would get some hard-earned relief only to be confronted by the flames of the virus confronting them again.

I am not competent to suggest why all the above happens and can only theorise on that aspect of it. The rumour mill of Shebeens and house parties and obvious hot spots and so on. Some activities that might qualify the orchestrators to fringe membership of a Trump rally.

Our hope is with the vaccines down the track and that reasoning people will remain reasonable and make their contribution as always.


The Broad Challenge of Trumpism

I too am concerned about the immediate future with regard to President Trump. My take may surprise you. It is in train that tomorrow Nancy Pelosi Speaker in The House of Representatives i.e. Congress will promote a motion for the Impeachment of President Trump. He is the only President to have had two runs of Impeachment against him.

The House of Representatives is made up of 435 members. The Democrats are in the majority with 222 Reps. And the majority leader is actually a congressman Steny Hoyer. I have little of him as he seems to be subservient to The Speaker (I presume Chairperson) of the House. The republicans are in the minority with 211 members and their leader is Kevin McCarthy who is vocal. Nancy Pelosi who is easy to dislike dominates and has the position of Speaker since 2003 the first lady in the position.

The Senate is a very different kettle of fish. It is made up of 100 senators from 50 states i.e. that is, obviously 2 senators per state. The Republicans were in the majority in the Senate until Jan. the 6th when 2 Democratic senators were elected for the state of Georgia. It is now 50 v 50 BUT in that situation the Vice President i.e. Kamela Harris has the casting vote thus tilting the balance in favour of the Democrats which is huge tin terms of getting the policies of the Democratic President, Joe Biden, through. The Republican majority leader until Jan. 6th was Mitch McConnell. The incoming Democratic leader in the Senate will be Chuck Schumer with Mitch McConnell moving down to become Republican Minority leader.

So tomorrow Nancy Pelosi will probably get a majority from the House of Reps. But then the motion moves to the senate. There are impossible hurdles there for Pelosi. One is that the Senate is not due to sit again until Jan. 19th the day of the President’s Inauguration. Also with the Senate being 50:50 it needs such a majority that there needs to be a large number of Republicans coming on board against Trump. That will not happen in the numbers required. So it will fail. I presume knowing that it will fail Pelosi and Co. see it as a necessary motion of censure on the sins of President Trump.

THE GREAT DANGER IN ALL THIS is in victimising Trump you are the making a God out of Trump. It is little mentioned that Trump got over 74 million votes in the November election. Not all of his supporters can be of the same strain as the portion of people, from the total attendees at the Washington Rally, who attacked the Capitol last Wednesday.

I believe that political commentary should allow for a percentage of an audience being reasonable using words like ‘majority’ or ‘minority’. It may be hard to do that for Wednesday but remember the 74 million plus voters for Trump. 

On Thursday President elect Biden stumbled (I’d say improvising) into a comparison with the German Propagandist Goebbels saying that there 250, 000 people killed in the Allied bombing of Dresden when it was contended that it was much less. (The bombing of the beautiful city of Dresden is a matter for debate to this day). Biden referred to it as ‘The Big Lie’,  transferring this to the lie of a rigged election as repeated by Trump. Now dipping into Nazi comparisons is fraught with danger and a mistake.

What do Trump’s supporters see in Trump that attracts such unswerving support;

They see an economy which they feel is ‘booming’.

He has kept his ‘America First’ promises as in withdrawing from the Paris climate Accord.

His pro-religious, pro-life policies have pleased conservatives who have contributed to his election.

He has confronted and ‘called out’ the danger of an quickly emerging and dangerous super-power in China.

He was seen as very different politician to the embedded formula of traditional politicians in all areas of Washington.

They fear THE LEFT as they see personified in Bernie Saunders and the LEFT also represented by Biden. The United States have for a century been paranoid by the threat of communism from the 30s’ to Joe McCathy’s witch-hunts in the 50s’, the Cuba crisis in the 60s’; Vietnam which was a ‘push back of communist expansion in south East Asia and Latin America and so.

The idea of ‘fake’ news; the role of Fox News and other channels. The convenience of Twitter which Trump has mastered to stunning extent. All these coalese to paint the opposition as figures of hate.

There is a word called mesmeric I think and people become so fascinated, so influenced by someone that they lose all personal responsibility.

Once I pasted a photograph from a Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis burst of applause into my history book to illustrate the Irish too could lose their grip as they rose to applaud I think it was Charlie Haughey. It is regularly seen when young people attend concerts of artists they ‘adore’ the Beatles, Elvis Presley. Trump could anything with gestures, lies, contradictions and so on and the following would be mesmerised. Those rioters who crashed and then strolled into The Capitol Buildings last Wednesday were intoxicated by the event and had no conception that in the following days the F.B.I. and such would be calling on them for defiling ‘The People’s House’. This was made somewhat easy by the incredible lapse in security with regard to the Capitol.   

  Of course it will be very interesting to see what penalties the main figures who were at the head of that riot will incur. To millions they will be of course be heroes!

The United States is as divided now it seems as it was after the conclusion of The Civil War. The period following the Civil War was called ‘RECONSTRUCTION’. They have to embark on another period of ‘Reconstruction’ now. Has Joe Biden the ability to turn it around? I’m sceptical. A lot of people voted for him because they couldn’t vote for Trump not because they were confident with Mister Biden. He has experience. He is a moderate. His major challenge is clipping the wings of that 74 million voters who sought a different path. He needs to tread very carefully.       

    “The words of a President matter. At their best, the words of a president can inspire. At their worst, they can incite”.


     Roscommon Minors (U 17s’) in All-Ireland Semi-Final.

Roscommon Minors defeated surprise packets Sligo in the Connacht Final at Bekan, Ballyhauins on St. Stephen’s Day. It was played in appalling conditions but Roscommon who played a text-book winning game against Galway in the semi-final proved themselves too good for Sligo for most of the game. However, in a low scoring game Sligo came back towards the end but it was too late and so Roscommon progressed. When the game will depend on the status of the virus pandemic.

Oisin Cregg (team Vice-Captain) was selected as ‘Man of the Match’ in the game and well deserved it. Also I commend the other Boyle panellists Conor McPherson and Luke McGrath, the manager and all associated with the team. While this was a final win in terrible conditions the win against Galway was a real treat to watch with all the coaching principles in full view. The best of luck in the Sem-final v Kerry whenever that happens.   

(The last time these same counties met in a Connacht minor final was in 1949. The first game was then played in Boyle, which ended in a draw, and the replay went to extra time at C’Bar which Roscommon won. Sligo however objected to a Roscommon player being over- age. He was but due to a mix up with his age certification he played.  After acrimonious appeal meetings the objection stood. As per rule the Chair. Doctor Hugh Gibbons and the Secretary Michéal O ‘Callaghan were both suspended with the team captain and the player himself. The sanctions to al were lifted some time later. One could do a short thesis on the whole affair. Sligo’s run ended against Armagh in Lurgan.)


‘A Dictionary of Roscommon Biography’ by Mike Lennon Strokestown and Dublin.

I recommend highly here a major book titled ‘A Dictionary of Roscommon Biography’ by Mike Lennon of Strokestown. There are some 5000 people listed with biographical notes. This covers Roscommon born people or people who had a strong connection to Roscommon or spent their time in the county. It costs €30 and is available from Una Bhán at King House. I would put it amongst the top three books of relevance to Roscommon County. It is the product of ten years work by Mike and his work and passion for the subject matter shines through in the finished product. It would be a great gift for any time of the year as it was for myself.  


The Passing of John McPherson

I heard with sadness at Christmas of the death of my ‘comrade’ John Mac Pherson. The ‘comrade’ tag goes back a long way as if we were the remainders of some long ago imaginary revolution. Like so many I was very fond of John. He was great fun to talk to and often had a trademark twist to his yarns. In thinking of him now I seem to remember that he was a regular user of the term ‘you know yourself’.  He was a faithful follower of Boyle Celtic, Sligo Rovers and Tottenham Hotspurs from which he contacted me not very long ago. He was a member of Boyle town Commissioners and one of the last serving Mayors of Boyle. With his wife Jean they formed a really grand couple. His son Shane representing the family paid his dad a broad tribute of which he would be very proud. May you rest in peace ‘comrade’.