‘The world is in a state of chassis’
The playwright Sean O’Casey wrote something of that nature in one of his plays. The world today certainly is in a similar bind. It is arguable that the modern empire of power and influence, the United States, is being rocked and is potentially in decline. The dramatic collapse of the U. S. nurtured government in Afghanistan and the chaotic, sad and dramatic scenes that have emerged in Kabul is potentially a core picture of that in progress. The speed with which it developed is staggering and the same can be said of the failure to realise that such could happen. Now a country that was emerging from a medieval past is possibly going to be tossed back again into that dark, depressing and dangerous environment.
I have watched more news and programming of current affairs from the U.S. in the last eight months than I have ever done. Starting with the march on the Capitol in Washington on January 6thand the resistance of such a percentage of the U.S. electorate to accept the Presidential election outcome it has been a hugely testing time for the administration in that country. The lack of cooperation amongst the political parties for the common good is depressing. Then we in this island have experienced a good deal of that also in recent decades.
Watching from the wings are Russia and China. Around thirty years ago I visited a former history teacher of mine -Tom Geraghty- from Roscommon C.B.S. days. After a long conversation touching on a number of things I moved to leave. I was stopped in my tracks when he posted the question; “And, and, what about China?” So that had to be ‘treated of’ for another half hour. He viewed China then as the emerging empire for the twentieth century and his view seems to be gaining incremental evidence with each decade.
The challenges for a benign western society which has given a good life and example to many for nearly sixty years or so are alarming. As we speak we have Covid and its twists and turns; Climate change with its effects in rising temperatures across global averages, enormous forest fires from California to the Mediterranean and the Tundra area of Russia to Australia, Brazil and more. Then there are the surges of refugees more than after W.W.2. The growth of the drug trade with the suggestion that they can be sourced easily. Now that the Taliban are back in power in Afghanistan the possibility of the drug trade from there is said to be huge. The open trade and abuse of drugs in our own capital city. Enough of all that for now.
Sport and its Diversion
After Roscommon seniors lost to Galway I was in some despair as to the future of the GAA games in Roscommon. Then, as if from nowhere, like a Christmas advertisement, came a series of county football wins that lifted the spirits. Those same spirits needed some lifting! Oddly the first balm came with another defeat that being by Kerry in the All-Ireland minor semi-final for 2020. The foundation for this had been laid a good while ago with a win over Galway and the quality of the performance remained.
Then the minors of 2021 continued with a great win against Mayo and especially an outstanding comeback v old foes Galway. This team did not reach their best form for the Connacht final and a with key player being injured they lost to a good Sligo team who were bridging a gap of over fifty years. We certainly didn’t begrudge it to Sligo.
Next came the Under 20 team who defeated Mayo convincingly in the Connacht Final and then overcame a somewhat arrogant Down team in the All-Ireland semi- final at Cavan to set up an intriguing Final v Offaly. The gods deserted Roscommon with some early missed goal opportunities and in the second half Offaly got into their stride to reach a handsome lead. Still the fighting spirit of the Roscommon team shone through again as they clawed their way to within a goal score of Offaly but time ran out on them.
The joy of the Offaly team and its supporters including V.I.P. supporter Shane Lowry showed what it all meant to them also.
In any event we can look at these two grades with optimism for next year. We have to be aware that the performances of teams, even those who bring forward some veterans from a previous year, they are not predictive.
It all justified a long tenure on my flagpole of the Roscommon colours for this year and if it is similar in 2022 it will be a great sign. Still as the old prophecy goes ‘when man plans for the future the Gods smile’. Another one being used by American military officers on CNN goes ‘plans can corrode at the first point of contact with the enemy’.
Sport of the Home Front.
This Friday evening, we return to the domestic fare with a Senior championship first round game v Roscommon Gaels in the Abbey Park. While our record with ‘the Gaels’ has been negative the senior panel is being supplemented each year by very good young players and this year is no different. So we can look to qualifying from the group stages to the knockout section and then it is in the lap of the Gods.
Since, by the next edition of the Oblique View, the major draw being promoted by Boyle GAA and Boyle Celtic will be concluded at the end of August I suggest that, if you are of mind to, you log on to the sites of either of these clubs to purchase a ticket.
Boyle Arts Festival
I wish to commend the organising committee of the Boyle Arts Festival for keeping the flame of the Festival alive when it might have been easy to put hands up and pass for another year. The running of the events required imagination and improvisation with the Marque coming to the rescue. I’ll just mention three of the items amongst the many which impressed and they were Carole Coleman in conversation with Kingston Mills who has been prominent on our airwaves with guidance on Covid’s status. The talk uncovered a real picture of Mister Mills and his background and his strong connection to Boyle. There are a number of these events which will be available online at www.boylearts.com. Another item to look out for there is a Donie O’Connor song titled ‘Queen of Main Street’.
Three regular performers Lizzie, Lynda & Ceara unsurprisingly repeated their success from former festivals.
A nugget for me was Laura Earley with an illustrated talk on mosaics in County Roscommon. She told the story of Mister John Crean from Ballygar who established a ‘factory’ for Mosaic production in Roscommon town in the 1950s’. Early in the venture he brought a number of Italian craftsmen to the factory to enhance their products. Two of them were Sergio Bennedetti and Luciano De Paoli. I went to national school in Castlecoote where the school was located close by the old church and similarly with a new church being built in the later fifties. As schoolboys we witnessed all the construction activity and this included the use of mosaics in the church where I served mass after its dedication. I also got to know Sergio Benedettie who is very well known in Roscommon.
From Laura’s talk I finally got to distinguish between mosaics and terrazzo which is a composite of various chips of stone with a binding material.
There were three examples referenced from Boyle and they were Mac Namara’s on Main Street, Carroll’s on Bridge Street and at the entrance to The Royal Hotel. Laura’s sister Katie – a milliner- featured in two-page spread in The Roscommon Herald of August 10 with Ciara McCaughley. So the Mullymux based Earley girls are part of a talented and innovative family.
Sport Keeps Giving
I really enjoyed the European Cup and now we are into the World Cup qualifying cycle for the finals in Qatar in 2022, next year! There are three games for Ireland at the beginning of September with Ireland playing Portugal away, followed by Azerbaijan and Serbia all within a week.
Ryder Cup Golf
This competition will take place at Whistling Straits, Haven, Wisconsin in the U.S. This state is in the area of the Great Lakes of the United States. The American Captain is Steve Stricker. He has a good few challenges as I read he has six Captain’s picks. The European captain is Padraig Harrington which should help Shane Lowry if he does not make the automatic selection.
The 1966 All-Ireland winning U 21 team remembered and recorded.
The above team and their campaign have now been recorded in a detailed book by a member of the team, Paul Mockler, with a significant footprint of Mick Rock from Elphin. They were a hugely talented team with many of them progressing to the Roscommon senior team. The captain of the team was Colm Shine from Clann na Gael who passed away not long ago. The team was managed by Dr. Donal Keenan the Chairman of the County Board who was generally the main side-line voice for senior teams during his time as Chairman.
Roscommon’s opponents in the final were Kildare, which presented the Clarke Cup for the winners that year, possibly expecting to win it themselves perhaps as they were defending champions and had a star-studded team. Indeed, prominent sports journalist John D. Hickey suggested that “It will be the eighth wonder of the world if Roscommon beat Kildare in this year’s final”. Boyle had a number of players with that team. Pat Clarke was at corner back and Pat Nicholson was at full back while John Kelly Elphin/Boyle was at corner forward. John Nicholson and Ray Sheerin were also members of the team and played in earlier games. Amongst the other prominent players were Dermot Earley, Martin Joe Keane, Tom Heneghan and Marty Cummins. It was a great team, a great game and a fine victory. As a spectator it still echoes as one of my best memories a Roscommon performance and result in Croke Park. All this is covered in detail by Paul in this book with a picture from the Crescent Boyle of members of the team saluting the welcoming crowd from Johnny Keaveney’s lorry. The book is available from Supervalu stores and various other outlets at €12.
P.S. This book provides a template perhaps for other campaigns by Roscommon. The one that stands out is the minor win in Ennis v Kerry in 2006 where the logjam of traffic on the route down was a little similar to images prominent on television screens. They are now the good memories.
All Ireland Hurling Final
This takes place on Sunday next between Cork and Limerick. Cork won the U 20 championship this week and are in the minor final on Sunday v Galway. Cork has been in the doldrums for a time winning the All-Ireland last in 2005 which is a really long stretch for them but they seem to be coming strong right now. Limerick dismissed Waterford in the semi-final while Cork overcame a dogged Kilkenny after extra time in their semi-final. Personally having witnessed the relentless power and ruthless approach of Limerick I feel they will win comfortably. Cork are a team for the future but that is not this year.
Limerick the defending champions are going for a third title in four years which has not happened for them since the days of Mick Mackey in the 1930s. This is a unique final as the finalists come from the same province and Limerick and Cork have never met in a final.
Covid and Boyle
I read with disappointment that Covid is very prevalent in Boyle at this time. Apparently, taking notice of the guidelines of masking and social distancing and recognising the danger of community spread are being ignored by some in our population. We are now listed amongst the top figures on various scales. With the onset of children going back to school those figures of community spread will be difficult to contain and reduce. So if we can get over this surge and learn from it, maybe things can improve. It will take a more careful and caring approach for ourselves and our neighbours to achieve that.