Monday, September 20, 2021

Update 20th September

 “The Autumn winds blow chilly and cold’ is a line from a Simon and Garfunkel song ‘April it will come’. There is the touch of the Autumn snap as of now and we face into a problematic time. It has a mixture of hope weariness and reticence. ‘Hope’, the final quality captured in Pandora’s box, is that by April a more positive picture will have emerged. That would be over two years since the pandemic struck. It is two years of different living. Very occasionally I meet a person I have not seen since before it all struck and I can see those two years of age on their faces as I am sure they can in me. For everyone, it has been a tough time but for senior people those two years of restricted living are long lost years (up to a point) which we can ill afford.

Some of that loss can be seen in the Bard’s great poetic view of Autumn


Sonnet 73 (‘That time of year thou mayst in me behold’)

William Shakespeare


That time of year thou mayst in me behold

When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang

Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,

Bare ruin’d choirs where late the sweet birds sang.

In me thou seest the twilight of such day

As after sunset fadeth in the west,

Which by and by black night doth take away,

Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.

In me thou seest the glowing of such fire

That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,

As the death-bed whereon it must expire,

Consum’d by that which it was nourished by.

   This thou perceiv’st which makes thy love more strong,

   To love that well which thou must leave ere long.


Michael D. and another Zappone-gate

Like an eternal circle there comes around these division 3 or 4 news stories that in the status of things are of little or no consequence. Zappone-gate has been on the agenda for … a month perhaps… and as it begins to submerge for the insignificance that it was it is now being replaced by a supposed snub from the President, Michael D. Higgins, for not partaking in an event marking the establishment of the Northern Ireland state. Perhaps the Catholic Church representative was unwittingly bounced into attending but Michael D. took time to analyse it more deeply.

He decided that it would be hypocritical of him to attend an event celebrating the historical division of this island, an event he fundamentally disagreed with.

I agree with him.

People may think that Michael D. is some kind of adult teddy bear but as a former student of this, he has form in standing by his strongly held views which are cogently thought through and not Twitter fed.

I remember, from a good few years ago, hearing Michael D. on a radio debate with a Chicago-American politician on some sensitive issue and ‘wiping the floor with him and his argument’.

Now if Mister Bruton wants to attend I presume that can be facilitated and I imagine it would not be a burden on him.    


The death of ‘Greavesie’.

On opening up the online line news on Sunday morning I was saddened when I saw that one of my sporting icons, Jimmy Greaves, had died. With Gerry O’Malley he was my sixties sporting, I suppose, heroes.

The first I saw of soccer football was on the Pathe News and such which were part of attending the ‘pictures’ (later films) in ‘The Blue Moon’ and ‘Royal’ cinemas in Roscommon town. The first game I saw on television was the 1960 European Cup final between Real Madrid V Eintracht Frankfurt. It took place at Hampden Park, Glasgow before an attendance of over 126, 000 people. Real Madrid’s Di Stefano scored three and the great Hungarian Puskás scored four in a 7 to 3 result.

I then became aware of English soccer and the dominant club team of the early sixties was Tottenham Hotspurs with a great team. In my few years in London in the mid-sixties, I started going to odd games in Fulham, Stamford Bridge, Loftus Road and such.

Once when working on a McInerney building site in East London I had a slight accident. I was up on scaffolding, maybe 10 stories high, and jumped in a window from the scaffolding which was no big deal only for…. a board with a nail standing out was attached to the top of the window sill and my head sailed by this but it left its mark and the blood flowed. I went to a nearby hospital and got patched up with a wrap-around bandage. I took the following day off. I was living in Ealing, West London then and decided to use the day to go and see the great Spurs team quite a distance away in North London. A memory from it was being the butt of jokes about my Sikh head-dress from adjacent Spurs supporters.

However, the one vivid memory from that game was a magical goal by Jimmy Greaves. I followed his career nearly always after that. He was a prolific and record goalscorer. He was a shoo-in on England teams up to and during the early games of the 1966 World Cup but perhaps it was because of a slight injury or whatever he was dropped by team manager Alf Ramsey from the World Cup Final England team and replaced by a great West Ham player Geoff Hurst.

There were no substitutions allowed in that era so there was no chance of a cameo appearance. It broke his heart. I was still in London that World Cup sunny summer.

Jimmy continued for a time with Spurs but then incredibly he was moved on to West Ham. He also played for some other clubs as alcohol took its toll. He addressed his alcohol addiction and returned to the limelight as an early television soccer pundit and teamed up with Scot Ian St. John former Liverpool great player. They were not just a soccer pundit team but a very entertaining comic double act.

Jimmy remarried his wife and had a good life but never lost his personality of lovable decency. He got a stroke in 2015. About a month ago I watched a detailed documentary on his life in football on BT Sport and the challenges he overcame.

It is some coincidence that today, Sunday Sept. 19, that Spurs V Chelsea is one of the games being televised on Sky. Jimmy started with Chelsea then went to Italy for a short spell and came back to Spurs with whom he will ever be associated. My old pal John McPherson, a great Spurs and ‘Saint and Greavsie’ supporter, might encounter him in the Utopia of above.

Jimmy Greaves was a special player and I will remember that goal of his always.

P.S. I just remember a little story from that Documentary on BT Sport.

Sky was taking over the ITN channel transmitting ‘The Saint and Greavsie’ and the two men met up to discuss its implications. Jimmy said to Saint John that he was offered a job with Sky and turned it down.

Saint John said to him; ‘Jimmy how could you do that, turn Sky down?’

Jimmy answered; ‘Saint I feel like I’m getting too old to be climbing ladders putting up those bloody dishes’!       


Film ‘The Keeper’

Last week I tripped across a film on BBC with the title ‘The Keeper’. I read the little paragraph relaying the content and tuned in. It involved the capture of a German soldier in France by British forces and his transfer to a ‘Prisoner of War’ camp in Lancashire near the war's end and for some time afterwards.  The film showed a traumatic event in the German soldier’s early military life. A grocery supplier to the camp, who was also a team manager for the nearby St. Helen’s Town soccer team, saw this soldier playing football in the camp as a goalkeeper and was impressed. The manager eventually got sanction to bring the soldier out of the camp to play with his team. That had its difficulties in trying to overcome the prejudice of having a German, a recent enemy, playing for them. However, he was so good that the small club overcame that and soon his reputation spread and the Manchester City manager arrived to look him over. He too was impressed and brought him to Manchester City. Again prejudice and resentment followed at an even higher degree. Again his ability subdued the resistance. He played in the Cup final for Manchester City in 1955 v Newcastle then a powerhouse who won by 3 goals to nil. Man City were again in the final of 1956 this time v Birmingham City. Near the end of the game with Man. City leading 3 goals to 1 the Man. City goalkeeper sustained a serious neck injury. Though obviously in great pain he played on as substitutes were not allowed then. Pictures show him holding his neck as he received his medal and it turned out that he had a broken neck.

He had married the St. Helen’s manager’s daughter and tragedy struck when their first son was killed in an accident at an early age.

He played for Manchester City from 1949 until 1964. During the war he had received an Iron Cross but in his football career he not only got the Cup Final medal but also was awarded an OBE from the Queen of England in recognition of his assistance in post-war reconciliation between England and Germany. He also received a German equivalent of same. His wife, who was his rock, died a young woman in 1980 but the German Iron Cross recipient and footballer who became a hero and legend with Manchester City died in Spain in 2013 aged 89. His name was Bert Trautmann.    


The Very Different Stories of Four Women;

Both local papers cover the story of a Tipperary born woman who made a big impression in Athleague circa 1920. The Roscommon Herald on page 16 and in The People on page 36 have short articles on the lady named Aleen Cust MRCVS. The letters after her name tell us she was a veterinary surgeon. Apparently RTE/Nationwide were investigating this lady who is well remembered and regarded in Athleague. A timber sculpture representation of Ms. Cust can be seen near the bridge at Athleague. (Nearby is another timber sculpture to another legend –living- Johnny Haughey forever associated with hurling in Athleague and the county).

Dublin-born Irish woman, Violet Gibson, came to fame in the late 1920s’ after she attempted to kill the Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini. What motivated her is a mystery. Had she succeeded it might have had an influence on subsequent history. She too is getting the T.V. Documentary treatment on Wednesday Sept. 22 at 9.30 on TG4. 

Typhoid Mary Mallon

I do not listen enough to the radio as there are so many programmes of interest there. Amongst my favourites are ‘Sunday Miscellany’, ‘Playback’ a summary of good pieces from the weeks programmes and the ‘RTÉ Radio: Documentary on One’ in the early afternoon each Saturday. This award-winning documentary series has had outstanding programmes down the years and a Pod Cast of them is a real gold mine. Last Saturday I happened on one called; ‘The Curious Case of Typhoid Mary (Mallon). This told the story of a Mary Mallon from Ireland. She was a New York cook, who, while not getting ill herself, became a ‘super spreader’ of the typhoid disease in the early part of the 1900’s in New York. She was isolated for decades on an Island in view of New York and died there. This suggests likeness to the two great French books on Island incarceration ‘The Count of Monte Christo’ and ‘Papillion’.

Nicki Minaj

With my fourth lady who hit the headlines this week, I must be amongst the few who have not heard of her worldwide. That recognition got a real boost this week with a slight tweet about resistance to Covid vaccination. Her name is Nicki Minaj!  All I can say is that she can really dress up. Why is she famous…I think it is in that peculiar way that is, ‘because she is famous’!

I’ll rest my case there.


Mayo Defeat by Tyrone.

It was another of those huge disappointments for Mayo and its multitude of supporters. In a way, Mayo seems to lose the same way regularly. A goalkeeping mistake, a full back being over-reached by an opponent, and a lack of leadership on the field. It is something that the current team captain has not scored in any of his 5 or maybe 6 finals.

There has been plenty of ire to go around in Mayo following the result but I have no wish to add to that. They keep falling but keep getting up. There is a kind of heroic resilience there. Like all Mayo people I too, a Roscommon person, wish them to win. I imagine that the last living members of the 1950 and ’51 Mayo teams, Paddy Prendergast and panellist Dr. Mick Loftus, must feel these defeats greatly. Anyway, Mayo can look forward to next year and at least a Connacht Final win as the odds lie. I would like it if Roscommon could be so optimistic.

One should not forget Tyrone coming from a drubbing in Kerry two months or so ago, to win an All-Ireland final by beating Kerry in the Semi-Final and Mayo, convincingly, in the final. That was something special and they should be acknowledged for it.  

The Missing C.S.P.C.A. Water Troughs  

For a Boyle Arts Festival talk I walked through Boyle to rehearse my topics. I missed one I had been aware of and that was the C.S.P.C.A. (Canadian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) trough. This ‘Philanthropic Society’ say fit to install these troughs so that animals on fair or market days had water   It had been outside Dodd’s Bar for a long time. Then it was transferred to the Courthouse steps and later to the front of St. Joseph’s Hall. In those locations, it served as a fine flower receptacle.

After a cursory search I could not locate same. Last week I started to make some enquiries and then in a pure coincidence Sean, on the Home Page of Realboyle, gave the same subject full prominence.

He numbered those as 3 which I was not aware of and came up sometime later with the one at the end of St. Patrick’s Street. So there should be two more somewhere. All I was aware of was the one from the Crescent area so if anyone knows anything of its whereabouts please let us know. These are all part of interesting street furniture, which have a history and storied background from the town's past.


Solheim Cup Golf and now The Ryder Cup

I found the Solheim Cup for golf, where Europe defeated the United States, hugely entertaining thanks in large part to the outstanding performance of Cavan’s Leona McGuire.

Starting Friday is The Ryder Cup the male equivalent of above. It takes place in the U.S. this time and the European team is captained by Padraig Harrington. There are two Irish golfers included in the 12 team players, Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry. While McIlroy is an acknowledged star of the game it is another great achievement for Lowry. So this weekend is booked solid by thousands of golf enthused people who will be glued to their television sets to watch the thrills, spills and drama and maybe some controversy in The Ryder Cup. Even if you are not a golf fan you should dip in and maybe see why this is such a magnetic event.             



I remember here two Boyle men that I knew back the years who passed on recently. One is Michael McPadden of Hanley Ave. who was in his middle fifties. He was a student in St. Mary’s College but I also knew him as a footballer as the McPadden lads all were. I have not met Michael for a long time. His picture on the Home Page here showed a fine strong man.

The other is Willie Suffin who I always with Bert Mahoney with whom he worked in his earlier times. May they both rest in peace.










Friday, September 3, 2021

Update 4th September

 Blog Friday September 3rd.


Where to today?

Thoughts on Tyrone v Kerry.

I have asked a friend to get me a copy of ‘The Kerryman’ newspaper so that I can read their take on Kerry’s surprise defeat by Tyrone in the All-Ireland Semi-Final. That is part of my holistic approach to getting a grip on what happened.  

I have to hand this week’s ‘The Roscommon Herald’ and Father Liam Devine’s short take on it also. As you may know there was a certain amount about Covid and the Tyrone team for the last few weeks. Liam too has a few mentions of that issue and I will quote one nice one as follows;

 “The rapid recovery and the rude good health of the Tyrone players must be a great boost and consolation to people who have tested positive with Covid 19”.

It was the Kerry players who seemed to be struggling with cramps and so on as the game went through injury time. I presume that will be addressed in their post- match analysis.

Anyway Tyrone won because they played with a ferocity that may have been taken from Limerick's playbook. Their determination, motivation, and drive and their taking of the goal chances were key.

Their win now sets up a totally new challenge for Mayo in the final. There is no calling of it with any degree of certainty. Maybe Mayo will be less overawed by Tyrone than they would be by Kerry? Will Mayo be able to cope with the total war of the Tyrone team and substitutes? While the Mayo management will have been preparing, for the most part, to face Kerry they will now have to re-gig their mindset to face a very different challenge. Maybe this fresh challenge will present Mayo with (as is being said) a better chance of getting the Holy Grail of Gaelic football. It is intriguing, interesting, fresh, novel and only God knows how it is going to pan out.    


Father Devine’s Column

This is one of the features that I always go to when I start reading the Sports Section of, ‘The Roscommon Herald’. This week he referenced four different items The game as above and also that the Meath minor midfielder Jack Kinlough had Roscommon connections which he has. His father Oliver (Ollie) Kinlough and his grandfather -Frankie-who was the great forward with the Roscommon team of the forties. ‘Kinlough of the Golden goals’ as he has been referred to from time to time. Ollie played for a time with Padraig Pearse’s and also had some game with Roscommon a good few years ago now.

Gerry O’Reilly R.I.P.

Liam also referred to the death of Gerry O’Reilly of Rooskey. Gerry played wing back for Roscommon in the All-Ireland of 1962 v Kerry. He was a Garda and lived in Templemore the Garda training town in Tipp.   

Liam also paid a tribute to Liam ‘Chunky’ O’ Brien who was one of the star players in the Kilkenny team of the seventies. His club was ‘The Village’ one of the three great Kilkenny City clubs. It is also the club of Brian Cody.

I remember being at a senior hurling final in Nolan Park a decent few years ago and they honoured a club team from Bennetsbridge at half time which had won several county titles in the sixties. Even I was aware of the great players of that club team as the announcer called out their names.

I have suggested to Father Liam that he put together a book with material he has already had published in his columns in ‘The Herald’.

He is from the same townland as myself in Castlecoote, Fuerty and he went for a time to Roscommon C.B.S. and then to Summerhill and then Maynooth. He was in Sligo for a long time and during that time was P.R.O for Sligo GAA County Board a position he took with Roscommon when he transferred for a time to Athlone. He currently serves in Loughglynn area.


P.S. If you are reading through ‘the Herald’ of August 31st you might read a very interesting essay titled;

 ‘Athleague man cares deeply about his local environment’.

The man in question is James Moran who I know pretty well and he touches on many elements of living in past and present times and highlights the grave challenges that are ahead for the next generation.      


Some Boyle GAA Notes

The Boyle Senior team play Michael Glavey’s on Saturday in the Hyde Park at 6.30. After their fine performance and win against Roscommon Gaels last time they will be hoping to copper-fasten their grip on the knock-out stages with a win…but you never can tell!

Two members of Boyle GAA were featured in the national papers recently with Cian Smith the Boyle team manager talking to reporter Arlene Harris. Cian talked initially of how fate and coincidence probably saved his life from cancer.

He talked about his cancer from diagnosis in 2007, intervention, the period of treatment to where he is now. It is a very telling and clear account of his experience. I do not know if you can access it online but it was published in the Health and Living section of the Irish Independent of Monday, August 23rd. Cian a member of the Roscommon All-Ireland minor winning team of 2006. His dad Mike Jnr. is Chairperson of the Mayo Roscommon Hospice Foundation.

The story emphasises the necessity for men to be more aware of health issues and not be dismissive of the warning signs.     

Daire Cregg turned up in the Farmer’s Journal talking of his farming exploits. Between education in UCD, football with Roscommon and Boyle and farming he certainly leads a very busy life. I have been detached from farming for quite a while now but Daire’s condensed story of heifers, bull calves, and ‘Friesian Jersey crosses’ told me I was well out of touch with Daire’s farming world. Still, he was able to insert the classic saying ‘every day is a learning day’. One that seems apt with Daire is ‘if you want something done ask a busy man’.      


Mention of Castlecoote

 R.T.E. will be transmitting a double documentary programme, on Monday and Tuesday nights the 6th and 7th of September on the tragic death of Father Niall Molloy in July 1985 aged 52. Father Molloy was then a curate of Athleague/Fuerty parish in Castlecoote. The death occurred around a wedding in Clara in Offaly and confused details surrounding his death have since then been contested by his family. His nephews Bill Maher and Henry McCourt have been trying steadfastly to uncover the truth of what happened to their uncle and who was really responsible. Perhaps this R.T.E. documentary might throw some light on it but I would not be in any way optimistic.


Seamus Heaney Nobel Laureate

On Wednesday night, on TG4, I watched a repeat of a programme paying tribute to the great Derry poet Seamus Heaney. I should have ‘taped it’ as it was a delight. It represented a kind and humble genius, a supporting and guiding wife that was Marie Devlin and family siblings who mirrored his humility. His life’s story flowed as if it was a stream. He came from Bellaghy, went to secondary school in St. Columb’s Derry then on to Queens University. There he met his wife Marie who was his soulmate. He lived first in Belfast until 1972 and then in Wicklow and later Dublin. He lectured a great deal abroad in Berkley University California, Oxford and Harvard. I remember getting a poetry book ‘Soundings’ autographed by him during Boyle Arts week when he gave reading in The Church of Ireland. He was awarded the Noble Prize for literature in 1995. He got a stroke in 2006 and died August 31st 2013. I was in Dublin on his funeral day and regret not attending outside the church at Sandymount then. I was in Croke Park for an All-Ireland Semi-Final Kerry v Dublin with friends. Before the game started his death and funeral were announced and a minute’s silence called. The crowd of 80, 000 stood and paid their respects and ended with a round of applause. It was a unique and remarkable gesture. His daughter mentioned it in the documentary and how shy Seamus would be if he could have known.

One of his book collections of poetry has the apt title of, ‘The Spirit Level’ which makes one think, especially in these testing times. I could go on a good bit about Seamus Heaney but maybe if I add the poem which was nominated as Ireland’s favourite it would be better;


  ‘When all the others were away at Mass’

I was all hers as we peeled potatoes.

They broke the silence, let fall one by one

Like solder weeping off the soldering iron:

Cold comforts set between us, things to share

Gleaming in a bucket of clean water.

And again let fall. Little pleasant splashes

From each other’s work would bring us to our senses.


So while the parish priest at her bedside

Went hammer and tongs at the prayers for the dying

And some were responding and some crying

I remembered her head bent towards my head,

Her breath in mine, our fluent dipping knives–

Never closer the whole rest of our lives.   

The family too talked about the inscription on his headstone and for whatever reason I looked at again later in my scribbled notes when Ronaldo had scored his two goals;

“Walk on air


Your Better


The Death of Pat Hume

 Another death, that is the death of Pat Hume on Thursday. Pat was the wife of the one of the greatest Irishmen in Irish history, John Hume. Like Marie Devlin, but in a very different environment, Pat was the rock on which John rested and relied on to get him through all the challenges and adversity of his times. The family were threatened, abused, mocked, but she held it all together. She was one of those heroic Irish women. She was married to John (another Nobel Prize recipient) for 59 years and in the announcement of her death yesterday the family began “We are heartbroken to announce the death of ……”  We owe these women like we owe so many mothers huge, unconditional, gratitude.


All this has chastened me and I will not now enter the arena of farce that is a thing called Merriongate. Get real as to the scales of significance.