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.









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