Friday, February 11, 2022

Update 12th February

 World in Jeopardy

“The whole world is in a terrible state o’ chassis” so says Sean O Casey in his play ‘Juno and the Paycock’ set in 1922.

We are today no different. The possible disaster of a ‘hot war’ involving a possible Russian invasion of the Ukraine is mind-boggling.

In a little forked diversion here it was maybe eight months or so that I tuned into a documentary on the Assad family dynasty of Syria.  The present President is Bashar Assad with his wife Asma. Bashir was a doctor in England and married Asma who was born in London with Syrian parents. When Bashar’s father died he succeeded his father. It was thought by many that ‘the doctor’ would be a much more benevolent ruler than his father in a troubled land. That was not how it turned out. An end camera shot of Bashar was of him driving through one of many destroyed cities of Syria. That Middle Eastern region is seen as the birthplace of civilization and goes back to biblical times.

The image of an educated man seeming relaxed and confident about the destruction all around him and the thousands of people who were killed or imprisoned to satisfy his interpretation of the appropriate rule, was to me incredible. There have been many modern examples of this.  Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and so on.   

I was reminded of a sketch I had seen decades ago during some crisis which I would like to have now. It was a drawing of the planet earth with all the evidence of it having been through a catastrophic war of destruction. Atop the graphic of a destroyed world globe a couple of military figures were hailing the fact that; ‘We won!”.

Could that be the case with a possible war beginning with an invasion of the Ukraine. Are Putin, Biden and their acolytes really willing to risk a war with all the incredible utensils of war available to them? The title used by soldiers of the First World War to artillery bombardments was, ‘hell’. The capacity of the great powers today has multiplied to ‘unleash hell’ by any factor of X. 

Senior people will remember the threats of a possible third world war in the early sixties during the Cuban Crisis. As the U.S. military strained at the bit to use their terrible resources luckily common sense prevailed. If a ‘limited’ war began where would it stop? Could it be stopped? In 1965 Barry McGuire pounded out one of the great chilling anti-war songs part of which I post to here. You really have to hear it of course. 


Eve of Destruction

Barry McGuire

“The Eastern world, it is explodin'

Violence flarin', bullets loadin'

You're old enough to kill but not for votin'

You don't believe in war, but what's that gun you're totin'?

And even the Jordan river has bodies floatin'

But you tell me over and over and over again my friend

Ah, you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction

Don't you understand what I'm trying to say?

Can't you feel the fear that I'm feeling today?

If the button is pushed, there's no running away

There'll be no one to save with the world in a grave

Take a look around you boy, it's bound to scare you, boy

But you tell me over and over and over again, my friend

Ah, you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction

I seem to remember reading that Douglas McArthur toyed with the idea of using a nuclear bomb against the Chinese at a point during the Korean War.


 Think of all the hate there is in Red China

Then take a look around to Selma, Alabama

Ah, you may leave here for four days in space

But when you return, it's the same old place

The poundin' of the drums, the pride and disgrace

You can bury your dead but don't leave a trace

Hate your next door neighbor but don't forget to say grace

And you tell me over and over and over and over again my friend

You don't believe we're on the eve of destruction

You don't believe we're on the eve of destruction”.


Tomorrow is Saturday a Sports Fest.

It is hard to come down from Barry McGuire but thankfully tomorrow is another day!         

As a sports nerd, which I imagine people who read this from time to time can see, tomorrow, Saturday 12th is a feast day.

Manchester Utd. V Southampton early on I’ll give a miss to as I’ll try and get a walk in then.

In rugby Wales v Scotland at 2.15 which I will probably get snitches of as I’m doing something else.

Then come the GAA club hurling and football finals. My pick there is the contest in hurling between pretty close neighbours Ballygunner of Waterford v Ballyhale Shamrocks from Kilkenny. I fancy the Kilkenny cats to do the business with T.G. Reid the man to watch.

I will have a problem with Kilmacud Crokes of Dublin v Kilcoo of Down. Though Kilcoo are favourites I go for Kilmacud. K.O. 5.

My problem with watching that game is that there is a bone crusher of a rugby game with Ireland v France in Paris. K.O. 4.45. The loss of Johnny Sexton is a big one for Ireland but they seem to have a very good side with a number of very seasoned players to come on from the bench. Impossible to call.

Then on cue comes a top league hurling game with Limerick, the current giants, v Galway with King Henry (Shevlin) in charge of Galway, at 7.

It would have been some day if the U.S. Super Bowl topped it off but that starts on Sunday night at 11.30 p.m. That can be a long night. It takes place in California with the Los Angeles Rams v Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals are nearly the epitome of the ‘zero to hero’ catchphrase as they have shocked American football followers with their rise to fame this season. Of course the quarter-back, 25year old Joe Burrow, has had a major role in that transition. 

[It is worth noting that the GOAT has retired at the end of the season just gone. The ‘Greatest of All Time’ has been Tom Brady].

A sporting first which we should all applaud was that of Cavan lady Leone Maguire who had a significant win in a U.S. golf tournament last weekend. She was the hero of the victorious European Solheim Cup team last Autumn. She looks like a lady who will be a regular ‘contender’ in ladies’ golf, in the states, for years to come. An honourable mention goes to another golfer, Seamus Power from Waterford. He blazed around Pebble Beach with the first two rounds of 64 each last week. This had him in a leading positon. He dropped back with two modest rounds on the Saturday and Sunday. However, for a while there it looked as if it could have been a mighty double for the Irish golfers. Still it was pretty impressive.

I’ll adjourn here and maybe get back to the keyboard sooner rather than later.

Take care.

We are not there yet even if our world seems to suggest that we are home and hosed!

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Update 1st February 2020

 Journey to a Funeral

We walked quickly winding our way through the alleys avoiding the sea-front which was being lashed by a gale. A knock at a downstairs window to be joined by a companion.

We continued down Lower Salthill, through Nile Lodge and along Newcastle Road all the time shielding our faces from the wind-driven rain. Past the hospital corner to where the transport waited at the college gate. This was spring morning- February but three days old- but spring had been denied.

The dark hulk of the bus blended with the dawn blackness. We waited at the bus door waiting to be inside.

“We move at seven”, said the organiser. “If there is room you can come”.

We were not really supposed to be there. We waited anxiously, nervously hoping. A trickle of people filled the few vacant seats that remained, the trickle of people against the trickle of time. Time won.

The bus moved off like a ship away from a quay. We relaxed a little. Rumour spread of floods and storms and impassable roads. The bus trundled on uncertainly as if echoing our own uncertainty. I felt uneasy, maybe I shouldn’t be going. Maybe I should not have given in to that abstract impulsive.

The dawn light had wrestled with the elements but now gave up its forlorn battle with wind, rain and cloud. The elements had won and a dark sullen sky overshadowed all.

We wound our way through counties Galway, Mayo and Sligo. The country did not look alive this morning. The end of the world, for some. In Donegal we stopped as a funeral passed. It was not the first funeral we had met on the way. There were many funerals throughout the country on that day. But then there are funerals all over the country every day but not as many as today. Today was different.


We wound our way now very slowly as if nervous of reaching our destination. We cut across through the Gap of Donegal. Not a sign of life. More dark houses but yet no sign of life. Soon there is a whisper, the border! Confusion, which way? As if wishing to turn away. We pass a burnt-out customs post. The driver has been urged to bring us into the city over three miles away. We might be late. He reluctantly agrees. We come to a signpost for Letterkenny but turn in another direction.

Through the mist we see something up ahead. Coming closer we see the green hulk of a half- track stretched across the road. The soldiers wave us down with their rifles. A soldier steps up into our bus.  A hush. He is unarmed. Outside his crew watch. A few drink from enamel mugs. They shift about restlessly. They are cold probably. We freeze inside as the guns eye us arrogantly. The lone soldier walks through the bus. He scans each anxious face. No other sound. He gives a cursory inspection, finds nothing. Relief. The bus creeps through the narrow path left by the driver of the army vehicle. We have difficulty. Not an inch. The bus loses patience and lurches into a hollow and out again. The driver regretting his decision.

I look back. A soldier makes a sign of the cross, in mockery. Yet we are through and soon the cars line up in front of us. We stop and leave the bus which immediately begins to turn and retreat. It will wait for us over the border that evening. We will have to make our own way back to the meeting point. Confusion again, which way now? A suggestion ‘Up the hill’. A suggestion becomes a fact. We try to hurry. We may not be in time. The rain lashes the hill. A big bleak hill dotted with equally bleak housing estates against a murderous and revengeful sky. The rain water rushes down the sloped roadway, it too in a hurry to hide. We scramble on through torn up pavements and burned-out barricades. We move through an estate following the former trickle which is now a crowd. We reach the gates and push through into the graveyard of the adjoining church. We follow the well-ordered plots. From the headstones it can be seen that it is not an old graveyard. Very young as headstone inscriptions relay ’68. ’69, ’71, ’71, ’72 tell that.

We move on slowly now.  There are a number of open graves ready, one here, a couple more over there. A number of others speckle the green hill with the brown-black earth. One area catches our attention. We walk towards it and stand and look into the group of open graves as they lie side-by-side. Twelve graves in all here today and another in Donegal.

The coffins of the dead are borne out along the pathway. We line the route. The rain still unrelenting on the Regan. The hearts of many are cold. The apparently endless cortege passes through the ranks of the shocked and silent witnesses. The coffins are laid into the earth. Five in one neat row. The ceremonies are performed and slowly we retreat. The reporters and photographers record. The curious still try to absorb it all. Parse might have said, ‘a great offering, a great sacrifice, a foul deed’. It was not meant to be so. The aggrieved too are silent, trying to comprehend the nightmare of their loss without understanding how or why?

Ten years later, today Wednesday, I remember another quotation “Where does remembrance weep when we forget”,                    



Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Update 13th January

Peter Flannery R.I.P.

Many people in the town of Boyle were saddened when they heard of the death of Peter Flannery at the age of 60. During the times that we are living in I have not seen or talked to Peter for a while. I believe he had been ill for some time in the latter part of 2021. I remember him down the years as he played and followed football. He loved to follow the Roscommon and Boyle teams. He also loved to talk football and did so with enthusiasm.

I remember him telling me of a meeting he had with Kevin Heffernan the great Dublin footballer and manager. Kevin was down in Green Isle and met Peter who may have been a workers Rep. at the time. Now some of the time they would have engaged with the reason for Kevin’s visit to Boyle but a lot of the meeting also included a good conversation on football. Peter was very impressed with Kevin and I’m sure Kevin was impressed with Peter’s knowledge and enthusiasm for the game, likewise.

No Roscommon game was too distant for Peter and friends and I feel he was at the Roscommon v New York game in the Big Apple in 2006.        

In his lifetime he covered a range of activities. He worked at Green Isle Fish Factory in Greatmeadow and then went to work in Wo Co in Carrick-on-Shannon. He was a taxi man for a period and also leased Wynne’s Bar for a time close to twenty years ago.

He had a great interest in politics being a follower and activist for Fianna Fáil. He was elected to Boyle Town Commission in 2004 and later became a proud Mayor of Boyle via the Commission.

His nephew paid him a fulsome tribute at his funeral mass and referenced his kind, honest and hard-working character.

He was a big man with a big heart and it can be said he did his very best for his native town, a town he loved. May his gentle soul now rest in peace.



In the Connacht GAA game ‘The Dome’ is the topic of conversation. This is the NUIG Connacht GAA Air Dome at Bekan near Ballyhaunis. This certainly has the WOW factor and it is great to see the poor ‘wehst of Ireland’ lead the way with this innovation. The stats for the edifice are very impressive being 150m X100m with 26 m high. It cost 3.1 million euro to put it in place. It has a normal game capacity of between around two and two and a half thousand. Using the full space for a concert it might take circa 15 thousand. It was begun in October 2019 and completed some 9 months later. It is heralded as the largest sports dome in the world. Apart from the full-size playing pitch it also has a running track, a gym and a flexible seating stand. One of the guiding lights in the project is the long-time Connacht GAA Secretary John Prenty. It is really a remarkable venture. It has already been storm tested. The only concern might be a major snow fall.

I asked Gerry Nerney, who was a spectator at the Roscommon v Sligo game last weekend. He was very positive about it. “We would have been frozen on a very cold night otherwise” he suggested. Donie Smith said it was a” very enjoyable experience”. He continued “When we were on our way to the game we had a blast of hailstones so we were thankful that we did not have to compete in those elements”. He referred to “its ideal role in early year games in pre-season competitions as we see now”.  The pace of the game was also a factor that may have positive fitness benefits. One of the stats from watching these games was the high scoring of points suggesting that the no wind dimension was a factor.

It has many other roles as suggested by John Prenty and former Roscommon player Cathal Cregg who is ‘stationed there’ as it were. There is a fee to use the facility of course to enable upkeep etc.

Years ago when I was involved in inter-school games and we looked to clubs for a pitch for games it was difficult to get one. There was a reluctance for clubs to give one as one game, at the wrong time, could do so much damage to a pitch. The all-weather pitch that has been there at Bekan has alleviated that and this dome will encourage teams greatly to try and avail of this major unique venue.

So bless all who sail in her and I look forward to visiting it myself to see this second wonder of the western world. (The first?…the airport up at Knock, close by. All that reminds me of a reporter from Dublin seeking out the residence of a big-time builder in the county. He stopped his car to enquire from a worker on the roadside. That person told the reporter to continue for another 3 miles and he would see the big house of the person he was looking to meet. “And can I see the house from the road? Enquired the reporter. “It can be seen from space” replied his informant. From now pilots have a clear marker for Knock. Another miracle.)     

I imagine that the Connacht model will attract a great deal of attention and will have surveyors queueing up to see this spectacle.

Pearses Crowned Kings of Connacht

I have mentioned before how down I was when leaving the Hyde after the Roscommon v Galway Championship game last summer. Now I have been healed a good deal with the performances of the Minors v Kerry for the 2020 championship; the Minors v Galway in the 2021 Connacht Championship and the U 20s’ performances v Down and then Offaly in the All-Ireland final. Added to this then was the county minor final between Boyle and Roscommon Gaels. Last Sunday Paraic Pearses gave an exhibition of point-taking v Knockmore in the Connacht senior Club Final in Ballina. It ended Pearses 1.13 Knockmore 1.11. They now go on to meet the strong Dublin side, Kimacud Crokes, in the All-Ireland Semi-final.

Pearses are a very good side with a finely balanced team throughout. Their work ethic is totally effective and they have a number of game-changers. Paul Carey gave an exhibition of point scoring on Sunday and got ‘Man of the match’ because of it. He was still run close by Hubert Darcy for his award. The Daly trio contribute hugely to the overall context while David Murray and Conor Payne were other stand-out players. The one possible flaw may be the goalkeeper Whelan. The All-Ireland Semi-final v Kimacud Crokes takes place at the end of January.  


It was their first Connacht title and now join Clann na nGael, St. Brigid’s, Roscommon Gaels becoming the fourth club to win the Connacht senior Championship.

Top winner in Roscommon’s Connacht wins with 6 in a row from 1984 to 89 is Clann na nGael.   

Patsy Hanley Traditional Musical Giant.

On Sunday night last I watched the repeat of a tribute to Roscommon traditional musician Patsy Hanly from Cloontuskert. Patsy is known far and wide for his music and also because he is gentleman and a funny man. He was earlier a regular visitor to north Roscommon. Maybe it was there on the borders of Sligo and Roscommon where there was a well of so many great flute players and Patsy came to source of the music. He absorbed it totally and now is an ambassador for the North Connacht style of music cultivated by giants like Coleman, Morrison, Horan and Finn, Josie McDermott. The McDonaghs and McNiffs of Ballinafad, Pakie Duignan, Tommy Guihan, John Carlos and John McKenna amongst

He referenced many more musicians from various parts and a number were on hand to express their positive opinion of Patsy such as John Carty and John Wynne. Patsy mentioned Cosgrove’s bar in St. Patrick’s Street Boyle as a place he played in in his early years. He played regularly later in the Ceili House Bar on the Crescent Boyle many a time. The two great All-Ireland Fleadhanna held in Boyle in 1960 and 1966 were historic watersheds in the popularity of traditional music.  

Patsy has appeared on television and everywhere he goes he is welcomed with open arms. We attended a TG4 awards occasion a few years ago in The Waterfront Theatre in Belfast as Patsy was honoured with a Gradam Cheoil for             
his service to the propagation of Irish music.

His music is interspersed with stories and anecdotes and wit that makes him a most entertaining individual.

He was employed as a draughtsman for Roscommon County Council for most of his working life. His life had a share of sadness. He lost his wife Pauline at her early age. In 2003 he lost his daughter Nora to cancer aged 15 in 2003. He reflected on her passing with “I think of her every day of my life”.

Patsy Hanly is a person of which Roscommon can be justly proud.

Television Magnetism

I watch a good deal of television these times. Maybe I am not alone in doing that! Last night, which was Tuesday night, I did not turn on the television at all. I was putting down a frame of paragraphs for this blog and it was easier to abstain because I felt there was nothing worthy of watching. That is a rare thing I confess. I know of a few people who pay little heed to watching television at all. I knew of one of my students back in the day who answered my query of what he had watched on television over the week –end with “Sir, we don’t have a television in the house”. That was the most interesting answer that I could have received.

Anyway I seem to remember some writer –maybe Shaw- expressing something along the lines of; “If I leave a theatre not having learned something I feel it has been a waste of time”!  Now I am diligent in my approach! I get the Sunday Independent for a few reasons such as I am used to it and its contributors, it can keep me going for half the week at least, its sports coverage is pretty decent and it has a Sunday to Saturday inclusive Television guide.

  I’ll outline one of the good days as a viewer and that was Saturday January the first.  It had a rich line-up of programmes and being New Year’s Day I would have no conscience about occupying the armchair for a lengthy period.

  It had the following programmes in no particular order;

1.     A very good profile of the BBC’s international sports star of 2021 Rachael Blackmore.

2.     On TG 4 Connacht had a tough struggle but overcame Munster.

3.     ‘Sports Story’ with Joe Brolly being interviewed by Tommy Martin. Brolly is always worthy of watching or listening to for a variety of reasons.

4.     There were 3 films (I have not arrived at using the word ‘movies’ yet having moved on from the ‘pictures’ of my adolescence.) Two of them were ‘Sicario’ a pretty violent drugs Mexico/U.S. border action film. Then there was David Lean’s ‘Great Expectations’. This is probably the film I have at the top of my favourites list with so many elements adorning it. It was adapted from the book by probably the second greatest story teller in literary history, Charles Dickens, the man who invented Christmas. (The Bard could hardly be pushed out of first place).

5.     Being New Year’s Day there were games to watch with the BBC 1 ‘Match of the Day’ night-time compilation being the micro-wave device for watching 8 or so of those games.


There were a number of names that failed then, but would not on other days, to get a hearing with, Bob Dylan, Freddie Mercury, Morcambe and Wise, Michael Caine and Tommy Tiernan as examples.

 It is not always that there would be days like this but Christmas provides a bonanza of programmes that decorate Christmas as readily as any of the other elements.           

From the Kingdom to the Capitol

We Irish are pretty good at claiming people from abroad who have Irish connections. The soccer people bought into that very successfully some decades ago. The county GAA authorities are moving in that direction as if it was a new thing for them. We had Conor Cox starring in the Dome last week and a good goalkeeper from Oranmore as well.  Sligo, I hear, have tagged into a Spillane who plays his football with a Dublin club. Also Kerry have brought three senior players from Limerick into their ranks. That is Kerry hurling!

Now back to the heading. I tune into CNN (Cable News Network) fairly often. Well over a year ago a contributor with a very Irish accent caught my attention and my hearing sensor was confirmed by the visual one as a teddy bear image appeared on screen. A map of the south west with Kerry highlighted confirmed all. That was my introduction to Donie O’Sullivan. He has in the past year become a real decoration on the CNN platform. Donie first came into play as he attended some Trump rallies during the 2020 Presidential elections. On those occasions he tried to get a handle on why people favoured Trump to such a depth. While the CNN tag was like the proverbial red rag to those supporters when Donie asked a question his accent confused the subject and mellowed the interface. “You from Ireland. I’d love to go to Ireland”. I suppose some people could not feel threatened by this teddy bear correspondent. Then it all exploded. It was January 6, 2021 in the Capitol area of Washington and the ‘insurrection’ and occupation of the Capitol building by a mob. The first CNN man was already in situ…the Kerryman. He stayed as close to the fire as he could despite the calls from the top anchor newsman Wolf Blitzer to ‘be careful’. Donie was an important contributor to the CNN account of that tumultuous day.  His reputation went from near zero to hero.

Donie’s parents returned to Ireland from the U.S. in 1977. His mother was born in Boston. The morning after the Capitol Riots Donie was the prime name on newshounds in Ireland and a TG 4 crew arrived at his parent’s house in Cahersiveen. His proud parents got the first blast of celebrity by association. Their boy had done very well. Later on a visit home, he was snapped up to do a stint on ‘The Late Late Show’ and then a full and very good documentary arrived on RTE 1 on January 4 with a repeat on the January 6th the first Anniversary of the Capitol riot.

The success happened because he was the right man in the right place at the right time. His instant stardom was the result of a maybe 15 years’ immersion in modern media and chasing his dream.

I imagine that documentary will surface again.


I had intended to refer to a few more items like the World Darts Championships at the Ally Pally (Alexander Palace) in London and a related piece on the EU ban on Tattoo ink but, I have to take the dog for a walk right now.


Stay safe. Get proper quality masks. We are not there yet.

Have a good (can one use ‘happy’ yet?) 2022.

As Dave Allen used to sign off with; “May your Gods go with you”.