Friday, January 20, 2017

Update 20th January

Joe Duffy and his Liveline Radio Show
Like any radio or television show there are varied opinions on their role and quality. They are liked, disliked, disliked intensely or ignored. It is hard to ignore the Joe Duffy Radio Show on Radio One. On Monday last the 16th while driving on a fairly long journey I got most of the programme. It dealt with a number of interesting stories. Perhaps there is a ‘typical’ phone caller to the show but there was a range of topics on that day. 
• No. 1. A topic which has been aired for a few days now is that of farm inheritance. I really had not heard much if anything on this story before. Farms are invariably passed on to the sons to the exclusion of daughters and the debate arose as to why this was so? In most cases it is that a son has dedicated his life to the farm and he is seen as the natural successor. Often there is desire to keep the family surname co-existing with the farm. Of course a daughter could retain her original name if married or double it with her husband to cope with that provision. 
A lady with a very benign attitude to this dilemma talked of the men inheriting the farm ‘while the women inherited the china and the pearl necklace’. The duty of care to the senior farmer or spouse was touched on and the lady said that ‘daughters often show a greater duty of care to the parents than the inheriting son’. Then there was the example of signage in business 'Joe Bloggs and Sons' as opposed to 'Joe Bloggs and Daughters'. I am sketchy on its contents now but it raised a new topic as I said and perhaps it will inspire a few signs where Joe Bloggs is joined by the daughters rather than the sons.                
• Item Number Two .. Job Disappears
The next caller, Aishling from Roscommon, relayed a story of applying for a job before Christmas and being in contact with the H.R. Dept. of a fairly big company and doing an interview on site. Later she was told over the phone that she had the job and to report for work on a particular date. She left her accommodation and got a new abode in the city –Kilkenny-where she had got the position.  However when she turned up for work no one knew of her or her job. Apparently the H.R. person she was dealing with was not available and she could not could get a reasonable answer as to what happened. One could tell by Joe Duffy that he was pretty upset by Aishling being treated in this way and set about requesting the company come on radio and explain what happened or he would have someone call to them and perhaps name them. That would have come to air on Tuesday so since I was not listening then I don’t know how it panned out. The message here is, as the old film producer once uttered; ‘An oral contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on’ 
• No. 3. Hospital Trolley Story
Hospital trolley stories are a regular feature of the show and Monday was no different. Peggy Hogan aged 88 relayed how she spent 33 hours on a trolley in Limerick Regional Hospital with a pretty serious condition.  She gave a graphic account of the trolleys lined up in the corridor to the extent that they ignored the ‘no trolleys past this point’ notice with staff negotiating their way around them, lights on, sleep almost impossible and so on. A lot of people who have experience of public hospitals will empathise with all this.
• Item no. 4. Legal Fees. Caitriona called in to tell Joe about the legal costs of her divorce. The bill she received was five and a half thousand while the quote she had got at the beginning was two and a half thousand. An appeal to the Law Society of Ireland brought a reduction of one thousand which was still  much higher than the quote she had been given before the process started.  

Dave got a legal bill of €34k for his divorce: when he appealed it, the amount was reduced to €6k. How that could happen is hardly credible. 

U 2 Concert Tickets     
Lots of people got in touch to complain that tickets for the U2 concert in Croke Park were almost impossible to get as they were snapped up in minutes from Ticketmaster. That is unless you were willing to pay way over the odds on Seatwave – the ticket ‘reseller’ company which is also owned by Ticketmaster. Johnny said he saw tickets for the U2 gig on Seatwave on  Wednesday the 11th, even though they only went on general sale on Monday the 17th!
That got a good deal of coverage and comment in the print media subsequently. The U 2 concert programme is centred around the contents of one album and thus it is called ‘The Joshua Tree Tour’. The concert takes place in Croke Park on July 22nd.
• So if you are in bother with an issue the affordable court of appeal is in talking to Joe on Liveline. It is a national release valve for immediate opinion some of it a bit scatty but for many it comes up trumps. I wonder now how Aishling, whose job disappeared, got on?

Great British Railway Journeys 
A popular if low key television documentary series of rail travel was broadcast on BBC through this week. It is presented by a former U.K. Minister for Defence Michael Portillo. On a trip earlier in the week Mister Portillo’s journey ended in Dublin so he introduced some of the sights of the city. One of these was the Ordnance Survey office in the Phoenix Park and he interviewed one of the top people there who was Andy McGill from between Boyle and Gurteen. The village turned up again this Thursday evening when its journey took it to Sligo with a diversion to various places of interest including the home of the famous Sligo traditional musician Michael Coleman at Killavil. Tomorrow evening’s journey ends in Westport. This is the eighth series with many different train journeys having been traversed in the previous episodes. The idea is based on a classic book on English train time-tables and journeys ‘Bradshaw’s Guide’ published originally in 1839.  Programmes like these are a tourist promoter’s dream.      
The deaths of two Connacht GAA greats ...

Willie Casey of Mayo
In early December one of the great Mayo players of the fifties Willie Casey was laid to rest in his native Ballina. Willie was a substitute the last Mayo won the All-Ireland in 1951. He won a league title with the county in the mid-fifties and was a regular on the great Connacht Railway Cup teams of that decade. I knew a little about his life once but it is submerged with me now. 
In his mid-eighties, Willie won an All-Ireland junior medal in 1950 as an 18-year-old and was promoted to the senior panel the following year. With captain Sean Flanagan and John Forde occupying the corner back slots, the Ballina man didn't make his senior debut until 1952 when he lined out against Kerry in a National League game. From then until his retirement after the 1964 Connacht final defeat to Galway, he was a permanent fixture in the Mayo defence.

Along with Dr Mick Loftus (former GAA president) and Paddy Jordan, who were also unused subs in 1951, Willie had to wait until 2007 to receive his All-Ireland medal.

A winner of several Mayo SFC medals with Ballina Stephenites, Willie was laid to rest in Leigue Cemetery, Ballina in the first week of December.

Jim Killoran of Ballinafad Sligo
Jim Killoran of Cartron, Ballinafad and Sligo was laid to rest on Tuesday last the 17th in Ballinafad cemetery. He played for Sligo from 1956 to 1966. His home club was Keash but He played for a number of clubs during his time. In Dublin he played with Innisfree with Peter Burke and played with clubs in Liverpool and Manchester during his time there and became a great Liverpool soccer supporter. He is said to have played minor football for Roscommon around ’54 and he is pictured on a Boyle team of the fifties. For this reason, had I known in time, I would have attended his funeral in Ballinafad. I am told that as they laid Jim in his final resting place a small plane landed on Lough Arrow nearby. Some people might suggest that it was symbolic in some way. A tribute to Jim -written by P.J. McKeown- will hopefully feature in an upcoming edition of the Sligo Champion. 

Boyle Celtic Advance in Thriller. (A very Boyle perspective)

Boyle Celtic 3 Ballina Town 3

(Boyle win 4 -1 on penalties a.e.t.)

Those in attendance at Ballina Town soccer complex got full value and more for their money on Sunday afternoon in an FAI Junior Cup thriller between Ballina town and Boyle Celtic before a decent crowd. Boyle had got to this stage a few years ago but went down to Tipperary side St. Michael’s in Boyle but this time they were determined to go a step further. 
On a mild misty day on a perfect surface the quality of football was top class. Boyle opened strongly playing some intricate football as they dominated the first half hour. Young Danny Browne was pulling the strings in midfield but was also attracting more and more attention from the opposition. Boyle’s play finally had its reward with a Danny Browne cross finished to the net by Michael Corrigan. Ballina threatened after that with number 11 Cawley particularly, causing problems along the left wing and a run from him caused a mistake in the Boyle defence resulting in a penalty on 35 minutes which was converted; 1 all. Just on half-time a corner for Ballina crossed and following some confusion in the Boyle goals ended up in the net to send Ballina in with a 2 to 1 lead. The Boyle goalie felt that he had been impeded in that tussle. Half-time score Ballina Town 2 Boyle 1.

So it was up to Boyle to get their game back on track which they did eight minutes into the second half with Carlos winning a tackle in midfield and putting a good ball into the box and Calpin finished to the net. Teams level 2 all.
Kyle Suffin in the Boyle goals brought off a couple of top saves to keep Boyle level. Boyle manager Darren Hurd introduced Luka Roddy on 23 minutes of this second half, up front and in an even, competitive and free-flowing game Luka paid dividends with a lead goal on 33 minutes. Boyle might have gone more defensive at this stage but Ballina equalised again on 40 minutes with a strong header, 3-3, and Boyle were in grave danger of letting a winning position slip. Suffin made a save and Calpin cleared off the line as the ball ping-ponged around the Boyle goal. As the seconds ticked towards the close and extra time, however, a Ballina attacker was fouled and a penalty was awarded in the dying moments and it looked as if Ballina would pinch the game at the end but Kyle Suffin brought off another fine save to send the game into extra time.
The two periods of 10 minutes extra-time passed without any major incidents apart from a creeping number of yellow cards. And so after 1 hour and 50 minutes it was down to a penalty shoot-out to see who would get through to the last 16. 

Impressive Penalty Shoot-Out
Boyle’s Danny Brown was first up, scoring with an impressive strike. Ballina’s star player was first up for them but alas for him he made a first mistake of the day as Suffin made an impressive save. Celtic now in the driving seat. Next up for Celtic was Niall Brennan and it was a repeat of Browne’s fine score. Ballina’s second effort was again saved by Suffin so it was 2 – 0 in the shoot-out to Boyle. When Ml. Corrigan added a third it looked very good for Boyle. Ballina’s third penalty-taker hit the bottom of the post and looked as if Boyle were through but the referee called it back for some goalie infringement. The player finally scored for Ballina so it was now 3-1 to Boyle. Fourth up with a chance to win it for Boyle was Gerard Mc Dermotroe who took it in his stride and confidently dispatched the ball to the net for Boyle’s fourth goal from four penalties and sending them into the last 16 of the Cup for the first time. Naturally enough the Boyle Celtic team celebrated the victory as did their small band of dedicated supporters who had made the journey.

It has to be said that all the Boyle Celtic team contributed to a fine performance and win, so mentioning ‘best for Boyle’ seems a tad unfair. Still Seanie Purcell was their best player with a consistent strong performance with Connolly and Mc Dermotroe also doing well at the back. Browne started very well, Calpin played himself to a standstill with Shane Battles being very impressive. Kyle Suffin compensated for his slight error around the penalty to make a number of top saves throughout. Dessie Carlos had a handful in matching the Ballina Town star player Cawley but he made a mighty effort in that regard. Corrigan, Brennan, Aaron Murren and Roddy contributed handsomely. The substitutes yesterday were Luka Roddy (played); Lochlainn Conboy/ Thomas Lavin, Geevagh/ Marcus Guckian, Carrick-on-Shannon/ Aaron Sharkey with Lee Mc Killeen and Sean McCormack, Tulsk both injured. (Manager Darren Hurd)  

It was a historic win for the club and as a consequence of the draw will now meet VEC F.C. from Terenure, South Dublin City in the last 16. The V.E.C. stands for Vocational Education Committee as the club was formed in 1974 for employees of Dublin V.E.C. THE REAL PLUS OF THE DRAW IS THAT BOYLE CELTIC ARE AT HOME. The next rounds are on the 3rd/4th/5th of February.  

**Highlights from the Ballina game will be shown on Sunday next January 22nd at 2 p.m. on Eir Sport, the old Setanta channel I’m told.                  

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Update 13th January

You Cannot Avoid a Trump Watch

I had kinda thought about staying away from President–Elect Donald Trump for a while but it is just not possible and I guess it is going to be so for some time if not for all the time he is in office. On Friday the 20th he will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. Don’t ask me to forgo watching how that pans out. We had a foretaste of how he intends to deal with ‘the press’ on Wednesday at his first Press Conference since being elected.
Apparently there is some file that was allegedly put together by a British agent which suggested that the Russians had compromising material of Mister Trump following a trip to Russia some time ago, all of which Trump says is just nonsense. This was published by some outlet and CNN went with it in some format so Mister Trump boycotted questions from the CNN reporter at the News Conference. It was a testy affair. As one news reporter said to her studio presenter there were so many ‘news’ points from the conference that it was all confusing. Oh yes on who leaked the story it was according to Trump ‘probably, most likely the (U.S) intelligence community’. Certainly not a very good footing to start on for a President and a vital branch of the U.S. administration.  
Donald showed, with a van load of files, that he was passing on the running of his many businesses to his two sons to run while he was President. If, when he returned to the business they had not done well they would be ‘fired’, an echo from his T.V. Apprentice Show. While there seems to be some disbelief that the siblings will not even mention the businesses to their dad-the-President during family time. 
Then there were the Russians who are now regarded as having ‘hacked’ into the Democratic Presidential Campaign plans and maybe influenced the result of the election. With regard to Putin, they may get on which would be an asset and then again they may not get on!
As one commentator suggested it was like a strong wind blew into an office and all the papers were now up in the air. Trump supporters see this as bucking the system and the cosy relationships which existed between various elements which dominated the political system heretofore. This new President is certainly a shock to the system and while it may be theatre of kind it is hugely serious and concerning on a universal scale.
Certainly if the opening salvoes are anything to go by the roller coaster is warming up. Let’s see what Friday the 20th brings. Fasten your seat belts.

RTE’s Aine Lalor re. Trump; ‘Do you think he knows how much he doesn’t know’.  He wouldn’t be on his own in that.
That is a kind of variation of the famous Donald Rumsfeld spake in February 2002.  Donald Rumsfeld, then US Secretary of State for Defence, stated at a Defence Department briefing that: 'There are known knowns. There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we now know we don't know’.

Obama Bowing Out
The contrast between the above and the outgoing President Barack Obama was in stark relief when the outgoing President gave his farewell address to a crowd in Chicago on Tuesday night. The eloquence and elegance of the man shone through. There were achievements and disappointments. His capacity to achieve was stemmed by an opposing Congress. Perhaps those who favour the incoming President regard Obama as part of the political establishment but he certainly had a dignity and a dignified finale without recrimination. He spoke of the democratic process and encouraged his audience to continue to engage with it.  He was generous in his thanks to his wife Michelle and family and also to his Vice-President Joe Biden with whom he had an obviously great relationship. It will be interesting to see where Michelle Obama goes from here but it is obvious that she is woman of substance and her future career will be the subject of much speculation. She will also be looked on, by some, as a possible Presidential candidate in the future whether that possibility fades with time is to be seen. It would be doubly ironic that the first lady President of the U.S. was also a black President. But that is too advanced speculation.      

Mick O’Connell -at 80- A Prince of a Gaelic Footballer
You probably have to be a ‘senior person’ now to remember one of the greatest and purest Gaelic footballers ever, Mick O’Connell of Kerry. Mick was born and reared  on Valentia island. He won 4 All-Irelands, a dozen or so Munster titles numerous Leagues and so on with Kerry. Nothing very strange there perhaps. But Mick was different. He was regarded as slightly eccentric. This may have stemmed from his giving away his medals and once going home directly from Croke Park and leaving the Sam McGuire Cup in the dressing room. I met him a couple of times. Once he was working in Galway and asked someone to get a few footballers to join him in Pearse Stadium for a training session. The someone, a student landlord, contacted a couple of Kerry students and footballers Ger O’Keefe and Paudie O Mahoney and they contacted Martin Carney and Tony ‘Horse’ Regan. I was a friend of those lads and staying with Tony in Salthill. So the five of us joined Mick O in Pearse Stadium for his practise. It was a bit intimidating but we were honoured really to be there. On the Back Page of last Sunday’s Indo there is an account by Joe Brolly of an attempted interview by Ger Gilroy and Joe Molloy of Newstalk’s ‘Off the Ball’ which I thought some of you might not have accessed.

It was, said Joe “A bit like Ant and Dec cross-examining Seamus Heaney. "Wow," said Gilroy to begin. Then . . .

Ger: One of the things you're legendary about is that you didn't celebrate your wins. . .
Micko: What was there to celebrate? Football was only a pastime. More important things to be doing in life. (silence)

Ger: You like rowing?
Mick: I rowed as a pastime.

Ger: It kept you nice and fit?
Mick: For rowing you mean?

Ger: For football.
Mick: Football and rowing have no association.

Ger: (nervous laughter)
Mick: You seem to know all about the sport. What age are you? 23 is it?

Ger: (nervous laughter) I wish.
Mick: What age are you?

Ger: I'm 39. (silence)

Joe Molloy (intervenes as an act of mercy): There must've been a good coach who helped you out?
Mick: Who? I never used the word coach. Where did you get that? (silence)

Joe: Can I ask you a few questions about your career?
Mick: I never classed it as a career. It was a pastime.
Joe (struggling now): Are you surprised you're classed as one of the true greats?

Mick: That's only comment.

Joe (trapped now): Can I put this to you. You are beloved by Kerry people and beyond?
Mick: Beloved?
Joe: Yeah.
Mick: I don't know what that means.

O'Connell went on to disagree with Joe's phrase "Gaelic football" countering that it was no longer football but simply "Gaelic".

"A lot of older people don't even go to the games anymore or watch them. The game isn't governed properly. There are no visionary people administrating it."

He finished by saying: "The ends to me weren't important. The means were what mattered. To be able to fetch a ball in the air. To kick with both feet. On and off the ground. If we won, well and good. If not, the same."
Then, he was gone. Back in studio there was silence.
A true legend.

Hospital Waiting Lists

The record for the number of hospital patients waiting on trolleys reached a new high -612- a week or so ago. Some managements within the Health Services have put it down to the unexpected numbers who are entering hospitals with the flu of the moment. I know from what I hear that the recent flu has really bitten but to regard such a phenomena as unexpected is a bit much. It seems as if it is a problem that the Heath Service are totally unable to solve. Anyone who has experience of going into A&E's in hospitals are witness to the almost war zone conditions that exist in them. It has to be acknowledged that ‘front line’ staff in those hospitals do their very best in appalling conditions, as I witnessed myself in Galway University Hospital some time ago.
While the new Minster for Health Simon Harris started off with great energy and determination it seems as if the reality of it all has blunted his optimism that he could and would make a real difference. It is a good while ago when the Health portfolio was said to be the ‘Angola’ ministry in that it was beyond redemption. 
If one counted the number of facilities in Ireland with the word ‘hospital’ appended the list would number is 163 with 66 in Dublin. This includes all categories. It is an octopus of a service.

Just like the hospital issue this is another crisis that seems as if it cannot be resolved. Each winter we see the evidence of homelessness on our television screens and then the bluster with the politicians repeating the mantras of the previous year as they promise to solve the issue but then the following year it is the same old tune.
I seem to remember an initiative by Minister –then- Alan Kelly where they started to put in place a number of maybe twenty or so quick-build houses. I probably have missed the allocation of these when finished but they never appeared on my radar.
The occupation of Apollo House once again highlighted the plight of the homeless but it became a twisted debate of conflicting interests.

A tame I.T. Sligo no match for Roscommon
It was nice to see a Roscommon senior team play a competitive in Boyle’s Abbey Park last Sunday before a decent crowd for an F.B.D. league fixture.  It was a pity that it was not more competitive as I.T. Sligo were a weak side and Roscommon scored almost at will. It was good to see Donie Smith nominated as ‘Man of the Match’ by Seamus Duke in the Roscommon People. Credit is due to the many members of Boyle GAA club who prepared the grounds on Saturday and ensured the smooth running of the event on Sunday. It shows the spirit, commitment and pride they have in showing the club at its best on such an occasion.         

King’s Hospital School Alleged Incident?
A story that hit the headlines in late November/early December concerned an alleged incident at a top Dublin school ‘King’s Hospital’. The story seems to have run into the sand as it were as I have not heard a dickey bird about it since the initial furore. 

My favourite sentence of the week-end’s reading
The Mayo writer of a novel called ‘Solar Bones’, Mike McCormack when asked about former prominent Mayo and Irish politician and EU Commissioner Pádraig ‘P’ Flynn responded
“He’s a talented man usurped by his inner amadán’.
P. had given the following answer to a question from a reporter in The Late Late Show audience about his pay and expenses in 1999.
 “I get, give or take, it works out at about, with expenses, €140,000 a year and I pay 30.3% tax on that, so it’s about a net 100,000 and out of that 100,000 I run a home in Dublin, Castlebar and Brussels. I wanna tell you something, try it sometime…”

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Update 5th January

My Christmas Just Past

December 1st RE-Union

Generally I have a reserved opinion on Christmas. However I can say that I enjoyed the Christmas just gone. So these notes are just a review of Christmas Past for me. It was pretty busy and started early. It had a mix of television viewing, book launches, quizzes, more television viewing, walks, social and family occasions.
The first real ‘occasion’ was a very successful St. Mary’s College/Boyle Vocational School Re-Union on Thursday December 1st. I’ve noted this here previously but it set the tone of sociability and good feeling for the rest of the month. It is always great to meet old friends who one might not have seen for years. This was the case here with the presence of Frank Fahey from Loughrea,  a very popular teacher in the college back the years and Tom Colleran from Ballaghaderreen, Phil Fannon/Cooney and  John Moyles amongst others.

Mary Regan’s Book Launch
The following night saw the launch of Mary Regan’s book of her husband Christy’s pictures. This is the second such publication and it was launched by a former excellent student I remember well, Harry Keaney who had worked with Christy at the Roscommon Herald in the 80s’. Harry spent a good period of time afterwards in New York and at one time was voted Sligo ‘Person of the Year’ there. He returned to Ireland and became Editor of the Sligo Champion and now works with Ocean FM.

T.J. Devine and the Election in the Snows February 3rd 1917.
Mary’s book of pictures ‘Through Christy’s Lens’ was my second ‘book launch’ as I had attended when Michael McDowell presented Father Tomás Flynn’s book on the 1917 By-Election in North Roscommon titled ‘Thomas J. Devine and The Election in the Snows The North Roscommon By-Election of 1917’. This book deals with the forgotten candidate of that 1917 election, T.J. Devine. The event is particularly remembered for the election of George Nobel Count Plunkett father of Joseph Mary Plunkett one of the 1916 Rising leaders. T. J. Devine lived in St. Patrick’s Street and has a number of close relations living in Boyle.  
The election took place on February 3rd so its Centenary is just a month away. It is a very important event in the historical progression of the time and I am surprised to hear so little about it being remembered, at present. 

Sunday December 4th
The event of the day was Boyle GAA AGM. There was general satisfaction with the cabinet and saw the first Lady Chairperson, Kathleen Hanmore, take office. The County GAA Convention took place in Ballinameen for the first time on December 16th and was a more contentious affair especially with dis-satisfaction expressed with the financial state of play. Perhaps I will return to this.

‘Roscommon Legends Book-Launch’ the 11th.  
Richard Canny’s book on the great Roscommon team of the second half of the 80s’ was launched by Dermot Earley Jnr. in Kilronan Castle and turned out to be a very social affair as I have related here previously. There are some copies of the book still available with me.

Ecumenical Service Church of Ireland
Keeping in mind the religious tenor of the season I always try and be present for this light religious occasion with its emphasis on sung Hymns.
By this time the Christmas tree was put in place so the festive season as evidenced by the fine town lighting and various carol renditions at various locations. Now I missed quite a few events so it demonstrates what a full programme is there if one wishes or has the energy to participate.

Railway Cup Final and Remembering a Railway Cup Legend
On Saturday the 17th with friends I attended the Railway Cup Final between Connacht and Ulster at Pairc Sean Mac Diarmaida, Carrick-on-Shannon. It was a disappointing game and one yearned for the great days of the Railway Cup of my youth when over 40,000 people attended the finals on St. Patrick’s Day at Croke Park. It gave us a rare enough occasion to see football and hurling legends play such as hurling maestro Christy Ring of Cork. It was also a time when Connacht had some of its greatest football stars in each county.
On that Saturday night I travelled with my old friend Paddy Cummins of Killina to the village of Brideswell, in the St. Brigid’s Club area of South Roscommon to attend the launch of fund-raising campaign to provide a memorial to the legendary Gerry O’Malley who died on January 6th 2016.
At the back of my mind was the Annual Boyle GAA Christmas Quiz so that had to be moved a bit forward in the mind then with some prepping as its date came closer.
On the Monday a number of us had a very congenial little party for a close friend in a local home.
Late Christmas cards were dispatched supplemented by a little foray into card emailing.
The week progressed with the usual last day chores and the arrival of family members which would see a first ‘all-present’ for the occasion in a number of years.

Christmas Eve Saturday
Since I was aware of the considerable preparation of the Boyle Church Choir I attended in good time for the Christmas Eve Vigil Mass and it was heartening. After the conscience alerting messages regarding the terrible situation in Aleppo in Syria the Choir demonstrated the breadth of singing quality, in its programme. After the Christmas day mass there is the bustle and bonhomie of goodwill and greeting people not seen since perhaps a Christmas past, “Happy Christmas” being echoed with “And a Happy Christmas to you too”.    

A Bright Christmas Day
The lovely weather had to have a considerable cheering effect on all as only a year ago some people were struggling with floods and such elements. I would have to remind myself that while things with me were following a fairly benign path there were people ‘out there’ who were not so lucky. Christmas Day started with a family gathering and following food it was a real search of the television programme to find something reasonable to watch for a lazy evening. That search was in vain unless you were a fan of ‘Mrs. Browne’ which I am not.

St. Stephen’s Day ‘The wren the wren the king of all birds..’
It was down to the Abbey Park for what might be termed a ‘novelty game’ in which an ‘over 30s’ panel played an ‘under 30s’. It turned out to be more ‘meet and greet’ causally watching proceedings on the field which was played in a seasonal spirit. Well done to all involved in that. I indulged myself later in ‘going into town’ to watch a Munster v Leinster rugby game and moved location to Clarke’s to catch up with the tail end of the St. Stephen’s Day, Lough Key Treasure Hunt. The welcome from former students was generous and a pleasant couple of hours passed quickly with one particularly good young musical ‘wren boy’s’ group from Knockvicar.

The GAA Quiz
Boyle GAA Quiz is at present an established event in the Christmas social calendar of Boyle. While it is a fund-raiser of a kind for the club, the club is as pleased with its social ambience as anything else. The hall got an early morning make-over from a very capable crew. This was the ninth Christmas Quiz starting with a humble outing in the Moylurg, transferring to The Moving Stairs for a Rally Quiz and for about three in that venue under the GAA banner. Having outgrown our venue we moved to ‘the hall’ which had a slight risk element to it. Francis Candon provided a disco element to it for a couple of times which only Francis can do and progressed to higher tech presentation and earlier ending so people could first meet up and then disperse to their own favoured venues. Each year I get a little nervous as to its continuity but this year’s success guaranteed another year at least.

Dodd’s, a topping Trad Session
The Christmas traditional session is one of the best of the year and this year was no different. The usual suspects, O’Connors, Morrises, Tivnans, Brendan Gaffney and Bernie Flaherty were present. I like music sessions to be interspersed with songs and on this occasion that was done in spades. Donie sang the Boyle song in tribute to a subject in the song who was present on the night, Bernie Tansey, and he followed later with a clever song involving Angeline Jolie romantic dilemmas. There were songs also from Kit, Brendan, Bernie and a Galway visitor Grace. John McGuinn was cajoled into singing a couple and added to the diversity as did Gerard Tivnan with the classic ‘Rocks of Bawn’. I was in the good company of a music devotee Kevin and his visiting niece as we traded stories of Kieran Emmett, Peter Horan and Patsy Hanley. One story I heard on the night was ‘credited’, if that is appropriate, to Paddy Daly who disallowed singing in his bar on the basis that: “ It was nearly impossible to get a very good singer to sing and it was equally difficult to get a person who couldn’t sing to stop” 
 Anyways, as my uncle used to remark, it was a very enjoyable night.

The Night they brought Liam McCarthy to Ballyfarnon

Gaye Sheeran, Master Lynam, Cian Flanagan Tipp. minor winner; Tommy Lynam, Gerry Emmett, Ray Lynam with the McCarthy and Irish Press Cups at Killoran’s in Ballyfarnon on Sunday Jan. 1st

Tony with the Liam McCarthy All-Ireland Senior Championship winning trophy with the Irish Press Cup for the winning All-Ireland Minor Hurling winners both being Tipperary in 2016. 

I have Gerry Emmett to thank for the fact that I have now a snap, as Jimmy Murray used to call them, of mé féin holding two prestigious All-Ireland Cups, the Liam McCarthy, All-Ireland Senior Hurling Cup and the ‘Irish Press Cup’ for All-Ireland Minor Hurling. This event took place in Killoran’s Bar in Ballyfarnon on Sunday evening. While it was hosted by the Killoran family it was facilitated by the Flanagan family from North Tipperary which I will explain. Edel Killoran/Flanagan of Ballyfarnon now lives in North Tipperary and her son Cian Flanagan played wing-back on the All-Ireland winning Tipp. minor team. For the family to be able to have the two cups for key days at this time of year was a pretty good achievement and to have them to bring to Roscommon was a generous gesture. It was well appreciated on the night and young Cian played his role as a modest guardian of the silverware as well as he can play the game. A number of St. Ronan's veterans were present such as Cian’s grandfather Michael and uncle Damien with cousins and extended family. It was good to see Tommy Lyman, Patsy McKiernan, Gaye, Mary and Dermot Sheeran, Francie Cooney, Travers, Phil and Gerry, John O’Connor, Bernard Mulhern and many ladies, whose names I would not know, and youngsters present. Plenty of pictures were taken and I imagine there will be a few on display ‘into the future’ as they say. Sean Martin gave an appropriate speech of welcome and thanks to the Flanagan family for their effort in making it happen. He recalled the All-Ireland day and of the extended Killoran family meeting before the game outside the Croke Park Hotel and the nervousness then, overshadowed later by the excitement of victory and pride in having a very tangible link to this big sporting day for Tipperary.
As a postscript Gaye Sheeran told me of Bob Carr and a Garda Delaney (?) promoting hurling in Ballyfarnon once. Now if anyone could come up with that picture it would be a collector’s item.
As you can see it was a pretty busy and top Christmas for me. Meeting people home from the many places contributed to that as it does to all here.    

A Happy and prosperous 2017 to all our Boyle area emigres (I am sure below is only a representative sample).

Australia --- Timmy O’Dowd/ Ciaran Conlon and family/ Paraic Sweeney & Ms. O’Connor/ Conor Nangle/ Enda & Jacquie and Emer O’Callaghan/ Seamie Gallagher/ Damien Keenehan/ Ciaran Keenehan. Miss Egan from Green St./Ger. O’Gara and clan including Joan and honorary Boyle man, Sean Casey/ Joseph Moran in Sydney/Karl Keenan, Perth. I hear you met a Conboy there recently.

The U.S.---  Damien Dooley/ Frankie Flaherty/ Marcus Kennedy and friend who I had a nice talk with after the quiz/ Joseph Mahon/ Brendan O’Callaghan/ Chris O’Dowd/ Doirbhle O'Dowd/ Austin and Paraic Beisty/ The Spellman family x Forest View/ Pat and Margaret Lavin also x Forest View now/ Niall Mc Crann in the U.S.

Canada; Tadgh Egan/ Sean Mullaney/ Brian and Jake McCrann/ Miss Compton/ Dearbhaile Mac Namara.

England --- Caoimhin Young, Quiz winner/ Killian Egan/ John Harrington/ / Gary Tiernan/ Nicky Emmett in London/Sarah Mullaney/Liam Scott who I meant to get back to have a few more words with in Dodds/Peter Cryan and friend from Clarkes.

Scotland --- Liam Young & family / Rory Nangle.

Belgium --- James Candon in Brussels

Germany and Belgrade --- The Gannon family/ In Munich--Michael and Maria Kelly and their family of Mario, Olivia and baby three soon. Thanking Michael for his nice and recent post. 

Spain--- Conor Tivnan/ Sean Young & family/ John & Joan Gallagher and family/ Gavin, Declan and Anthony in various places.

Portugal----Mattie Scott in sunny Portugal.

Dubai --- Megan Morris, Aoife Brady/ Paddy Conlon stationed in The Gulf temporarily/ Darren Dockery, the Gulf!/ Neil Nangle in Bahrain.

South Africa --- Carmel Finneran.

Brazil---Fr. Tony Conry.

Japan ---Kate Gilmartin if still abroad at this time.

Singapore --- Catriona Moran and family.

New Zealand--Niamh Brennan and Kiwi partner Phil though I think they are in Boyle / Elisabeth Hemi Taute (Sweeney) husband and son Cian in N.Z. Christina Marnell daughter of Marie Paul also in New Zealand.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Update 16th December

Launch of Roscommon GAA Book
      (Supporting Pieta House)

The Great Roscommon Team of the Seventies
As you can imagine I, with many more Roscommon supporters, would be very interested in a book which deals with a period of Roscommon GAA History. So thanks to Richard Canny we have a quite original one which was launched in the sumptuous surrounds of Kilronan Castle last Sunday night by Dermot Earley Jnr. ‘Roscommon Football Legends’ is ‘The Story of the Great Roscommon Team ‘77/’80’. It is not just a straight line narrative of the teams successes and disappointments during that period but it tries through the contributions of its players, opponents and supporters to get to heart and soul of that particular period from varied angles. Of course the progress of the team will be dealt with from the early seventies to becoming the power team in Connacht winning four Connacht finals in a row, contesting 5 All-Ireland Semi-Finals (’77 draw and replay), winning the League in ’79, doing a double over Kerry in Hyde Park in ’78 when winning the U 21 final and the Ceannáras Cup (that was a competition to help finance development of office structures at Croke Park). The book is laced with illustrations from teams and supporters, team lists, player profiles but most notably the deep feelings of many great days but also of the huge disappointments crowned by the defeat in 1980 in the All-Ireland Final to Kerry. It was unlucky that a great Roscommon team came up against probably the greatest Gaelic football team in the history of the game. That’s the hand that fate deals much of the time.

I have only begun to read the book since Sunday naturally enough so a snapshot of the contents shows the diversity of the contributions. They include the experiences of radio followers in London and the struggle to get decent reception by improvisation. It opens with an essay from Paul Healy, proprietor of the Roscommon People, titled; ‘Growing Up in the Company of Giants’. Liam Devine, columnist with the Roscommon Herald, provided the narrative outline of the various campaigns.
I wrote an essay for it also, beginning with the Connacht Final of July 15th 1979. It is easy to remember that date as I got married the previous day and we headed to Castlebar for the final!
There is a picture of Boyle National School students outside their school with their banner emblazoned ‘Roscommon are the Greatest’. Close but not fully accurate. Just for emphasis the picture turns up again on page 65.
The main thrust of my piece however was the journey to and especially home from that 1980 final. Patsy McGarry of The Irish Times has a piece  ‘Ballaghaderreen: where football can take away any little sense we had’. I’ve seen that happen regularly!
Martin Wynne from Boyle has his piece headed ‘The Heartbeat of Roscommon Football’. There are profiles/interviews with nearly every member of the team and what a team they were. Gay Sheeran in goals; a powerful full back line of Keegan, Lindsay and Connellan; Danny Murray the captain, a lovely footballer who drove forward with Donnellan and Fitzmaurice at half back; Earley the figurehead with the powerful Hayden in midfield.
The half forward line with probably the most talented Roscommon player I ever saw, Michael Finneran from Ballinagare; John O’Gara in the middle and Dooley from Pearses. At full forward was Tony Mac with his brother Eamon and the rock star of the team John ‘Jigger’ O’Connor in the corner. This was the a team which was to field without a substitute we all know well, the mercurial Gerry Emmett.  
There are profiles of most of them and also their manager Tom Heneghan who was a classmate of my own in Roscommon C.B.S.
Seamus Duke probably summed those years up best for us with his contributions headline, ‘A Truly Magical time for Roscommon Football’.

I was accompanied to the launch by Gerry Emmett, a substitute in ’80 and an All-Ireland U 21 winner in ’78 and John Kelly another U 21 winner, in ’66, and a great senior with Roscommon in the late sixties and early to mid -seventies. Phil Emmett was the nominated driver! At first it seemed as if there was only going to be a small group present but we were early. Soon it filled up as Gerry would extol the allegiance of the true supporters of North, North, Roscommon and the usual suspects were there of course. The Sheerans, Gay, Mary, Seamus and Stephen; (Dermot was marked absent) stalwarts Gerry Guihan, Alan Benson, Declan Killoran, Coxie as Emmett always referred to him with his partner and Sean Martin casting a knowing quiet eye on proceedings. A lady from Rooskey, Rita Bennett, was slightly apologising because she had missed one of the three county launches! The team was represented by Sheeran, Lindsay, Connellan and Emmett with apologies from O’Connor in Donegal. Rita Bennett assiduously did the rounds getting her autographs and I thought about the varied manifestations of Roscommon supporter, indeed county supporters everywhere. A gentleman who had written a poem, which is included on page 78, had driven up from Portlaoise for the occasion. There were the regular football heads there from various clubs which I have seen many times and nodded to down the years, occasionally getting their names only to forget them again when winter came. Also present was former County Board Secretary Tom Mullaney now of this parish as the old books used to announce. Tom was a big contributor and important motivator to the publication of the original Roscommon GAA County History in 1990 in which I was involved.        

Richard Canny’s book was launched by Dermot Earley Jnr. He spoke of his time as a boy when he and other members of the family accompanied their dad Dermot Snr. to training and games with Roscommon and the pull Roscommon had on them then and still has. Paddy Kenny gave a brief explanation of the work of Pieta House and the need for it.

Richard Canny and family were busy and they could be proud as it is a pretty big thing to produce a book of any kind. He dedicated his book to three people Dermot Earley; his father-in-law and to his own dad. Indeed a number of the memories relayed, by adult people now, included references to being at the matches then with their dad. I can empathise with that memory legacy.  
 You might consider looking up and purchasing the book for itself and for the cause it supports.   

**Proceeds of the book sales go to supporting the work of Pieta House. The books should be available at local outlets but if anyone has difficulty getting one they can do so by contacting me at 086 816 3399 as I have a number for sale, price €20.
There will be a Dublin ‘Launch’ of the book in the Palace Bar in central Dublin on Monday night. Apparently The Palace Bar is now a popular meeting place for young Roscommon people domiciled in the capital. So spread the word on that please.    

Aleppo, Syria; An Outpost of Hell on Earth
Why is it that ‘Man’s inhumanity to Man’ never ends and is constantly manifested in the wars, famines, prejudice that permeates this world of ours. In the recent past it has been Ethiopia, Rwanda,  Bosnia, Cambodia, Northern Ireland, Srebrenica, the Jewish Holocaust, the pogroms of Stalin in the 1930s’, the Turkish Armenian massacres and the endless list of similar atrocities. I saw the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Powers, nearly crack when talking about the crisis there and about the Russian delegate’s ‘lies’ as she saw them. (Miss Powers was born in Ireland of Irish parents but went with her mother to the U.S. aged nine. She has written on and is an expert in ‘genocide’ throughout the world.)
When I look at the pictures of Aleppo it reminds me of the Post-World War Two  pictures in the scale of the destruction.
I remember as a boy being in a school library and on a high shelf was a book of drawings by Dante, the subject being Hell. We as boys were forbidden to view it for its traumatic impact. It seems as if, for the seekers of power and influence, creating a hell on earth is a valid price to extract from those who oppose them. As this proceeds the world body that had been established in the aftermath of W.W.2 with such hope and possibility, the United Nations, meet in ‘emergency session’ on a regular basis on the Aleppo tragedy, wring their hands but the short cease fires end and the slaughtering resumes.   As the variation on the biblical saying goes;  'An eye for an eye leaves everybody blind’.   

St. Stephen’s Day Match Abbey Park
I got a post to tell me that Aaron Sharkey, Darren O Connor and Mark O’Donohoe are organising an over 30s’ V under 30's match on Stephen’s Day. These lads are trying to raise some ‘coin’ to enhance facilities and the environment of the gym with a donation going to Brothers of Charity from whatever proceeds accrue.

Well Done
To Mikey McGrath, a very visible presence in the Abbey Park, who represented Ireland recently in a soccer friendly v Northern Ireland for a second time as part of the Cerebral Palsy development squad. The result was a nil to nil draw.

Don’t mention the weather in case we alert the gods. We might get away with over the Christmas. I really felt I heard the jingle of an ice-cream van a few days ago and I certainly saw tables and chairs outside the ‘Open Table’ restaurant on the Crescent yesterday. Al Fresco dining in mid-December in Boyle now that is something for the brochure.    

Hello To
Michael and Maria Kelly and their family of Mario, Olivia baby and three soon. 
**I hope to gather the names that I’ve published here for one big shout in the middle of next week for the final blog for Christmas.

The Quiz
Boyle GAA Annual Quiz and Meet takes place on Wednesday Dec. 28th in the hall, time 7.30 for 7.45 finishing shortly after 10.

FBD Game in Boyle
Also another pretty significant occasion for the club takes place on January 8th at the Abbey Park when Roscommon begin their competitive season in the FBD League against Sligo I.T.

Railway Cup Sat. Carrick
On this Saturday Connacht, with quite a number of Roscommon players including Enda Smith of Boyle, take on Ulster in the Railway Cup Final in Carrick-on-Shannon at 2.

RTE Sports Awards Saturday 17th at 9pm.

Roscommon GAA Convention in Ballinameen Friday Night
The Roscommon GAA Convention is a significant event when it goes out to a club venue from Roscommon town. We had it in Boyle a number of times. I remember it being in St. Joseph’s Hall on a very snowy evening with Michael O’Callaghan in the Chair. That was in 1984. Was it later in The Forest Park Hotel? Anyway it was back to the hall in 2009. It is hard to believe that it is 7 years ago. Last year it was in Kilmore. It was very hard to actually find out in the media that it will be in Ballinameen on  Friday 16th. Even the Ballinameen GAA notes do not mention it. 

Sunday Independent Sports Attack
The slashing of Joe Brolly by The Sunday Independent columnist Tommy Conlon last Sunday was bizarre in its intensity. It was in response to Joe’s valid questioning of the GAA President’s suggestion that the national Flag and Anthem could be dispensed with as tokens of appeasement at some future time. Tommy Conlon would want to query his prescription.
Columnist Neil Francis will not be impressed either by the sympathetic suspension of England rugby captain, the karate kid, Dylan Hartley.

Sunday Independent’s Eamon Sweeney’s Critique on the RTE Sports Awards
Eamon Sweeney had a very critical look at the nominees for this year’s RTE’s Irish Sports Person of the Year awards and I agree with his analysis. He focuses mainly on the illogical omission of Gary O’Donovan and the relegation of his role in the Olympic silver win with his brother Paul. He talks of the restricted environment of GAA nominees in football, hurling, camogie and ladies football and the superior claims of Irish sports people who reach the heights against international opposition. He suggests a division in the awards between Irish National v Irish International achievements. I seem to remember the embarrassment of Henry Shevlin when he won the overall sports person award relegating international achievers. Eamon mentions the ‘senseless omission of McIlroy, Gary O’Donovan and Thomas Barr’. And rightly so, concluding with (if you vote) ‘vote for Paul O’Donovan you’ll be voting for Gary too’           

I paste to here the list of nominees;

“The nominees for the RTÉ Sport Awards Sportsperson of the Year in association with Sport Ireland were announced on RTÉ Radio One.

Voting is now open to the public to choose who they want to win the top gong ahead of the awards ceremony presented by Darragh Maloney on RTÉ One at 9pm on Saturday December 17.

The full list of nominees is;
1.         Seamus Callanan – The Sunday Game Hurler of the Year capped an incredible year by scoring 13 points to ensure Tipperary’s All Ireland victory.
2.         Eoghan Clifford – Claimed a road cycling Gold and a track cycling bronze at his first Paralympic Games
3.         Katie George Dunlevy & Eve McCrystal - Won Paralympic tandem cycling gold and silver medals
4.         Brian Fenton – Dublin’s midfield general continued his phenomenal record of being unbeaten in a Dublin jersey
5.         Carl Frampton – Became just the second ever Irishman ever to have held World Titles in two different weight classes
6.         Denise Gaule – Denise added the Camogie Player of the Year Award to her first O’Duffy Cup
7.         Jamie Heaslip – The World Rugby Player of the Year nominee was a colossus in Ireland’s victories over South Africa, New Zealand and Australia
8.         Daryl Horgan – Dundalk’s magic man was the outstanding player in a truly outstanding team
9.         Conor McGregor – The Notorious furthered his claim as Ireland’s most famous sportsman by stepping down a weight to claim his second UFC title
10.       Annalise Murphy – Annalise came back from her London 2012 heartbreak to claim an Olympic Sailing Silver Medal in Rio
11.       Paul O’Donovan – Added a World Championship Gold to the Olympic Silver he picked up with his brother (GARY) in Rio.
12.      Bríd  Stack – Bríd was named ladies footballer of the Year after picking up her 11th All Ireland medal.

You can vote online at or by text. Voting will close on Monday December 12, at 10am.  (Not the charges on those tv texts. t.c.)

Nominees and voting details for both the Team of the Year and Manager of the Year awards will be announced later.

Slan for now …..any comments etc.


Friday, December 9, 2016

Update 10th December

Boyle GAA AGM Sunday December 4th.

After the Annual AGM on Sunday a number of people met for the traditional post-meeting analysis. A ‘La na gClub’ game from May 2009 was referenced and it was suggested that I post again my account then of that game which I do here now. (I will refer to the AGM and other items that have backed up next week hopefully).  

(Wednesday, February 10, 2010)

La na gClub May 10th 2009 …..’Veterans’ V ‘Apprentice Boys’ game in the Abbey Park.

Experience of Veterans key to Historic Victory:

The ‘Veterans’ team, captained with great skill and guile, by Jnr. Smith and coached by the evergreen Sean Young saw off a determined challenge from the ‘Apprentice Boys’ during the ‘Blue Riband’ event at La na gClub. The Veterans employed some novel and effective tactics in pursuit of glory. These included the ‘weighting’ of the left wing by playing two contrasting players in that key strategic position, Kit O’Connor and ‘Lightening’ Michael Gilmartin, a scratch player. The quiet disguising of their players as umpires and linesmen created considerable confusion in the ‘Apprentice’ ranks with Coach Young making a Kamikaze intervention at one stage. Tom Kearney was coolness personified in goals, at one stage taking time batting the ball onto the upright before clearing effectively, always finding a team mate and so initiating those sweeping downfield attacks which became a feature of their play. The cleverness of John McLoughlin, at midfield, in pretending to go for the ball but waving it on to a better placed colleague was most interesting and visually, in a sort of ballet way, disarming. The scoring threat for the 'Veterans' came from the twin tubs (towers) up front Jnr. Smith and Bernard Shannon. Bernard had an intriguing duel with ‘Apprentice’ Conor Tivnan. The score of the game was a cracking Kevin O’Connor goal which sealed victory and this afforded the luxury of a penalty miss for the ‘Veterans’ as the ball boggled on the uneven ground. In an analysis of performances suffice to say that all contributed in their own unique way and as per pre-match coaching etc. Billy Hanmore, greying hair streaming in the wind of his slipstream as he confronted opposition raids, did well, Fergal O’Donnell scored one majestic point, Vinnie Flanagan was a rock at centre back, Pat Goldrick showed he was willing to learn from the tough tackling rugby he has seen recently in Croke Park, Aidan Lavin laid aside the demands of high office when called upon, like Obama going to Burger Queen. This demonstrates that the generals can also be formidable in ‘no man’s land’. Charlie Candon was flawless, towards the end, as referee, and, after the initial resistance, showed willingness to adapt to the advice of the ‘Veteran’ spokesmen on the interpretation of rules, of which there were a few. His initial reliance on rules reminded me of what Dominick Connolly of Fuerty said to me once: "The trouble with some young referees nowadays is that they don't seem to care who wins the game!"

Returning to the game; Stephen Bohan was the subject of some very robust tackling and the tapes are being reviewed to see if any further action will be taken. Paul Beirne and Gerry Cregg basically came from nowhere to create confusion. Paul was suitably attired for the sunshine. Paul Duignan, who cost so much on the transfer market earlier in the year, is adapting nicely and Brendan Tiernan really revels on these big occasions, though both of the latter missed the important team photograph. This may have to be reorganised at one of the functions. The Veterans led from start to finish by four points and their escape to victory was greeted with prolonged celebrations which demonstrated how much it all meant to these experienced players. (Indeed Martin Purcell was seen later proudly wearing the winner’s medal pinned to his lapel a la a GAA President). However the captain, Jnr. Smith and Vice-Captain Kit O’Connor, graciously, did visit the losing dressing room with words of encouragement and advice to the ‘Apprentices’ who were visibly shaken by the result.

A small group met afterwards in 'The Showboat Inn' and an ad hoc committee was formed to organise appropriate recognition for the achievement of the ‘Veterans’. The committee is conscious that some, though not all of the veterans, would not want an extravagant display in these straitened times. There is the possibility that members of the team will be visiting local schools and institutions, in the coming weeks, with the cup. Perhaps something like the 2006 All-Ireland winning minors. There may be a short trip through the town at some appropriate time to the sound of ‘Simply the Best’. Other possibilities include exhibition matches on other high profile days, acting as radio or T.V. analyists. Members will also be available for medal presentation ceremonies and such like (note: on a strict rota basis, as it a full panel effort, ‘one for all and all for one' kind of mantra) and of course they are now bound to be guests of honour at the Annual Dinner Dance. So we look forward to that. I know that people in New York, London and various Australian cities involved in GAA affairs read these notes religiously at mass times, so perhaps panel members might volunteer to do some promotional work, for the expansion of the games, in places like Dubai, Hong Kong, New York or Sydney. If this is a requirement all contacts are to be made through their accompanying liaison officer at:

T.K Whitaker Centenarian

The hugely important role of T. K. Whitaker in the establishment of a modern Ireland may have receded in recent times but that would be sad. Mister Whitaker has reached the venerable age of 100 today December the 8th.  An RTÉ television audience voted TK Whitaker “Irishman of the 20th Century” in 2001 ahead of such major figures as Michael Collins and I presume W.B. Yeats. People who are reading this can access the biographical background of Mister Whitaker for themselves I just give my slant on his role and the times in which he achieved what he did. Senior people today will have clear memories of the post war Ireland. We had avoided the war declaring ourselves ‘neutral’ generally because it was felt by the government of day that an alliance with G.B. then ‘occupying’ 6 counties would lead to potential chaos of opposition. When with the overall realisation of what the Nazi regime perpetuated in the Holocaust and other atrocities the morality of that stance stood starkly bare. Hindsight brings wisdom. Even if the Government of the day had they been more aware of the excesses of Nazism would they adopted a different policy? It is questionable.
The de Valera economic sentiment was that of an insular ‘self-sufficient’ state of ‘cosy homesteads’ protected by tariffs. This had emanated from the 30s’ and the Economic War with Britain involving Land Annuities and trade embargos
After the war most countries were impoverished with the exception of the United States which, despite the huge cost of the war and their decisive part in it, boomed economically for decades..
The U.S. post war helped rebuild Europe by forwarding finance under a scheme called ‘The Marshall Plan’. Ireland though not an ally of the allies got significant aid from this scheme also which was very generous indeed. The U.S. initiative to rebuild Europe was in large part to create a buffer to Communist expansion.
Ireland in the fifties was a bleak place. We may look at it with rose tinted glasses at times but when gauged on all the barometers of social provision we were in a bad place in terms of health, education, employment, industrial development and probably all the other markers. We complain today of some of those issues but we are for the most part a wealthy country with many progressive services.
I’ve wandered around the place here so back to T.K.
Mister Whitaker was appointed Secretary of the Department of Finance in 1956 and he established an economic plan for the development of the country. Eamon de Valera eventually stepped down, years late, from being Taoiseach and went to a large house in the Phoenix Park in a symbolic way. The new Taoiseach, Sean Lemass, though nearly withering in the waiting room was a progressive leader and formed a ‘dream team’ with Whitaker. Social programmes such as rural electrification, water schemes and eventually ‘free education’, opportunities for employment rather than the ‘boat’ to Holyhead, led to a new confidence emerging. While the EEC, especially Charles de Gaulle, resisted the inclusion of GB and by association Ireland, this was finally overcome when they both with Denmark joined the EEC in 1973. The sixties was a very good, bright, energetic, decade to be involved in and I enjoyed its many variations. All this was against the backdrop of the grey, bleak heart-breaking fifties.
The seventies are less memorable with strikes, inflation, depression and of course the terrible war in Northern Ireland. This continued until the mid-90s’ when the first stirrings of the ‘boom’ began.
I have said before that a small country like ours should be able to sort out the issues that obtain in a better and in more socially just way. It appears as if we have not got the guile or generosity of spirit to achieve that and the roller coaster will continue. Is there no TK Whitaker for our age?   

Connie Fallon

I’d like to endorse the tribute paid by John Mulligan to Connie Fallon in his piece in this week’s Roscommon Herald. Connie was a community worker and an advocate for social equality. She contributed generously with her time, effort and talents to her adopted town. This was recognised in a small way when a number of people gathered at the Community Information office in Elphin Street a short while ago to pay tribute to Connie and have a plaque symbol to remember her by, placed in the office. Connie was a founding member of the Community Information Centre in Boyle. In a very democratic and informal way anyone who wished to say a few words were welcome to do so. Present also were her husband Jack and son Oliver. It was one of those understated but heartfelt events laced with sincerity and respect for a generous woman. A tangible tribute that people could pay Connie and her colleagues is to use the Community Information Service when expertise or advice is needed in this world of forms and disguised entitlements. As John Mulligan alluded to ‘knowledge is power’ in getting those entitlements.   

Saint Vincent de Paul Collection This Weekend
Having referred to one group who help with information the activists in St. Vincent de Paul also contribute hugely to those in real need. They do this in a quiet most confidential way and their efforts are to applauded. Ireland is a great ‘community’  country. I do not know if there are other countries in which community groups contribute so much to the general well-being of society. This week-end we have a chance to contribute to St. Vincent de Paul and in the spirit of Christmas I am confident that many will.  

Greetings to
I had a couple of very positive communications from Matthew Scott recently. Mattie as he may be known to many of you has been resident in England for quite a while now but also spends a lot of time in sunny Portugal. So keep chipping away at the golf handicap Mattie.

Roscommon People and William Trevor
I see that Paul Healy, Editor of the Roscommon People, tapped into some information on William Trevor’s North Roscommon connections, in this blog, for last week’s People edition. Paul is a reader of William Trevor but wasn’t fully aware of the strong connections he had with Roscommon. Paul was also complimentary of the blog which is nice coming from a member of the ‘fourth estate’. My attitude to information, especially local knowledge, is that I like to share it as there is no dividend in not doing so. I am a big supporter of the people with local knowledge and we are blessed with having quite a number of them in the county to call on when searching for information on a variety of topics. While many of these are pretty well known one occasionally comes across a person who has a store of knowledge on a particular topic as I did recently with John McLoughlin when looking for a headstone in Assylinn old graveyard. I will return to this topic anon.