Thursday, February 16, 2017

Update 16th February

The Deserted Home
As you travel through the countryside you often come across the remains of houses, former homes, and places which were once so alive. I am reminded of those and of personal experience in that respect every time I listen to Donie O’Connor sing his lovely song ‘The House in the Hollow’ dedicated to his sister Barbara. I heard Donie sing it again recently in a concert in the Dock in Carrick.  It is like a number of his songs one of love and tenderness involving in this case the legacy of a long deserted ruin of an old house. Through the fallen stones of that house has grown roses now wild but which at one time were lovingly cultivated, most likely by the mother of the house. The scene represented the strength of Love as it was in this instance ‘stronger’ or perhaps more resilient even than ‘stone’. 

The scene of the deserted house now falling down is a very familiar one. And if, when someone sees that ruined house, and thought for a while, perhaps they would bring to mind the fact that the same house was once a place where people lived, laughed and cried. Perhaps some of them they might reflect on personal experience.    

During the Christmas of 2015 an American visitor related to us-a recent discovery- came to see where her grandmother had originated. It was down in Ballyrush. The remains of the actual house which her grandmother had left on her long journey over one hundred years ago was still outlined but was smothered with forest. Its outline could be seen from the poor road that exists there now. The lady stood, peered into the shadows and in doing so perhaps placed her grandmother as a young girl in that setting one hundred years ago. It was an affecting moment. We had rescued some stones from it as a gift some days earlier and presented those links to our cousin as she gazed on the ancestral home. So I trust that they now rest on some appropriate New Jersey ground.

Like many senior people I know of the famous poem by Oliver Goldsmith titled ‘The Deserted Village’ and am slightly aware of an actual deserted village on Achill Island. Through various decades there were many remains of former family homes in the Irish landscape. Some of them are overshadowed by modern houses, some have been relegated to use as a farm outhouse and many have been ‘cleared’ . Still there are many relics of former houses/homes from the past though the countryside.

I am struggling somewhat to get to the true and deep nostalgia that can be evoked by these former places which fostered, love, labour, loss and finality for the lives of many.    

The House in the Hollow
(for Barbara) 

There’s a house in the hollow
And it’s all tumbled down
And the chimney has fallen
And the timbers are gone
And the gable has crumbled
Where the ivy has grown
And the roses grow up through the stone 

And the roses tell stories
If you stand for awhile
Of a time that knew tenderness
And of lives that knew toil
And a house that knew kindness
And fields that knew joy
And they planted some roses 
To tell passers by

That love is stronger than stone
Love lives longer than flesh and bone
Its song is gentle 
But once that seed is sewn
Love grows stronger than stone

(Donie performs in Ceolaras Coleman in Gurteen on Saturday February 25th next. There may be some tickets left. I just don’t know.) 

What do people think that the Ireland of 2040 should look like?

‘Ireland 2040-National Planning Framework’.

When I read the current papers certain slightly different pieces catch my attention. The above timeline will hardly involve me but the theory of laying out a basic framework plan for the future is very valid.  
On February 2nd the Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Housing Minister Simon Coveney launched the National Planning Framework at Maynooth.
What will Ireland look like in 2040? The government wants your thoughts

What’s this approach?
Basically, it is the government’s long-term plan for what Ireland should be like in about twenty years’ time and how we can provide for that in the interm.
It will ask questions like: Where will we live? Where will we work? And how will we get around?
Between now and 2040, the government wants to pull together all their action plans to ensure that it has national and regional strategies in place as Ireland’s population grows and as challenges such as Brexit land on our doorstep

Indeed it would be very interesting to see what a cross-section of opinion on that subject would be. With all that is going on news wise at the moment I doubt if this worthy exercise will get the attention it deserves. It’s a pity, because as I’ve said above if the idea was promoted in schools, colleges and universities of all hues, plus with the general public, it could unearth a kaleidoscope of interesting and useful ideas.  A schools/colleges national essay competition would be a start. Or maybe a minute start might be some submissions to us here at realboyle! What do you think?   

So, if interested, check out ‘Ireland 2040-National Planning Framework’ on line for information.   


Roscommon V Donegal 
Roscommon slipped up in this ‘four pointer’ against Donegal at Roscommon on Sunday. Obviously young Stack hadn’t the advantage of seeing my Boyle old dressing room sign espousing the fact that ‘fisted points count’ as spoken by Mickey Linden Down star of the time and a practitioner of the fisted point. One place that ‘fisted ball’ should be restricted is in outfield play. Could it not be tuned down to 2 or 3 fist/hand passes as a limit?  It is just tedious to watch.
One can applaud the efforts of both teams but Roscommon at the moment is not much more than a patchwork quilt of a team. Of course a manager has to work with the players he has and cannot improve them by much. Players too are as good as they are and can only improve by so much. It isn’t their fault also that they are not as good as Tony McManus or Harry Keegan. This is the hand we have at the moment and it has been so for much of the 50 years and more that I have followed Roscommon teams. Perhaps the many painful moments have heightened the much lesser number of happy ones!  As supporters our expectations have to be realistic. Often they are not. 

Boyle v Eire Og
Boyle begin their O’Gara Cup league campaign on Sunday next in Boyle at 2 o’clock. Boyle are basically playing Intermediate league and Senior Championship this year. They will of course target promotion to Senior League so we will see what how the story begins on Sunday so we wish all involved a good season and I hope the players can get a good degree of enjoyment from it. Today there is so much emphasis on training and winning that playing Gaelic football has become a drudgery for many. 
It is good to see that Aidan Lavin, Bernard Shannon and Paul Beirne have returned to managing the Junior team. They will make a huge effort in having teams turn out for their schedule of games. The second team is a very important component of club adult teams collective and resources. In saying that well done to Shane Spellman who stepped into the breach last year. 
I hope that one of fine emerging players of recent times Evan McGrath can return to the ranks soon and that his injury is at an advanced stage of recovery.  

No mention of President Trump this week……and we cannot have that, so there it is.


Friday, February 10, 2017

Update 11th February

Prime Time and those Lists;
Apparently the HSE was way ahead of the U.S. in terms of ‘Alternative Facts’ with its three lists, a kind of Premier League, Championship and whatever is after that arrangement. Apparently 1 in 8 of the population is ‘waiting’ for procedures of one kind or another and wait they will. As nobody could have any optimism that there will be significant progress in those figures in say the next 5 to 10 years. After a fairly aggressive start poor Simon Harris is beginning to wilt. I actually accompanied a ‘senior’ relation to University College Hospital Galway last week. If you go in through the main entrance of UCGH you quickly become enveloped in a vortex of humanity. It is like one of those shopping ‘mauls’ (sic) or a London railway station at rush hour. Surprisingly  my friend got seen as per appointment quickly. His doctor said he would try and get a procedure he was scheduled for last August ‘bumped up’ in terms of time. In a small annex office a nurse wrestled with a pile of files and if they fell there would be a humpty dumpty scenario.

The Sgt. McCabe Debacle
Last night on Prime Time there was a report by the impressive Katie Hannon on the Garda McCabe debacle. It was harrowing stuff and the role of Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, was just incredible in it all. The endorsement of the Taoiseach Enda Kenny of some of the main personalities in all this, may very well come back to haunt him soon enough.
So this 2017 is just over six weeks old and we have had crises in homelessness, the hospitals, and now with the Department of Justice. It must be somewhat demoralising for the vast majority of the Garda who just want to do their best to provide the service that they is expected of them with all this swirling around at top levels.
Once I suggested that we were only a small country and should be able to sort out issues. But perhaps it is because we are a small country with cabals who support each other without regard for the common good that give rise to a continuous stream of controversies.   

The Plunkett Centenary Commemoration

I attended most of the events surrounding the Count Plunkett Election Commemoration last week end. Considerable effort was put into it by the Sinn Fein Organising Committee with Jane Suffin and Cllr. Michael Mulligan to the fore.
Conor Mc Namara gave an interesting talk on Friday night and amplified it on Saturday on the election of the Snows and the context of it in the subsequent struggle for independence. It was interesting to see close family of Plunkett present. Also it was good to see members of the Devine family present. Their grand-uncle T. J. Devine was one of the three people who contested that election. Honor O’ Brolcháin, Great-Granddaughter of Count Plunkett gave a very interesting talk on her illustrious ancestor and concentrated on him where others like Mary Lou McDonald in her ‘keynote’ address, after a few remarks about the Count, drifted into a party political speech, rallying the Sinn Fein support present.
It was great to see progress with the courthouse renovation and it being able to facilitate the events and Frank Geelan spoke of the Courthouse committee’s efforts and requirement for financial assistance. He also referenced the state of the building on its handover to the committee from the County Council something I witnessed at first hand. So it was a worthy commemoration and re-enactment of a historic event in North Roscommon and in the country in 1917.
*On a critical note it was very disappointing that the Centenary was disregarded nationally by state agencies. Perhaps I missed them but also disappointing was the lack of reference to the Centenary in the national media apart from The Irish Times early in the week in An Irishman’s Diary.      
Boyle Celtic’s Fine Win
Boyle Celtic continued their run in the FAI Junior Cup with a convincing win over Terenure VEC at Boyle on Sunday. While the final score was 2 to 0, with the second goal coming in extra time, Boyle should have secured the result long before that. They had an early goal in the 7th minute from Neil Brennan and controlled the game for long spells but a one goal lead is a fragile one and the supporters were pretty anxious until that second goal was finally scored in the dying seconds. VEC created just the one dangerous move in the 40th minute and they were not as strong a side as one would have expected from the Dublin Leagues. They did however threaten more in the second half and had a couple of chances on 5 and 25 minutes with Boyle goalie Kyle Suffin touching over a threatening effort late in the half. Boyle also had chances with a screamer from John Connolly and two chances scorned by Brennan. So when ‘Man of the Match’ Shane Battles was fouled for a penalty and Luka Roddy converted convincingly the players and their supporters celebrated another step in a big journey.
Present was one of the biggest crowds seen at Celtic Park for a long time on a day ideal for football. Both teams behaved impeccably and the Letterkenny referee had an incident-free run.
Another facet of the occasion was the significant preparations which the small hard-working committee had put in place to ensure an ideal environment for the event which it was. For this they deserve great credit. In this group there were Richard Kennedy, Eddie Conroy, Paddy McLoughlin, Aaron O’Connor, Sean Kerins, Paul Connolly, Owen O’Donohoe and the O’Donohoe clan, Geoff Henry, Kieran Spellman and Ml. Gilmartin. Most of those have been with the club for a very long time now. Former Celtic stalwarts were present in numbers such as Hal Cawley, James Candon, Sean Foxe, Johnny Greenan, Chris Hill, Liam Kerins, Christy Grehan, Ml. O’Dowd and Gerry Emmett.
There was, as always, great praise for the sumptuous food on offer courtesy of Sandra McCrann, Paula Kerins, Theresa O’Dalaigh and team. The generosity of the community effort was evident in their provision of the very functional Fishing Club tents which they erected.
Boyle Celtic have a fine facility there and while I don’t know who all the principals were in its provision it included many of those already listed with Sean Daly, Frank Feighan, Tommy Vesey as I remember and I am sure that I am forgetting many. Then there were the ball boys who will remember the game before the big crowd. A great supporter of all things Boyle and former Boyle GAA stalwart was also present in the person of Paddy Daly.
A nice touch was the applauding of the Terenure VEC team as they left the field at the end. I hope their trip, while a losing one, was one they will remember. 
On Sunday next February 12th at 2pm  Boyle Celtic v Manulla in the TP Brennan Connacht Cup First Round which is another big fixture for the team.

Roscommon v Donegal in the ‘new’ Hyde Park pitch.
I was not at last Sunday’s game against Tyrone but by reports Roscommon showed some true grit in the second half. This sets up a really top game to look forward to on Sunday in Roscommon.
People will also be interested in seeing the revamped pitch which was so necessary. One of Roscommon’s fine wins of last spring was in Letterkenny v Donegal. Roscommon seem to have a distance to go before they have a regular team and the deficiencies will be hard to remedy. So Sunday will tell us a good deal more on where the team is at as it were.

Tom Brady’s Super Night
It was the game of a script writer as Tom Brady of The New England Patriots dragged his team back from a major deficit of 28 to 3 points to level in the 4th quarter and in extra time win with a touchdown in the first drive of extra time against Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons in the Superbowl football final in Houston. Brady stacked up the records with this one, winning his fifth Super Bowl in seven appearances along with a number of other records which now see him being regarded as the finest quarter back in the history of the game. This football win added to the Chicago Cubs thrilling baseball win last October saw both games in a bright light.

Ireland’s Rugby team disappoint against Scotland.
Perhaps it was over confidence but a series of fairly basic mistakes plus imaginative Scottish play led to Ireland’s defeat to Scotland at Murrayfield last Saturday.  One crazy error was not seeing a maverick Scottish player, on his own for a Scottish line-out, take the ball and sail over unopposed from 7/8 yards. It was clever but you could hardly have expected to ‘get away with it’. He did. I remember a parody on the Dublin Manager, Jim Gavin and not underestimating any opposition along the lines of saying; “I know Leitrim football pretty well and I respect it. I know that 3 players have retired, 3 are injured a little and a few have gone abroad but I know that they have 3 or 4 new players who were part of their U 16 Development Squad a couple of years ago so we will not be taking anything for granted”.
The Scottish loss has knocked the bottom out of Ireland’s season. This coming week-end they play Italy but all that remains are consolation prizes. This in a Lions year also and many of the payers might have been looking in that direction. Also the will he or will he not play regarding Sexton continues?   


A review I noticed somewhere of the current hit film ‘La La Land’; ‘"They are not making films like them any more" !

Paul Young and Cartoon Saloon
It was good to see Paul Young making the headlines with an extension of the work of Cartoon Saloon in Kilkenny. The company announced  140 new jobs in the city.
The jobs at Lighthouse Studios – a brand new full service 2D animation studio – are coming about as the result of a new partnership between Kilkenny’s Cartoon Saloon and Canada’s Mercury Filmworks.


Thursday, February 2, 2017

Update 3rd February

Boyle Celtic Showdown

Boyle Celtic will have, arguably, their biggest game ever on Sunday next in the FAI Junior Cup last 16 contest in Boyle at 2 pm. Celtic are the last Connacht team standing in the competition. Having a home venue puts them in with a chance of progressing to the last eight. In saying that we know little of the Dublin team, VEC from Terenure,  but being from Dublin, and the winners of a number of trophies lately, they are certain to be a quality team. Still it is a big occasion for the club and we wish them and the team the best. Hopefully there will be a big crowd in attendance for what should be a top game.   

International Holocaust Day Friday January 27th.

Each year we are reminded of the horror of the Nazi attempt to exterminate the Jewish people from throughout Europe during the Second World War. Over 6 million Jews were killed in the Concentration Camps that sprang up in German and some occupied countries, including Poland, during the Second World War. The names of these camps (or vast complexes of death) have become bywords for man’s inhumanity to his fellow man. Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen, Treblinka and many more.  One film which represented this cruelty counterpointed by humanity was Schindler’s List with Liam Neeson playing the part of Oskar Schindler and Ralph Fiennes with a scary performance as the cruel Nazi Camp Commandant. We in Ireland remember The Famine when over 1 million people died and over another million emigrated.  In scale it pales in significance to the German destruction of the Jews which was done deliberately and by a supposedly ‘advanced society’. It is incredible to think that a people can be so brain-washed that they would think that this was an acceptable policy. Or is it ? A forgotten and little known equivalent to that of the Nazis were the pogroms of Stalin in the 1930s’ Soviet Union when any number around 20 million, it is suggested, were killed.
Anyway each year I watch the film clips from the Concentration Camps and one in particular stays with me. It is of a child of around four as she tugs up the sleeve of her coat to disclose her brand number for a camera.
They say that people have to know their history in order not to repeat the mistakes of the past. As a reader of history the mistakes of the past are regularly repeated.           

Remembering the ‘Elections of the Snows’
Friday the 3rd of February is the Centenary Anniversary of the Election of the Snows in 1917 which saw the election of George Noble Count Plunkett in North Roscommon. After the election Plunkett declared that he was not going to represent his constituents in Westminster but would go no farther than Dublin laying the basic policy benchmark for the subsequent First Dáil which came together in January 1919. While there is some play on the fact that Count Plunkett was not a Sinn Fein candidate in the North Roscommon Election of February 1917 he did align with the party not long after that with the coalescing of nationalist groupings under the Sinn Fein banner. So I would not get cranky about it being enlisted as a Sinn Fein first  understanding well why Sinn Fein would wish it to be so even if retrospectively. One gets on the bus or opportunity that comes one’s way. 
An aspect of it that might be overlooked is that it was the electorate of North Roscommon who made it happen and we should be conscious of that. It wasn’t the last time that Roscommon voters did that.
(As I referred to last week there is an extended, illustrated essay on the election, in this week’s Roscommon Herald pages 40/41).   

Roscommon v Tyrone.
The real challenge begins next Sunday for Roscommon Senior team in Omagh against Tyrone. Roscommon lost to Galway in the Final of the FBD league on Sunday last in Kiltoom. Galway deserved their win. It was a reasonable game but there were a good few discernible gaps in the Roscommon line–up. Hopefully Featherstone can develop into a full back and that the same can happen for Corcoran and O’Rourke at midfield. It was great to see Donie Smith put in a Roscommon ‘Man of the Match’ performance and score 7 points in all. So on Sunday we will see a ‘full’ Roscommon team and also see how equipped they are to stand up to the challenge of the Division One League. (See team selected for game v Tyrone at bottom).

*I heard a story last Sunday regarding Tyrone v Derry football. At a game, back in the day as they say, the one ball ended up and flowed away in a nearby river. The ‘referee’ asked the acting captains; ‘What’ll youse do now?’ to which the ‘captains’ replied, ‘Ay sure we’ll play on without it!’.

*A different question; Why is that the Roscommon GAA clothing attire has adopted the Dublin colour sky blue?

I wish Cathal Cregg and Neil Collins the best of luck in their retirement, for now anyway, from the Roscommon team. I should also include those who stepped down a while ago such as Geoffrey Claffey and Senan Kilbride. Eaten bread Is soon forgotten.

Visiting Robins
A number of countries have as national symbols birds such as the United States the bald eagle; New Zealand the Kiwi; Australia, the emu; Denmark the swan; Italy the sparrow and so on.
What would it be if one was adopted in this country? Near the top of the list would be the robin. In our house we have a glass door to the back looking out at the Curlew hills and a veranda we’ll call it. Looking into the kitchen for a few seasons now are some robins. I don’t know if they are the same ones which reminds me of a story I will tell at the end. Each morning I give our robins their breakfast. They now see it as their right. They are getting more and more comfortable with human encroachment and I look forward to them ‘eating out of my hand’ someday! This reminds me of Seamus Heaney’s poem St. Kevin and the Blackbird where the venerable saint had to hold his hand out for a long period to feed his blackbird. There is a kind of short therapy in watching them as they watch me and wind up from the railing before swooping down on their crumbs. It is a little task to discriminate against bigger stronger birds who should be able to look after themselves. When young we were told a story of the robin’s red breast, got while keeping the embers of a fire alive in some meaningful situation which I forget now.
A thing that really impresses me about my robins is that before their ‘breakfast’ they are nowhere to be seen but almost immediately on it being presented they are there as if I had rung a refectory bell. How is this?  This brings me to my story. Years ago, and happy years they were, as I walked over the Salmon Weir Bridge in Galway on a sunny day I stopped to watch a Galwegian who was trying to poach salmon from the river Corrib below with a line and a ‘gaff’ which was a number of strong hooks. An American visitor joined us. A short talk ensued focussing on salmon and their epic journeys. Eventually the visitor declared his question; ‘How is it that salmon can travel every year, all the way from New Found land, back to their breeding grounds here, with such accuracy?’ Maybe the Galwegian had heard the question before and had the answer on file which he gave as; ‘Until salmon can talk we won’t know that!’     
Brexit with James Candon Jnr.
There is so much about Brexit and its implications ongoing that it may be seen an overload to add to it here. I have encouraged people to submit pieces for consideration of publication  here and I received these lines from James Candon Jnr. at the end of November and I add them here. James had reason to travel in England and in doing so pick up some observations as to why they voted as they did. One of the themes James rightly emphasises is in what the EU has achieved. In a Referendum of fear in the U.K. of June 2016 these were never really clearly  laid out. So here is what James wrote in the last days of November, for which delay I apologise to him;  

“Hi Tony,
Well I made it to Swindon and back in the end despite the attentions of storm Angus. I have to go over to the UK about once a month and occasionally I meet up with some people from home. Most recently Tim McDonagh from Ballinafad and Martin Egan from Mockmoyne way.
The reason for the visit to Swindon was some business with a client in the financial and technology sector and thus we were both particularly interested in the issues surrounding Brexit. Before diving into the economic or business issues around Brexit I thought it would be interesting to get some views from the ordinary person in the area. The taxi man in Swindon said he voted for Brexit because of the immigrants and the NHS. When asked what he disliked about the immigrants he said he had nothing against the Polish because they are hard grafters but he does not like those from Eastern Europe who, as he sees it- are always begging and being involved in organised crime and the like! He did accept that he had been lied to about NHS issues.
At the reception desk to my client's building, the security officer turned out to be a Polish lady but she did not want to be drawn on Brexit. Maybe that was because there were locals close by.
With regard to the issue around immigration or rather around freedom of movement. This is one of the four pillars of the single market. This is something we learned in EU Law 101 way back in the day at UCD. The pillars are interdependent and inseparable. To think otherwise would be delusional. Note the word FREEDOM. The EU has managed to maintain the peace in Europe for almost 70 years. It has outlived communism and brought former authoritarian countries into the fold where they have slowly but surely been developing into modern democracies. This seems to be coming under threat due to the perceived advances of the forces of nationalism and populism embodied by the Brexit vote and some of the current elites in central European countries. It seems as if the infamous Boris Johnson has managed to unite the other 27 nations against the UK even before negotiations on Brexit have even started. His most recent tirade (back in November) was to describe the principle of freedom of movement as "Bollix". Well Bollix Johnson it shall be from now on.

Later in the day I was delivered to the Hilton Bankside and into the welcoming care of my cousin James Clarke who is the general manager there and never fails with the cead mile failte. This was not before I got talking with a man from Sheffield on the train back from Swindon. He works as a telecoms engineer and did not vote in the referendum himself but claims that he understands why people did vote to leave the EU: Basically it was two fingers to the establishment. However he did go on to say "without being racist or nationalist or populist, what is the point of having countries if you cannot control who comes in and what goes on in them, if you can't maintain your own values!?".

The view from Brussel in say the pub or at the side of the rugby training pitch varies from "one less problem for Europe if they go" to "I can't believe that the British people are that selfish and misguided"
The EU has given freedom and hope to millions and millions of people. It cannot be right to allow that hope and freedom to be dashed by certain leaders and wannabe leaders who play on the fear of people of migrant "others". It is high time that the EU be given the credit that it is due. It may not be a perfect union but where would we be without it? How could we hope to have any chance of coping with problems which cross national boundaries such as climate change and terrorism if like-minded peoples do not coalesce and face these problems united shoulder to shoulder?
One question that the man from Sheffield put to me though was "Do you see any other country leaving". I think we need to see that Ireland is in a very precarious position and if Britain does go we may have a referendum of our own which could be as divisive as the Treaty of 1921. I do hope I am wrong.
Is mise le meas
James Candon
High and Low
One cannot mention Brexit without some reference to the U. S. state of being. During the election one of the mantras of Hillary (Who?) was, ‘When they go low we go high’. This, I think was credited to Michelle Obama. Anyway Mexicans could adapt Hillary’s spake with; When they go high (wall) we’ll go low (underneath)’

I had a rare enough visit to a local tavern and in a satiric environment where a number of people contributed I was asked the question;

‘What is the first sign of madness?’ I could have offered a few ideas but they would have been well off the mark when I was eventually given the answer required as;

“Suds coming up the driveway” !!

Musical Back to the 80s’

I have my piece for posting above but as a finale on coming in from the Abbey Community College musical I have to commend all for the effort with it. It was colourful, crowded with players, enthusiastic and energetic. It is an experience that the participants will long remember and it is an education in itself. These sentiments were endorsed by the Principal David Harding who showed his own pleasure and enthusiasm for the production. Interestingly he touched on an old sentiment promoted by Father Dodd in his time at St. Mary’s College in having the College at the centre of the Boyle and catchment area community. In nominating my standout performances I was taken by Kevin Horan as the Nerd Feargal McFerrin 111 with his supporting ‘Outcasts’. There were two but three listed on the programme. So two from Megan McKenna, Georgina O’Connor and Rose Chilton. It continues on Friday and Saturday nights.   

Roscommon Team to play Tyrone.

1. Colm Lavin (Éire Óg)

2. David Murray (Padraig Pearse's)
3. Thomas Featherston (Oran)
4. Niall McInerney (St Brigid’s)

5. Ronan Stack (St Brigid’s)
6. Seán Mullooly (Strokestown)
7. Conor Devaney (Kilbride)

8. Kevin Higgins (Western Gaels)
9. Tadhg O’Rourke (Tulsk)

10. Niall Daly (Padraig Pearse’s)
11. Seán McDermott (Western Gaels)
12. Enda Smith (Boyle)

13. Donie Smith (Boyle)
14. Ultan Harney (Clann na nGael
15. Ciaráin Murtagh (C) (St Faithleachs)

16 Darren O’Malley (Michael Galley’s)
17 Paddy Brogan (Strokestown)
18 Ciaran Cafferkey (Western Gaels)
19 Cian Connolly (Roscommon Gaels)
20 Tom Corcoran (Strokestown)
21 Fintan Cregg (Elphin)
22 Shane Killoran (Elphin)
23 Niall Kilroy (Fuerty)
24 John McManus (Roscommon Gaels)
25 Brian Murtagh (St Faithleach's)
26 Gary Patterson (Michael Glavey’s)

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Update 26th January

Boyle GAA Picture Gallery 
Since the opening of the new GAA complex at the Abbey Park in 2010 it has been anticipated that Boyle GAA Club would display its past long history with a permanent exhibition of pictures spanning the decades. Thankfully there is a good selection of pictures to choose from and it is proposed that groups of these will be framed covering various themes. The complex is ideal for this display project with generous and accessible wall space and which I know was in the mind of architect Chris O’Dowd from his initial design stage. If people have ideas regarding the themes that might be considered, they are very welcome to get in touch with us at We also hope to avoid having to draw on strained Club funds to finance this enterprise and we would appreciate expressions of interest in terms of people sponsoring an individual frame where the sponsor would be credited. It is expected that at least ten frames will form the initial exhibition with an incremental growth from there.       

The Election of the Snows February 3rd 1917.
Next week sees the 100th Anniversary of the election of George Nobel Count Plunkett in the North Roscommon by-election which took place on February 3rd 1917. Count Plunkett -a Papal Count- the father of Joseph Mary Plunkett one of the executed 1916 Easter Rising leaders was the 'nationalist' candidate to fill the seat which resulted from the death of long time M.P. James J. O’Kelly. In the election Plunkett was supported by a number of nationalist figures including Arthur Griffith founder of Sinn Fein and Michael Collins during his campaign. His most significant promoter however was Father Michael O’Flanagan then curate of Crossna. The opposition candidates were T.J. Devine from St. Patrick Street, Boyle who was a member of Roscommon County Council and the United Irish League the bedrock supporting organisation of the Parliamentary Irish Party then led by John Redmond. The third candidate was Jasper Tully proprietor of The Roscommon Herald and a former M.P. The election took place in a period of severe weather dominated by snow and so was labelled ‘The Election of the Snows’, Mister Devine a highly regarded gentleman was a clear favourite. However the tide of opinion was changing in Ireland and the legacy of the Easter Rising was to bring major change in electoral terms. Count Plunkett symbolised that change. The momentum generated by Father O’Flanagan and the ‘advanced’ nationalist supporters of the Plunkett candidacy led to a major victory for their candidate. After the election Plunkett declared that he would not go to Westminster as an M.P. and would represent his constituents in Dublin assuming the establishment of an Irish National Parliament there. The following year in December 1918, at a General Election, Sinn Fein, who had adopted the Plunkett election victory, and now being the party of the nationalist movement, swept the old Irish Parliamentary Party aside and met in the Mansion House as The First Dáil on January 21st 1919 as the first salvoes of the War of Independence echoed in Tipperary. 
So the 1917 election win for Count Plunkett, in which Boyle was the fulcrum, plotted a new course which was set in motion by the electorate of North Roscommon. (This is a summary paragraph of a more detailed exploration of the event which will be published in The Roscommon Herald of next week Tuesday January 31st). 

Three Irish Tragedies With Multiple Deaths and No Convictions

The Dublin/Monaghan Bombings 1974
Four bombs, three in Dublin and one in Monaghan, exploded on May 17th 1974. 34 people died, 27 in Dublin 7 in Monaghan and up to 300 injured. It was a coordinated attack by the U.V.F. and it is strongly suggested that the attack was facilitated by British security services. This was the biggest death toll of all the many tragic atrocities in Northern Ireland during those dark decades. No one has been convicted.      

The Stardust Tragedy 1981
I see there are moves afoot to have another review to see if any progress can be made into the cause and consequences of the Stardust Nightclub Fire in Artane, Dublin in the early hours of St. Valentine’s Day of February 14th 1981. 48 people died and 214 people were injured. The tragedy has become entwined in controversy because no real answers have emerged as to the cause of the fire and no one has been held responsible.

Omagh 1998
On August 15th 1998 29 people died and up to 300 were injured in a bomb atrocity in the town of Omagh in Tyrone, Northern Ireland. This tragedy became immersed again in controversy as to some prior knowledge by intelligence services not being acted on and other elements. Though a member of the Real I.R.A. was charged no one was convicted and held responsible. 

Former Garda Tim Griffin R.I.P.
The funeral of former Garda Tim Griffin took place yesterday Tuesday with his burial in Assylinn cemetery. Tim was predeceased by his wife Colette and is sadly missed by his son Tadhg his brother Brendan and sister Noreen and extended family. Tim came from Ardfert which lies between Tralee and Banna Strand in County Kerry. Indeed he never forgot his native county which is probably stronger with Kerry people than in many counties, I feel. He followed the fortunes of the Kerry team in ‘The Kerryman’ newspaper which he acquired regularly. He is also in a Boyle GAA team photograph from March 1959. He went about his official duties with a quiet diligence and he is retired now for around 30 years. He served in Tullamore and Ballyshannon where he met his wife Colette. The family lived in Marian Road and Deerpark and in recent years in St. Joseph’s Avenue. I seem to remember both he and Colette as badminton players in the 80s’ and also Tim with the scouts on a memorable trip to Mount Melleray in County Waterford in the mid-nineties. Tadgh contributes here to and is a most popular young man with a close circle of good friends. We sympathise particularly with Tadhg at this time.
We sympathise also with the Costello family on the death of another gentle man Dennis whose son Brian and brother Donal have long been active in GAA activities.                         



‘Back to the 80s’
A great number of people are eagerly looking forward to Abbey Community College’s musical presentation ‘Back to the 80s’ which takes place in St. Joseph’s Hall for the three nights of Thursday the 2nd Friday and Saturday. Immediate booking is advised as I am aware that it is going to be a sell-out show. It is great to see a College production again as one of its great previous shows, Oliver in the late sixties, is part of Boyle Musical folklore. 

Saturday Night at the Dock
Singer / Songwriter and Broadcaster, Charlie McGettigan, who won the Eurovision for Ireland in 1994 with Paul Harrington singing ‘Rock and Roll Kids’ joins Boyle’s Singer / Songwriter Donie O’ Connor and Drumshanbo’s  Eamon and Orla Daly for a night of “in the round” of music and song at the Dock, Carrick-on-Shannon on Saturday next the 29th. I do not know if there are tickets remaining but it is sure to be an entertaining event. 

‘The Pillowman’ at the Gaiety
Decadent Theatre Group present Martin McDonagh’s ‘The Pillowman’, in which Boyle’s Jarlath Tivnan has a cameo role, continues at the Gaiety for 2 weeks having begun on Wednesday January the 24th . 

The Weather
Perhaps there are very few countries where the weather is such a subject of conversation as in Ireland. It is suggested that there have been less than 20 days ‘real’ rain since last September and it must be the lowest rainfall for the three winter months of November December and January on record. Still one can get an angle on this as a man I met a few days ago remarked, ‘ wouldn’t it be great if we got this weather in the summer you would get an awful lot done’  

Bolt Minus One
Usain Bolt has been stripped of one of his gold medals after a team member, Nesta Carter of the Jamaica 4x100m relay team at Beijing Olympics 2008 was proved positive for drugs. So Bolt’s ‘triple triple’ has been diluted a little. 

Interesting  Fintan O’Toole; ‘Brexit resurrects the English Cult of heroic failure’ in last Tuesday’s Irish Times. In fairness to our neighbours he omits their heroic successes.

Roscommon v Galway in F.B.D . Final Sunday 29th at Kiltoom.
Next Sunday Roscommon play Galway for the fourth consecutive year in the preliminary Connacht League Final at Kiltoom. This league provides the testing ground for the National League team which opens with a testing game v Tyrone on February 5th in Tyrone.
Last Sunday Roscommon crashed in the final minutes after being in a ‘game won’ position against Mayo in Kiltoom. Roscommon led by 8 points with just 9 minutes to go when Mayo introduced substitute Andy Moran. Mayo ended with 3 goals two from substitute Andy Moran and this was disappointing and that is a euphemism! 
Hopefully this shock to the system will not be too costly and the simple adage that a game is never over until the final whistle will be firmly endorsed by this experience.  

Well done to Enda and Donie Smith both of whom had great games on Sunday last. While Enda has been a regular contributor it is great to see Donie playing as well as we in Boyle know he can. We have seen it down the years from a young age.    

Sunday’s team is as follows:

1. Darren O’Malley       (Michael Glavey's)

2.  Sean McDermott       (Western Gaels)
3.  Tom Featherston       (Oran)
4.  Niall McInerney     (St Brigids)

5. Ronan Stack     (St Brigid’s)
6. Sean Mullooly    (Strokestown)
7.  John McManus    (Roscommon Gaels)

8.  Tom Corcoran       (Strokestown)
9.  Tadgh O’Rourke      (Tulsk)

10  Fintan Cregg      (Elphin)
11. Ciaráin Murtagh (Captain)       (St Faithleach’s)
12.  Shane Killoran       (Elphin)

13.  Cian Connolly        (Roscommon Gaels)
14.  Ultan Harney         (Clann na nGael)
15.   Donie Smith          (Boyle)

16. Colm Lavin       (Éire Óg)
17. Kevin Higgins   (Western Gaels)
18. Enda Smith       (Boyle)
19. Niall Kilroy       (Fuerty)
20. Niall Daly          (Padraig Pearse’s)
21. Gary Patterson   (Michael Glavey's)
22. David Murray     (Padraig Pearse's)
23. Conor Devaney   (Kilbride)

Kellyanne Conway Spake
President Trump aid Kellyanne Conway has contributed a minor Donald Rumsfeld ‘Known unknowns…..’ when giving a different view in the slightly absurd debate last weekend on the number of people at Mister Trump’s inauguration by referring to take on the numbers as ‘alternative facts’. So now we can have a menu of facts on the one incident and you can choose which fact is indeed your fact. As the Irish gangster, played by Robert Shaw, used to say in the film The Sting ‘Doya followa’.

Sin e for now. 

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…”