Thursday, July 13, 2017

Update 13th July

How to Defuse a Bomb: The Project Children Story
I had but a grain of this story in my head until I tuned into a television programme with the above title on Monday night on RTE One.  Narrated by Liam Neeson, this documentary tells the extraordinary untold story of how an NYPD bomb disposal expert, Dennis Mulcahy from Cork, played a key role in helping defuse the decades old “Troubles” in Northern Ireland. In upstate New York Dennis Mulcahy started a project in 1975 of bringing children from Northern Ireland to New York state for six weeks to help them get a break from the horror of ‘the Northern Ireland Troubles’. They were hosted by American families. The key component of the project was that it embraced children from both sides of the conflict and this documentary focussed particularly on the experience, influence and memories of two young boys, one a Protestant and one a Catholic who were placed in a host home together as was a vital component of the project. From the initial group of 9 children in ’75 it continued for forty years and by then 23,000 children had benefitted from the process as the project expanded from its humble beginnings. Obviously it gave the children respite for a period but it also helped to disperse understanding between participants who had no chance whatsoever of meeting otherwise. It also brought their experiences into the homes of the host families and got considerable exposure in the U.S. media leading to a greater involvement of  American politicians in the dilemma of Northern Ireland. The most significant of those was President Clinton whose role in the Northern Ireland Peace Process was key. Dennis Mulcahy stayed with the project for four decades and was nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize a fact I had never heard of. This powerful documentary is available on the RTE player for those who are able to access that. Perhaps it will be shown again as it deserves that and as wide an audience as possible. As Mister Mulcahy’s brother said ‘It is better to light a candle than to curse the dark’. The ‘Project Children Story’ has been a bright light for thousands of children from Northern Ireland for over forty years.                
Connacht Final Victory.
The reaction of the Roscommon support at the final whistle in Pearse Stadium, Salthill, on Sunday was vividly captured by the RTE cameras as the they invaded the field and swept in a rough line, like in the film Braveheart towards the members of the Roscommon team to congratulate them on one of the sweetest victories in the Connacht championship for some time. To the fore in the charge was Ballyfarnon man Patrick McTiernan of the St. Ronan’s Club. The supporters were gathering on the fringes of the field for the final minutes and the whistle acted like a starter’s gun in an athletic meet. It is very rare that Roscommon had nailed down the result so conclusively a good few minutes from the end of the game. It is Roscommon’s third win Connacht Final in the last twenty years after the win over Mayo in 2001 and Sligo in 2010. So ‘what is rare is wonderful ‘as the saying goes. Galway were hot favourites going into this game and I have to confess that I too subscribed to that assessment. I wasn’t on my own of course but all that meant that the result was all the sweeter. I met a great Roscommon supporter on the field and he in a surprised voice said to me ‘I know nothing about football after all the years. I couldn’t see this coming’. However the team and its management must have seen things very differently. Gone was the reticence of last year at the same venue as players went for their shots and while there were some nine wides in the first half some of the scores taken were of the highest quality. I was just in the trajectory of Donie Smith’s late point and it was superb.
Roscommon played with all the qualities that one wishes in a team. They had skill, passion, determination, pace, a scheme that worked, unity of purpose and self-belief. If one was assessing the team in terms of ratings there would be succession of 7/8s’ a couple of 9s’ Kilroy and Devaney and an Enda Smith 10. Niall Kilroy, from the Fuerty club, reminded me of an England player in the 1966 World Cup called Alan Ball with the way he got around the field.
It has to be said that the Galway side lacked so many of Roscommon’s qualities on the day and all associated with the side must be hugely disappointed and puzzled with their effort especially in the first half and last quarter. It echoed their defeat to Tipperary last year. They now face a difficult game against Donegal in Sligo. Roscommon can play, by my estimation, the winner of Mayo v Cork probably Mayo or Donegal if they defeat Galway. That game will be in Croke Park on Sunday the 30th.  Galway will find it hard to reenergise its team and support and the support will quickly transfer to the hurling team which shows such promise. 
It was an emotive Kevin McStay that faced the press at the end and more than anybody else he must have felt a great sense of personal relief and pride in his team. It is great to see Boyle club having three players involved with Cian McKeon also being on the panel and I would imagine not being too far from playing a cameo at such a young age. In 2010 it was David Casey and Sean Purcell with Fergal O’Donnell as manager. 
So it was a great day for the Roscommon team and management and for their dedicated supporters. Now the challenge is to put in place a degree of consistency with another good performance on the 30th.   

Cody’s Cats feel Waterford Class
In the other weekend games Tipp. footballers had a very good win over Cavan once the great power in Ulster football. Carlow added another scalp in the win over Leitrim. In 1944 Carlow contested an All-Ireland semi-final and lost v Kerry. Monaghan got back on track with a generous win over Wexford. Armagh beat Westmeath and Mayo defeated Clare after an even first half mainly due to the power of their Jonah Lomu equivalent Aidan O’Shea. The game of the week-end was Waterford’s extra time victory win over Kilkenny. Kilkenny were 8 points down with some 8 minutes to go but got back level in a rousing last few minutes. While they were expected to carry the momentum into the extra time it was Waterford that prevailed with their first championship win over the cats since 1959. So, is this finally the end of Kilkenny’s reign and what their Kaiser, Brian Cody, will do is the topical question of the moment? On Sunday the Cork rebels continued their upward curve with a convincing win over Clare. With Cork and Galway now in the All-Ireland semi-finals the play offs rest between Waterford and Wexford and Tipperary and Clare. 
Next Sunday it is the Leinster football final between Dublin and Kildare and the Ulster final between Tyrone and Down. Dublin should win convincingly while Tyrone will probably cope with a surprising Down.

Joe Brolly and Boyle
Joe Brolly gave an amusing and colourful account of his trip to Boyle for the local GAA club’s fundraiser on Friday June 30th in last Sunday’s Independent Sport’s Section page 7.  Dodd’s Bar certainly got plenty of reference from Joe’s pen with his mention of their quality ‘stout’ and also quality music. What was something about his article were the little details almost forensic that Joe was able to remember subsequently when he sat down to write his column. Regarding St. Joseph’s hall; “….the parish hall, which looked like the Ballroom of Romance. It still had the old projector hatch and projector….. I was introduced to a chap who was to look after my Guinness needs…I thought when he shook hands with me that I wasn’t going to get my hand back….. “. At the end of the night with friends he retired to Dodd’s; “….which was packed. A beautiful traditional music session was in mid flow when we arrived. A concertina, a box, a piano key accordion, a guitar and a flute”. That was some totally accurate detail to remember without taking a note. Perhaps his legal training and practise had something to do with it.
Another traditional visitor to Boyle was also generous in his comments on Boyle i.e. Brendan Gleeson in an interview in ‘The Guardian’ newspaper. Brendan has been coming to Boyle for decades and has a number of good friends in the traditional music scene in the town. It started when Brendan was shown hospitality in The Ceili House Bar on a very early visit.
So with Chris O’Dowd and Paul Young and now the Smiths and company the town of Boyle is very much in the news regularly which has to be a good thing.

(Due to a history commitment which has a September deadline, requiring  whatever attention I can muster, this Blog will go into ‘recess’ in the interim).

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Update 6th July

‘Six Degrees of Separation’
‘Six Degrees of Separation’ is a book which suggests that people are, at most, disconnected by six steps of separation and that they are ultimately connected in some way or other.
About nine months ago I got an email from a Mister John McLoughlin living abroad who had strong generational roots in Corrigeenroe. He was enquiring about connections of his who once lived there. They were musicians called the McNiffs. I was a little aware of the McNiffs because of their traditional music background. I made enquires here and there and after a short time was put in touch with someone who knew plenty about the McNiffs. I talked to that person and was delighted with the resulting information that I was able to pass on to John. Apart from the musicians I was told that a member of the McNiff family had been in the Irish army and had died young and little was known of him other than that he may have some connection to Strokestown. There was a suggestion that he had a son who had been the U.S. army and had died in the Korean War in the fifties. I got in touch with a local history contact in Strokestown as to the possibility of the Irish army having a base in Strokestown during ‘The Emergency’ or W.W. 2 as it was . The army idea for Strokestown was not valid but he then went up the local history knowledge chain to another Strokestown person in Dublin. Very shortly I was emailed information on the date and place of death-Roscommon town- of the senior McNiff. This was followed by more information on his son who had indeed been in an army but not of the U.S. but the British army and being killed in the Middle East in the late fifties. With this there was a reference to a brother, John, whose name really aroused my curiosity. Anyway I forwarded all this information to Mister McLoughlin and referred to the young brother John of the fifties and of the remote possibility of he having some connection to myself.  Very shortly after, I had a return email from John McLouglin to say he had, via facebook, discovered John on the outskirts of London and of my connection theory having some merit. The connection being that he was fellow classmate of my brother when attending Roscommon C.B.S. secondary school in the late fifties early sixties.
Subsequently John McNiff himself contacted me and we talked of my brother and his old classmates and I mentioned a connection with myself.  A few years ago my leaving cert. class held a re-union and I had done up a slight booklet for it. I had adapted an earlier article from a previous CBS publication as it related to the school and its environment of the time very well. It was written by John McNiff. He confirmed this and then I went further to say that I actually had a sports picture connecting both of us. He felt that this was very unlikely as he was not really a sporting person. I emailed the picture to him and ‘lo and behold’, as the saying goes, there was the senior McNiff with me a very junior member of a CBS athletic team.
So what started out as a search for people I knew nothing really of ended up with clear evidence of very tangible personal connections.   

Letters and Letter Writing.
I have on a few occasions referred to the now dying tradition of letter writing here. The Sunday Independent has a challenging competition running titled ‘The Letter I Wished I’d Sent’. They say that the response has been ‘overwhelming’. I can understand that as there are sure to be many who have that regret and now in a cleansing way they are doing it by being involved in the project.   

A writer, whose name I forget, once wrote and I paraphrase him here ‘I regret three of the letters I have written in my life and three hundred of those that I have not’. That was in a time when letter writing was the established practise and often reached art form. Senior people, and I feel if I have a constituency there are a few senior people present, will remember when the hand-written letter was a regular visitor to one’s house. Many people then took great care with their penmanship which was one of the relics of national school with its lined landscape copies. These were used to cement the correct range of letter heights. My mother was a lovely writer and took pride in it. I wish I had managed to retain samples of her letters for their penmanship as well as their sentiments. A number of family members emigrated to England and the regular letters from there were a treat for those of us at home. Being abroad or in boarding school the letter from home was an even greater prize.
It is much easier with today’s technology to respond almost immediately of course and that is a plus. No real need now for the oft used opening; “ I received your letter some time ago and I am sorry for not responding sooner. But you know me!”
The letters series in the Sunday Independent has been running now for four weeks. I have them ‘cut out’ for reading but I did read last Sunday’s page with a varied and impressive cross section of nine letters.  The subject matter ranged from a mother ‘lighting a candle’ for a life-saving gesture by a person on the evening of the Dublin Bombings in 1974. The second reflected on a lost friend from his student days of over fifty years ago. Inevitably there was the expression of love from a mother for her son going to Australia and of a mother to her estranged daughter seeking reconciliation on the birth of her first grand-child by that daughter.  The last one I will refer to is by a troubled young lodger who found solace in a home where the landlady became his surrogate mother. “You always showed me kindness, which unnerved me very much at the beginning” he wrote from a now concrete position in life.

Very recently I got a family letter from John McLoughlin (referred to above) that his Corrigeenroe grandad had written to his own daughter then in the U.S. in 1941. I hope to show you that letter next week as it too is worthy of regard.

The Nightmare Phone Call
The nightmare phone call for parents is of course that which relays that their child/boy/girl/adult has been in an accident. We see the subject of this in the news from time to time. One of the most tragic examples being from June 2015 with the balcony collapse at Berkeley California in which six Irish students lost their lives and a number more were very seriously injured. I am reminded of this in reading of the death of David Gavin aged 26 who lost his life in a drowning accident in Canada over the week-end. A group of Gaelic footballers interrupted their journey near a sports camp looking to have a freshening dip in a nearby river but apparently choose to dive or jump from a nearby bridge. David from Breaffy outside Castlebar drowned as a result. How indiscriminate is the incidence of such tragic heartbreaking consequences especially for parents and loved ones.    

Sports Review

Connacht Final Sunday
So for the second successive year we travel to Salthill for a Connacht Final against Galway. The memories of last year are pretty vivid in many of our minds. I remember it not for the quality of the football or the drawn result but for the rain and the gridlock. I was attached to the Roscommon 1966 All-Ireland winning under 21 team who had defeated Kildare for a celebratory day. They were being honoured by the Connacht Council by being introduced to the crowd and later treated at a reception in The Galway Bay Hotel. However the rain, the result and most especially the traffic dampened things somewhat. Hopefully next Sunday the sun will shine. Galway is a favourite city for me going back to student days. Having connections living almost beside Pearse Stadium helps in attending big games there with parking and tea and groceries at the games conclusion allowing the swollen impatient traffic to subside.
While Galway are clear favourites on Sunday next the Roscommon supporter always carries in his soul that exaggerated hope that this year things will be positive at least up to a point. Sometimes the gods smile and this is why we ensure being there when that happens. This season there have been a number of upsets probably the most relevant being that of Down’s victory over firm favourites Monaghan.
So the advice is make sure you allow serious time to make the venue well before the 2 o’clock start time thus eliminating the frantic trot towards the sound of the crowd telling you the game is in progress and Roscommon has scored a goal. I imagine there will be parking maps and recommendations towards avoiding the worst traffic jams like diverting from the Tuam Road five miles or so out at Loughgeorge  and crossing to a parallel N84 road via Corrundulla. This should bring you out near Menlo Park Hotel. (Check that out for yourself as I am not fully tuned into it).   
Very best wishes to the Roscommon team and management and particularly the Boyle members Enda and Donie Smith and Cian McKeon.

‘Super’ Sports Weekends.
On soccer Sunday broadcasting during the English football season they regularly announce ‘Super Sunday’ but with the GAA summer season we have regular ‘Super Week Ends’ of GAA games. Last week-end we had a poor Kerry v Cork and a good win for Galway over Wexford.
This week’s fixtures are as follows as I see them. On Sunday you have the provincial finals Galway v Roscommon and Clare V Cork in hurling both on RTE at 2 and 4.
On Saturday Cavan v Tipp./ Carlow v Leitrim/ Wexford v Monaghan/ Clare v Mayo @ 5/ Meath v Donegal/ and W’meath v Armagh @7 and in hurling Tipp. v Dublin @5 and Kilkenny v Waterford @7. I am not tuned into the television arrangements for Saturday. I presume they are mostly on sky which I don’t subscribe to………yet anyway. The deal between the GAA and Sky came in for a negative reaction at the Boyle GAA Night last Friday.
So if last Sunday was a long day on the couch watching sport this coming week-end will be pretty arduous as well.

The Road to Croker last Friday night.
Congratulations to all involved, especially James O’Boyle and Tom Morley, in a very entertaining night at St. Joseph’s Hall with the ‘seminar’ with ‘GAA decision makers, change makers and trouble makers’. While the star of the show was Joe Brolly all of the panellists played their part. The contributions of Brolly and Curran meant that Collie Moran, Prenty and Carney were more restricted in their contributions. I mentioned last week that the GAA is such a broad and organic organisation that it might merit an annual ‘summer school’ of its own. There would be plenty of subject matter and personalities to populate such an event. It was evident that the audience on Friday was diverse and very interested and entertained by the event.
The energy and sparkle of Brolly was a necessary catalyst and without him it would have been a very different event. Michael O’Brien has a very good summary account of the night in this week’s Roscommon Herald on page 25 with Supervalu Sam also on page 19. Michael quotes Brolly referring to the relevance of such pre-season tournaments like the McKenna Cup with “Even the McKennas don’t go to IT anymore!”  For Joe Brolly it seems “All the world’s a stage”.  


Thursday, June 29, 2017

Update 30th June

St. Joseph’s Hall this Friday at 8.30

This is a big night for Boyle GAA with its Road to Croker promotion. I am just referring to it here by way of reminder. In fairness it has hovered up a lot of publicity and a big crowd is expected. It should be an interesting night and I look forward to it.

The Poet Francis Ledwidge Centenary of His Death
Francis Edward Ledwidge was an Irish poet from Slane, County Meath. Sometimes known as the "poet of the blackbirds", he was killed in action at the Battle of Passchendaele during World War I in July 1917. He is part of a group of distinguished poets who are collectively called ‘The War Poets’. Perhaps his best known poem or the one which was referenced most often in school decades ago was his lament for Thomas MacDonagh one of the leaders of the Easter Rising.  

Lament for Thomas MacDonagh
By Francis Ledwidge

HE SHALL not hear the bittern cry
In the wild sky, where he is lain,
Nor voices of the sweeter birds,   
Above the wailing of the rain.      
Nor shall he know when loud March blows           
Thro’ slanting snows her fanfare shrill,  
Blowing to flame the golden cup 
Of many an upset daffodil.  
But when the Dark Cow leaves the moor,      
And pastures poor with greedy weeds,         
Perhaps he’ll hear her low at morn,      
Lifting her horn in pleasant meads.

Television Programmes of Note

The National Art Gallery Reconstruction
On Tuesday night RTE showed a documentary on the reconstruction and conservation of parts of the National Art Gallery on Merrion Square in Dublin. It was a very expensive venture costing €30 million. (Boyle Church might have cost €1 so in terms of scale of expenditure you can see from that comparative). I will not go into the for and against arguments of that as I haven’t the competence to do so.
Ireland has a fine National Art Gallery and is regarded highly internationally. Admission to it is free for the most part and I recommend that if you have not visited the gallery you should consider doing so. With Boyle having its own Arts Festival with its annual Arts exhibition, local and national, the people have been ‘exposed’ to art of a varied and high standard. The National Art Gallery is in a higher league of  course and has art treasures that would be welcome in the great art galleries of the world. There is a famous Vermeer of a ‘Lady Writing a Letter’ which I have on my fridge courtesy of a magnet. Then there is the famous Caravaggio painting, ‘The Taking of Christ’  ‘found’ not many years ago in a Jesuit House in Dublin. Then there is a huge painting depicting the marriage of Aoifa and Strongbow.
The reconstruction documentary highlighted the challenges in working on the gallery while keeping it open but now it a fitting environment for the display of collections of which the country can be proud.     

GAA Nua Mondays RTE 7.30 Injuries
I mentioned this last programme last week when the programme dealt with the role of technology in the preparation of teams for the Gaelic games of hurling and football. Indeed these advances play a part in all sports.  Last Monday evening it dealt with injuries and the role of team physiotherapist and of the medical treatment of injuries. The number of serious injuries to players playing Gaelic games is staggering. Vert few and very lucky players go through a career of top flight games without having to endure  serious injury. The usual ones are injuries to hamstrings, groin, ankles, shoulder and cartilage. The daddy of them all seems to be the legendary cruciate ligament tear or rupture. I have seen this at first hand and when it occurs it is traumatic. Oddly a good number of  years ago when I asked John Joe Nerney about injuries he did not dwell on them at all. “All we ever got was ‘sore knee’ ” he would venture.
There is an ongoing debate of course with regard to why there are so many injuries in today’s games. The basic suggestion is that top level players play too many games. Whatever research is being done in that regard is not coming up with clear-cut answers.
In the third episode, next Monday night All-Ireland winning captain Dara Ó Cinnéide, brings it all back home and takes a close look at the club scene, where he examines what practical impact science and technology, if any, is having on the most basic unit of GAA. He extends this into the primary university competition The Sigerson Cup.

Dublin looked imperious against Westmeath
A little into watching Dublin playing Westmeath in the Leinster Championship Semi-Final I was going to move away but then continued watching just to see how good Dublin
As a team they were pitch perfect. I know Westmeath were no match for them whatsoever but Dublin played with such an energy, drive, self-confidence that it was just fascinating to watch. I suppose the only perfect sporting analogy I can come up with is how Tiger Woods was playing for a time as he racked up his major wins.
They seem to have all the armoury of a super team. They have fitness, mobility, football ability, physicality, belief, skill. All the components are present. I know I am repeating what is regularly being said but the strength in depth is another huge part of this juggernaut of a team. As I was thinking of my ‘man of the match’ and favouring Ciaran Kilkenny, Paul Mannion chipped away with point after point and eventually he had to be the man. Then came the bench replacements with O’Gara and McManamon scoring goals with venomous shots. In this game I tuned into the play of two relative newcomers Lowndes and O’Callaghan. No wonder Dublin fans follow their team in such numbers to see and be dazzled by their play.
The one sour note is the current dispute with regard to boycotting interviews with T.V. reporters as a consequence of their alleged comments regarding Diarmuid Connolly following interference with a linesman during the Dublin v Carlow game. Apparently they blame these comments for influencing the suspension of Connolly. Dublin football should be bigger than that pettiness which is also practised by Mickey Harte and Tyrone. The Dublin manager Jim Gavin may feel that he is standing by his man but all he is doing right now is bringing more attention to the incident. A team with the capacity of the current Dublin side should be well fit to take the Connolly suspension in its stride rather than muddy the waters with pettiness.      
Dublin play an improving Kildare in the Leinster Final.

Galway and Leinster Hurling
Next week-end sees some more attracting games as Galway take on Wexford and Kilkenny play Limerick. It is the first time that Galway have payed Wexford in the Leinster since going there. So it is a novel encounter and will attract a big crowd. Wexford really enjoyed their win against Kilkenny and having beaten them they will feel that they can take on any other team. Also there is the lift that Davy Fitzgerald seems to give to teams. He certainly creates a ‘buzz’ and expectation around a team. Galway are tipped by a number of analysts to be real contenders this year and with convincing victories over Tipperary and Dublin they will want to continue their winning habit which I think they will.
On Saturday evening Limerick visit Nolan Park for a back-door tilt at Kilkenny. The Cats are not near the force they were some years ago and have certainly come back to the pack as it were. However I feel that they will take Limerick on Saturday evening. As I have said some time ago this summer’s hurling has a lot of possibilities and should be pretty engrossing.
One of the real surprises of the football campaign so far was last week-ends victory of Down over favourites Monaghan. Down have a great tradition but have dipped very low in recent times so it was a real achievement to come from such a low base to defeat favourites Monaghan. So it is Down who play Tyrone in the Ulster final.

The Lions v New Zealand.
I have only seen snippets of last Saturdays game. I did listen to it on radio as it happened. The All-Blacks were pretty imperious and their speed of thought and skill set is mesmerising. So the commentators are  predicting an even heavier defeat this coming Saturday morning. It is something for Peter O’Mahoney to have to go from the high of being captain last week to him not being in the panel on Saturday.
It is still something to remember that Ireland defeated the All Blacks in Chicago not too long ago. It seems as if the television recorders of that game are keeping a firm grip on it as I have seen little of it.

                                                                                                                Stories of the moment

The Jobstown Verdict
The not guilty verdict for the 6 defendants in the Jobstown Trial which has lasted for nine weeks. From a distance the verdict looks like a surprise. However for people who attend courts from time to time there is rarely certainty in cases. The classic film with this theme was ’12 Angry Men’ starring Henry Fonda and a stellar cast. This Jobstown trial was mired in political angles. Still it was a surprise that the jury took just three hours to reach a unanimous not guilty verdict.   

The Housing Mess
I imagine Simon Coveney is glad to be out of the Ministry with responsibility for trying to make a dent in housing disaster in all its manifestations. In a sense it is easy, like Mister Coveney did, to offer sunshine when ones tenure is likely to be short lived. In a sense he did a runner.

Refuse Charges
Just about a year or so ago we were wrestling with what was the best option in terms of which refuse company’s charges were best value. So it is back to the start line again. The only certainty in these things is that our charges are not going to decrease under new arrangements. Refuse charges could be another mini-water charges contest.

Italy and Migration
The flood of migration from Africa via the now failed state of Libya is possibly one of the greatest challenges of the coming decade for Europe.      

Congratulations to
My Fuerty neighbour Orla Leyden on being appointed Chairperson of Roscommon County Council. Orla is a real community activist with much ability and I wish her well.                          

Friday, June 23, 2017

Update 23rd June

Fixture: Boyle Junior footballers play Tulsk at Boyle on Sunday at 12 in the Junior ‘B’ C’ship. So we wish team manager Bernard Shannon and his selectors Aidan Lavin and Paul Beirne and the team success in that game.
Second Anniversary Mass takes place on this Friday evening the 23rd at 7.30 for John Joe Nerney who passed away in June 2015.   

Boyle GAA’s Big Night Sponsored by Cooney Nissan Motor Group.
As the publicity brochures boldly state Boyle GAA Proudly Presents ‘The Road to Croker’ an evening with GAA decision makers, change makers and trouble makers! This event will take place on Friday night June 30th in St. Joseph’s Hall starting at 8.30 with admission €10. The seminar speakers are Joe Brolly, Shane Curran, Collie Moran of Dublin, Senator John O’Mahoney and Brian Talty former Galway player now involved in Dublin GAA and John Prenty Secretary of the Connacht Council. The night will be ‘moderated’ (chaired) by Martin Carney well known GAA analyst. There will also be a raffle for a Football final Weekend in Dublin with 2 All-Ireland tickets.
I have been at variations of these sports seminars and they have been enlightening, interesting, provocative and entertaining in varied measures. I have heard Joe Brolly before and he has epitomised all these elements and it will be interesting to hear him in Boyle a town he would not be familiar with. Looking at the varied panel there is bound to be a divergence of opinions on where the GAA is at and where it is going. I know I have paraphrased this proverb before thus ‘where everyone thinks alike no one thinks very much’ but certainly the scene is set with the cast nominated for a broad and diverse spectrum of opinion which can be fuelled by appropriate questions from the audience. In this day and age of ‘Summer Schools’ perhaps a broad organisation like the GAA could merit its own ‘summer school’ analysis. Friday the 30th will give us evidence for this possibility.  

It’s the little (or lesser) things that..
‘It’s the little things that trip you up’ I believe Albert Reynolds said something like that. The new Taoiseach has had a rocky initiation into the job he probably felt he was destined for.
A couple of people I met were of the opinion that Enda Kenny was responsible for the grenade of the appointment of Attorney General Máire Whelan to being a judge in The Court of Appeal. That could hardly be true could it? Anyway this has been a headache for Mister Varadkar. Ms. Whelan has brazened it out and it is a done deal now. The President did not look too excited when finalising the process. If one can go back to the appointment of Harry Whelehan in ‘94 in somewhat similar circumstances the then President Mary Robinson –I feel-showed with her demeanour that she was not too comfortable with the process then either.
Whatever the merits of Ms. Whelan she did not deserve the commentary of Micheal Martin in comparing her unfavourably to previous stars of the Star Chamber such as Vivian Hardiman and others. Fianna Fail, through Micheal’s remarks, has lost some of the high moral ground on an issue they had no hand in causing. It has now become such an issue that it likely to leave a residue of resentment that could inflate some tangled web further down the line.
Taoiseach Varadkar has also run into trouble with his gender quotas or lack of same. For a brief time there it looked as if there might have to be a national church gate collection to make up the pay difference for what  Mary Mitchell O'Connor had lost from her demotion.  She has been appointed Minister of State at the Department of Education with special responsibility for Higher Education from being a Minister for Jobs & Enterprise etc. 
Two changes that I was disappointed with were the change of Charlie Flanagan from Foreign Affairs where he seemed to have been doing well and also Simon Coveney’s change from being responsible for the housing debacle where he had made so many promises and could only have been getting to grips with a nightmare scenario for a lot of people. I imagine he is glad of the change or organising doing a runner from a position where he had not achieved much but had given him such profile publicity.  
So the boys club continues to dominate while the ladies feel the pain.
While I am at it what was Shane Ross doing with the big banner to highlight the fact that he had been responsible for the re-instatement of the Garda Station in Stepaside? I thought Shane would have above that! (The name Stepaside has great potential for a play on words). That kind of parish pump politics is obviously still very alive despite the rhetoric announcing the ‘new politics’. The odd saying ‘the more things change the more they stay the same’. 
Speaking of Garda stations what a mess there seems to be in Templemore. As The Bard wrote ‘Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive’.

Roscommon Smother Leitrim
I do not think that I have ever seen such a weak Leitrim team and performance and I first saw Leitrim in St. Coman’s Park, Roscommon town in the Connacht Final of 1958. They were defeated by Galway that day but Packie McGarty, Leitrim’s greatest ever player, was sublime then.   
The game on Sunday was over after ten to fifteen minutes. There was very little of a celebratory mood about the Roscommon support. We have been in Leitrim’s position ourselves from time to time.
The Roscommon forwards were the highlight of the 70 to 80 minutes. It is great to see Diarmuid Murtagh getting close to the player he was a few years ago. The scoring of the Roscommon forwards was nice to see. While they scored two goals there were probably three more goal chances. My heart sank –like quite a number of people I imagine-when Donie Smith got the black card. It was a game and day that Donie could have made hay. That black card is still a bone in the throat. I thought it was introduced- prompted by a Cavanagh Tyrone pull down- for the prevention of a clear scoring opportunity. To give a black card near the other end line seems absurd.
Well done to Enda on his ‘Man of the Match’ award. It is great to see Enda when he goes up the gears on those driving runs. While Roscommon seem to have a mobile scoring forward line it is the backline that is the cause for concern. I imagine that the team management will study closely the ease with how Leitrim opened a channel through that defence which resulted in that early goal. 
So it on to Salthill and the gridlock of getting to Pearse Stadium. For the thousands of Roscommon supporters who travelled there in 2016 the gridlock nightmare will be a consideration as to whether to make the journey or not. Another thing there was a lot of comment on the €25 charge for the stand. For a humble first round between Roscommon and Leitrim it was certainly extravagant.
On a positive note the playing surface and enclosure looked fantastic and the novel act of Brady and his wheel was engaging. Little things like this stand out and maybe, like McGarty’s performance in 1958 with me, they will be still remembered by some kids of Sunday nearly sixty years later. One should harvest good memories as they provide solace in later life.   

Television Programmes 

GAA Nua RTE One Mondays 7.30.
I am a pretty regular television viewer. However I keep in mind- a little - what George Bernard Shaw once said after a play which went something like “If I do not learn something then it is a waste of my time”.  Of course we waste a lot of our time in many ways and watching television may be to the fore in that.
On Monday evening I watched a sports programme presented by Dara O’Cinneide called simply ‘GAA Nua’. It dealt with the use of modern technology in assessing sports performances and the passing on the information summaries in real time to on-field managers. I am aware of the fact that sports teams have had ‘stats people’ doing their thing for a number of years now. That was of the paper and pencil variety but in Monday’s programme it was the Waterford statistician with the latest in technological breakdown and it was really something. Balls won/lost, tackles missed/made, fouls committed/ passes complete or not and so on a myriad of such playing detail. We have seen some of that in the game analysis on match broadcast programmes for some time whatever the code. But this was something else. And then each player got a summary posted to his phone and was able to access the ‘package’ on his own performance for him to mull over as homework.
One example dealt with was the ‘kick out’ and how Stephen Cluxton has changed that concept from 50:50 down the middle to ‘keep ball’ with short and precise kick-outs. It’s an evolving game and technology is a very much part of it. Next week’s programme deals with injury treatment and the progress being made in keeping players available for the intense programme which elite players involved with.  I imagine it will deal with the classic injury which an old timer I knew used to refer to as ‘the crucial ligament injury’.  

‘In the name of the Republic’ TV3 Tuesday night 12.05 am. 
I tripped across this programme which covered the search for men who ‘disappeared’ and were most likely killed during the War of Independence and Civil War but where their remains were buried has never been revealed. We are aware of the search for ‘the disappeared’ from the Northern Ireland conflict of modern times and the recovery of the remains of most of those sought. Historians and people generally insist on making very clear distinctions between the ‘Old IRA’ of the War of Independence period and the IRA of modern times on the basis that the Old IRA was a different more legitimate, more noble even, organisation. I have done this myself. Yet as this TV series shows the capacity of the people then for very questionable acts of violence towards their own was on a par with their modern contemporaries.  The programme covered the search for a number of men ‘missing’ believed to have been abducted and killed by the IRA. Their supposed crime was that of being suspected of being ‘spies’ for the RIC or British Forces of the time. The programme was presented by Professor Eunan O'Halpin of Trinity College, and next week it deals with an area –Cork-which was rife with a large number of these ‘incidents’. Apparently Roscommon was not immune to this either as there was reference to a Martin Heavey being taken prisoner with his family by the IRA and he ending up being drowned in the Shannon. The subject was the basis of a famous story by Frank O’Connor and is also part of a very good 2006 Ken Loach film on the period titled ‘The Wind That Shakes the Barley’.
Even at the remove of one hundred years the rawness and sensitivity of such acts have left their legacy on the conscience and consciousness of today.   

The Death of Former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl

The death of Helmut Kohl prompted me to think of the high quality and consistency of German leadership since World war Two.

1.    It started with Konrad Adenauer the father of modern Germany in 1949 and he headed governments for 14 years until October 1963. A key promoter of the E.U.

2. Ludwig Erhard over 3 years. Oversaw the German economic miracle.

3.       Kurt Georg Kiesinger nearly 3 years.

4       Willy Brandt the former charismatic Mayor of West Berlin over 4 years.

5       Helmut Schmidt over 8 years. Social Democratic Party of Germany.

6      Helmut Kohl over 16 years.
          (Kohl held office for the longest period since Bismarck; he oversaw German reunification in 1990).

7.      Gerhard Schröder over 7 years.

8.      Angela Merkle from November ’05 to present.  
        (The first from the former East Germany)

Sin e.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Update 16th June

St. Joseph’s Hall 60th Anniversary.
St. Joseph’s Hall was opened with a Gala Concert 60 years ago exactly-1957- on the date I am submitting this though the 16th of June then was a Sunday night. The need for a new modern hall had been fully realised for a number of years. The old St. Patrick’s Hall on Chapel Lane had served the community for decades. People will remember it later as the location for Nire and later still Johnny Keville had his metal work business there. We will treat of St. Patrick’s Hall later. By the early fifties it was in poor shape and the community led by the parish priest Canon Casey starting the drive to have a modern hall. The first meeting to do this was held in April 1954. (Since I am only learning about the story of the hall at the moment I will just give a brief outline here and return perhaps with a more detailed article on it in due course).
At the first meeting a formidable committee was formed to advance the project with Canon Casey as Chairperson and Father Tiernan as assistant. Amongst those on the committee were Messrs Callan, Burke and Sheerin, Michael O’Callaghan, T. P. Kennedy, A. Martin, J.P.Dodd, H. J. Feely, P. Leonard, Mrs. Nan McGrady and Agnes Devine Conlon and – I emphasise-a substantial number of other prominent individuals. With Canon Casey as Chairperson, M. Candon was Secretary and Messrs John F. Martin and H. F. Kerrigan as joint treasures.
A man who was to play a significant role in overseeing the project was Mr.Rhatigan Architect from Sligo (ironically, sixty years later, the architectural firm involved with the new Health Centre being built at The Plunkett Home currently, is Rhatigan & Co. Architects Sligo).
The process was dealt what might have been a major blow with the untimely death of Canon Casey after a short illness in February 1955. His successor in Boyle was Rev. Fr. T. Mahon who ensured that the energy and momentum necessary, for what was a huge project for the time, continued.
A site was sought and an ideal one acquired between Ross Lane and Cootehall Street as it is today. The Sligo building firm of Meldrum/Curran & McGowan were appointed after tender to carry out the building with an initial cost of over £15,000. With the usual alterations and add ons the cost would have been around £20,000 plus. Funding engaged the highest priority of the committee and a multiple of sub-committees were formed. The strain of funding showed and prompted Fr. Mahon to suggest that ‘he felt the strain of the obligation very much’.  The fact that it was carried through successfully was in small way due to the clerical chair-people being in place with the power and influence to drive the project. They were assisted by some outstanding contributions from Mr. Rhatigan, the supervising Architect; Mister Kerrigan the Treasurer and secretaries M. Candon, R. Mullarkey and Paddy Leonard with outstanding committee members too numerous to mention fully.

St. Joseph’s Hall opened at a grand (formal dress!) Gala Concert on Sunday June the 16th with special guest performers being ‘The Irish Festival Singers’ acquired by Fr. Tiernan.

To show what a success it proved to be I will give part of the list of events as noted in the Secretary’s Report (Paddy Leonard) for 1960. “These included 46 Dances, 14 Ceilidhs, 4 concerts, 9 Plays, 2 Picture Shows, 1 Fashion Show, 7 Days of Pantomime, Bazaar & Sale of Work, 2 Jumble Sales, 1 Carnival, 1 Feis, 36 Dancing Classes”. It goes on nominating a multitude of meetings.
The record is a well-documented segment of social history and hopefully I’ll return to it. I will say that St. Joseph’s Hall was a really modern hall when built, has stood the test of time and is a fine building very fit for purpose still. It is credit to those who designed it, to the committee that enabled it being put in place and also those who have retained it in good stead ever since.      

The Crescent South (Upper) Side.
St. Joseph's Hall straddles a few place names, Cootehall Street, Ross Lane and leans towards The Crescent. On the Abbey Community School side of the hall, probably until the sixties there were a number of small white houses with little gardens. That area is now council property and some Feelystone street furniture is there one nominating it as ‘Students Corner’.
1.    Up to the late 20s there was a big house with a business family called the O’Connors no connection to the other O’Connor family on the opposite side. The house fell into disrepair and seemingly became part of the hall site.
2.    Margaret Scanlon, a lodging house with two lodgers in 1911 teachers Bridget Herons and Matthew Brennan. Provided food on fair days. It too was probably included in the hall site or apron.
3.    Robert Johnston, Church of Ireland son Georgie and daughter Minnie. Paddy Kennedy N.T. resided there for a short time.
4.    Army officer and Garda Sean Tarpey linked to this house also. Jim Fitzpatrick dentist.
         Doctor Finn
5.    Callan’s Solicitors, a number of generations; Christy Callan, Tom Callan and currently Christopher.
         Miss Waters 
6.    Joseph Gillespie. ‘Clerk of Petty Sessions’ (court) A daughter Margaret who became famous as Margaret Cousins. She was a Suffragette, married to Cousins and became prominent in Indian rights for women. Paddy and Frances McGee. 

With a number of local people such as Joe Mahon, David Gillespie –a connection- and Frank Geelan I was linked into the placing of a plaque to her memory on the border of two house there, since, apparently they had once been one residence in Margaret’s time.
The plaque details read; “Margaret Cousins (nee Gillespie0 Born in this house 1878. Died in India 1954. Irish Suffragette. Wife of Irish Poet Dr. James Cousins. Founder, in 1921, of The Women’s India Association Madras. Co-founder in 1926 of the All India Women’s Conference. First woman magistrate in India (Madras 1923). Plaque unveiled by the President of the A.I.W. C. Smt. Shobhana Ranade 16th Sept. 1994”. 
7.    Pat O’Rourke who had a small drapery at the entrance to what is now the Arcade in Bridge Street. There were two sons Charlie and Gerry. Gerry was a member of the Garda in Dublin, later in Lanesboro. Charlie went to Birmingham. Later it was Joe Mahon's and currently The Open Table.
8.    Peter Phelan. Paddy Mullarkey. Bertie Devine and family. Bertie a son of T.J. Devine who had been a candidate in the famous 1917 By-election which elected Count Plunkett.
9.    J.H. Cox ‘Shamrock House’ in a 1934 advertisement Tea/wine/Spirits/Hardware/Furniture/Coal Merchant. Always featuring native goods (Economic War). Currently Dodd’s Crescent        Bar. Mister cox may have been a Co. Cllr. for a time. Proprietor during the fifties Joe Dodd Bar and Auctioneer. 

10.                       Ml. H. Drury, wine and spirit merchant
               Grehan’s famous as a music house and for the Grehan Sisters folk group. In recent times Barry Lowe and Anthony Gallagher as The Moving Stairs; Barry Lowe. Currently Sean       Carroll/ Whistlers Restaurant.                 
    (Also on the Crescent in 1910 was Edward J. M’Morrow  with offices in Dublin and Ballagaderreen). 

*Cootehall Street was so named as it was, back into the early 1800s’, the main road to Cootehall. Starting at The Crescent went across what is now Marian Road, continued north of the later railway line, coming out and continuing on the present Carrick road near the present Maple Drive. 

London’s Towering Inferno
A number of you will remember a film called ‘Towering Inferno’ with Paul Newman and Steve McQueen. Well we could all watch London’s own towering inferno at Grenfell Tower on Tuesday night Wednesday morning. The speed with which it developed was frightening as was the mass of film clearly showing the devastation in progress. The whole scene was reminiscent of the 9/11 disaster with the Twin Towers in New York. While a certain number have been nominated as dead -17- and 74 hospitalised and I presume a number of people escaped unscathed but with the complex housing around 400 people the death rate could reach devastating numbers. 
The ongoing nightmare legacy of this fire is the fear it will engender in the thousands of people who live and work in high rise environments not just in London but world-wide. London is certainly getting more than its share of heartache.

Death of Jo Cox M.P.
It is just a year ago on June 16th  2016 that the life U.K. M.P. Jo Cox was taken by a very disturbed and ill man -Thomas Mair- in Yorkshire. It was during the Brexit Referendum campaign which had a certain influence on it. Jo was an idealistic, energetic, young M.P. and her murder was a shocking erratic act. Just remembering, a year on.

Leo Varadkar Taoiseach; A Very Different Ireland
Ireland has been seen historically as a very conservative nation but what a revolution has happened in the last twenty years. Old certainties have been shattered and new mores have risen with speed. The LGBT Referendum, the Enda Kenny speech in the Dail critical of the Catholic Church and now the rise of Leo Varadkar to the head of Government as Taoiseach. Only a short time ago Mister Varadkar was reluctant to disclose his private life of being a gay man. Since that has become known it has made little or no impact on his political progress. His appointment being a gay man and being of mixed race was much more eye-opening news abroad than here. India for particular reason was very interested. Anyway he is where he wanted to be and good luck to him. He will need that also.        
National Bike Week
This week has been National Bike Week. These dedicated days or weeks are there to highlight whatever issues obtain around the subject. Not many years ago the use of the bicycle seemed to be in terminal decline. However there has been a major resurgence in its use. Perhaps this is the influence of continental Europe where cycling is a significant mode of transport for a number of decades and has cultural grasp on the mind-set of people. This is particularly the case in Holland but is also widespread in Denmark and other countries.
As young people, decades ago, the bike was our regular mode of transport. We walked to national school but cycled to the C.B.S. in Roscommon which was over five miles away. Of course there were those who cycled more than double that then also. The bicycle was also the regular transport to matches, cinema, Roscommon town generally and even for some to dances and carnivals. Particular locations in towns became regular parking bays for the bicycle and they were rarely interfered with. Locks were a rarity. When Roscommon won their two All-Irelands in ’43 and ’44 there were many people who cycled all the way to Dublin because of transport restrictions because of the war.
Few youngsters cycle to national or secondary schools today. Some schools are promoting a return to the practise. The grant scheme where workers can buy a bicycle has meant an increase in the numbers and this is evident in Dublin particularly. This is supplemented by the availability of bikes for hire. I just clicked into Dublin bikes and a map came up showing the very large number of locations and the number of bikes available.
The issue in this country is safety and respect between bike users and other road users such as motor car or lorries drivers. The infrastructure for bike use is limited and often dangerous. Sometimes it leads to frustration between the differing modes of transport use. The regular complaint is that cyclists cycle two or more abreast and hinder passing cars. Cyclists on the other hand often feel intimidated by car or especially lorry driving. What of course is required is mutual respect and appropriate practise. Of course there will be those who do not adhere to these terms.
I think it is great to see the return of the bike for the many roles it plays as a healthy, environmentally friendly, flexible mode of transport and I hope that the life cycle of the current resurgence is a long term one. 

Plastic Whale
I meant to mention it last week that the World’s Oceans also had ‘a Day’ to highlight concerns there last week. The theme of the day was "OUR OCEANS, OUR FUTURE"
The main conservation focus was on plastic pollution, prevention and cleaning the ocean of marine litter.
I saw on television a few days ago a beached whale having a kind of autopsy. It was just amazing the amount of plastic that was present in the body of the whale. The world’s oceans are heavily polluted especially with plastic. Oceans are seen as so vast that pollution cannot impact on them but this is not so and there is plenty of emerging evidence to show it.

Hard Luck To
St. Joseph’s Boys National School who went down to Creagh at Lanesboro in the Large Schools Gaelic final on Wednesday evening. At half- time there was the curious score of Boyle 2.4 Creagh 5 goals, a five point difference. Creagh pushed their lead out to 9 points but with a big second half come-back came within two points of victory and nearly stole it in the end. Still many of the players will have been part of the winning team of 2016. The final score Creagh 6.5 Boyle 5.6.

Roscommon v Leitrim
We have been waiting a long time to make our debut in this year’s Connacht Championship but do so on Sunday next in Hyde Park v Leitrim. The expectation is of course that Roscommon will progress from this one and on to the Connacht Final v Galway on July 16th. This is in Salthill since Castlebar of the replayed Connacht Final last year was deemed a home game for Roscommon. Anyway we will see how things go on Sunday first.   

Friday, June 9, 2017

Update 9th June

Top Note Query; Next week we will continue with the Boyle town series dealing with the Upper Crescent. 
1. St. Joseph’s Hall is one of the few prominent buildings not written of in either of the two important Boyle Moylurg Writers books. I’d like to learn more about its origins and highlights so if anyone can contribute to that I’d like to hear from them.

The Rooskey Shepherd Gets Help from Afar
I accidentally came across this incident in an Independent Newspaper online farming page. Roots you know! A lady was being asked about how the sheep flock was going and responded as below;  
"Oh, they have my heart broken," she replied, "you won't believe this, but last week my son phoned from Australia and said: 'Mam, go down to the road quick, the sheep are out.'"
The vigilant son had seen a live feed on Facebook put up by one of his friends.
"The rascals of sheep had the whole place held up and he knew it in Australia before I did," added my exasperated friend.

I know that long distance vigilance is now possible and I have heard of a bar owner who kept an eye on his pub from God knows where and of a sports ground that was likewise observed. A number of years ago we used to be pretty impressed with farmers having lambing sheep or calving cows monitored from their kitchen but the son in Australia was a game winner. To give realboyle a thumbs up quite a few people have mentioned of contacting family members abroad and relaying some snippets of news from Boyle only to be told ‘Yeah I know that, I saw it on realboyle’. That’s fine by us.

The U.K. Attacks and Response
I try to read a fair amount and this includes weekend national and weekly local newspapers. Today as I write I have honed in on a small piece by Miriam Kerins in the Roscommon People page 14. It relates to the ‘One Love Manchester’ Concert in Aid of the victims of the bombing in the city on May the 22nd. Miriam talks of the spirit of the English and applauds the young star Arian Grande who –with a lot of goodwill and support- had made last Monday’s benefit concert happen. Apparently Miriam was not a fan of Ariana but gave her and the concert huge praise. I had never heard of Ariana Grande before the bombing atrocity. I tripped across the concert on television and stayed with it. It had echoes of the famous Bob Geldof Live Aid Concert of 1985, the scale and significance of which grew as the day progressed.  
There was an impressive line-up of star ‘acts’ such as Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, a maturing Justin Bieber, Robbie Williams, Liam Gallagher (no Noel) and more, with hit songs that would not be identifiable to me but were echoed by the young crowd of 50,000 present. For me the act that really stood out was Steve Martin with the Manchester anthem Oasis’s ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’. A small number of victims of the bombing were ferried to the concert from their beds in Manchester hospitals.
On the same day, on the idyllic island of Barra in Scotland one of the victims, Eilidh McLeod aged 14, was laid to rest. Both sides of  the coin were poignantly demonstrated on a sunny June afternoon.
Miriam Kerins headlined her short piece ‘I salute the British people’s incredible spirit’.

Bob Dylan’s Unique Nobel ‘Lecture’
To qualify for the monetary award that goes with the Nobel Prize for Literature the recipient has to deliver a lecture to the Nobel Committee. As can be seen on realboyle Bob Dylan did so in his own very independent way with a recording of his lecture which he submitted by whatever means.
I have only listened to it twice so far and all I am doing here is recommending that you spare the time to tune in also. It is pretty revealing of Bob himself. It starts with a tribute to the overlooked singer Buddy Holly who died in his prime. Dylan then takes three books that made a major impact on him when young which were ‘Moby Dick’ by Helmut Melville; ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ by Eric Marie Remarque and Homer’s ‘The Odyssey’. He really analyses these in detail showing a forensic capacity to do so.
So your homework for a week or so is to listen to the Dylan lecture.
Continuing with Bob, though I am not a regular browser I did tune into Jessie Smith singing the Dylan song ‘A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall’ at the Nobel Award ceremony in Stockholm. It is often seen as an apocalyptic view of the future when written though he does not go along with that. Still it was nearly prophetic as shortly after it was written the Cuban Missile Crisis happened which brought the world to the edge of nuclear war. The song is over seven minutes long and Jessie Smith went astray with the lyric on the occasion which may have added to the effect. She ended the song powerfully and emotionally however and I also recommend a listen but it is not as homework.

A Hard Rains Gonna Fall by Bob Dylan   
"Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son? 
Oh, where have you been, my darling young one? 
I've stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains 
I've walked and I've crawled on six crooked highways"

Letter Writing a Declining Art
A noted writer, whose name escapes me now, once wrote something like ‘I regret three of the letters I have written in my lifetime and three hundred of those that I did not write’. With modern technology the art of letter writing is in serious decline. Perhaps handwritten letters are an endangered species. When I raid the letter box in the morning and on the odd time there are a few ‘letters’ there, the one which really grabs my immediate curiosity is the handwritten ‘unofficial’ one. 
I see the Sunday Independent has begun a summer campaign to celebrate great letters and the art of letter writing. The writer Joseph O’Connor has a nice introductory piece on the subject on page 21 of the paper. In the usually irrelevant Life Magazine section three well known people write letters they wish they had sent. I will return to the subject next week. 

The U.K. Election. Surprise Surprise!
I write this early on Friday am after staying with the count in the U.K. election into the late hours. Here we had another incredible result and poor Theresa May was in a state of shock. This she shared with many in the Conservative/Tory party. The commentators were also in the shocked category. Theresa had started off seven weeks ago in a very comfortable position which she wanted to make more comfortable as she went into Brexit negotiations with the EU. Jeremy Corbyn looked easy prey as a hapless ‘leader’ of a divided Labour Party. But lo and behold it all went terribly wrong and when Mrs. May accepted her own election in her Maidenhead constituency at 4 am she was like the proverbial person who had seen a ghost. 
That great question to George Best ‘Where did all go wrong George?’ echoes for Theresa. 
Theresa to me glided too easily across the seat from anti Brexit to asserting that she would carry out the wishes of the people though I presume still harbouring the fact that she thought it was a mistake, a difficult stance. Her election campaign had similarities to that of Hillary Clinton and got the same response. Apparently an unpopular Tory manifesto also played a big part. Mrs. May while steady when pronouncing from scripts was fragile in debate. 
And then there was the Corbyn factor as he rose like Lazarus with a stellar election performance armed with a populist manifesto. It was a performance that echoed that of Bernie Saunders in the U.S. election which used all the modern social media platforms and apparently the ‘young vote’ surfaced in a major telling way for Labour. That young electorate had been dealt a bad hand with the Brexit Referendum result and perhaps felt that they better get into the game or lose again.
UKIP of Farage was dumped and got the return they deserved. The Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) suffered badly from the sweep of last time. This puts paid to the prospect of another Independence Referendum in the foreseeable future. The Northern DUP are now the Queen/King makers whatever that means. Northern Ireland is now a two party region as far as Westminster Parliament is concerned though the irony is that Sinn Fein M.P.s’ do not sit there but do have offices there! The demise of the SDLP is sad in that respect.   
Two points that I have not heard getting any real criticism on the morning’s commentary are; 1. The ‘First Past the Post’ system in U.K. elections where a person can get elected on say 25% of the actual vote. Also a party can get a large % of the popular vote but few members of Parliament. Our Single Transferable Vote is much more imaginative, nuanced and just better system.
2. Did Theresa May not reflect on the decision of David Cameron who went for a Referendum on EU membership in June 2016 and lost when he was not required to do so. Indeed the use of Referendum, regularly used in this country, hardly exists in the U.K.
We live in interesting and very unpredictable times.

Niall Brennan of Boyle Celtic who travels to Turkey with an Irish soccer regional side in July.     

Some GAA Fixtures

Aidan Lavin’s Junior Lions take on St. Michael’s in the Abbey park on Saturday at 7pm  
On Sunday of course there is a big Connacht game with the meeting of Galway and Mayo in Salthill at 2.
In Ulster Cavan v Monaghan also Sunday.
Kerry v Clare and Offaly v Westmeath. 
Leinster Hurling C’Ship Wexford v Kilkenny in Wexford Sat. evening at 7.