Friday, May 11, 2018

Update 11th May

Friday 11th Boyle Camera Club carry out their noble project ‘A Moment in Time’ in photographing Boyle people over a single long day. So if you can spare a little time present at the Crescent between 9am and 9pm on Friday. 

Maybe some of you, like me, think through the winter that you will achieve much more when the days lengthen, the temperature rises and the mood blossoms. Put it on the list I say. Then as the long days flit past it is seven/eight o’clock before you know it. Then you tell yourself that this is something that you might better use your time at during the long winter evenings/nights. But then the shades are down on the night and yourself and you reassure yourself that ‘I’ll, I’ll get to it in May’.  

Visitors from the U.S. of A.
We spent a deal of the May Bank Holiday with relations from New Jersey and what a treat it was for us. I know they enjoyed it but so did we, very much. Treating of Mister Trump, Northern Ireland and the international stories of the now showed how much we had in common. The enthusiastic exchange of photographs, the study and teasing out of family genealogy, the gelling of family links were all compressed into that short memorable time. Visiting the remains of an ancestral homestead was an emotional highlight in the ironic way that it is. So…. in the unlikely event that you read these few lines…. Terri and Jay it was a just lovely experience.        

Vótáil 100 Roscommon Commemoration Lecture Series of Wednesday April the 25th 
In my last blog here I wrote on a number of speakers from the Seminar in King House towards the end of April. They were the Chairperson of Roscommon County Council Orla Leyden who gave a very personal account of the challenges of women in politics. Ivana Bacik showed all her experience with an accomplished and humorous address on the Irish Suffragettes including Margaret Cousins. Margaret Cousins was dealt with in greater detail by Boyle’s Marie Paul Egan who has made a special study of her. This was supplemented by her relation Dr. James Cousins. One would recommend to Boyle people that they get to know an overview of this remarkable woman. 

*With a number of local people such as Joe Mahon, David Gillespie, Knockvicar –a relation of Margaret (Gillespie) Cousins- and Frank Geelan a plaque to her memory was placed on the border of two houses on the upper side of the Crescent , since, apparently they had once been one residence when Margaret lived there.
The plaque details reads; “Margaret Cousins (nee Gillespie) 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”.   

Other speakers included Mary McAuliffe of UCD who focussed on Cumann na mBan and how active women were in the Revolution years and in the early years of the Free State. She referenced the ‘anti-women’ legislation and tone of succeeding Irish Free State Governments. Especially noted was the requirement –from 1933 to 73-of married women to terminate their state jobs on marriage. Claire McGing talked of the record of the very poor representation of women in the Dail saying that there were more women in the Dail in 1923 than in 1973. (This has currently led to the introduction of the quota system where parties are obliged to have a certain percentage of women on the ballot paper….that of course does not automatically lead to a large increase in their  numbers elected). There was a comment that the Irish Revolutionaries must have been most conservative revolutionaries to carry that label. (Indeed reactionaries might be a contending label). Claire note that of the 15 women elected between ’32 and ’73 nine were the wives of deceased male members and 3 the daughters. In the Labour Party their only T.D. in the early decades was Maureen O’Carroll in ’54. She was the mother of the present show business personality Brendan.   Again the cry of ‘A Lot Done More to Do’ closed Claire’s address.    

Ireland v Pakistan and My Cricket Journey 
On this Saturday I will be present on the second day of Ireland’s historic first five day test at Malahide. I believe that any game played well is worthy. I think that cricket is the game that is most easily dismissed by people generally. Yet during my time with this blog the paragraphs I wrote on cricket some years ago now drew the most comment. At least four people mentioned it. I think that was when Ireland  defeated Pakistan on St. Patrick’s Day 2007 in the West Indies in the World Cup. It was probably the greatest win by an Irish sporting team in any sport and was only rivalled when they defeated England in India in 2011 in the World Cup again. A number of years ago with some neighbouring cricket enthusiasts I went to Headingly in Leeds for a Test, England v Australia. Unfortunately by midway on the first day we could see the trend of the result while we still had maybe two if not three more days to go. 
I got to know cricket and its supposed unfathomable rules when I was a barman (barboy more like) in The Swan Bar on Hammersmith Broadway in London in the mid-sixties. The great West Indies side with Gary Sobers were touring England. During the day the Tests were broadcast by BBC and I ‘worked’ and watched with the bar flies and they taught me the rules and I kept an eye on it ever since. A year or so after  my Swan days I was working with Murphy’s, in London also, with a ‘search and find’ gang at Chadwell Heath. ‘Search and Find’ meant search for gas leaks, find them and repair same. That’s another story with some drama attached. It was the summer of another visiting touring team -perhaps Australia- in England with its Test Series of five matches.  Anyway there I was down in the trench, teasing my way delicately around a smelly gas pipe with the shovel. It was on some of those many sunny London days. The commuters passed on the sidewalk a number of pessimists with bowler hat and umbrella as they headed to and from ‘the city’. At certain times of the day I would accost one of them with the question; ‘What’s the score in the match?”. “What match Paddy?” was the usual response. “The Test match” I’d reply feigning agitation that it should have been pretty obvious. “You follow the cricket Paddy?” “Of course I do, do I not look like a cricket supporter?” “Not really Paddy, if you don’t mind me saying so. The Ozzies are looking strong but Truman is doing well for England”.  “Go raibh maith agat agus slán” added to his confusion. But perhaps I had given him a little anecdote to relate in the bar as he quaffed his glass of bitter with his hard cheese roll. 
So on Saturday I will journey back to the cricket field and writing (a bit of a strong word for me) of it reminds me of my favourite sport’s poem which deals with cricket and the autumn of life and I attach a verse from it here.

AT LORDS  by Francis Thompson   

 It is little I repair to the matches of the Southron folk,
Though my own red roses there may blow;
It is little I repair to the matches of the Southron folk,
Though the red roses crest the caps, I know.
For the field is full of shades as I near a shadowy coast,
And a ghostly batsman plays to the bowling of a ghost,
And I look through my tears on a soundless-clapping host
As the run stealers flicker to and fro,
To and fro:
O my Hornby and my Barlow long ago !              

Sports Review

Champions League Drama Continued in Semi-Finals.
If you read this blog ongoing you will know that I really tune in to Champions League and while it is ‘old’ news now what a week last week was. Real Madrid got through in a thriller with so much happening. The Bayern Munich goalkeeper gifted them a very odd goal which he will remember for a very long time. On the Wednesday Liverpool wen to Rome to finish off from the first leg where they won by 5 goals to 2. A Roma goal early in the second game put it  5 to 3 and the fat was in the fire. But a gifted goal to Liverpool meant them leading by 6 to 3. Still Roma pressed especially late in the game and actually won on the night by 4 goals to 2 but lost on aggregate 7 to 6. A Liverpool managerial mistake in taking off Mo Salah early in the first game plus a couple of bad refereeing decisions relating to hand ball and off-side told against Roma all contributed to the drama.  I am pleased that Liverpool have qualified for the Champions League final in Kiev on Sat. May 26th . My own view though is that the two better teams lost in the semi-finals but as John Joe Nerney used to say; “The best team always wins”.   So Saturday evening May 26th is going to be a big evening of sport with Roscommon versus Leitrim in Carrick-on-Shannon on as the undercard fo4 the Champions League Final.   

The Success of Boyle Teams 
I have attended a number of Boyle games in the past two weeks and was heartened with some fine and very enjoyable games and results. Stephen Tonra , Michael Bermingham and Kevin Mullin the management team of the juniors have worked the oracle getting 27 players out for the game last Saturday night against Kilglass Gaels who had just 13, so it was played as a 13- a –side. This was a league and championship double fixture in Junior ‘B’. Boyle won on the score of 3.17 to Kilglass 0.10. The star turns for Boyle included Conor Boylan, Jack Moran and Niall O’Donohoe. The previous Saturday they had defeated Fuerty by 4.14 to 0.7. On Sunday the minors gave one of their best displays for some time in division 3 (where Boyle teams should not be) defeating Western Gaels on the score of Boyle 3.14 Western Gaels 1.12. The top players here included Tomas Regan, James Bolger, Cathal Feely, Kelvin Morris and David Battles. I am aware that his team has not had the best of times in earlier age groups but they looked pretty good on Sunday and there is room for optimism that some good players are around the corner age-wise. They now meet a strong Tulsk in the next round. Another game I got part of was a cracking U 14s game v Roscommon Gaels and there was quality a- plenty on show here from both sides. 
I’ll finish with the game of the coming week-end which has to be Galway v Mayo in a sold out Castlebar. They are two teams with possibilities and the questions to be partially answered on Sunday are; A, Is Galway an emerging force? And B, ‘Is Mayo on the way down?  There was a good book published last Autumn titled ‘Will Galway Beat Mayo?’ by James Laffey documenting this long term rivalry.  Feichimid le feichimid.     

( There were a few items I had intended to ‘treat of’ but the day wasn’t long enough).    

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Update April 28th

Vótáil 100 Roscommon Commemoration Lecture Series of Wednesday the 25th
I was very pleased that I attended the above on Wednesday last. As I sit down to write some notes on it I am a bit intimidated by the prospect of doing justice to it. By and large the day dealt with the struggle of women generally and Irish women in particular to achieve recognition as equal citizens in a male dominated society in the last 100 to 150 years. The slogan which emanated from a political party was echoed a number of times ‘A Lot Done More to Do’ which is certainly the case. The relegation of women to the background of Irish society has to have been amongst the many injustices perpetuated by the dominant faction in that society i.e. men. Women still encounter equality struggles in terms of many things such as equal pay, their role in political representation, their difficulty in progression to the top in many facets of society. This is popularly referred to as the ‘glass ceiling’.
The initial broad movement to agitate for women’s rights was through the Suffragette Movement mobilised by the Pankhurst family in England in the late 1800s’. This emerged in Ireland also in the early 1900s’ with people like Hannah Sheehy Skeffington, Margaret Cousins (from Boyle) , Constance Markievicz amongst others. The famous 1916 Proclamation is addressed to Irish Men and Irish Women and guarantees equal rights to both. Women played a significant role in the Rebellion with the now Countess Markievicz being the best known. However even with the establishment of the Free State women did not emerge into an equal state and their position in a sense regressed and it was only in the 1970s that a feminist movement began the second movement for equality of the sexes.
The Seminar dealt with many of the issues and struggles which women had to endure through the last hundred years in this country. The day was overseen by former librarian Richie Farrell. There was a  very personal and impressive opening address by the Cathaoirleach of Roscommon County Council Cllr Orla Leyden on her journey and life in a political family and the challenges of being a young mother while also being a Councillor herself. She also referred to the 5 Cs’ of challenges to a woman in politics as; culture, cash, confidence, candidate selection and child care. 
Ivana Bacik was a very impressive and confident speaker  who referenced Margaret Cousins and explained the restrictions imposed when some women got to vote for the first time in 1918. They had to be over 30 and ratepayers in terms of owing property or university graduates. There were a number of amusing anecdotes regarding the election voting in 1918 and the practise of ‘personations’. She outlined the initial small numbers of ladies who got elected and though Markievicz was nominated a Minister in the first Government in 1919 she was the last lady Minister until Maire Geoghegan Quinn in 1979. Amusingly she said that the Westminster authorities had agreed to hang a portrait (by Noel Murphy titled ‘A woman’s Place’) of the first lady elected to Westminster Constance Markievicz in 1918 with one condition that in the portrait she would not be in her iconic military uniform!     

*The term Suffragette was first used by an English newspaper in the mid-1800s’.  The Suffrage part refers to voting the ‘ette’ is a popular French ending of the time. (Farmerette!!!). In the 1860s’ there was a group seeking the vote called Suffragist. The difference between them was that the ‘ists’ were for getting  the vote by peaceful means while the ‘ettes’ were prepared -as they practised- to employ militant means.
There were 9 speakers including Boyle’s Marie Egan Paul on Margaret Cousins and I will ‘treat of them’ in future blogs as the subject is so relevant in this Centenary Year of women first getting the vote in 1918 and the fact that there is still, incredibly, ’A Lot Done More to Do ‘  
(Is that ok as a start D.?)

** Oddly there was little reference to the role of the Catholic Church and Archbishop John Charles Mc Quaid  who was so influential in a dour constricted social policy in Ireland for decades. One commentator gave me a brighter shivery comment on the venerable archbishop thus; “He had a smile like the moonlight glistening off a tombstone”. That took some imaginative construction!

Community Games
I return to the Community Games this Friday evening at 5.30 + in the Abbey College sports field. It was where I first started broadcasting some forty or so years ago. I am still using the East European equipment salvaged at that time! The Boyle regularly take place in wet conditions so hopefully this evening will be different!     holding your breath and all that…

Friday May 11th ‘ A Day in the Life of Boyle’ in pictures;
I see on the Home Page of realboyle that Boyle Camera Club will be out and about in Boyle town on Friday May 11th getting a record in pictures of the town and its people. I seem to remember a pretty famous photographer John Minihan doing a regular collective picture of a Kildare town perhaps Naas or Athy at intervals of years. I hope Boyle Camera Club’s project is a big success and that it will be the first of a regular series. 

Bob Carr a Boyle Icon of the Sixties
I asked here a while ago about a man called Bob Carr who had a sawmill out at Ardcarne through the sixties and was a highly regarded GAA promoter in the town for over a decade. I acknowledge some details from a number of people since I mentioned Bob. Austin Biesty in New York talked to me of Bob in glowing terms and of his knowledge and love of the game and addressing a proper structure to team-play and regime. He talked of visiting Bob in a home not too far from Dublin in Bob’s late years. 

My good friend Paddy Conlon emailed me from the Home Counties (Outside London) with the following:

“Bob brought a new football dimension to the Boyle Club. He introduced, very quickly, a plan to get a structure to the 'senior team'. We had regular training sessions twice a week, something we did not have before his arrival.   There was discipline and a serious approach which everybody bought into.  Bob had a lovely persuasive attitude which got the best out of everybody.
He also read the individual players very well, for example, Paddy Mac RIP was always an outfield player and Bob selected him as our Full Back;   Des Kennedy RIP was always a back and Bob played him at full forward and Eamon Perry played off Des as did Eamon Mullen and that worked very well.   He picked  Barry Feely, Jamsie Clarke and Seamus Downs as probably the best line of the whole team (half backs). I remember them as a very solid group who held the line against all teams through the 1964 campaign. (They won the Junior Championship that year).
Noel Carroll RIP, was persuaded to return to the fold and what a great player he was, strong, a great fielder with a great engine, myself, Hal Cawley and John Mc Dermott combined pretty well in the half forward line. He was ahead of his time” Paddy concluded.
I have to talk to more people who knew Bob such as Donal Costello, Jim Clarke and Hal Cawley in the near future. If anyone has a picture of Bob they could scan and email it to me@    

‘Across the Border’ Linda Ronstadt
I suppose the term for it is browsing which I rarely do but a week ago I did  and was rewarded. I was playing some country songs by lady singers EmmyLou Harris, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins  and tuned into a song called ‘Across The Border’ being sung by Linda Ronstadt and EmmyLou.  I was smitten. Usually it would take a number of times of listening to a song before I would take to it but it resonated straight off. If I could ‘loop’ it in a car player it would shorten a long journey. The song was written by Bruce Springsteen and in this rendition Linda is accompanied by Neil Young on mouth organ. It has a haunting sadness and Linda Ronstadt is now on my list of favourites. It is from an album titled Western Wall.   

Thomas Kinsella ‘Mirror in February’
I have two copies of a book of poetry called ‘Soundings’. The title of the book may resonate with a number of you. It was the book which contained the Leaving Certificate syllabus poems of the seventies, eighties and into the nineties. There are two poems there by Thomas Kinsella, ‘Another September’ and ‘Mirror in February’.
Like many poems ‘Mirror in February’ gives me a favoured final pair of lines which I will place below. The theme is aging and revelation of that stage in the poet’s life as he studies his inner and outer self in the mirror;

I towel my shaven jaw and stop and stare,
Riveted by a dark exhausted eye,
A dry downturning mouth’
‘I read that I have looked my last on youth’. 

It ends with a kind of acceptance which is the best we can do with the condition in any event

I fold my towel with what grace I can
Not young and not renewable, but man’. 

It is best that you look up the poem in its totality as I do not wish to preach here but there is bigger story there.
Kinsella will feature on RTE Radio on Sunday Night next.

The Fuel Light is on Yellow.
Like the farmers running out of animal fodder my turf fuel store is almost cleared out. It has been that kind of winter. Long, wet, cold. I judge the fuel requirement fairly well usually having a small surplus but this time I was mistaken. I remember a former teaching colleague who was a year ahead. This was in the sense that the turf he used in 2017/’18 was that of 2016. He had the storage of course but it was way as well. I should have adopted the ‘spake’ in early winter which suggests; ‘Always spare the corn at the top of the bag’!   

                                                                                                                                             Sport’s Review

The Record’s Show
Since my last blog Boyle senior GAA team have played and lost their two opening games. The first game was against Strokestown in Strokestown and last Sunday’s game was in  the Abbey Park against Western Gaels. The senior grade in the county is, on any given day, pretty even. Having said that the reality is that the usual suspects come to the top and invariably take the spoils. St. Brigid’s are the dominant club now as Clann na nGael were in the 80s’. The winners since 1990 are St. Brigid’s with 11/Clann 6/ Ros. Gaels 5/ Castlerea 4/ Strokestown 2 and Kilbride 1.
Pearses have lost out in their 4 finals; Kilmore in 3; Western Gaels 2 / Kilbride and Ml. Glaveys in 1 each. 

The leading clubs overall have been Clann na nGael with 20; Roscommon Gaels with 19; St. Brigid’s with 16; Elphin 14; Tarmon/Castlerea with 13 and Strokestown with 10.
The few memorable breakthrough wins would be Kilbride in 2000, Strokestown in ’92 and particularly Kilmore in ’83 with Shannon Gaels, St. Faithleach’s and the only combination win United Stars (Oran-Creggs) in 1960.
The big surprise there is the fact that a town like Boyle has not won a senior since an army assisted win in the late 20s’. The other surprises are the demise of Tulsk once a powerhouse and St. Dominick’s/Knockcroghery and especially the dominant club of the fifties Elphin. The feeling in Western Gaels is that if they do not win a senior championship in the next year or two then they will slip back down the pack as contenders. The same might be said of Boyle. The current team is the best Boyle side since probably ‘94 and for decades before that. 
The two defeats leave them with three games towards the end of summer into the Autumn against St. Brigid’s, Clann nan Gael and Roscommon Gaels. There are no gimmes there!    
N.B. Boyle Juniors v Fuerty on Sat. at 6 in the Abbey Park.
A consistent effort has been made to field a Junior team down the years. This gives players on the fringe of the senior team game time and contributes to options there perhaps. The junior team also does not carry the commitment requirements that is de rigueur for senior teams. This year we have a new luck team with current manager Stephen Tonra assisted by Kevin Mullen and I am hearing that he has gone to great lengths in recruiting former stars and would-be stars thus providing this year’s juniors with a wealth of experience. Whether they still have the appetite for the rigours of slightly competitive play is to be seen. The team is sponsored by Cooney Motors and it seems as if considerable resources have been diverted in their direction.
So I look forward very much to seeing them on Saturday evening at 6 in the Abbey Park against my old club Fuerty. You would be welcome to join me in the Abbey Park then on Sat. at 6. 

Champions League More Drama
I have said that the T.V. series of the past winter has been The Champions League especially the knockout stages. Last Tuesday night was no different as Liverpool got to a 5 to nil scoreline against Roma and having the tie won and entry into the final 99% assured but 2 late goals by Roma sowed the seeds of doubt and the tie has yet to be resolved on Wednesday night next.
Unfortunately before the game a man with Boyle connections-Sean Cox- was seriously injured. Sean is the son of Martin Cox and grandson of John H. Cox who were in business on The Crescent up to circa the 1950s where Dodd’s is now. Sean and family live in Meath. I do not know if there are Cox connections to that family in Boyle still but there are first cousins in Roscommon town. We wish Sean well.
This incident sets a threatening tone for the second leg of the fixture in Rome on Wednesday of next week. Hopefully good sense and appropriate stewarding will prevail.  
The second semi-final between Bayern Munich and Real Madrid was a pretty boring and error ridden game by contrast with the Liverpool game. Madrid were the winners here by 2 goals to 1, in Munich.  

Boyle Celtic
Boyle Celtic play Dysart on Friday evening at 7.45 NOT Saturday in Boyle.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Update April 13th

The Good Friday Agreement April 10th 1998.
They really got a top cast for the celebration, if it could be one, for the God Friday Agreement signing of 20 years ago.
Fifteen minutes before five o'clock on Good Friday 1998, Senator George Mitchell was informed that his long and difficult quest for an Irish peace effort had succeeded. The Protestants and Catholics of Northern Ireland, and the governments of the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom, would sign the agreement that evening. It was a great achievement by George Mitchell then. Of course there was a big supporting cast with Bertie Ahern, Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, Tony Blair, John Hume and Seamus Mallon, David Tremble. The ace in the jigsaw was the U.S. President Bill Clinton who exercised his considerable influence when required to do so. There were ten differing groups whose requirements had to be considered. While it did not guarantee peace, stability or reconciliation it made it possible. The reasons for the present impasse of no Northern Ireland Government for the past fifteen months, would seem to be minor issues by comparison with those of ’98. As George Mitchell has said;       
“Keep this in mind: the solution to every human problem contains within itself the seeds of a new problem”.
The last time I wrote here I was after returning from a trip to Belfast. I have reflected on that trip and Belfast quite a number of times since then. Isn’t it almost incredible that there are more ‘Peace Walls’ now than there were in ’98. (A ‘Peace Wall’ is a wall which divides the Unionist community from the nationalist community). On my trip to Belfast in February I visited those walls and the areas synonymous with the troubles The Shankhill and The Falls. There I saw a multitude of murals on the gable ends of houses extolling the attributes of men from both sides who are local heroes in their communities though they would be regarded as killers by the opposing community. The ‘peace’ process started with a decommissioning of arms. How long will it be before there is a decommissioning of MURALS? I would be very pessimistic about anything like that happening for say 25 years. 
While the centre of Belfast is a business zone the dark cloud of ‘The Troubles’ permeates the air of the city and despite the Titanic Expo and the growing tourist and economic surge there is a long journey yet to be travelled by the city. And as suggested by Tommy Gorman on RTE News the present crop of politicians Foster, O’Neill, Coveney and Bradley hardly constitute a  reasonable ‘B’ team by comparison with those of ’98. Sad also to see in all of this the stark decline of the SDLP whose twin giants Hume and Mallon were so pivotal at that time.


Roscommon Progress
It has been a successful spring campaign for Roscommon football with promotion back to Division One after just one year. Also the winning of the Division Two title v Cavan in Croke Park and the entertaining style of it gave supporters a lift. The Connacht Championship is not too far away and Roscommon face the winners of the Leitrim v New York on the 26th of May. Leitrim are not going well at the moment and they will be really tested by New York. I have heard that former Boyle goalkeeper Tadgh Lowe has been doing very well as an outfield player in New York and will probably feature against Leitrim. Roscommon should win over whoever comes out of that game and go on to the Connacht Final against the winners of the Galway v Mayo game which takes place on Sunday May 13th. The clash of the great rivals Galway and Mayo looks set to be a real gladiatorial contest and one that will attract a huge crowd including a good few Roscommon people. 
Where the Connacht Final will take place is being debated and it seems as if Hyde Park has too much to do to reach the standards now required. This is  through health & safety, crowd management in terms of ‘ingress & egress’   meaning the safe entry of large numbers of supporters and the capacity of safe dispersal of that crowd in the event of an emergency. The tragedy of the Hillsborough disaster of ’89 has cast its shadow over event management in Connacht 29 years on! While the pitch at Hyde Park has been brought up to standard the surrounding infrastructure is away behind as those who have been to, say O’Connor Park in Tullamore, can testify.

Club Football
Boyle Sparkle in Abbey Park & Boyle v Strokestown on Sunday next.
Boyle play the first game of the Senior championship on Sunday next v Strokestown in Strokestown at 3.45. (It is preceded by an interesting game St. Faithleach’s v Michael Glavey's at 2). Boyle have won their two opening O’Rourke Cup games. The first was a close encounter with St. Croan’s in Ballintubber and the second was against St. Faithleach’s on Saturday evening last in Boyle. For the first 15 minutes or more of last Saturday’s game Boyle were frozen and went behind by 2.8 to Boyle’s single point. However they awoke from this nightmare to reach half time just 3 points in arrears with the score Boyle 2.7 St. Faithleach’s 2.10. Boyle took control in the second half and the game ended Boyle 5.13 St. Faithleach’s 3.14. The score line was like that of Roscommon v Cavan. It was good to see the return of a player I had not  seen for a while and him playing very well i.e. Ryan Finneran. Done Smith gave on of the best performances I ever remember seeing in the Abbey Park scoring 3.6. So I look forward to Sunday next.  Boyle have a second senior championship game v Western Gaels on Sunday the 22nd at 3.45 in Boyle.  Boyle are managed this year by Basil Mannion from St. Brigid’s assisted by Gerry Emmett.   
          Boyle Team: R. Kearney, B. Furey, D. Callaghan, Killian Cox, D. East (1-00), T. McKenna, R. Finneran (0-01), Kieran Cox (0-01), E. Smith (1-01), C. Goldrick, D. Smith (3-06), M. Hanmore, S. Kane (0-02), C. McKeon (0-02), M. O’ Donohoe.
Subs used: C. Beirne for Goldrick.
There are also two games in the Abbey Park on Saturday in the Intermediate C’Ship with Eire Og v St. Barry’s at 5 followed by Kilmore v Tulsk at 6.45.

Classic Champions League
Probably the television series of the winter for me has been The Champions League soccer. There has been tremendous drama in many of the games. Last night, Wednesday, saw Juventus come from 3 down to go level with Real Madrid in Madrid but a controversial  injury time penalty was dispatched with venom by Ronaldo to leave them qualifying for the semi-finals of a competition they have dominate recently.  In the second game Roma proved unlikely winners over the Messi led Barcelona. On Tuesday night Liverpool got through convincingly against Manchester City after an early scare. Again there was controversy as a ‘good’ City goal was disallowed. Liverpool’s classic first round, first half  performance which resulted in a 3 goal lead was the foundation of their victory. So tomorrow morning Friday will see one team from England, Spain, Italy and Germany (Bayern Munich) contest the semi-finals and they promise to continue the drama.    

The Masters Golf Tournament
I tuned into a good deal of the highlights of The Masters especially in that period when Rory McIlroy looked a contender. However nothing really went well for him on Sunday and fair play to Patrick Reed who dug out his victory despite the threat from Spieth and Fowler. I’m a bit surprised that the BBC allows itself to be shunted into ‘highlights’ for most of the tournament. If they decided to show all or none showing some bottle then perhaps those who master the declining game of golf might show respect to a medium which helped it get to an exalted position once.
As a collector of ‘spakes’ Peter Allis again came up trumps when referring to senior player Freddie Couples putting up a good showing. Allis described Couples with; “There may be snow on the roof but there is a fire in the grate”.   

Bob Carr Former Boyle Resident and GAA Activist
I am looking for what information I can get on Bob Carr who lived in the Boyle area in the ‘60s’. He had a saw mill out near Ardcarne. He was very involved in Boyle and Roscommon GAA through the sixties but I do not seem to remember him being here when I came in 1972. He had more of a grá for hurling I believe. He was from Offaly and the last I heard of him was of him being in a ’home’ in Tullamore. A Boyle GAA player from that era said of Bob “No truer Gael lived than Bob Carr”. So if you know something or someone who has information on Bob please contact me at 086 816 3399. 

Joe Brolly on the Late Late Show
It was different Joe Brolly to the usual jester on last Friday night’s Late Late Show. It was a sadder more reflective Joe as he talked about being an advocate for cystic fibrosis patients and what it was like growing up in Northern Ireland during the height of the Troubles. He also talked about taking in a person into his own home who was on the streets. How he mangers to spread his energy over such a broad spectrum of activity, professional and caring I don’t know.  I wonder has he ever turned up on Rehab & RTE’s ‘People of the Year’ Awards?   

Organ Donor Awareness Week 
Donor Awareness Week has taken place while I was away a short time ago. Indeed awareness of organ Donation does not have time boundaries but the week is used to raise Awareness of the huge benefits and hopefully expand the number of donors.

My good friend John Mac Phearson, related to me, some time ago, his personal experience of receiving a life enhancing organ donation, the Gift of Life, in 2011 when he was diagnosed with liver cancer. He expressed his huge gratitude to those who participated in the scheme and urged people to become involved by having a donor card.  One of its great proponents is the former Derry footballer and TV analyst Joe Brolly referenced above.  Joe has himself donated a kidney to a friend.

It must be one of the most noble acts imaginable for someone to donate a life enriching bodily organ to another person. Organ Donor Cards can also be obtained by phoning the Irish Kidney Association  LoCall 1890 543639 or Freetext the word DONOR to 50050. Visit website It is now possible to store an organ donor card, the ‘ecard’ on Smart mobile phones.   Simply search for ‘Donor ECard’ at the IPhone Store or Android Market Place.

An Oddity
Recently at a small house party the conversation of a couple of us drifted into the ‘health and safety’ topic. My conversation colleague talked about being at a job requirement ‘Health and Safety’ course. He did some work in cable installation etc. One of the things mentioned by the course lecturer was the risk of Weil’s disease which originates in one of its manifestations from rodent urine. Why he mentioned it to me was that the lecturer also mentioned the unhygienic practise of people drinking direct from a bottle which may have been stored in sheds and unhygienic locations. As we were speaking I was drinking from a bottle…by the neck…..for the last time!     

Trip to London 1988.
A decade before the Northern Agreement St. Mary’s College had a re-union in Highgate in London at Easter 1988. The latter half of the eighties was one of those regular periods of depression leading to an emigration surge which is part of Irish social history. A lot of people from this area had moved to London looking for work. There had been a major St. Mary’s College Re-Union at Easter 1986 and with a number of people being home for the Christmas of ’87 and the idea emerged of having a second get-together this time in London. Hopefully I will be able to get to this in the next instalment here.     

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Update 8th February

The Vastly Differing Faces of  Belfast.
We have just returned from a trip to Belfast. I have been in Belfast for fleeting trips a short number of times down the years. So this time I gave it more time. In summary it is a city which is emerging from a long bleak period of convulsion. However that is now dissolving at least on the surface. It will take quite a while yet  for the scars to heal but for a visitor it has a lot to offer. The reason for the visit at this time was to attend TG4’s Gradam Ceoil Awards. A friend of ours, a notable Roscommon musician and personality, Patsy Hanley  was receiving a ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ and a hard core of Roscommon traditional music followers were in attendance to applaud Patsy and show their support.  It meant forsaking the ‘Trip to Thurles’ and the late match drama there!  

The Waterfront and T.G. 4 Gradam Awards       
We arrived in Belfast in the early afternoon. The city does not bustle on Sundays but it means that one can get ones bearings more readily in that environment. Accidentally we wandered into the City Hall Museum. Its exhibition showcased the city’s journey with different zones. It is hugely impressive with a catalogue of famous personalities who have been born in the city including writers, musicians, inventors and especially sports people. While I will not list that many here as I was not taking any notes the musicians included Van Morrison and  James Galway; the sports icons were George Best, Alex Hurricane Higgins, Mike Gibson and boxers Freddie Gilroy, Johnny Caldwell and Rinty Monaghan, the poet Longley and many more.  All other areas of endeavour were treated similarly and it needed much more time to absorb appropriately.
We met some friends and had a lovely meal in the ‘Coppie Restaurant’ in St. Anne’s Square. That night it was to Belfast Waterfront Theatre for the Gradams event. There we met John Wynne, John Carty, John Carlos and Tommy Guihan and Matt Molloy and the talk was not of music at this stage but of the drama in Thurles. The Waterfront is obviously a very new and modern centre and was crowded with a happy bustling crowd, there to celebrate the achievements of their friends and immerse in  the best of traditional fare. The award to Patsy was presented by Matt Molloy, actor Stephen Rae to Colin Dunne and President Michael D. Higgins to Frankie Gavin. The whole show was being recorded and transmitted live by TG 4.  The President received a great welcome and it was obvious the event itself, being in Belfast for the first time of four, was seen as a landmark event for the traditional community and the city. A little like the All-Ireland Fleadh when in Derry a few short years ago.
There was an after show party where people socialised and were happy until late hours.

The Shankhill and Falls Road Murals
Monday broke bright and dry and we set off on a ‘Black Taxi’ tour with guide Joe who had vivid experience of ‘The Troubles’. He laid his colours to the mast by saying that he was telling it as HE saw it and that became very obvious in a short time. We were taken to the Shankhill and stopped in front of a mural of King William on his white horse and raised sword as he advanced in the Battle of the Boyne. Joe shot down the idea of a white horse, the raised sword and the impressive figure. It was an extended history lesson and as a former history teacher I was aware of a good deal of it. We were encouraged to walk around the block to view a number of other gable murals such as Lt. Col. Bucky McCullough and the more sinister Stevie ‘Top Gun’ Mc Keag. The ‘Top Gun’ title was as a tribute to the fact that he was ‘credited’ as having killed more Catholic/nationalists than any other Loyalist gunman! The ‘Top Gun’ and name appendage seems to have been photo-shopped from some representations on the internet.
If one had the odd inclination to view these murals on the internet they are a chilling reminder of those terrible years when such appalling acts were regular.
After the Shankhill we were taken to the ‘Peace Walls’ as they are euphemistically called. These divide the two opposing communities. And to our surprise our guide told us that some were still being built! They consist of say 30 foot high concrete which were not able to defend from missiles being thrown over them so they added say 15 foot sheets of corrugated iron to which they had later to add say 10 feet of mesh fence. Even at that some houses close to the wall had to have their own meshed defence. There are still gates that are opened in the morning and closed in the evening.
After the Shankhill we were taken to The Falls area and the murals here were dominated by Republican imagery and especially the Hunger Strikers. Top of the league here is Bobby Sands with the signature ‘Poet, Gaeilgeoir, Revolutionary, IRA Volunteer’. The fact that he was also an M.P. is not used. 
Our next stop was at the Bombay Street and Clonard Memorial Garden to dead Republican Volunteers and interestingly extends to the names of civilians killed by opposing forces of varying hues during the troubles. Bombay Street was a street gutted by Loyalists in the early days while Clonard Monastery was the home of Father Reid who was a very early peacemaker. There is so much history in these streets. We were told that there are many of these ‘Memorial Gardens’ throughout the city.         
It is only as I write that the, despair, hatred and cruelty of what happened in many parts of Northern Ireland casts its depressing shadow. We here in Southern Ireland have no idea of what went on in places like The Falls Road and The Shankhill two areas so close to each other. An irony as well that it was mainly working class people who got caught up in the maelstrom. Progress might be mirrored by how long these murals-relics to wholescale killing- remain and that could be quite a while.  It was good though that when I asked the guide if it could possibly reignite he was very confident that it would not. The new generation who basically know only peace now would not countenance it as a new mind-set and a new prospering environment shows Belfast in the positive light of prosperity and optimism. This is enriched by the huge growth in tourism and an outward perspective. 

The Titanic Exhibition
The attraction which has the tourists flocking to Belfast is ‘The Titanic Experience’. It really is a magnificently presented  exhibition. All facets of the great liner's short life are shown in detail by a varying array of modern technology. It is ironic I suppose that a city’s rebirth owes a great deal of emerging life to the death of its most famous ship.  We were there for three hours but one could roster for another visit. It is divided into 9 segments; such as Boomtown Belfast of the Industrial Age/The Shipyard/ The Launch/ The Fit Out/ The Maiden Voyage/ The Sinking/ The Aftermath/ Myths and Reality/ and the Titanic remains on the sea bed. There are visitor stand-out elements during this such as a short cable- car-type swirl around the furnace and a stop where one feels like he is moving from one deck to another.

Coming shortly is another experience based on the hugely popular television series ‘Game of Thrones’ part of which is filmed in Northern Ireland but with its production headquarters in Belfast.
So I would certainly recommend a visit to Belfast perhaps away from peak season when cruise liners et all visit. Belfast is not a very large city and one can get to grips with it pretty quickly. Cost wise as someone I know says after (Southern) Ireland costs few places come across as very expensive. There is a boom in hotel building with some eight in the process. There were a number of things I might have done such as the city tourist bus ride, also the walking tour and so on.  I had been lazy in my prep work so it would be advisable to research or enquire regarding the sights which would be recommended. 
The Murals though kind of haunt me in a negative way.


Congratulations again to Paul Young and Cartoon Saloon  for them winning at the Annie Awards  in Los Angeles last week-end with their Best Animated Feature — Independent
‘The Breadwinner’.   

Boyle Celtic
Fortunes turned a full cycle for Boyle Celtic last week-end at Lecarrow  when they lost 5 to 1 v St. Peter’s Athlone. Boyle had a very impressive similar win the previous week v Castlerea Celtic. This week there is a very important game in the Connacht Cup v St. Bernard’s of Galway City.


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Update 23rd January

Treating the Robins.

Few wild birds are as close to domesticity as the Robin. I’ll give her a her and a capital R. here, if you don’t mind, out of respect. For some years now at this time of year a number of Robins call to my raised back patio. They have an expectation of being welcomed and treated well. Hopefully they are not disappointed. Each morning I donate a few spoonful’s of porridge for their breakfast. They are near eating out my hand and we exchange the salutations of the day. Natural instincts are just amazing. Many times there is not a Robin to be seen but when feeding time comes they just emerge from, wherever. Of course when I am a bit late they arrive pecking at the empty feeding bowl and staring in the window kind of chastising me for my lapse. The Robin must be a brave soul as it tries its best to defend its territory from other larger predators and even has dust ups with its own kind. Keeping the feed solely for the Robin is a challenge at times as the blackbird and occasionally the magpie have got in on the act now. The robin will peck and fly a short distance and return regularly. She is not one to gorge but eats in steady portions.  
The Robin quickly appears also when one has the spade or other implement and they follow your course seeing the possibility of the odd worm.  The Robin’s red breast is traditionally regarded as having sprung from its attendance at Calvary when a splash of blood marked it distinctively. It is suggested that this happened when the Robin pulled a thorn from Christ's brow.
Certain birds down the aeons of  time were often caged for amusement. I suppose some still are. A poet once wrote of the Robin in this situation “A Robin redbreast in a cage/Puts all heaven in a rage”. I remember Pat Feely at an occasional party relating the monologue of ‘Who Killed Cock Robin’ . ‘Not I’ was the response of a succession of suspects.  
I look forward to seeing my cheeky Robins giving me the eye and suggesting that I get on with the chore of their feeding which I am happy to do. They deserve that for the diversion of their pretentious presence.   

Robbie Burns Scotland’s National Poet.
Thursday of last week, January 18th , was Rabbie Burns Night, the annual celebration of the great Scottish poet who has given us some of the iconic poems of the English language. Nearly everyone will have recited/sang and shed a tear in doing so with his New Year’s Eve rallying call ‘For Auld lang syne’ (for the sake of old times)
Robert Burns, also known as Rabbie Burns, Ploughman Poet, is widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland and is celebrated worldwide.
He was born on  January 25, 1759 in Alloway Scotland and died on July 21, 1796 in Dumfries aged just 37.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne!

Chorus - For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll take a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

His great love poem/song and an inspiration to many like Bob Dylan is…

A Red, Red Rose

O my Luve's like a red, red rose
That's newly sprung in June;
O my Luve's like the melodie
That's sweetly play'd in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I:
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a' the seas gang dry:

Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi' the sun:
I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o' life shall run.

And fare thee well, my only Luve
And fare thee well, a while!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho' it were ten thousand mile.

Amongst the notable stand out quotes from Burns, regularly adapted, is the following  

“The best laid schemes o' mice an' men Gang aft a-gley, An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain For promis'd joy”.

As can be seen ‘O’ Mice and Men’ was used by my overall favourite  writer John Steinbeck for a novel of the same name in the 30s’.  Many Boyle people may remember this as a New York Broadway play transmitted to the screen in Carrick starring Chris O’Dowd and James Franco in April 2014.  

Shane McGowan at 60
Since I am in the literary vein I see that another poet/song-writer with similarities to Rabbie Burns i.e. Shane McGowan celebrated his 60th birthday last week January 15th.  He was actually born on Christmas Day 1957. The concert took place at the National concert Hall  organised by his friends to mark the occasion. It was a celebration to mark this notable birthday since it was widely felt back the years that Shane might not make a significant birthday of any consequence due to his lifestyle where drink and excess was dominant. (I go on a related diversion here; I have a friend, a Roscommon town legend, named T. Hill. A few years ago he visited his doctor’s centre and was met by a new doctor to him. T. enquired  about his former doctor whom he had not seen for a number of years at this stage. ‘Oh he died some five years ago’ answered his now doc, ’Any particular reason why you ask?’ ‘Well he was the doctor who told me fifteen years ago that I wouldn’t make another five if I did not make drastic changes to MY lifestyle’ replied T.)
Anyway Shane has made 60 in the company of his patient and tolerant partner Victoria Mary Clarke. Once when the members of  'The Pogues' could no longer tolerate Shane’s erratic behaviour they fired him from the band to which Shane stoically responded ‘What took you so long?’   

While ‘Fairytale of New York’ is the dominant song of the airwaves  Shane has been the author of a number of other fine songs such as ‘Rainy Day in Soho which I transfer to below. I’ll paste a verse of a favoured Dodd’s session song first;        

Sally MacLennane sung from time to time by Francis Gaffney.

We walked him to the station in the rain
We kissed him as we put him on the train
And we sang him a song of times long gone
Though we knew that we'd be seeing him again (Far away)
Sad to say I must be on my way
So buy me beer and whiskey cause I'm going far away (far away)
I'd like to think of me returning when I can
To the greatest little boozer and to Sally MacLennane

If Burns’s love song is ‘Red Red Rose’ Shane’s Rainy Night in Soho is a fine song in a similar vein.  


I've been loving you a long time
Down all the years, down all the days
And I've cried for all your troubles
Smiled at your funny little ways
We watched our friends grow up together
And we saw them as they fell
Some of them fell into Heaven
Some of them fell into Hell

I took shelter from a shower
And I stepped into your arms
On a rainy night in Soho
The wind was whistling all its charms
I sang you all my sorrows
You told me all your joys
Whatever happened to that old song
To all those little girls and boys

Sometimes I wake up in the morning
The ginger lady by my bed
Covered in a cloak of silence
I hear you in my head
I'm not singing for the future
I'm not dreaming of the past
I'm not talking of the first time
I never think about the last

Now the song is nearly over
We may never find out what it means
Still there's a light I hold before me
You're the measure of my dreams
The measure of my dreams

I really like the repetition in the last two lines, like Frost with ‘I have miles to go before I sleep and miles to go before I sleep’ in ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’.

The Passing of Dolores
As I write Limerick bids farewell to their iconic singer Dolores O’Riordan. Barry Egan in the Sunday independent Living Supplement wrote “(It is) heart-breaking to imagine Dolores O‘Riordan’s short, brilliant life is truly over. Heart-breaking to think that she is gone forever, this beautiful young woman with more talent in her little finger than a dozen Beyonces, this voice of a generation who could sing like an angel with a damaged wing soaring over Mount Olympus”. I do not know enough to comment on the talent or music and songs of Dolores so I rely on her friend Barry to be the voice of commendation.

*The Robin outside my window has ushered me down the road the ‘View’ has taken today and leaves a small list of subjects that I meant to touch on for another day, perhaps. Today I’m being indulgent. ‘Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both …’ and all that.

I’ll make one exception though with my final paragraph. I don’t want the meringue to get stale.

Boyle Celtic Shine Under the Southern Lights
For the first 45 minutes of this Roscommon League game in Lecarrow, on a cold Saturday night, Boyle Celtic were in the doldrums against table toppers Castlerea Celtic. Castlerea played with speed, quality and threat in that first half and finished 2 goals up at the break. One would have to be a real optimist to suggest a dramatic turnaround. This encouraged a member of the significant Castlerea support to ask of one the meagre Boyle support, ‘How did Boyle get to where they did in competitions last year?’ By the end of the game the Boyle supporter had a gilded answer but his side-line adversary had left before the referee had called the final curtain.
In the second half a revitalised Boyle had awoken from their slumber to play champagne football and after five minutes or so it was 2 all and shortly after 3 to 2 for Boyle. Boyle were now playing with style and determination and continued to the end by which time the score had reached Boyle 6 Castlerea 2.  For the partisan 8 or 9 Boyle supporters it was ridiculously entertaining, a performance and game which those 8/9 will remember for some time and smile at the recollection.
Boyle Kyle Sweeney/ Dessie Carlos/ John Connolly Capt./ Sean Purcell 1/ Gerard McDermotroe/ Ml. Corrigan 2/ Danny Browne 1 penalty/ Aaron Calpin/Shane Battles/ Niall Brennan/ Dylan Edwards 2  with Luka Roddy/ Brian McCrann/ Lochlainn Conboy/ Lee McKilleen/ Martin Doherty. Manager Darren Hurd.
(Boyle are 4th in the League which Castlerea still lead with two games more played. The favourites to challenge Castlerea at this stage are St. Peter’s Athlone but ‘there is many a slip twixt cup and lip’.  If Boyle can consistently replicate the form of last Saturday night then they could get in the mix. A key game is the return game against St. Peter’s who won the first one by 1 to 0 also at Lecarrow. The Roscommon and District website has much detail on the progress of the games in the games including leading goal scorers with Ml. Corrigan in second place and Dylan Edwards in third).



Thursday, January 11, 2018

Update 11th January

·       While 2018 will be the Centenary of a number of events in the 26 counties it can be regarded I feel as the 50th Anniversary year of the Northern Ireland ‘Troubles’… 50 years … imagine!
·       • I had intended to refer to the Christmas Quiz – which I set too hard- but may do so next time.
·       • As I expected there were a number of names –some very obvious!- which were not on our Christmas Wishes list. Must do better.
·       • A highlight of my year the Sitges trip.

 Young Scientist of the Year
There are a number of events that bookmark the year as it progresses. The current one is The Young Scientist of the Year. I only attended once when a family friend had a project on display there. It was a pretty impressive occasion and it seems as if that is consistent through the years. There have been impressive winners also with quite a number cropping up in subsequent years at advanced levels in their respective fields. I am not aware of outstanding projects from this region but perhaps that is just my perception. There are many areas which have a wide spread for investigation especially the environment and its abuse by, I suppose, all of us. So on Saturday we will see the winners and their projects but I imagine many students will visit the RDS to get an overview and hopefully they will be inspired by some of what they see there.

The GAA in a Turbulent Time
The County Conventions and AGMs are mostly over with the major annual GAA Annual Conference remaining i.e. Annual Congress. A Boyle motion regarding a sensitive issue of the moment was passed at Roscommon Convention and should be discussed at Congress. The motion is as follows;
“That Cumann Luth Chleas Gael do not renew nor enter contracts with television companies that require ‘pay per view’ for coverage of our national games after the current contract expires”. Sky is probably the TV company most in the sights of such a motion.
Clann na nGael had a similar motion but it was withdrawn in favour of the Boyle motion. In last Sunday’s Independent Joe Brolly gave an incisive outline of his views on the march of Sky and its potential dominance of sports coverage with the attendant spread of a Sky sports culture and influence. Joe Brolly’s article looks to be really well researched and those who go to Congress and speak on the Boyle motion will do well to study it. If the GAA with all its traditions, cultural philosophy and being rooted in the wide community cannot resist the March of a Sky culture and its dominance then it indicative of the power of the great multi-nationals with their huge financial resources. (I’ll try and deal with some of the GAA issues into the future as they get some cohesion in my head).
A further issue emerged last Saturday with a Martin Brehony article regarding the criteria stipulated for a person seeking the position of Director General to succeed Paraic Duffy. The GAA has now extended the deadline for applications to Jan. 19th. The power of the pen and a bit of common sense.

The Golden Globes
What a great achievement it was for young Carlow actress Saoirse Ronan to win the Golden Globe Award for best actress in a musical or comedy for her role in the coming-of-age story, Ladybird.
While London Irishman with very strong Irish connections, Martin McDonagh's 'Three Billboard's Outside Ebbing Missouri' won four awards, including best film, and best screenplay.
Also nominated for a gong was Paul Young’s Cartoon Saloon’s ‘Breadwinner’ .
Meanwhile the majority of women wore black to the Golden Globe awards to highlight sexual harassment in the industry.
Hundreds of actors, writers and directors have signed up to the ‘Times Up’ campaign calling for new laws to tackle the issue.
Comedian Seth Meyers opened the ceremony by saying "Welcome ladies and remaining gentlemen".
Also on the night Oprah Winfrey on receiving an award for her extensive range of media skills and achievements used the occasion to give a powerful speech on various issues of the moment. It is being suggested that the speech was an opening salvo in her possible run for President of the United States.  

Observations on Some Television Programmes
I may watch too much television. I like to think though that I am pretty selective! There is a whole swathe of television programmes that I avoid with due diligence. Amongst those are ‘the soaps’. (Why are they called soaps? Ans. Because they were originally sponsored by soap producing companies).  My self-indulgence lies with Champions League soccer. In the latter months of the ’17 there was a good deal of excellent games from the Premier League in England also.  
Over Christmas I watched Shane again. It must be nearly a score of times I’ve seen that western classic which first came to the screens in 1952 with Alan Ladd and the bad guy Wilson played by Jack Palance. I watched ‘The Big Country’ not for Charlton Heston who I avoid, since his famous ‘From these dead hands’ speech to the N.R.A. in the U.S. It was for the performance of Burl Ives as Rufus Hannassey in opposition to Charles Bickford’s Major Tyrell. Burl Ives was also a popular singer and I seem to remember, when I was a boy, him singing Big Rock Candy Mountain.
There were a good few quizzes on tv and with University Challenge and others being dumbed down they were entertaining.
With the advance in technology making it easy to record a programme and view it when convenient there is no need to miss a programme that interests you. That happened with the Monday night RTE transmission of ‘Micko’ on the life and football career of Mick O’Dwyer. It was in many ways subdued as it outlined his fierce commitment to Gaelic games first as an outstanding player himself and then as the most successful Gaelic football team trainer ever. It was sad to see what time does to us all in his decline and muted speech. Still it was not one of those boring undiluted patronising programmes of the man as is often the case. So having it recorded I will watch again at a more studied pace.
Having regularly recommended viewing the series on The Vietnam War the one I have begun to watch now is ‘The House of Saud’. It deals with the Royal House of Saudi Arabia and its influence in contemporary history of the Middle East. That region is being shredded by complicated conflicts where the toxic mix of religion and tradition are to the fore. (In this country we know a bit about that). UNESCO, which includes the Ancient City of Aleppo on its World Heritage List, describes it as having "exceptional universal value because it represents medieval Arab architectural styles that are rare and authentic”. Thousands have been killed there and a city that was one of the jewels of The Middle East has been brought to rubble. The conflict and destruction seems as if it will continue for decades as the divisions are so deep rooted.  (Northern Ireland 50 years)  

Barry McElduff M.P. West Tyrone
A Sinn Fein MP has been suspended by his party for three months for posting a social media video of himself balancing a loaf of Kingsmill bread on his head on the anniversary of the Kingsmill massacre of ‘76. West Tyrone MP Barry McElduff said he accepted the sanction imposed by an embarrassed Sinn Fein leadership! He claims; “He had not realised or imagined for a second any possible link between the product brand name and the Kingsmill Anniversary”. Would you believe that? He is in the category of the clown that can ruin a party or the Leitrim footballer who, a number of years ago, mentioned a bomb at Kennedy airport in some sensitive area. Only that his gimmick can cause so much hurt and reinforce the bitterness that is taking so long to subside in Northern Ireland. McElduff is an M.P. so being suspended for three months does not impinge on that since Sinn Fein M.P.s’ do not attend there anyway. There is a school of thought that suggests that they should at this opportune time. Indeed the suspension of political presence at the N.I. parliament at Stormont must be a big issue for the weary community in the North from all sides.
The Kingsmill massacre took place on 5 January 1976, when IRA gunmen stopped a minibus in rural south Armagh and murdered ten Protestant workmen. Alan Black was the only survivor, despite being shot 18 times. A Catholic workman also survived being picked out by the gunmen and allowed to go on his way.
Karen Bradley has been named as the new Northern Ireland Secretary of State. She takes over from James Brokenshire who has stepped down for health reasons!

Bereavements Over the past Week
In the weeks after Christmas there seems to be more bereavements than at other times. I do not know if that stacks up but it seems to have validity this week.  
Paddy Mulvey the great Shannon Gaels clubman for decades was laid to rest in Drumlion Cemetery on Sunday. Paddy was aged 88 and originally played with Elphin and Boheroe before coming to the Shannon Gaels area in the early 60s’. With them he was a jack of all trades as player, selector, pitch organiser, trainer of many under-age teams, taxi man for teams, custodian of team jerseys, county team selector, delegate to County Board, Secretary of Northern Board, Scor organiser and more. A number of years ago, in 2011, the GAA nationally awarded Paddy with its equivalent of their Medal of Honour by the Association’s President, Christy Cooney. There was a huge crowd at his funeral on Sunday and quite a few amusing stories were swapped about Paddy’s interaction with referees, opposing teams and their managers and his running of various meetings especially of the North board. (Another constituency would be familiar with Paddy from their attendance at Bingo in the Patrician Hall, Cortober).  Paddy was of course unique and there are very few surviving of his like in the Association.

On Monday I attended the funeral of Diarmuid O’Donovan who had been a teacher in the Mercy Convent. I did not know him very well but I was influenced by Micheal O’Callaghan in that. Once at a small funeral in Assylinn, I, in some way, asked Micheal how he happened to be attending there and I paraphrase his answer,  ‘I knew it would be a small funeral. The great can have their great funerals but this person was also a Boyle man and I wasn’t for forgetting that’.

On Wednesday we attended at the home of the Brennan family mourning the death of the wife and mother of the house Bernadette. It was not long ago that I watched on Television a telling documentary as her husband Jackie cared for her in their home.

On today’s realboyle I see notice of the death of Pat Malone husband of Frances Grehan. Pat has been a regular visitor to Boyle down the years and I often met him and enjoyed his company. A true, kind and jovial Dub.

Also there is the notice of the death of Ted (Timothy) Brennan of Manorhamilton;  Lisserdrea, Boyle and Melbourne the father of Maureen Carty and grandfather of James and Maggie. I had met Ted just a couple of times. On one of those occasions we talked of his being in Australia and a big construction job inland. There was reference in our talk to Snowy Mountain. I was to meet him again but I didn’t.  There is a poem in my head submerged dealing with that theme. Perhaps it will have surfaced for the next time I visit here.  So since I like to add the occasional few verses I will add one of the fourteen verses of an iconic Australian poem which Ted would have been aware of.   

The Man from Snowy River

There was movement at the station, for the word had passed around

That the colt from old Regret had got away,

And had joined the wild bush horses - he was worth a thousand pound,

So all the cracks had gathered to the fray.

All the tried and noted riders from the stations near and far

Had mustered at the homestead overnight,

For the bushmen love hard riding where the wild bush horses are,

And the stock-horse snuffs the battle with delight.