We live in an age of technology which has effectively done away with the need for human input in a lot of jobs. In such an era, it’s hard to believe that once upon a time if you wanted to talk to someone in a bank or an insurance company or any such big national or international company, all you had to do was pick up the phone – or even better, just walk in off the street – and talk to whoever you happened to come across. Nowadays if you ring your local bank, you get through (if you’re lucky) to some call centre in a completely different part of Ireland, and if you want to have a word with one of the ever-decreasing number of staff members, you definitely have to make an appointment. The personal touch that was once so important is now nearly no more.
I was once a staff member with Bank of Ireland, an institution that I served for more than 12 years way back in my younger days, and all these thoughts came into my head last week when I heard of the death of a true legend, Marcus Keane.
Years ago, I guested in Quarry House in Roscommon town for a number of weeks, when Dinny Egan, Mickey Kelly and Marcus Keane were the occupants. To this day the dinners that appeared are still talked about. Dinny and Marcus were the cooks, while Mickey did the washing up. I wonder what I did? My good friend Jack the Lower recalled coming in to visit us one evening and wondering how four lads could possibly be thinking of eating all that was on the table.
Marcus moved on. I became an official part of the Quarry House population, and the towns of Strokestown, Glenamaddy and Roscommon (again) were all to benefit hugely from having Marcus working in their midst. One of the things I was told when I first ventured into banking in rural Ireland way, way back, was that we, the bank staff, were to be active on the social scene, that we were to mix and mingle with our customers wherever and whenever we happened to meet them. Sometimes that might be in the pub, which I took to like a duck to water, but in truth it meant that the local people got to know the bank staff, and many a deal was thrashed out in the back room, or snug, in the local, and all that was left to do was dot the Is and cross the Ts when the arrangement was later formalised in the bank itself.
Marcus Keane was the epitome of what it was to be a bank man back then. He was always available to talk to, he was known all over, and he was treasured by all the people he dealt with. In the world we live in today, he would probably be regarded as old-style, but as I drove back from the removal on Thursday evening, I felt extremely sad. I was, of course, sad at his passing at quite a young age, but I was also sad that there is little room for the likes of Marcus in the banking world any more – his larger than life personality would be in danger of being swallowed up by the technology that our generation has largely been replaced by.
Over the period I was in Ballintubber, Mayo (where he lived) on Thursday evening I saw people from Glenamaddy, Ballygar, Creggs, Ballaghaderreen, Glinsk and Roscommon, all of whom had been helped by Marcus at some time in their lives and all of whom just had to go along to say goodbye. Later, I got a message from a friend of mine, and I quote: “In fairness to Marcus, for once it can truly be said…we will not see his likes again”.
That sums it all up pretty well, and all I can do is express my sincere sympathy to his wife Mary, and all his family and friends. May he rest in peace.
Tries…and a fry
It’s early on Sunday morning, and in common with thousands of Irish people all over the world, I am up and ready for the full Irish – and all set to watch our opening match in the Rugby World Cup over there in Japan, where we are about to take on a Scottish team that has been doing a great job of talking themselves up and is certainly not short of confidence.
The truth is that I have been taken in by all the Scottish hype, and all week I had been predicting that we may well be beaten, so to see an Irish team go out and strangle the life out of our Celtic neighbours was very satisfying. It sets us up nicely for the rest of the tournament.
Now I won’t go into the actual story of the game – in which we played very well – but the commentary of Hugh Cahill and Donal Lenihan, with their continual over-confidence regarding the result, really annoyed me, and even though we were ahead all through the game, having seen the Scots come back to draw against England in the Six Nations after being 30 points down I really felt the two lads were a little over-inclined to write them off too early.
As it happened, I needn’t have worried, and we were worthy winners in the end. Now the secret is to keep our own feet on the ground and treat the Japanese, our next opponents, with proper respect, but like it or not, we are back in the running and have as good a chance as anyone (except maybe one or two) of claiming the Webb Ellis trophy.
The full Irish meanwhile was just beautiful, and fortified my belief that Kelly’s white pudding is an essential ingredient in any fry-up. I can’t wait to next Saturday morning for the match with Japan…and another helping of Kelly’s white pudding.
Dancing and drama!
A reminder now not to forget the huge Big Tom Tribute Night which is taking place on this Friday night, 27th of September at 8 pm in the Oaklands Hotel, Glenamaddy.
Among a large number of top class musical acts that are booked to appear, there will be a special guest appearance by Rex Reeves, nephew of the late and legendary Jim.
This is a real musical extravaganza, and a credit to Julie Healy for going to great lengths to organise it, so get to the Oakland on Friday night in huge numbers and make it a night to remember.
If, however, by any small chance you aren’t into country music, don’t panic, because on the same night (27th of September) and the following night (Saturday 28th) the Kilbegnet Drama Group are putting on their production of John B Keane’s ‘Sive’ in Kilbegnet Hall, with doors opening at 8 pm. They never disappoint so if you want a great night’s entertainment go along.
Finally for this week, our big dance on October 12th, in Dowd’s of Glinsk – for Cancer Care West, and Lourdes Invalid Fund – is getting ever closer, so put that date in your diary, and we look forward to seeing you all then (or even before) and hope you will dance the night away to the music of the wonderful Lancers.
Till next week, Bye for now!