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Paul Healy's Week

Paul Healy's Week

Would it happen in a minister’s constituency?






No surprise here at the dismaying ‘news’ that the fate of the Rosalie Unit in Castlerea has been sealed. We’ve seen it all before. Our local politicians, of all hues, have failed on this one. The Government of the day has let local people down. As ever, they hide behind the coat-tails of faceless people.

  The mantra of Junior Health Minister Jim Daly has become tiresome. Over the years, politicians have always been adept at hiding behind civil servants…in the case of health, they shamelessly hide behind the HSE or HIQA, or both. Daly excels at it.

  He is not the only one. If there’s a positive health story, the politicians are all over the place, smiling for the cameras and slapping themselves on the back. If it’s bad news, they tut-tut and say it’s all down to the civil servants. In the case of the Rosalie Unit, Minister Daly has bluntly said he has no intention of ‘going against clinicians’. He takes his advice, he says, not from local politicians, but from clinicians.

  So that’s it then. In Jim’s world, politicians who have responsibility for the Department of Health cannot intervene. It’s baloney. If the political will was there, Rosalie would remain open in its current guise. I somehow doubt that we would see a similar facility closing down in a minister’s constituency.


One to watch: Casey v Ming


He may be a divisive figure with controversial views, but I must say I found Peter Casey to be a very friendly interviewee on Monday.

  The Roscommon People was the only local media outlet to meet up with Mr. Casey, who spent Monday – the day on which nominations closed for the European elections – in Roscommon. He and his wife Helen stayed overnight in Gleeson’s in the county town.

  Initially seen as something of a joke candidate (and still derided by many), Casey clearly connected with a huge section of the electorate in last year’s Presidential election, securing 342,727 votes and finishing second to President Michael D. Higgins.

  One week after Marian Harkin’s departure boosted Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan’s re-election prospects, Casey’s entry into the European election race represents a real challenge to the Castlerea man (and others). 

   And there’s no love lost already between the controversial Casey and the sometimes controversial ‘Ming’. They met for the first time last week, when both were panellists on the Tonight Show with Matt Cooper and Ivan Yates. According to Casey, Ming initially ignored him in the ‘Green Room’ before the show began. Casey told the Roscommon People that during the break he had to ask Ming to stop shouting as it was giving him an earache! For his part, Ming says that Casey is “probably one of the least interesting candidates in the field”.

  After our interview on Monday, I believe Casey popped into a local pub, The Brewery, where he was greeted by surprised locals…who were not expecting the runner-up in the 2018 Presidential election to suddenly walk in and enliven their Monday evening!


Marching on together?


Of course the sporting comeback that makes what Mr. Woods has achieved look like a walk in the park…or fairway…is tentatively taking shape in Leeds.

  Ready (hopefully) to shake up the world are the mighty men of Leeds United, who might just possibly be about to return to the top flight of English football for the first time since 2004.

  There are numerous Leeds United fans in County Roscommon, some of them even willing to go public on it.

  Only recently, Seamus Comiskey put his head out the window as he was driving past me in Abbey Street, letting out a shout ‘We’re marching on together!’

  Yes, there are lots of Leeds fans in Co. Roscommon who are marching on together just now. You will probably find them hiding behind their sofas when Leeds are in action on Sky Sports, or maybe in their garden shed saying a prayer in front of a poster of the Don Revie team of the 1960s/’70s. All will be revealed in the next few weeks…(in other news, Liverpool are apparently facing off with Manchester City).


Tiger shakes up the world…


Oh, the magic of sport!

  Last Sunday, organisers brought forward the fourth round of the Masters Golf Tournament – because they feared storms were coming to Atlanta. In fact they got an earthquake.

  Just about everything Tiger Woods has done over the past decade or so could have been accompanied by that dramatic closing theme music on Eastenders. And that’s putting it mildly.

  It’s a crazy narrative. He was the superstar who fell into the gutter. He destroyed his marriage, his personal life unravelling in scandal in front of the entire world. Then came the golfing decline. Woods spent years’ battling severe back pain, plummeting to 1,199 in the world rankings. The Gods were vengeful. He even got the putting Yips. He was a pitiful sight on his arrest for reckless driving. A series of surgeries on his back seemed only to prolong the agony, Woods trapped in an increasingly hapless battle against physical and mental breakdown. A year or two ago, as he sought to scramble any hope of recovery from the wreckage of his career, it was unthinkable that Woods would ever be a force again.

  It was all so different in the beginning. He first shook up the world in 1997, winning his first major at the age of 21. He won 13 more majors in a 9-year spell. Then it all ended. Woods lost his auru on the course and his credibility off it, and was cast into a decade of humiliation, hurt, and justified shame.

  They said he couldn’t win again. They even said he couldn’t play again. Long ago, they even began to avert their gaze. Now he was pitied, the great Tiger dragged down by his own demons and fate.

  Then the miracle began to reveal itself…over the past 18 months or so. Tiger back, on the march again, but older and wiser and more mature now. By last weekend, we had begun to wonder if a sporting immortal might actually drag the glory days back through sheer will.

  ‘I shook up the world’. It’s Ali’s phrase. When Muhammad Ali (well, he was Cassius Clay at the time) sensationally defeated Sonny Liston in 1964, he stood on the ropes of the boxing ring and hollered aloud: ‘I shook up the world! I shook up the world!’  

  Ali defined more than one generation, perhaps he defined the entire 20th century. He transcended and partly shaped historic social change.

  Tiger Woods belongs to a different era, and will never be such a positive force as Ali was. So I am not making a direct comparison; Ali has an iconic status that Woods cannot match.

  Woods wasn’t a nice man in the past. He behaved shockingly in his private life. But this is arguably a story of epic redemption. It was very touching to see those emotional scenes on Sunday, moments after his triumph, as Woods embraced his children.

  Redemption or not, it’s certainly one of the most amazing sporting comebacks of all time. Tiger Woods has shook up the world.





Tiger Roll, GOT, CBS, Brexit u-turn



Tiger then…Tiger again?


To win one Grand National is a magnificent, career-defining achievement; to win back-to-back Grand Nationals is the stuff of legend. (Real legend, not the daft, chronically over-used version so often foisted on us these days).

  So, hats off and arms in the air to Tiger Roll and Davy Russell on the weekend’s other big sporting achievement (with Roscommon CBS).

  Tiger Roll just strode effortlessly into the history books. A historic weekend too as Michael O’Leary actually offered free drinks on a Ryanair flight, but let’s concentrate on the horse. Wonderful. I can (just) remember when Red Rum won his second Grand National, in 1974. Red Rum went on to win a third, in 1977. The fact that mere mention of Red Rum still lifts the heart over forty years on is a measure of what Tiger Roll has just achieved.

  And maybe it’s a good omen for the other legendary Tiger. If Tiger Woods happens to emerge from the pack in the Masters at Augusta this weekend, it too would be a triumph for the ages, the stuff of real legend, a sporting comeback and feat that would be spoken of long into the future.


Have you heard? It’s back!


The newspaper headline I’d like to have seen over the weekend (but didn’t).

  ‘No more headlines about the return of Game of Thrones’.

  The Game of Thrones phenomenon seems to be commanding more newspaper space than Brexit these days – even though the cast of characters in the latter is much scarier.


What Kate said next…


The Sunday Independent interviewed prominent Fine Gael TD Kate O’Connell, who helpfully posed for a delightful photograph by siting in long and lush grass.

  Journalist Donal Lynch asked Kate about her colleague, Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy. Is he still the right man for the job?

  As Eoghan was reading this over breakfast, he will undoubtedly have expected a version of ‘Political Stock Answer A’.

  E.G. “Absolutely. I have seen first-hand how passionate Eoghan is about housing. He is absolutely the right man for the job. The opposition are just playing politics. I have full confidence in Eoghan”.

  But that’s not what Kate said. Instead, what she actually said was: “I don’t know”.

  Oops (and sharp intake of breath at the Murphy kitchen table).

  Kate, no longer posing in the lush grass, did elaborate a little, but it didn’t get that much better.

  “He was given the job by the Taoiseach so I guess you could say it’s above my pay scale to say that. He got into politics to make a difference and I can’t doubt his work ethic”.

  Now, as a long-time observer of ‘political-speak’, I can assure you that is not an endorsement. She’s ain’t no fan of the embattled Housing Minister.

  Maybe she’s waiting in the long grass?



Weekend to remember


You have to hand it to the ‘young people’ these days.

  Not content with winning an All-Ireland football title on Saturday, the stunningly successful Roscommon CBS only went and broke a world record the same weekend (as part of Autism Awareness Month).

  What will our all-conquering youth take on next? Saving the planet? Oh sorry, they’ve already started that, with their Climate Change campaigning!

  Joking aside, what a truly great achievement by Roscommon CBS. The manner of the All-Ireland victory was a superb finale to a great campaign. And what a great credit the entire panel have been to their parents, the school, their town and county. Take a bow too the rest of the pupils in the school, and teachers, all of whom have been so supportive of a historic All-Ireland campaign.


This is what he said…


On Newsnight on Friday night, a slightly embarrassed but philosophical columnist with a leading right-wing UK newspaper was in the process of admitting that, having argued the merits of leaving the EU before and after the referendum, he had now changed his mind and was in favour of remaining.

  While trying to explain his u-turn, he entirely reasonably pointed out that the public had not been fully aware of all that was involved in leaving, or of all the possible implications.

  Then there was the Irish situation, he said, adding: “…Ireland, which has haunted Great Britain for 500 years”.

  They were his exact words. He didn’t explain any further.

Bernard and Marty, Gooch and Picasso


Surviving Marty & Bernard

First, we closed the curtains…in solemn acknowledgement of the enormity of what was about to unfold.

  Then, in order to spare them, we asked the children to move to another room.

  In a final act of generosity, we covered the dog’s eyes with a copy of a pets’ magazine. 

  Only for the dodgy broadband, we’d have streamed some of that music the state broadcaster in the Soviet Union used to play when one of their leaders had died.

  The fateful moment arrived, and we were braced for it. There was no turning back now. And so, with heavy but stoic hearts, we watched Marty and Bernard’s Big Adventure.

  This is a two-part television series in which Mary Morrissey and Bernard O’Shea set out to see what is the most ludicrous way in which taxpayers’ money can be squandered, or, as the RTE blurb prefers to describe it, ‘an investigation into modern male masculinity’.

  Nothing could have adequately prepared us for the horrors that unfolded over that hour. Still, we bravely stuck with it, even as our dog Coco walked out in protest.

  Those of you who missed it are to be envied for eternity, while any of our readers who experienced trauma which watching Marty and Bernard’s Big Adventure are advised that a Helpline has been set up. Daniel & Majella have been recalled from the US.

  Furthermore, a vigil will be held outside RTE HQ where sufferers can share their stories and protest ahead of the second episode. A collection will be held for distraught TV licence holders. John Delaney’s accountant has been cordially invited.

Finian’s foot in mouth…

Ah Finian, and we had missed you so much…

  Sorry, but we have a bit of a thing about Finian here. Finian McGrath. Decent chap, certainly. Good ould skin. But we’ve watched his ‘playing it both ways’ approach for many years…with a combination of reluctant admiration and near-disdain.

  Finian, now an Independent Government Minister, has been quiet lately. But all that changed at the weekend. Bristling with pride and doubtlessly ever so slightly swayed by the trappings of office, Finian was on a roll. Never that well acquainted with modesty, Finian was revelling in the presence of the reporter and photographer from the Sunday Independent.

  And so, even though he is a Government Minister, Finian went into full ‘Man of the people’ mode, perhaps with an eye or two on the next General Election.

  When it came to the drink-driving laws, he sort of lost the run of himself. The Gardaí, the bould Finian suggested, don’t approve of the latest drink-driving laws. Some within An Garda Síochána, he suggested, want to and do blame the Government (“and I don’t like that”). He then went further, and it was naughty stuff from a member of Government. Finian inferred that our police force actually has a political agenda…to damage the government of the day.

  Great copy for the journalist. The Sunday Independent made hay with it. Front page treatment. A big outcry followed on Sunday. Finian was in danger of spoiling Mother’s Day. Finian had to fire-fight.

  Finian withdrew his comments, but being loyal to the tradition of so many Irish politicians before him, he was careful to not actually apologise. In fact he had the cheek to include the following self-important guff: “Nobody is more supportive of the work An Garda Síochána does – often in tough circumstances – than I am”.

  Not true, Finian – every one of us who hasn’t accused the Gardaí of mounting a campaign against the Government has arguably been more supportive of An Garda Síochána than you (at least until you clarified your comments). 

  Anyways, I don’t think it was a resigning matter. Decent man. Big ego.

  As the pressure grew, our hero did what he should have done early on Sunday – he actually apologised. 

On the top of the Times…

At the top of the front page of the Irish Times on Saturday, two of the feature stories in the ‘Weekend Review’ were prominently highlighted…tempting readers to turn inside. There were two names and two faces.

  One of those people was Fintan O’Toole. While certainly a divisive figure, O’Toole is a journalist/commentator who is widely respected, even by those who hold staunchly opposing views.

  He belongs on the top of ‘Weekend Review’, or indeed on the front page.

  The other person helping to promote ‘Weekend Review’ was some geezer called Liam Byrne, described by the esteemed ‘paper of record’ as ‘Christy Kinahan’s lieutenant in Ireland’. The article on Byrne was accompanied by an artist’s drawing of the ‘trusted associate of the Kinahan cartel’…the graphic adding mystique to the subject.

  This was undoubtedly an impressive piece of journalism by Conor Lally. I’m full of admiration for the research that went into it, but Liam Byrne is not anyone’s ‘lieutenant’, and arguably not Irish Times’ feature material. I’m not sure that attaching some kind of celebrity status to alleged criminals is what the media should be doing.

  It’s giving underworld figures an elevated status in society. Instead of glorifying them with feature articles and illustrations – not to mention the nicknames much loved by the Sunday World and other tabloids – we should read about their ‘life and crimes’ in the newspapers’ court reports.

Gooch & Picasso…

Mayo’s victory in the Allianz Division One League Final was important in its own right – silverware at Croker and all that – it could also be very significant from a psychological perspective.

  The game was unusually (and refreshingly) free-flowing, and Mayo were deserving winners. They left Croke Park with the trophy – and left Kerry with a good deal to think about.

  Mayo are certainly in good shape, a view shared by League Sunday pundits Ciaran Whelan and Colm Cooper. The latter, by the way, remains an earnest but fairly average addition to RTE’s lengthy list of expert former players. Genius in front of goal, so-so in studio.

  Still, we’ll surely forgive the great ‘Gooch’ his clichéd punditry. After all, if Picasso was around today, we probably wouldn’t complain if he was only an average contributor on the Arts Show.









Relegation, financial advice and two Martys...



Oh well, now for the championship!

The Hyde looked great on Sunday. Unfortunately, so did Kerry. I was a little late; on the positive side, that meant I got parking directly outside the gates. Does this happen every time (if you turn up a little late)?

  Roscommon were buzzing. In truth, they never gave up, they left everything on the pitch, but Kerry absolutely oozed quality.

  It was a beautiful day, but very, very windy, as I’m sure Roscommon goalkeeper Colm Lavin will agree. Kick-outs were some challenge on Sunday, the ball actually spinning back like a frisbee more than once. 

  Our fate sealed long before the end, the atmosphere in the stand became subdued. So Roscommon kind of stuttered out of Division One, lamenting that unproductive trip to Cavan, what might have been against Tyrone. 

  Still, roll on the championship…and there is much to look forward to!


Free financial advice to FAI

I’m not great with the ould finances, but I still think I could possibly – just possibly – help the FAI out.

  We are constantly hearing that the Football Association of Ireland is ‘cash-strapped’.

  Now it turns out that they have been paying their (now former) CEO John Delaney an annual salary of €360k.

  This, we knew. What we didn’t know was that the FAI has also been paying rent of €3k a month on a house so that Mr. Delaney could rest his head at night and dream of his bulging bank account. 

  So, here’s my advice. When the FAI hires a new CEO (Mr. Delaney has moved to a new role within the organisation) why not just pay that person €360k a year and tentatively suggest that they pay their own rent/mortgage?

  That way, the FAI would save €36k a year. Another point, and I appreciate the horse has bolted on this one…if the FAI had declined to pay Mr. Delaney’s rent over the last three years, they would have saved €108k and therefore would not have had to look for a €100k ‘bridging loan’…which they got from Mr. Delaney.

  My financial advice to the FAI is free, although I am available to discuss them paying our mortgage…


Dubs and the cattle: More revelations!


I received this email from Roscommon fan Eddie Morley, in relation to my recent articles on the ‘night of mayhem’ when a small number of Dublin fans rampaged in Roscommon town (probably in 1975)…


Dear Paul,


I’ve enjoyed your recent articles which have revived great memories from the 1970s. I was 13 on that day, when the Dubs came to town. In those days I was brought from Loughglynn to every match with my older brother by Tom Mahon, a diehard Rossie supporter from the village (Feigh), who sadly passed away a few years back.

  My abiding memory is of the field on the right-hand side before the Hyde on the Athlone Road…I think it still is a low, waterlogged field. Cows were peacefully grazing in that field up ‘till early afternoon on that Sunday.

  I vividly remember a group of Dubs with long banners wrapped around them chasing a bewildered cow who had a ‘Jackeen’ (Dublin supporter) on her back…we thought it was hilarious at the time. Pity the poor cow however…the more supporters cheered from the road, the faster the poor cow went. I can’t recall everything of what happened next, but the Dub went flying at some stage and we continued on our way to the Hyde.

  I can’t recall memories of the match but I think Tony Hanahoe and David Hickey were on the Dublin team. I would love to see if anyone still has the line-outs.

  As for the night before (when fights broke out in Castle Street and Dublin fans rode some cattle in a nearby field/in the street) I wasn’t old enough to be on Castle Street the night before – maybe just as well!


Yours sincerely,

Eddie Morley


* Thanks Eddie for more great memories of that weekend…and I will welcome any more contributions, to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


There’s more than one Marty…


I hardly ever watch Winning Streak, partly because Marty, giant of broadcasting though he is, has developed a very irritating folksy-gone-mad style.

  It’s all terribly excitable and frantic, and dare I say it, prone to being a touch patronising towards the ‘Up-from-the-country-for-a-bit-of-dosh’ brigade.

  There are times when I feel sympathy for the contestants as the incredibly enthusiastic Marty Maestro emerges before them, rubbing his hands together, his head bobbing with excitement, a flurry of words startling the poor player. Some of these Saturdays I’m expecting a contestant to pull earplugs out of nowhere and communicate with Marty through hand signals only.

  (Now don’t get me wrong, I’m still a fan of Marty’s, he’s one of our most versatile presenters, and a lovely man. I spent a few hours in his company when he presented the Roscommon People of the Year Awards many years ago, and he could not have been nicer).

  Anyways, it just ‘came on’ on Saturday night, and before I could take drastic action, there was a fine, friendly Roscommon man in front of us. And I had no idea of the current (they keep changing the ‘games’) format, but within a minute of kick-off the Roscommon man had won a new car!

  So well done to Roscommon Hospital employee Brendan Leech, winner of that new car (and €5K). And while we’d really like Marty to tone it all down a little, we’ll stay loyal to the silver-tongued national treasure.


Is this really happening?


Speaking of well-known ‘RTE Martys’…I see on the cover of the Sunday Independent’s Life magazine that Marty Morrissey is posing in the spot normally occupied by Miriam O’Callaghan.

  There’s Marty and comedian Bernard O’Shea, both in dress suits, complete with bow ties, staring dreamily from the front cover, under the headline ‘A fine bromance: When Marty met Bernard’.

  I was going to say ‘there are no words’ but unfortunately there are thousands of them inside, in a four-page special.

  It seems that the bizarre and relentless process of transforming the GAA commentator, decent man Marty, into some sort of all-round celebrity, is being cranked up.

  From what I can gather from this er…cover story, the latest development is: GAA commentator and journeyman comedian make a two-part television series about male grooming. Yep, coming soon. That’s it.

  Miriam must be fuming.


The Dublin fans, the mayhem, the cattle…






In this column last week, I wrote about the occasion in the 1970s when Dublin fans went on a bit of a rampage in Roscommon on the night before a match between the two counties.

  Not only did they fight, break windows and cause general mayhem, but according to folklore, they allegedly broke into the mart, released cattle and rode them down Castle Street.

  Last week, I invited readers with any recall of that night of mayhem to get in touch. My invitation was ‘half in jest’, but in fact I got a great response!

  A number of people that I’ve spoken to since last week have confirmed that the ‘night of mayhem’ most certainly happened. One man insisted ‘1976’. Needless to say, over four decades on, when it comes to recalling the detail there is a bit of ‘rustiness about the rustling’. But we are making progress on salvaging this night from the past, and if you read on, you will get the perspective of a Garda who was present that night…and we also find out more about the extraordinary story of the ‘stolen cattle’.

The Garda’s eyewitness account!

I received a detailed account of the ‘night of mayhem’ from a Garda who was on duty on the night.

  The now retired Garda contacted me during the week and confirmed that all the drama on the night happened in the Castle Street area.

  “I was a very young Garda in Roscommon at the time” he began. “On the Saturday night before the Roscommon/Dublin game, fans congregrated around the Royal Hotel. Fans always congregated there when there were matches on”.

  Yes, that I could vouch for myself!

  Back to our friendly ex-Garda, whom I must say recalled the night with some nostalgia.

  “So”, he continued, “on the Saturday night, the Dublin fans were outside the Royal, and after a while there was bedlam. Castle Street was blocked off. We arrived in the only squad car we had, two or three young Guards. It was mayhem, with Dublin fans breaking windows and throwing punches”.

  The Gardai made a number of arrests, which wasn’t easy in the madcap prevailing circumstances.

  “There were fellas hanging on to the squad car…batons were drawn. Peace was finally restored after several outbreaks of fighting”.

  But it was really only half-time…

  The Gardai brought whatever few offenders they had managed to arrest straight up to the cells in the Garda Station.  Suddenly it was “all calm” on Castle Street, with hundreds of Dublin and Roscommon fans drinking on the still impassable street. Then, out of the blue, a Co. Roscommon man upended a Dublin supporter and “all hell broke loose again”.  

  Back in the Garda Station, the apprehended Dublin fans – still the worse for wear – were having the craic with the local Gardai, not to mention insisting that they were innocent.

The cattle – revealed!

So, did some of that small number of rampaging Dubs break into Roscommon Mart and release cattle? It appears not, but instead they ‘borrowed’ the cattle from a very well-known business family!

  None other than well-known Roscommon businessman Declan Molloy (of Molloy’s Bakery) was able to help with my enquiries. “They were our cattle” Declan said with a smile when I called in for a coffee the other day.

  So I rang him back on Wednesday.

  “We had cattle at the back of our house in Castle Street” Declan revealed.  “The incident happened in the early hours of the morning, after whatever high jinks had gone on in Castle Street. We were all gone to bed in our house…then in the early hours, we got a phone call from a neighbour, who told us that Dublin fans were riding our cattle around in the field!”

  Seemingly about half a dozen Dublin fans had corralled the cattle into a pen and proceeded to ride them around the field.  

  Declan Molloy: “By the time we got down to check, they were just leaving. Cattle would have been fairly tame in those days. One of my brothers went down to check on them and he said the cattle were absolutely shattered”.

  I asked Declan if the cattle were traumatised.  

  “No, there was no harm done, but they were certainly tired! They were all sitting down!”

Another twist…

Larry! Of course, why didn’t I think of Larry before this! So, just before going to press, I rang Larry O’Gara, whose family ran the Royal Hotel, which was so frequented in that era by GAA fans.

  He remembered the night well. And he even ventured to ‘change’ the year! “I’m pretty sure it was 1975” Larry said, “because Dublin were All-Ireland champions at the time. They had won the All-Ireland in 1974”.

  So, a new twist! It was the All-Ireland champions who were in town, and it was 1975, not ’76!

  And, during our conversation, Larry even re-opened the theory that the Dubs DID ride the cattle down Castle Street!

  Larry O’Gara: “It was a great weekend! The Dublin fans stayed in the hotel Friday, Saturday and Sunday night. They brought accordions and tambourines and bodhrans…they played music all weekend”.

  Larry recalled the fighting in Castle Street on the Saturday night.

  “In fact there was a fight in the hotel itself, but it was harmless enough. Castle Street was full of people and yes, there were rows, but a lot of it was good-natured and harmless”.

  He recalled his late mother having quite a job accommodating Dublin fans. “In the end, they were asleep in the corridor, in the bar, anywhere they could get a lie-down!” 

  I asked if he recalled the episode with the cattle.

  “Oh yes, now I didn’t witness it myself, because I was busy in the hotel, but I am certain that some of the Dublin fans rode cows down Cattle Street. They got them from Molloy’s land, took them out, and rode them down the street”.

Back in the cells in the Garda Station…

Meanwhile, some Dublin fans were kept in the cells overnight, and throughout the game, only being released after Roscommon and the All-Ireland champions were finished in the Hyde.

  My Garda contact from this week: “We let some of them out after the match on Sunday…to get the train back to Dublin. I think it was leaving at 5 o’clock.

  “One fellow ran up the street to get to the train and away from the Garda Station… there was scaffolding up outside a building in Abbey Street. The poor fellow ran straight into it and knocked himself unconscious. We came to his aid, got him on the train and made sure he was looked after”.

  Now – I’m almost as exhausted as the Dubs, the Gardai and the cattle were!

  Ah, the good old days!

A sporting Saturday that just wasn’t funny…

I didn’t get to Salthill for Roscommon v Galway, but, a few screen breaks aside, I was able to commit to a long afternoon in front of the television.

  And that’s when those amongst the sporting Gods that wear primrose and blue duly punished me for not supporting the Rossies in the flesh…

  What a stinker of a sporting day! I sat in front of that television as an expectant Leeds, Roscommon and Ireland fan…little did I know what misery lay ahead.

  To paraphrase that great Norwegian soccer commentator from long ago (Norway 2 England 1, 1981), I took a hell of a beating.

  Leeds, so close to securing that long-awaited return to the Premier League, had a chance to go five points clear of promotion rivals Sheffield United. The sides met in Saturday’s ‘High Noon’ on Sky – Leeds dominated, but Sheffield won.

  Next, Wales v Ireland in the rugby, with radio and Twitter updates on Galway v Roscommon. More misery. Roscommon’s defeat leaves them staring relegation in the face. Still, while there’s life there’s hope. The Rossies face Kerry in a crunch game this Sunday.

  Ireland lost every key call against Wales, but it was still a poor performance. Wales were worthy winners.

  Anyways, the amazing Scotland comeback against England in a Twickenham classic, and a simply sensational Players’ Championship in the golf – won by Rory McIlroy – brought some welcome balance and brilliance to that mischevious sporting weekend.

Four ‘nuns’ on a truck…

This country is changing so rapidly, it’s mind-boggling. There we were on Sunday, my son and I, walking along the pavement in Ballyleague, minding our own business.

  Then four nuns waved at us from a transport box, or was it from the back of a truck?

  Oh yeah, just remembered…the Ballyleague/Lanesboro St. Patrick’s Day Parade had just ended. Lots of good floats, lots of fun, great crowds. Oh yeah again…thanks a million to the guys on the ‘Zombies’ float (representing Ballyboro Scouts, I think). They were firing water pistols and dancing to/singing Baby Shark – and I cannot get that sound out of my head since!

THE highlight of the Six Nations…

So, farewell then, to the 2019 Six Nations Championship…

  On Sunday night, the Virgin Media team did a review of the tournament, hosted by the sure-footed Joe Molloy. Despite Ireland’s drubbing by Wales on Saturday, it had a good-humoured end-of-term feel to it. Even Matt Williams smiled, although this may have been an unintentional lapse.

  They discussed the highlights of the 2019 Six Nations…and while it is true that Wales and England were impressive, I thought the pundits overlooked what for me was the obvious highlight of the campaign.

  Which was…that wonderful, evocative television advert (a true story) featuring the two Welsh brothers honouring their late mother’s will by attending Six Nations’ matches.









































































































































Closed premises, ballboys and Lovely Leitrim...



The other day…

That little premises used to be open – but now it’s closed.

  I noticed it the other day, another quiet and silent and dignified addition to the ‘boarded up premises’ statistics.

  The life has ebbed from that small business outlet, at least until someone else ‘takes a punt’, if someone else ever does.

  The shelves are suddenly empty. The unopened post lies on the floor. The furniture is gone.

  Hopefully it wasn’t/isn’t too great a trauma for the entrepreneur who had to ‘call time’. We can only wonder. There may have been stressful nights, long debates, awkward conversations, tensions and torments. A dream, of whatever magnitude, has died, at least for now.

  The small premises’ where the shelves were stocked with hope are under serious attack. Online shopping has all the momentum, true…but next time we need to do some shopping/access some services, let’s remember the small man and woman with the scribbled projections on the kitchen table – and let’s think of those doors that are shutting in our midst.


They’ll have told us so!

Wondering what the Irish rugby media will say after Ireland’s crunch game with France this weekend? I can tell you…

  If we win: ‘Ship steadied. Calm leadership from Schmidt. Growing into the tournament. Strength in depth. Can look to World Cup with cautious confidence. We told you so’.

  If we lose: ‘Wheels have come off. Schmidt should never have said he was leaving. Team is over-rated. One-dimensional. No real strength in depth. 2007 all over again. Bah, humbug. We told you so!’

Gaffer Anthony

I was intrigued by the following reference to Roscommon manager Anthony Cunningham in a report in the Irish Sun on the weekend thriller in Hyde Park:…‘Gaffer Cunningham’.

  Gaffer?!! Could it be that the Irish Sun is being influenced (infiltrated?) by their UK colleagues?

  Coming next week: ‘The lad done well’?


Not Trumped yet

I know people across the world are thinking ‘something has to bring Trump down sooner or later’, but I’m not sure that Michael Cohen is the smoking gun.

  Cohen sought to rip asunder the credibility (yeah, I know, I know) of his former boss (President Trump) from the very beginning of his testimony to the House of Representatives Oversight Committee.

  But when I heard this direct quote from the bould Michael on day one, I reckoned Trump had little to worry about.

  Mr. Cohen: “I lied, but I’m not a liar”.

  With enemies like that Donald, you can continue to stay ahead of the posse…


Short(ish) memory!

It’s almost 21 years since Eastenders famously got into hot water over its depiction of Ireland when some episodes of the popular UK soap were based here (complete with tedious stereotyping).

  I don’t watch Eastenders, but under the ‘It was on in the corner’ rule, I noticed on Monday evening that Albert Square legend ‘Dot’ is going to spend some time in Ireland with relatives.

  Which prompted this response from some character I didn’t recognise:

  “Even Ireland’s got to be a better place than here, innit?”

  Even Ireland? Ouch.

  We’re suitably sensitive/indignant…and so it’s a yellow (green-tinted) card to the scriptwriter with the short(ish) memory!


Ballboy 1 Klopp 0

Can the owners of Liverpool arrange to have that charismatic but increasingly easy-to-wind-up Jurgen Klopp airlifted from the touchline at the final whistle of Liverpool’s remaining games?

  Example one: Recently Klopp furiously rounded on a referee when no-one in the stadium had a clue what the ‘Pool supremo’s gripe was.

  Example two: Last Sunday, there was that bizarre footage as Klopp left the field after a disappointing 0-0 draw in the Merseyside derby.

  Sarcastically applauded by a cheeky ballboy, Klopp initially looked set to explode, before responding with a less than convincing ‘smile’.

  To be fair, that Everton ballboy caused Jurgen Klopp more anguish than have most rival managers/teams this season.

  Mr. Mourinho, wherever you are, please note: There’s a new maestro of psychology in town. An Everton ballboy…



I had some sort of a weird vision the other night…basically that our local TD Michael Fitzmaurice wasn’t a guest on the Tonight Show with Ivan Yates and Matt Cooper.

  I know, it’s crazy. I can only presume that it was a dream…


Poetry in motion 

It was a special weekend for Leitrim. We knew it was coming to this, such was the momentum. And so, with two games to spare, our neighbours march into Division 3 and into a league final at Croke Park.

  I remember their big day in Croke Park a quarter of a century ago. It’s hard to believe almost 25 years have passed since that memorable day. There was a wonderful atmosphere in Dorset Street before the game, as Leitrim folk from all over the world took over this part of the Capital, prior to their All-Ireland semi-final with Dublin.

  They were there, in that era before the ‘back door’ and quarter-finals, by virtue of winning only their second ever Connacht Final.

  Managed by John O’Mahoney, Leitrim defeated Mayo in Hyde Park. The scenes were epic, emotional, historic.

  And that’s when one Leitrim supporter was inspired to write this simple but memorable and apt poem.


The man from Leitrim (5.30 pm)

With chest expanding

He strides across Roscommon Town

A young son clutches his big hand and asks

‘Daddy, why are you crying?’








‘I hope Ireland hit form…if only to see Matt Williams smile’



I can’t be the only person who finds the stoppages in rugby tedious, can I? Anyways, I’ve got around this problem quite easily…by recording the Six Nations games and only starting to watch the action ten or fifteen minutes into the match. That way, every time there’s a long stoppage, I can usually fast-forward until the ‘action’ has recommenced.

   I mean, just how long do they have to mess about for during preparation for a scrum? And the line-outs are almost as bad. But I’m not really complaining…I’ve managed to bypass those stoppages and savour the open play.

  It was a sporting weekend that promised much, but under-delivered. Manchester United v Liverpool was a scoreless draw, not exactly matching the pre-game hype. Ireland were very unimpressive in Rome, though in fairness it says a lot about how high our expectations are when we complain about a 10-point away win, complete with bonus point. I hope Ireland hit form soon, if only to see Virgin Media analyst Matt Williams break into a smile.

  Much to my dismay (before the game at least) I couldn’t get to Cavan for the Roscommon match. In the first half, Willie kept saying Roscommon had the wind at their backs…then when Cavan goaled to go in ahead at the break, the writing was on the pitch.

  The best sporting entertainment of the weekend was Wales v Cardiff, but this column’s Oscar for Best Drama (and best acting?) goes to Kepa, the Chelsea goalkeeper. He greatly enlivened Sunday afternoon, with his extraordinary refusal to leave the pitch when the Chelsea manager tried to substitute him. I can’t see them getting on too well at the Christmas Party – mainly because at least one of them will have left the club by then.


Just a thought…


* The RTE promo for Saturday night’s Ray D’Arcy Show was full of promise: It read:

‘Ray D’Arcy presents a brand new range of guests bursting with entertaining yarns and engaging human interest stories’.

  Should I take legal action – or just send a strongly worded email to the Director General?


Why Simon stayed…


I’m full of admiration for the selflessness of Health Minister Simon Harris.

  Apparently, during the Dáil debate on his ‘Being asleep on the job while hundreds of millions of euro were added to the projected costs of the National Children’s Hospital’, the Minister said that he is not the resigning type. It’s not in his DNA.

  So, let’s be clear: Minister Harris is not the resigning type. He doesn’t walk away from trouble. He battles on. He doesn’t give in. He’s just not the resigning type. In fact, it’s not in his DNA, so he couldn’t if he wanted to!

  So that’s all alright then!

  Where do they get their arrogance?

A family that deserves answers…

I know that Church so well.

  Castlerahan is a lovely, peaceful place, near Ballyjamesduff, in Co. Cavan. It holds a special place in our thoughts. My mother is a native of the area, and we spent many happy times there.

  There’s something special about that Church, perched on top of a hill…a serene setting where families gather for Mass and other ceremonies.

  The Church is across from the local school. Alan Hawe was vice-principal there. His sons were pupils there. It’s still shocking to think that such unspeakable tragedy would so savagely crush the tranquillity in Castlerahan. But that’s what happened. Two and a half years ago, Alan Hawe murdered his wife Clodagh and their sons Liam, Niall and Ryan.

  On ‘Claire Byrne Live’on Monday night we saw a remarkable interview with Clodagh Hawe’s mother Mary and sister Jacqueline. ‘Her name is Clodagh’ was powerful, deeply emotional, gripping, heartbreaking.

  The two ladies were incredibly brave and composed as they spoke. They didn’t want to do the interview, but they did it because Clodagh, Liam, Niall and Ryan have no voices.

  Clodagh’s utterly devastated family are unhappy about the unanswered questions that remain. They say they have been denied access to Garda files. They have called for a new enquiry into what happened – and why – and for a number of changes in the law.

  They made their case in a compelling and articulate manner. They need their voices to be heard. The issues they raise are rightly of concern. Above all else, the family of Clodagh Hawe deserve answers to their many questions.

This is not Rooskey (Part 2)…




It might have been helpful if there was a Town Crier at the bridge in Rooskey on Sunday.

  ‘Roll up, roll up, folks! Open-air circus in town! Roll up!’  

  And behind him, a sad-faced clown: ‘Spoiler Alert! It’s not funny….’

  Sunday’s anti-racism rally, for one reason or another, descended into farce. Let me say at the outset that I am not actually trivialising the issues – after all, I have written quite extensively about the current controversy in Rooskey, e.g. the proposed opening of the Shannon Key West Hotel as an asylum reception centre, the two arson attacks on the property, and the tension-filled fall-out from the whole saga. 

  I would also like to make clear that there were many genuine people present beside Rooskey Bridge on Sunday for an event which was billed as a ‘No to Racism: Asylum Seekers Welcome’ Rally. 

  But what unfolded was, for the most part, an unedifying farce, a shambles.

  I’ve had many a happy Sunday afternoon in Rooskey, but the hour and a half I spent on the riverbank last Sunday won’t rank highly in my memory.

  The first anti-racism rally back in January – the local community’s snubbing of it notwithstanding – was orderly, peaceful, pleasant, structured. It was different last Sunday. The organisers were certainly not at fault initially; they would argue that their event was disrupted. But the organisers certainly did not cover themselves in glory once they saw even the slightest hint of an alternative view manifest itself.

  When a local woman angrily interjected at the beginning of the rally – claiming the organisers were blackening the name of the village and that there was no-one from Rooskey present – she was initially engaged in debate, albeit a quite heated one. Then the organisers decided to ‘drown out’ the woman’s protest by playing loud music. When the woman and a friend were subsequently interviewed by the media, they were subjected to verbal taunting from a couple of individuals. It set the tone for what was to follow.

  The remainder of the rally was largely overshadowed by an ongoing stand-off between event organisers and a man identifying himself as a ‘Citizen journalist’. Some of this was unpleasant, some of it downright childish. A small minority of the 40 or so present were involved. Insults, provocation and apparently hypersensitive intimations of ‘assault’ soured proceedings. It all left a bad taste.

  MEP Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan, the only politician who was present, made a very brief speech and was then gone in a flash (he said he was suffering from a bad cold).

  I want to again make clear that there were genuine, heartfelt points made by speakers (including a couple of locals). However, the whole atmosphere was unpleasant and quite chaotic. There was no presence of any note from the local community; in essence, the people of Rooskey stayed away, as did all local politicians, bar ‘Ming’.

  As we (mercifully) edged towards the end of proceedings, there was more farce. The local priest (not present) was disrespectfully denounced for his absence. Some members of the media present were given the ‘in your face’ treatment too…organisers of the rally confronting journalists and vehemently taking them to task for supposed unbalanced coverage. When one watching journalist was singled out and invited to come forward and speak, he accepted the invitation, only to be quickly censored.

  Two tourists staying in a camper van cycled past, looking suitably bemused. I stood back and viewed the squabbling few, and the majority who had behaved impeccably…the latter powerless to reverse the underlying atmosphere of extremism, anger, acrimony. In the background, the majestic River Shannon, the bridge, the vacant hotel. It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon, but it had been made ugly. In front of me, an unfunny circus. Hardly a single local person present. Once again, I thought to myself, ‘This is not Rooskey’.

Letters to the Editor…

We received a number of ‘Letters to the Editor’ over the past number of days…due to space constraints they are not in this week’s issue. However, I would hope to include some or all of them next week. We welcome readers’ views; please post or drop into Roscommon People, Abbey Street, Roscommon, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


‘Percy French and I looked at one another in despair’



In the rugby, England were merciless and marvellous against France at Twickenham on Sunday. Ireland went to Murrayfield and defeated the Scots, which is always a worthy enough achievement. But Ireland are not particularly convincing at the moment…we’re ponderous, whereas England are like some type of rugby version of Mike Tyson…charging at the opposition with frenzied pace and power and confidence.

  Mind you, the French were shockingly bad…some of their team plodding along like hungover middle-aged men going through the motions on a village green.

  To the GAA…and when I was growing up, I was often told of how, back in the days before television, all over Ireland neighbours would gather in whatever house had a ‘transistor radio’ in order to listen to Michael O’Hehir’s match commentary.

  I didn’t get to the Roscommon/Tyrone game last Sunday (due to a family gathering). Over a very nice lunch in the Percy French Hotel in Strokestown, we followed the game on Twitter (which is what reminded me of those ‘all around the transitor’ tales of long ago. Following a game on Twitter is a great option, but pretty frustrating too. Waiting (and wondering) while the score updates pop up on your phone can be torture.

  With a few minutes to go, the waiting became too much for me, so I headed for privacy in the lobby. I sat under a portrait of Percy French and tuned into Willie’s commentary. Last minute, sides level! A free in for Roscommon! But then, drama as the referee cancelled that likely match-winning free and instead, threw the ball up. A draw! Percy French and I looked at one another in despair. The combined powers of the players, Twitter, Willie Hegarty and the spirit of Percy French had fallen just short of inspiring another great win; still, it was another very encouraging performance by Roscommon.


Looking for great comedy? Try these…



Great comedy more often than not looks simple, but is in fact born of subtlety, intelligence, skill, timing.

  Too often in the modern era, what passes for comedy is laziness…a shadow of actual comedy…with those involved often relying on vulgarity, crassness, stupidity, even cruelty. These ‘shock tactics’, called upon partly because it’s now a tried and trusted formula – and often engaged in order to compensate for the performer’s lack of imagination – sadly seem to satisfy 21st century audiences.

  I mean, is Jimmy Carr actually funny?

  And while I appreciate that times obviously change, I think much of today’s shallow comedy is quite simply a reflection of the general lowering of standards in society. When it comes to movies, the race to the bottom (of the barrel) is very often the crude approach favoured by writers and producers. There are of course many exceptions. There are still ‘funny’ movies, and currently there are some excellent and clever (mostly American) sit-coms. Likewise, when it comes to stand-up comedy, there’s a fair bit of quality around, but also a lot of offensive rubbish!

  I was reminded of how, well…great…great comedy can be when we went to see ‘Stan & Ollie’ in C&L Plex, Roscommon recently. My absolute heroes from that era are the Marx Brothers, for whom the word ‘genius’ might have been invented. Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy were quite brilliant too.

  When I was a kid, their short movies were on television regularly. It was an era before multi-channel television, Youtube, Netflix…in fact for many years we only had two channels. While ‘Laurel & Hardy’ was scheduled quite often, it was also ‘first sub’ when, as seemed to happen quite often, there was a break in scheduled programming. For example, a race meeting or football match might be snowed off, a live event might finish earlier than expected, or a link to such an event might be lost. In which case, Continuity Announcer takes over: ‘A technical problem has arisen. While we try to restore our link…here’s Laurel & Hardy….’

  At such times, children of the nation suddenly felt like it was Christmas Eve. 

  The story of Stan and Ollie, delightfully told in the movie (great performances by the cast), is very touching. On screen, Stan was the idiotic one; in ‘real life’ he was the ‘brains’ behind the duo, which is not for one moment to underestimate the role of Hardy. Stan Laurel conceived many of the golden moments the double act created on screen. Through great career peaks and some lows, Laurel and Hardy remained inseparable.

  ‘Stan & Ollie’ is poignant, touching and heartwarming – a lovely, nostalgic flashback to the careers of probably the most famous comedy partnership of all time. If you are not familiar with the great body of work of Laurel & Hardy, you might like to check them out on Youtube. And while you are at it, check out the amazing Marx Brothers too.

  Meanwhile, if you want smart-assed, smug, belittling, crude and offensive ‘comedy substitute’, then reach for that remote control and you won’t be waiting long…





The billion (or two) euro question(s)…




All week

Honestly, these arrogant politicians (well, some of them)…with their prowess at twisting logic, their habitual brazenness, their almost admirable verbal dexterity.

  Not wishing to pick on the usually very reasonable Deputy Colm Brophy, but the Fine Gael man really pushed my tolerance limits the other night. On the Tonight Show with Matt and Ivan – doing a good job in the footsteps of the great Vincent – Colm truly tested my patience.

  Yellow card: He tried to fob viewers off by claiming that the initial cost of the National Children’s Hospital was €983m.

  An indignant Matt Cooper reminded Colm that it was actually €650m.

  Effortlessly seeking to sidestep Matt, Deputy Brophy insisted it was the bigger figure, thus implying that the subsequent costs’ overrun is not quite as horrendous as pesky journalists would have us believe.

  Black card: Next, Colm plays the ‘What about the children and their parents?’ card. Straight-faced, Colm says we need this hospital…and asks who will look parents in the eye and say otherwise?

  A red herring, of course.

  Red card (or second yellow): Colm confidently wraps his contribution by saying that we must, yeah, we absolutely must, avoid any such cost overruns in the future.

  I’m thinking: ‘No, actually we should avoid any such cost overruns in the present’.

  All week, government politicians used the same tactics. If you challenge them on the scandalous costs issue, as soon as possible they will move the ‘debate’ on and play their emotional trump card… “The real issue here is that we need to build this hospital. People have waited long enough”.

  No, the real issue here – right here and right now – is that we need to address this costs’ monster.

  It’s pathetic.

Time added on: I wrote above on Tuesday, I have still to digest Health Minister Simon Harris’ doubtlessly deeply revealing, modest and apologetic appearance before the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health on Wednesday.



Speaking as a Leeds United fan, I think Liverpool ‘2018/2019 version’ are a breath of fresh air. They play exciting football and have been a revelation this season.

  There is a ‘but’…what was Jurgen Klopp at the other night? I watched Liverpool’s lame draw with West Ham, and was then bemused to see Klopp quite aggressively remonstrate with the referee at the full-time whistle. More than that, Klopp had a bit of a barney with West Ham’s gentlemanly manager, Manuel Pellegrini.

  True, this sort of managerial over-reaction/histrionics is commonplace, but it’s getting a bit nauseating. What makes Monday night’s soap opera particularly odd is the fact that Liverpool’s goal – in a 1-1 draw – was clearly offside. To be fair to Klopp, I imagine his embarrassing conduct on Monday night is down to sheer pressure, as the race for the title intensifies. When Mourinho was at Manchester United, there was no such excuse. Such behaviour from The Special One was just him being a bad loser/unsporting/grumpy/looking for an edge. Ditto when Arsene Wenger reigned at Arsenal.

  Klopp had no business behaving as he did on Monday night, but like I say, maybe the pressure is getting to him! And I guess he too is generally a breath of fresh air.

  What a pleasure it would be to see more managers behave without bias and with dignity and restraint after a game. Managers like Roy Hodgson and Chris Hughton set the example that others should follow!


‘The Hyde on Sunday was wonderful’




The Hyde on Sunday was wonderful. It was one of the best ‘league days’ in years. There was a substantial Monaghan support in the stands, which of course added to the atmosphere.

  Entirely reasonably, given their team’s status and their stunning win over Dublin the previous weekend, the Monaghan fans travelled in expectation. Roscommon fans, encouraged by our  performance in wet and windy Castlebar, expected another resolute showing by Anthony Cunningham’s very focussed team – but few dared to contemplate a home win.

  It was very cold. Prior to throw-in, three Monaghan fans changed into wet gear, adding something like an angler’s wet gear to what they were already wearing. A bit of trouble these lads had too, as they tried to complete their makeover. It was like a scene from Bruce Forsyth’s Generation Game.

  The home defence was superb as Roscommon earned an exciting win. All credit to Anthony Cunningham, his backroom team, and those heroic players.

  The atmosphere in the final fifteen minutes was terrific. Black cards, red card, off-the-ball incidents, flare-ups, heart-stopping moments, good football, great passion, phenomenal effort by amateur sportsmen. 

  When the final whistle blew, the Roscommon fans reacted with an outpouring of emotion…happiness, relief and pride merging.

  We completely forgot about the quite bitter cold which had certainly registered with us at the throw-in and irked us during the always tedious half-time break. That was then. Now, a great and somewhat unlikely win achieved, the cold meant nothing, no longer impacted. Warm hearts surpass mere cold elements. Now, we simply relished this precious statement of intent; heroic Roscommon had beaten high-flying Monaghan. A great league day. We stood proud in the Hyde and applauded Roscommon on their slow and savoured departure from the field.




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