A Boyle View with Tony Conboy

Frank returns to   hero’s welcome There was a great welcome back to Boyle for Frank Feighan on Friday night after his fine victory in the general election. Improvised bonfires lit the way as the cavalcade toured the streets of the town with Frank alighting at various points to greet his supporters and be greeted by well-wishers.    The celebrations moved to The Crescent where the new TD addressed the happy crowd, which included a number of Leitrim supporters. In his address he promised to do his best to represent the region and made a special mention of Leitrim. He endorsed this with a rendition of a few verses of Lovely Leitrim. It was a historic occasion for the town since there has not been a native representative from Boyle town ever in the Dail.   Frank of course has been connected with many sporting and community aspects of the town down the years. He was prominent with Boyle GAA and Boyle Celtic as a player. He acquired a public house, Kate Lavin’s, for a time which because of his personality and ambiance became a popular Inn.    Through the years he was a regular in Boyle Musicals and often regaled company with a selection from Oklahoma. He has adapted the Armagh County Anthem to suit Roscommon and has delivered this with gusto especially after GAA games, often in the company of Danny Burke, on one of the many supporters’ trips.    His profile with the youth paid off as many made considerable efforts to support him last week.   Most commentators are agreed that his was a fine performance in last week’s election. To get a second seat in a three-seat constituency, to unseat a sitting Government TD to attract the support he did in Leitrim, all these in the face of stiff opposition and against the expectations of many pundits especially those at national level, was a most creditable performance. Those who knew him well were not surprised as he had done similarily well in County Council and Senate elections. So it was a great and historic night for his family, supporters, young and old and his many friends in the town of Boyle and beyond.   Remembering a   brilliant man    The community of Cootehall honoured and remembered a unique and brilliant man, in former Parish Priest, Canon Henry Tonra, on Tuesday last. A sculpture, by Manorhamilton Sculptor, Jackie McKenna, was unveiled by Canon Tonra’s friend, President Mary McAleese. The President in her address spoke fondly of their friendship with references to his fun, wit and scholarship.   Mr. Tony Bambrick, Chairman of the committee, referred to what will be a literary monument to Canon Tonra, the magnificent History of Ardcarne Parish. Others speakers included, Most Rev. Dr. Christopher Jones, Bishop of Elphin, Kathleen Higgins of the Organising Committee,  Very. Rev. Arthur Barrett, Rector of Ardcarne while the Master of Ceremonies was Rev. Fr. Brian Conlon.   On the Sculpture are three figures, in the one boat, representing the Jewish, Christian and Muslim Religions, representing Canon Tonra’s ecuminist views. On the inscription are the words; ‘Ecuminist, Scholar, Teacher’ and the fact that the memorial was, ‘erected by a wide circle of friends’.   I was honoured to be counted among his friends since I worked with him and under him (when he was Principal) at St. Mary’s College, Boyle, in the late seventies. He was a brilliant man, with a ready sense of humour, an oblique wit and he made an indelible impression on all who knew him.    It is important to record that he first showed his talents when winning the Carisle and Blake Scholarship to Summerhill College, from Knockvicar National School under his distinguished teacher Mr. Michael Kelly. The pamphlet marking the memorial unveiling contains some excerpts from his fine and insightful writings.    His classic essay, for me, was included in a St. Mary’s College Magazine of 1985 entitled ‘Morning of a Headmaster’. Tuesday’s Pamphlet ended with his words at a family funeral; ‘ In the end the only thing that matters in this life is the leaving of it.’  However, I would add, the living of it. Canon Tonra lived an exemplary life and enriched the many he came in contact with.   Feile will be a   great attraction    I feel sure that people have not grasped the enormity of the National Gaelic Football Tournament which will descend on the region from Friday June 29 to Sunday July 1 st .    The Feile is both a boys and girls under -fourteen football competition for various levels and will cater for teams from all over Ireland. The core county is Leitrim with Carrick-on- Shannon the epicentre. However Roscommon and Sligo are also deeply committed.    The President of the GAA Mr. Nicky Brennan and the President of Cumann Peil Gael na mBan, Geraldine Giles were in Boyle on Friday as part of its promotion. They visited The Convent of Mercy National School where there were representatives of other regional schools also present. Mr. Brennan was accompanied by the Chairman of the organising Committee Mr. Stephen Flynn of Leitrim, Roscommon’s co-ordinator Pat goldbrick of Boyle and Boyle GAA club officials. After being welcomed by The School Principal, Mr. John Francis McLoughlin.      Mr. Brennan talked of ‘the wonderful occasion’ that The Feile was and encouraged children and adults to try and attend the Parade in Carrick on Shannon on Friday evening. On opening the floor to questions from the children he received a varied and interesting selection such as; ‘does the President of the GAA have a bodyguard?’ and ‘On the day of an All-Ireland what time do you get up at?’   The Boyle co-ordinators are Bernadette Keenehan and Fiona Lavin. Boyle will be hosting O’Donovan Rossa Club from Derry. So it will be a boom time for the region in terms of visitor numbers and it behoves us all to show our interest and support. Some local events   There is a ‘Book Fair’ in King House on Monday between 11 am and 5 pm. When I mentioned that I might go to it I was told that I should hold one myself!   The major sporting event in Boyle on Sunday is The County Community Games. This was held here for the first time last year and proved a very popular and attractive venue. So the Bank Holiday weekend should be a good one for some businesses.   The Sligo Fleadh is on in nearby Gurteen which is a great centre for traditional music and many connections with Boyle.   Pauline Doyle has come up with an excellent idea, which has considerable potential, and should be promoted. It is having a Boyle Town Re-Union Weekend in the summer of ’08.   Boyle Community College has a fund-raising Golf competition, this weekend, in aid of their pitch development fund. This important project is about to get underway with contractors decided on and the green light given.