A diary of the times that are (part 13)



Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has surprised many of us by announcing an easing of Covid-19 restrictions, a speeding up of the reopening of Ireland.

Most people are welcoming the news, while many others feel we’re moving too fast, that we should be remaining in lockdown until this damn virus is crushed. Difficult not to add these three (not particularly helpful) words…time will tell.




Coming soon…10

things to look forward

to…(NOT in order)


1: Booking a hotel break. Anywhere in the world, as long as it’s the West of Ireland.

2: Grandchildren meeting grandparents in the flesh…this separation of loved ones has been such a cruel consequence of the coronavirus.

3: Bringing our son to a sports pitch and watching his reaction when he sees his friends.

4: ‘Losing’ an afternoon in one of our great cafes in Roscommon…drinking several coffees while talking at length about nothing much.

5: People being able to gather (albeit in small numbers) for ceremonies in our local Churches. This recent, lamentable loss of connection with our places of worship has reminded us of the peace and calmness often experienced in sacred places. It has been missed.

6: Meeting people…say what you like about people, but there’s a lot to be said for the ould bit of interaction with them!

7: Going into a pub that serves food, scanning the food menu, and casually nodding when/if the waiter/waitresses asks if we’d like a drink while deciding what to order. And, when July 20th (not that we’ve noted the date) comes, the glorious option of a trip to the local pub, whether we’re hungry or not (and whether they serve food or not). Okay, let’s say it straight out: REALLY looking forward to a pint (even with social distancing). Any idea what we might talk about?

8: Eating lunch out…we like collecting the food (and this service will grow in popularity), we’re even okay with cooking it at home (in the centuries-old tradition), but boy do we miss popping into any of Roscommon’s hotels/restaurants for a tasty lunch and a friendly hello (hurried or otherwise) to familiar faces.

9: The option of a trip to the cinema, or Roscommon Arts Centre/other such facilities.

10: The return of sports’ activity countywide and nationally. That return has started with the golf and horse racing; with GAA, soccer, rugby and so much more to follow. Such joys are a while off, and we may have many of these sports without spectators for some time, but we’re looking forward to the ball(s) rolling again. Most of all, we want normality; to coin a phrase, we’re normal people…




On RTE, ‘The Sunday Game’ trundles along, gamely trying to fill the void in the lives of GAA fans. Des & Co. are doing a good job, but I can’t bear to watch the entire programme. I’m really not that interested in extended highlights of old matches, followed by panel discussions on same.

The approach taken by the Match of the Day guys on BBC is better, and, I imagine, spectacularly low budget: Gary Lineker, Ian Wright and Alan Shearer in a joint podcast (from their respective homes), where they do a ‘Top 10’ every Saturday night. I wasn’t sure about it when the series started, but it’s proven to be entertaining, with the former players in relaxed mode, and sharing some very amusing insights for their careers.

The Sunday Game has, in fairness, been good, but it’s hard to stick with up to two hours of it! I dipped in and out last Sunday night, and certainly the interview with Davy Fitzgerald was enjoyable. His passion and honesty – and divilment – makes him one of the great GAA characters of our time.

Meanwhile, earlier on Sunday I watched part of Channel 4’s screening of – wait for it – the 1966 World Cup final. This was actually very interesting. It was the first time I’d seen any of the game (bar the iconic goals). It was surprising how similar the approach play and style was to the football of modern times! This screening, presented by Gabby Logan, was a Covid-19-related fundraiser. Geoff Hurst, who scored a hat-trick as England defeated West Germany 4-2, was present to give his insights.

It was a marathon programme, the fascinating action frequently interrupted by Gabby gabbing to guests. By 4 pm, I thought it was all over. Next thing, Geoff scored his third, a right screamer. I definitely thought it was all over then – and it was.




Our exclusive story on the ancient boat found in a lake by 12-year-old Lisacul youth Cathal McDonagh grabbed headlines around the world!

Our report on Cathal’s exciting discovery was picked up by local, national and international media.

Cathal was paddling in a lake near his home when he found the ancient log boat, which is thought to be thousands of years old.

Our story was featured on RTE Radio on Tuesday morning, and across various media platforms worldwide. Word also that it was the most read story on the US-based ‘Irish news’ website, IrishCentral.com on Tuesday.

It goes to show that the ‘traditional media’ can break stories!

Meanwhile, there’s been a great reaction to our series on the writings of the late George N. Geraghty. ‘Roscommon as it was’ is a series of memories of Roscommon town and environs, mostly from the early years of the 20th century, penned by Abbey Street resident George, who died in 1953. These articles have really struck a chord with our readers. With the pandemic, etc. we haven’t quite got into a regular schedule yet in terms of when we publish these memories, but we’ll run another ‘Roscommon as it was’ column next week!




It was really encouraging, wonderful in fact, to see so many businesses in County Roscommon reopening over the past 48 hours or so. I’ve heard mixed reports on how trade has been. Clearly it will take several weeks, perhaps months, before a clear pattern emerges. The business community, it seems to me, is both excited (to be reopening) and nervous (unsure about footfall, not to mention the impact on turnover of social distancing, etc). The challenges facing many businesses are enormous, but there is great resilience and determination on the part of all involved. Please support our local SMEs as they open their doors.

Here at the Roscommon People, we’re grateful for the ongoing support of the public as we endeavour to continue publishing during this pandemic, against a backdrop of a battered economy and a stunned society. Working together, hopefully we can all navigate through these stormiest of seas. Thank God for the relative positivity of recent days. And thank God Ireland seems to be making huge progress in the battle against this virus. Stay safe.