A diary of the times that are (part 3)



Like tense athletes waiting for the gun at the start of an Olympic 100m final, the public is poised…waiting, waiting, waiting. The waiting, as so often, is the worst part; we need to be released, in this case to the stark clarity of lockdown, to some certainty in our currently uncertain lives.

I was getting into my car when a text pinged. It read ‘Leo’s addressing the nation at 8.30’.

These big moments, with which we are becoming so familiar, we now know to mean: more restrictions, edging us towards lockdown. Knowing that more is coming can be frightening…yet it is what so many people have been calling for, what many have already been prescribing themselves.

I was home by 8.30, to see Bryan Dobson and George Lee filling in the time. A few minutes later, Leo was at the now familiar podium.

This time, it was a more low budget presentation. ‘Leo 1’ had been broadcast live from near The White House. ‘Leo 2’ was a brilliant production on St. Patrick’s Day…a superbly pitched speech in an evocative, patriotic setting, Government Buildings glimmering in green. ‘Leo 3’ was as plain as its message. No green, just gloom. There were three men on the platform. All three would address us. There were two ladies, both of them sign language interpreters. That’s five solemn faces.

Leo outlined the latest restrictions. They arguably weren’t as shocking as some might have feared. I suppose we had been well prepared. And Leo and Simon (Harris) mixed hope with the harsh realities. If we do as we’re asked, we can get on top of this pest.

Later, the Late Late Show was presented by Miriam O’Callaghan (Ryan Tubridy was unwell; it later emerged that he has Covid-19). I’ve a proud track record of trying to puncture Miriam’s ego (I present, as evidence, all those Sunday Independent ‘Life Magazine’ specials!). But I’m prepared to declare a Covid ceasefire. I thought Miriam did a very good job as host. And Hozier, delivering three songs with emotion and dignity in an almost empty studio, was wonderful.




Just when we were all engulfed by Covid gloom (as we still are), there was, at least, a welcome substitution on the weather front. Rain was hauled off, replaced by crisp sunshine.

In a local shop, the woman behind the newly-constructed glass panel at the counter looked forlorn when the C-word inevitably came up. “It’s horrible” she said. I had to agree. All anyone is talking about is that dreadful C-word. And it’s not the Championship. It’s Covid. And all anyone wants to know is, how long will this go on?




Last week I said Roscommon Town – our great county town – was Eerie Town. This week, it’s Even Eeerier Town. But it’s the same in every town, village – and city – in the country.

The vast majority of premises’ are closed. People are out walking, a few cars trundle along. It is an extraordinary sight.

But we have great community spirit throughout the county and country. A fantastic Meitheal response is putting it up to this virus. It has been so heartwarming to see the great response of individuals and clubs.

So many people are involved (under guidance, and adhering to guidelines) in delivering vital goods and services to households. Roscommon County Council is now taking a key leadershop role (with Covid-19 Community Response Forums being set up in every city/county in the country). Our friends in Roscommon LEADER Partnership are playing a blinder, so too Roscommon Chamber of Commerce and An Garda Síochána.

For information on the various forms of assistance that are available, please see the following pages this week: Page 8 (Re: Roscommon County Council and Roscommon Chamber); Page 10 (Roscommon LEADER); Page 11 (‘Roscommon Responds’), and Pages 6 & 7 for Local Enterprise Office supports. In fact there aren’t that many pages in this week’s issue where there isn’t some Covid-19 advice!


Wednesday, 5 pm


In the office, we are putting together another edition of the Roscommon People. Virtually every incoming email is related to Covid-19. It’s amazing. This virus is impacting on EVERTHING.

I need a break from the screen. Time for a five-minute walk.

Abbey Street in Roscommon town is a great street, steeped in history, with many fine buildings, the finest of which is the magnificent Sacred Heart Church.

Outside, to beautiful weather. At this moment, I am the only person on the entire street. Every office door is closed, Covid notices proclaiming their now familiar messages.

A few Roscommon flags flutter from windows, in honour of Conor. Silence reigns. No people. Nothing moving. There is not even the sound of a distant lawnmower. There is, mercifully, the sound of birds singing. Normally, we might not hear them…

Two kids approach on bikes, chattering and smiling, and continue on up towards McNeill’s roundabout. The silence returns. The town waits. The world waits. But there is the sense here in Ireland that we are doing things right, from our leaders right down to the people. Inching, we hope and trust, towards better and brighter times.


Billy was a one-off who will be greatly missed


A dark cloud, formed of sadness and grief, descended on Roscommon last Saturday. The shock death of the former Roscommon GAA star Conor Connelly at just 44 years of age stunned us all. Later on Saturday, the county town lost a very popular local man with the passing of Billy Connaughton. Billy, a retired prison officer, was known far and wide.

On pages 29-31, we publish a number of tributes to Conor, a sporting star and much-loved family man.

Billy Connaughton, who sadly passed away last Saturday, was an immensely popular figure in Roscommon. He died after a relatively short illness.

A member of a highly respected family, he was larger than life, with a wonderful personality. It was always a pleasure to meet him, whether socially or on one of his regular walks. He had a great way with him; you left a conversation with Billy with a smile…and your day greatly enhanced. He is gone much too soon and I know that the people of the town – and further afield – are deeply saddened as his passing. He was a one-off, and he will be grealty missed.

To his wife Anne, daughter Emma, son John, grandson Richard, brothers Michael and Eddie, further relatives and many, many friends, deepest sympathy is extended.

Due to Government guidelines in relation to Covid-19, Billy’s funeral will be held privately. A Memorial Mass to celebrate Billy’s life will be held at a later date and I have no doubt that the community will show its affection for Billy and sympathy for his grieving family at that time.

I am conscious too that other families in this area have lost loved ones in recent days. Our thoughts and prayers are with them at this very difficult time.