Frank Brandon’s Column

A sporting Saturday to forget!

Our man Frank on Seamus Coleman’s dignity; another TV milestone for a local man; 100 years in business for O’Rourke’s…and a passing reminder of the day he thumbed a lift with a 20lb turkey…

For all of us who like sport, it has definitely been one of the great methods of escape from the reality of Covid-19 and its cripplingly horrible restrictions. However, on this very wet, windy, miserable Sunday morning, having watched our soccer team’s performance last night against the supposed whipping boys of Luxembourg, I wonder if the restrictions are that bad after all!

I am not one of the most committed of our soccer supporters, and since the Jack Charlton era I have been lukewarm at best. But even in my worst nightmares I never thought we could lose a World Cup qualifier at home to Luxembourg. It’s hard to see where our journey takes us from here.

However, in this darkest of hours, the honesty of captain Seamus Coleman – in what must have been a very difficult post-match interview – certainly shone through. The manner in which he addressed what he called “an embarrassment”, was a credit to him. His face said it all, and the fact that it meant so much to him at this stage of a stellar career was the only saving grace of an awful evening.

I have no idea if Stephen Kenny will keep his job or not, but ten games without a single win says it all. Throw in Munster’s anaemic display earlier in the day against the all-conquering Leinster in the final of the Pro14, and I have to admit that a day I had been so looking forward to in a sporting sense actually turned out to be most disappointing.

As I write this – the rain pounding off the kitchen windows – I think fondly of the glorious weather we had this time last year as we headed into our first lockdown, and I can only console myself with the thought that things can’t get much worse. The only way is up.


‘The Irish in the UK’ – Martin hits TV show milestone!

Over the past year or so I have told you about our own Mount Mary (our local mountain) native, Martin Logan. Martin, with his wife Annette, produces the hugely popular TV show, ‘The Irish in the UK’, and just this week they celebrated a major milestone when they presented the 200th edition of the show.

The show, which presently goes out each Thursday evening at 7.30 pm on Showcase TV, Sky channel 191, is instrumental in keeping the Irish diaspora in touch with each other in all parts of Britain, and also with the happenings back home in Ireland. It has been an enormous success, and on the occasion of the 200th edition, President Michael D Higgins took time out to send them a beautiful message in which he talked about the historical connections between the two countries, the enormous contribution the Irish have made in the development of the UK, and the importance of the programme in keeping the traditional spirit of Ireland alive.

Down through the years, the show has always brought forward all kinds of stories – from intimate and private personal ones, to coverage of festivals, fairs, and other fun-filled events – and has featured our own Seamus Grady a few times. A number of our biggest music stars – like wee Daniel, Nathan Carter, Johnny Brady, Mary Duff and Imelda May – all sent recorded messages of goodwill to Martin, Annette, and their team, as all of those musicians and singers benefit greatly from the exposure the show gives them across the Irish Sea.

In my opinion, one of the benefits of coming from a little village like Creggs, or any other similar small place, is the pride we all take in the success of one of our own, no matter what field it’s in. It is great to celebrate the huge contribution that Martin has made to our fellow Irishmen and women over in the UK, and even if I’m not as big (well I am bigger in one way) as Michael D or Nathan, it gives me great pleasure to add my name to that earlier list and congratulate Martin and his team on a wonderful success story. Here’s to another 200!

Martin did promise me that when circumstances permit, he will come home and show the village of Creggs off to the world.


This is what makes a village tick…

Speaking of Creggs, I was thinking recently about what makes a village tick. From a young age, I realised that the old saying – ‘The savage loves his native shore’ – holds a lot of truth. Even when I worked all over the country I would thumb home on a Friday evening to play football for Creggs, or to go to one of the many carnivals that took place around the area, heading back again on Sunday evening (well, most Sunday evenings).

I was a half-middling footballer back then, and even though it’s hard to believe now, I was asked by a good number of GAA clubs to transfer to them, but it never crossed my mind to do so. In my thumbing life from Listowel, Dublin, Ballinrobe and Dundalk – among other places – I was involved in two car crashes, and one attempted robbery (I had a knife held to my throat before the perpetrator got sorry for his actions and actually drove miles out of his way to leave me at my front door in Listowel). On another famous occasion, I thumbed all the way from Dundalk with a 20lb turkey slung over my shoulder.

In the meantime, I have been back living in Creggs for well over 40 years, and today, the recent Pride of Place competition made me appreciate the enormous improvements that have taken place here during my lifetime. We now have a beautiful village that has been transformed by the hard work of the Tidy Towns committee. We have one of the most progressive national schools in the country, a rugby club that remains the envy of bigger clubs all over Ireland, and a GAA club that has embarked on an ambitious development programme to make it a match of any club in the county. Throw in the host of other amenities available in Creggs and you begin to realise all the village has to offer.

However, the older I get the more I realise that the most important part of not just Creggs, but of every village or local community, is the people; it’s the people that make any place what it is.

Last Tuesday we had a special event take place in our little village, when O’Rourke’s celebrated 100 years in Creggs. To think that the same family have served our community for a century is mind-boggling. In so many ways, their contribution to the welfare of our friends and neighbours can’t be overestimated. Five generations of the O’Rourke family have, at one time or another, been behind the counter in the shop and bar, and if circumstances had been different I’m sure the celebrations would have befitted such an occasion.

Not many businesses, particularly ones in the rural Ireland of today, are able to survive for 100 years – it is some achievement to do so.

On my own behalf, and I would think all the people of the parish and further afield would agree with my sentiment, I would like to thank Michael and Carmel and all the generations that have gone before them, along with their always-pleasant staff (especially Clare and Bridie), for their continued service to our community. Just as for Martin Logan, here’s to the next 100! Unless there is a huge medical development, someone else will be recording that event.


And finally…

Easter Sunday is fast approaching, and while everyone is looking forward to the usual over-indulgence in Easter eggs/chocolate, out here in Creggs we are looking forward to the big GAA draw, the biggest one in the long history of the club.

The draw is set to take place on Easter Sunday, and boasts fifteen prizes worth €15,000, with a top cash prize of €5,000. There are still tickets available at or in O’Rourke’s shop, Dowd’s of Glinsk and Oscar’s in Castlecoote. So, if you have any Creggs connections, have ever had a pint in the village, drove through it any time, or just want to win a great prize for yourself, get a ticket and help a small rural GAA club to stay alive and face the future with confidence. Best of luck on Sunday, I hope you win a prize and make it an Easter Sunday to remember!