Frank Brandon’s Column

Bring back Decie and Paschal for a live performance!

Our man Frank on local music stars, the science behind a full Irish breakfast, Lady golfers in Castlerea, and Denis Buckley’s 200th cap.

It’s Thursday evening, the rain is teeming down and I am making my way along the almost deserted footpath on Roscommon’s Main Street where the excavation work is still going on, when I run into one of the best known and best musicians in County Roscommon, Decie Walsh.

For many years I have known Decie, starting with the time himself and Kevin Noone formed the hugely popular duo, ‘The Inspectors’, and later on his own as a solo artist, and, needless to say, we talked about the days when live music was the thing, and when we used to have dances, socials, and concerts in venues big and small throughout the land.

Funny enough, later that night as I watched the Country Music channel on Sky, who should I see, resplendent in his white suit and tie, only the great Paschal Brennan as he sang the wonderful Joe Dolan song, ‘Goodbye Venice Goodbye’. The truth is that if you closed your eyes you would never know the famed Mullingar man was not performing. As I watched Paschal do his thing, I began to reminisce on some of the nights down through the years, when we were able to put on charity dances in our local pubs. Nights of great craic, music and fun, when, funny enough, both Paschal and Decie took centre stage, although not on the same night…but maybe that’s a thought for the future lads?

One of the most memorable nights with Paschal involved a lady from Dublin, who had been to his hugely successful Joe Dolan Show in The Gleneagle in Killarney, where Paschal performed his Joe Dolan tribute show with a seven-piece band to a sell-out crowd. This lady told me she had been a fan of Joe’s for many years and when he passed on she was so taken with Paschal’s voice that she transferred her allegiance to him.

Having seen him the night before in The Gleneagle, she somehow found out he was appearing in Gannon’s, Creggs the following night, and managed to make her way all the way from Kerry to see his show again. She was expecting the full eight-piece band in some massive entertainment centre with all the usual regalia so when she arrived into a local country pub, with Paschal performing solo, she got some land! The good news is that you wouldn’t travel the length and breadth of the country and beyond following Joe without being ready for pretty much anything, and, to her credit, our Dublin lady took full part in the proceedings and thoroughly enjoyed the night’s entertainment.

As for Decie and Kevin, they played umpteen times at different charity events down through the years and together as The Inspectors they were simply brilliant. Naturally, as I was reminded of themselves and Paschal on Thursday last, I was saddened to think that none of them have played to any live audience for well over a year now, and I really hope they can get back to what they do so well in the very near future.

As it happened, The Inspectors put music to a song I wrote ‘I’m getting out of here’ many years ago which was a huge hit in Crosswell and Kilbegnet, while Paschal actually recorded two of my compositions ‘Dublin Airport’ and ‘The Gathering’ and those two songs were reasonably well received.

Anyway, I really look forward to the day (and nights) when we can have live music again and who knows, we might have a once-off reunion of The Inspectors in Creggs. Maybe I can even find Paschal’s Dublin fan, and we could persuade the Lecarrow man to come back again some time as well. Here’s hoping!


Scientific breakthrough: The fry-up is Ok!

One of the things you will know about me by now, is that I am a paid-up member of the full Irish breakfast society. I will go the whole hog at least once (maybe twice) at the weekend, when everything except black pudding is fair game.

However, occasionally there would be a little murmur from some obscure medical outfit that the ‘fry-up’ was bad for you. There would be talk about high cholesterol and high blood pressure, and all kinds of bad things associated with the popular breakfast. Now the truth is, I have always ignored those findings – until today.

Today, at long last, some scientists in Australia have finally got it right. They tell us that a fry in the morning is no harm at all! So as long as your have the full Irish for breakfast, you can work away. I don’t know anyone who would have it at any other time, so it’s off to Mikeen’s for me for a load of Waldron’s rashers, Clonakilty sausages, Kelly’s white pudding, and Corrib eggs. If you want to call in (after Covid of course), I’ll put on the pan and treat you to one of nature’s real delights.

Thank God for Australian scientists – they really know their stuff!


Lady golfers always welcome in Castlerea

It’s now Monday morning, and I am going to Castlerea to play a few holes of golf as soon as I have written this piece. If she wasn’t at work, there is a possibility that my wife Carol might come along as well – probably a slim one as with the sun shining outside, she would almost certainly want to spend the day in the garden.

However, the point is that she could come if she wanted whereas until last week, if we were members of the world famous Portmarnock Golf Club, she could not play there at all. It was a male only preserve, and lady golfers were simply not allowed to play.

Many times in recent years there have been attempts made to change the all-male membership policy but until last week, they all failed. However, to their credit (even if it took 127 years), the latest poll saw an 84% vote to allow female membership. The club, which has played host to the Irish Open many times through the years, has finally moved into the 21st Century. Many of the world’s most famous golf clubs, including Augusta (where the Masters takes place each year) and Scotland’s St. Andrew’s had the same outdated, antiquated policy but in recent years, but they too saw the light and allowed lady members in.

Thankfully, Portmarnock has now come on board as well, but with green fees ranging from €250 a day on Monday to Thursday and €275 Friday to Sunday, I think we may stick with Castlerea!


Finally for this week…

Hats off (terrible pun) to Roscommon’s own Denis Buckley on his wonderful achievement of becoming only the third player ever to reach the magical total of 200 caps for Connacht Rugby.

Following icons like John Muldoon and Michael Swift, Denis has joined a very elite club, and to reach such a figure as a front row forward makes his achievement even greater. It’s a huge credit to himself and his family that he has managed to stay at the top for such a long time.

Of course, out here in Creggs, we are proud to have played a large part in his formative years. He has always been and continues to be a regular visitor to our little club, for whom his brother Maurice is a valued member and player.

I have said it before but it’s no harm to say it again on this wonderful occasion, that it remains  a mystery to me how Denis has continually been overlooked by our Irish selectors. Despite consistently performing at the highest level for Connacht over the last decade, he is still waiting for an Irish cap. Maybe they will eventually see the light but if not, congratulations Denis, you are a credit to yourself and your family and Creggs and Connacht Rugby. Long may you continue to hold up the Connacht scrum.


Till next week, Bye for now!