Frank Brandon’s Column

Normal service resumes for family day out

Our man Frank on a return to family social gatherings, a long-awaited new kitchen appliance, the Irish weather, and an unfortunate pay cut for Lionel Messi…

It’s Saturday evening, and out here in Crosswell the excitement is building. For a change, it is not the big rugby decider between the Lions and the Springboks, or the pending All-Ireland hurling semi-final that is causing our anticipation and excitement, rather it is the fact that for the first time in almost two years, we are heading out to the Abbey Hotel for a family meal.

Our youngest son Paul was celebrating one of those birthdays that ends with a zero, and so shortly after six o’clock, we arrived at the hotel for dinner. We found out very quickly that even though things seemed to be more or less back to the way they used to be, things are still very different.

For a start, before we left the house we all had to make sure we had our vaccine certification evidence with us. We also had to ensure we all had masks, as rules still state that you must wear them while on the move inside any bar or hotel. As it turned out, it was most important to have our vaccination certs with us as a very pleasant girl was on duty inside the front door to ensure that all our paperwork was in order. We all had our masks on as well.

However, as soon as we got shown to our table, all the inconveniences just seemed to vanish, and, as they say, normal service had resumed. As I was on driving duty, I wasn’t partaking in any alcohol, but some of the party had a little aperitif (that’s a posh word for having a drink) before the meal arrived. The good news is that despite the long enforced break, the quality was as good as ever. The dinner and dessert was absolutely superb and every plate was fully cleared before being returned to the kitchen staff.

All told, it was great to be able to go out as a little family group, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. After such a long time of not seeing or talking to anyone, and almost trying to be invisible, it was lovely to indulge ourselves ever so slightly. Our return visit to the Abbey was every bit as good as it always has been.

As for Carol and I, the realisation that our youngest is now a mature thirty-year-old (sorry, Paul) was a bit sobering, and made us accept that no matter how hard we try, we can’t stop the years from creeping up on us. Thankfully, for Carol’s sake, she was a good bit younger than me when we got married, and as she constantly reminds me, she still is.

After the Abbey, we paid a visit to a local pub or two, and as the curtain fell on a lovely, sociable day, I found it really was special to be able to get out again at last. Hopefully we are slowly coming out of the woods.


Forget the kitchen sink…new dishwasher en route!

Talking of clean plates and cutlery – you’ll hardly remember, but in January I told you our dishwasher had broken down. Sadly Level 5 lockdown meant that while engineers could travel to fix cookers or other essential electrical appliances, dishwashers were not deemed to be necessary, and so, nothing could happen.

The dishwasher packed in on January 4th, and the good news is that, today, Monday August 9th, I am finally waiting for the delivery of a replacement machine. We will also have to buy a load of crockery soon, as practically every plate, cup, saucer, and bowl is showing the effects of eight months of being bounced around the sink, and there are chips, cracks, and bits missing out of practically every single item we own.

However, fingers crossed, today could be the end of the wait – please God our new dishwasher will arrive as promised, and we can start saving up to buy some new dishware! Will keep you posted.


Hurling: The sport of Kings!

Going back to the sporting action of the weekend: the best game, by a long way, was the contest between Cork and Kilkenny in the hurling on Sunday.

The game had an extraordinary twist to the tale when the Cats scored a goal in the last few seconds to bring the game to extra-time. Cork had been the better team all through in my opinion, and they pulled away in extra-time and deservedly made it through to their first All-Ireland final since 2013.

As I was having my breakfast this morning, I got a message from Oliver King, a long-time friend of us all here in Creggs. He introduced us all to hurling back in the eighties and brought us to a Junior County final (which we unluckily lost to Ballygar). He was saying that hurling is the game we should all be promoting with our boys and girls around the country. He tells me that it’s grown hugely over the years in his new hometown of Mountbellew, where they now have representatives on several Galway underage teams.

He was so enthused by the Cork and Kilkenny match that he was advocating another hurling burst around Creggs. Having worked with such wonderful exponents of the great game like the Rasher (our very effective full-back whose ambition was to keep his man scoreless without ever having to hit the ball) and the rest of us (who, at best, were mediocre) and some of us, myself included, who were pretty useless – it shows his enthusiasm knows no bounds.

However, after seeing a game like Sunday’s and though Creggs may never be a hurling stronghold, Ollie is right – every effort should be made to spread the gospel, and we should promote the game wherever we possibly can. I know it’s often been said, but if there is a better or more exciting sport anywhere in the world, I have yet to see it.

There is no doubt that the JP McManus backed Limerick team will prove to be an almost insurmountable obstacle for Cork, but sport being what it is, anything can happen in the final. For now it’s great for them to be back in an All-Ireland final, and to have taken part and come out on top of an epic semi-final battle.


Plenty of rain…but we’re the lucky ones!

It is now Monday afternoon (it takes a long time to write this column, although you might not think it) and outside the rain is bucketing down, accompanied by a couple of claps of thunder. The newly put out clothes are getting drowned on the clothesline, and yet peculiarly, I am thinking to myself how lucky we are.

You see, I’ve just been reading about the wild fires that are raging in Greece and Turkey and other parts of the world, where homes are being burnt. Thousands of people evacuated, and some even dying, all because of historically high temperatures and resulting tinder box conditions.

I am fully aware that we have our own problems when it comes to flooding in places like Lough Funshinagh and other parts in the west, but scenes such as the ones we have witnessed in Greece and earlier this summer in Germany, would make it seem that we are relatively lucky when it comes to severe weather events.


Finally for this week…


What a brilliant Olympics it’s been for Kellie Harrington, Paul O’Donovan, Fintan McCarthy, all of our medal winners, and everyone else – especially Castlerea’s Aoife O’Rourke, who performed so well over in Tokyo.

I also can’t forget the Roscommon U-20s, who have made it to the All-Ireland final. How refreshing it is to see two of the so-called ‘weaker’ counties, Roscommon and Offaly, make it all the way to Croke Park. It promises to be a great occasion!

Last but not least, poor old Lionel Messi has been forced to leave his beloved Barcelona after offering to take a 50% pay cut, from €71 million a year to €35.5 million. However, even that couldn’t get the deal done, so the poor lad is off to Paris, where he’ll only have €25 million a year after tax. Paris is known to be a very expensive place to live, so I hope he can afford it. Even if it’s a struggle, as probably the best footballer of all time, I’m sure his friends will give him a dig out if he needs it.

Anyways, I wish him well. At least (thank God) he didn’t go to Manchester City.


‘Till next week, Bye for now!