Frank Brandon’s Column

Last weekend was an emotional rollercoaster!

Our man Frank on finally getting to see granddaughter Riley for the first time, the relocation of the Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival, and the loss of the GAA discount for OAPs…

It’s Monday afternoon, and after a busy morning mowing the lawn and doing a few bits around the garden, I find myself writing this piece while reflecting on a weekend that taxed my emotions in every possible way.

Friday morning saw Carol and I hit for Dublin to visit our daughter Lisa and granddaughter Riley. It was our first time seeing her since she had fairly major surgery a few weeks ago, and it is with great delight and a great sense of happiness that we can tell you she is progressing very well. Hopefully in time, she will be a perfectly healthy young girl. All the prayers said for her by so many people are certainly working, but don’t forget her yet as there is still a long road ahead. However it’s a road that looks as if it may reach a positive destination.

Bright and early Saturday morning, Lisa, Carol and I headed for the RDS, where our other daughter Tara was jumping in the National Amateurs finals. As it was my first ever time there, I have to say I was hugely impressed with the sheer size of the place, and the size and quality of the jumping arena. While Carol had jumped and won there some years ago as a very young pony rider, the only time I’d ever seen the main arena was when I watched the Aga Khan trophy, and it is some place.

It was so exciting to have our daughter jumping there, and even better when she had a superb clear round to qualify for the jump-off. She eventually finished ninth out of thirty finalists, and to put her achievement into perspective, there were six qualifiers held around the country to try to get to the RDS with up to a hundred horses in each, and only five places from each one. This meant that there were between five and six hundred horses vying to get there, so to finish ninth overall was fantastic.

Anyway, it was now time to turn the ‘08 Passat around and head back west, because at 5 pm on Saturday evening, Creggs were playing their opening Intermediate Football Championship match, against Shannon Gaels in Fuerty. And so, off I set back along the M6 Motorway in plenty of time to make sure I would be there for the throw in.

Now, all my family think I am descended from the snail family when it comes to my driving, and practically everything with an engine passes me out on the motorway. But on Saturday, I could not get over the number of English registered cars that passed me on the way home. The pandemic had pretty much put paid to all of the overseas traffic, but on the evidence of that journey, the English visitors are back. That has to be a welcome boost to our Irish economy.

Anyway, the Passat brought us safely to our destination and after what can only be described as a doughty battle, our lads triumphed by a five-point margin and I headed home, looking forward to a few pints and a chat about the match. However, it was then our day took a big downer. When we got home, we found a large amount of criminal damage had taken place at the yard, with the horse walker demolished and other bits and pieces missing.

It’s hard to figure out the mentality of the person(s) who did so much damage to the walker, which was only of any use if in exactly the place it was situated. The lock and chain on the gate had to be cut to gain access, but of course no trace of it has been found. Anyway, the Gardaí are investigating, and all I can say is that I hope the lowlife responsible for such wanton destruction is proud.

Saturday night came and went, and I managed to have a couple of quiet pints, talk about the match and give my verdict on what was a mixed enough performance. On Sunday morning, we got the news we’d been awaiting for more than a week.

The previous Thursday, our son Mark and his wife Aoife had been blessed with the arrival of their first baby girl, Poppy. However, because nothing ever seems to be simple in our family (except maybe me), they too had complications. Aoife got hit by an infection and Poppy had to spend ten days in the Special Care Unit. Both of them had shown good progress over the weekend, but nonetheless, it was a huge, although very welcome surprise, to hear they were getting home.

So, once again, the ‘08 Passat was polished and shone, and off we went to Galway. Thankfully, all worked out perfectly. They both got home, all the grandparents were there to meet them, and hopefully life will be smoother for them from here on in. As for us, the period of the pandemic saw me retire from work, reach the big 70, have two of our own children get married and also saw the arrival of two new grandchildren into our lives. So, despite all the upheaval and stress, it wasn’t that bad at all.


Cabo Roig matchmaking: You heard it here first!

If you know me, you’d have to admit I’m not one to blow my own trumpet – mainly because I don’t have much reason to – but this week, I am proud to remind you all of a major scoop I brought to you a few weeks ago, which you first read about in the pages of the Roscommon People.

I told you that one of my very (un)reliable sources had news that the international Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking festival was taking place this year in the Spanish seaside resort of Cabo Roig, and the man himself, Willy Daly, was heading over there for the duration of the festival. This week, at least three weeks after my revelations, all the national papers are carrying the story as if it is hot off the press, but if you followed my advice about booking your flights and accommodation and going to Cabo Roig to find a bit of romance, you should’ve stolen a march on all the readers of the so-called big papers. Remember you read about it first, right here, in the Roscommon People!

Talking of the People, one of the paper’s regular readers is Martin Walsh from Gortaganny, and it was my pleasure and privilege to meet and have a chat with him last week about Dermot Earley, football, country music, Michael Commins, and many other topics. I just want to say hello to him before I go. I mean, I’m not actually going anywhere, but hello Martin, it was great to meet you!


Finally for this week…

One of the great benefits of growing old was, amongst other things, the 50 percent discount we were entitled to when paying into GAA matches. Sadly, the pandemic seems to have done away with that practice, as when I bought my tickets online for the Creggs v Shannon Gaels match, there was no place that I could see where the poor old pensioners’ discount was mentioned.

Now I know it was only a deficit of a fiver, but when you rely on the Old Age Pension, a fiver is a fair bit. I, for one, feel the GAA could have left it there for the benefit of the few of us that are left who are still able to go to the games.

‘Till next week, Bye for now!