Frank Brandon’s Column

Rescued by long arm of the law!

Our columnist went searching for a sledgehammer and some birdies, but events didn’t unfold as planned…

It’s another Covid-dominated Monday morning. Sometimes you would think that everything has come to a full stop, and yet this morning I am reflecting on a week that saw me almost play golf in Castlerea, go to a rugby match in Tuam, pay a visit to my daughter in Dublin, and attend the wedding of my niece in Ennis on Saturday.

Starting with my non-golf outing to Castlerea! On Wednesday morning (of last week) I headed off nice and early and decided to stop into a shop on St. Patrick’s Street to buy a sledgehammer – an item that for some reason I had decided was essential for my new-found love of DIY. As luck would have it, they were all sold out of sledges, but sadly when I went back out to my car and turned the key it was as dead as a doornail. Not a ‘meg’, no matter how many times I tried it. So, in desperation I rang AXA insurance company and called on the breakdown part of my policy.

It must have been a great morning for breakdowns as there was no one closer than Longford available to come to my assistance, and even that fellow was actually out on a call – and it would be more than ninety minutes before he could rescue me. In further desperation I took out my jump leads, lifted my bonnet, and hoped some kind-hearted Good Samaritan would try to get me going again. On this particular morning there was a Garda car parked behind me, and, no sooner had I raised my bonnet than the three occupants (who were on traffic control duty) came over to help. They gave me (or my battery) a jump, and I couldn’t believe it when it started almost immediately. Sometimes we can give out about the role of the Gardai in our society, but they were so helpful to me – and were my real Guard(ian) angels. Thanks a million to them for getting me on my way.

I didn’t get to play golf that morning – which might not have been a bad thing – but all’s well that ends well, and since then my new battery has been truly tested. Hopefully it will keep going for some time to come. I also want to thank John Murphy who offered to help, but I wasn’t sure if his Mercedes would have the power to get me started. Only kidding John, your offer of help was really appreciated, but by then the long arm of the law were (thankfully) on the job.


Cheers! Welcoming the ‘wet pubs’ back

It’s now Tuesday morning, and last evening all over the country our villages and towns sprang back to life when the so-called wet pubs – after more than six months – finally opened their doors, turned on their lights, and started to welcome their long-lost customers back to their totally newly-revamped premises’.

Last March, on the 15th, a date I remember because it’s the Rasher’s birthday (he’s my brother), we walked out of Mikeen’s disappointed that the pubs were all having to close, but confident that they would open again in a fortnight’s time. If we had known it would be half the year before Mikeen would be able to let us back it is safe to say our disappointment would have turned to utter devastation.

Anyway, last evening he was back in business, and solely because of my dedication to the readers of this column in the Roscommon People – and knowing the importance of research and background information – I felt it was my duty to call in and see how the new guidelines were being followed and how it was all working out.

In common with lots of publicans, during the lockdown Mikeen had carried out some interior designing and had turned the old pool room into a very inviting, comfortable seated area with room for extra tables, and being the responsible host that he is, all the Covid protocols were in place. Despite it feeling a little different, I have to admit it was great to be back.

Once again solely for research purposes, I sampled a pint or two – or maybe even three – of his best Guinness, and as a man who will drink nothing else, I can only say it passed my test with flying colours. Once upon a time a friend of mine would give a pint the ultimate accolade of saying it was like drinking cow’s milk, and if that is indeed the criterion, then Mikeen’s porter was exactly like drinking cow’s milk.

On a serious note, it is great to have our pubs open again, but of course to keep them open, we, the public, must play our part and behave responsibly by keeping our distance, washing our hands, and doing all the things we are told. If we do, we will get through this outrageous disaster and have some type of a normal existence. However, for now, it’s a big welcome back to all publicans, wherever they are, and hopefully they will get all the help and support they deserve, their tills will ring long and loud and they can put this terrible year behind them.


Helping the poor people of Haiti

With all that’s going on here economically and as many businesses close their doors – leading to hardship and job losses – it would be easy to forget about the bigger picture, and in this case the fate of the people in Haiti, where more than 50% of the population try to survive on the equivalent of €2 a day.

Unemployment is rife, riots are a common occurrence, the climate is very unfavourable and unpredictable, and many children are neglected and oftentimes abandoned at a very young age.

Our Little Brothers & Sisters Orphanage comes to the rescue of these children. Now we come to the local dimension. When Michael Nolan (from outside Ballygar) arrived there, 360 children from 3 years up to 18 were in the orphanage, where they received care, nutrition, education and safety, thanks to the support of people like Michael who organise fundraisers to help keep the orphanage open.

This weekend, on Friday 25th and Saturday 26th of September, Michael and some of his friends are holding a Golf Classic in Mountbellew Golf Club, with teams of four costing the very reasonable price of €80. They would be very grateful for any help they receive. Businesses or private supporters can sponsor a tee box for €50, and everything raised will go to help the orphanage at a time when things have worsened substantially resulting in an increase in economic chaos, more instability and violence.

All the administrative staff are unpaid volunteers, so if you can, please dig into your pockets and give a few bob for a round of golf on a very fine golf course – but more importantly to help give some of these children a better start in life.

For further information you can contact Michael at 087-9695924, and he will sort out all you budding Rory McIlroys with tee times, etc.


And finally…Oran’s success

Finally for this week, I have to offer my heartiest congratulations to our neighbours, Oran, on getting one of the clingiest monkeys of all time off their backs, and winning the Sean Mulryan Intermediate Football Championship. Their unbelievable misfortune in county finals over the last few years has been well documented and once again it looked as if Lady Luck had deserted them. This time, however, they were not going to be denied and after extra-time yet again, they ended up worthy and well deserved winners. Fair play and well done to them. Senior football has beckoned for a good while now, and I have no doubt they will acquit themselves well in next year’s championship. Much as I hate to say it, out here in Creggs we will be glad to see the back of them for 2021!