Giving prime airtime to Gilligan an insult to memory of Veronica

Our man Frank on the controversial media platform which has been given to criminal John Gilligan; The undermining of Vera Pauw, and the overlooking of local rugby star Denis Buckley…

Now and again over the last number of years we have gone on holidays to Spain, to the lovely seaside village of Cabo Roig.

One of the many great things about Spain is the number of markets that are to be found all around the place. Within easy access of the house we stayed in, there was a market a couple of miles away in San Pedro on Mondays, Cabo Roig itself on Thursdays, and a very big one in Playa Flamenca on Saturdays.

Playa Flamenca is about a 10/15 minute walk from us, and over the years we visited it fairly regularly. While there, we would often have a coffee and maybe a scone in a fine pub called The Judges Chamber. However, at some stage we learnt that the pub was owned by the notorious criminal John Gilligan, and even though our custom wouldn’t make or break the very popular business, we took the conscious decision that we would no longer go to it or support it. We felt that by visiting it we were, in a small way, condoning his criminal activities.

Everyone in Ireland (and much further afield) would be well aware of Gilligan’s unlawful life and times, and of his alleged involvement in the murder of investigative journalist Veronica Guerin. So the decision of Virgin Media to do a three-part documentary on his life seems to me to be an insult to Veronica’s memory. Gilligan also has a new book out, ‘The Gilligan Tapes’, which the Star newspaper is serialising, so it’s safe to assume that not only is the former crime boss getting undeserved publicity, but he is probably getting a fair few bob as well.

Jimmy Guerin, brother of the murdered journalist, said, “It is more than disappointing that a national television broadcaster, producers, publishers, and journalists chose to give airtime to, and to publish, this book” – and I fully agree with him.

I have never hidden my fascination for criminals and their crimes, and I have watched several films about Gilligan and also the notorious Martin ‘The General’ Cahill. However, as we all know, films will romanticise and exaggerate stories to woo the audience – which is fair enough – but to actually allow Gilligan to tell his own story (as he sees it) on national television goes against the grain. I, for one, will find something else to look at when it’s on.

Overlooking Denis

With World Cup mania about to explode around the rugby playing world, and the game set to take centre stage for the next two months or so, the Irish team headed off to France last Thursday – and the biggest talking point was the enforced absence of experienced prop forward Cian Healy.

As we look forward (if that’s the right word) to facing up to the awesome scrummaging power of the Springboks, and possibly the French later on, the loss of Healy has certainly put a dampener on our hopes of progressing through the tournament. And for me, it raises, yet again, the thorny question of the non-selection of Denis Buckley.

For those who don’t know it, Buckley has been the cornerstone of the Connacht senior rugby team for twelve or thirteen years now, and in that time he has made more than 200 appearances for the western province and has been up against the very best club and international props – and never been found wanting. Yet, we have all watched as successive Irish management teams have ignored his claims. In my opinion, vastly inferior props have got international call-ups.

As we headed off to France last week prior to our opening game against Romania, Buckley was left sitting at home, while the inexperienced Jeremy Loughman, Tom O’Toole, and elder statesman Dave Kilcoyne (who has had recent injury problems) all got the nod ahead of him. I have nothing against any of those players, but I feel we will regret the decision to go without the Roscommon (also Creggs) man. As I’ve said before, I don’t understand how no one has given him a chance to prove himself at the highest level.

However, all that said, let’s hope the Irish lads do us proud over in France. Please God we will finally get as far as a semi-final. Whatever the outcome, it promises to be a great few weeks of top quality sport!

Poor treatment of Vera

Staying with sport, but switching to soccer: not for the first time, I believe the FAI have made a big mistake, this time in dispensing with the services of the manager of the Irish ladies’ team, Vera Pauw.

Despite denials by everyone involved, including Pauw, there seems little doubt that player power played a big part in her downfall, and I think it sets a very dangerous precedent. The truth is that before Pauw came on the scene, the Irish ladies were a shambles of a team in terms of structure, organisation, and performance, and the way she turned them into a highly-rated international side is almost miraculous. To get them to the recent World Cup, where they performed pretty well, was a massive achievement, and the way it helped get the Irish sporting public right behind them in the process should never be forgotten.

I hope this decision doesn’t come back to haunt her employers. There is no doubt we have a few world class players, but only a few, so to think we could play free-flowing, attractive football is a bit of a myth; Pauw realised our limitations, and by playing to our strengths moulded us into a team that was hard to beat and defensively strong.

All good managers build from the back, and the old adage of keeping the score down still holds true – keep the score down and you have less to score yourselves.

Anyway, we’ll wait and see what happens now, but I for one will be less likely to support the team after the way Pauw was removed. Remarkably, the manager of the men’s team, Stephen Kenny, though a thoroughly nice man, but a manager with a much lesser success ratio than Pauw, seems to be untouchable in his position! It would make you wonder…

In fond memory of Annie

The Creggs I grew up in back in the 1950s was a very different place to the one we know today. As I told you before, we used to have several more pubs and shops – you could buy everything from a fancy suit to a pound of nails, and you could even get your own locally-made coffin.

All of the shops had their own full-time staff, and we knew them all. All of them went out of their way to be kind to us young children and each of them looked out for us.

This all came into my mind last week when Annie Rattigan passed away. In some ways, her passing almost seems like the closure of my childhood years, as Annie was part of our lives for so long. She was always smiling and always cheerful in her many years of service in Kilby’s (Cunningham’s), and afterwards with Tom Doorey and Seamus Keane. Herself and her late husband, postman Tommy, were a big part of the local community for such a long time, meaning her passing brings that era to an end.

Annie was a real lady and will be a huge loss to her family and many friends. We send our sincere condolences to her family, friends and relations. May she rest in heavenly peace.

It’s been a particularly sad week out this part of the world in fact, with the sudden passing of Glinsk’s Colm Ward, and the recent death of Rosaleen Kenny, which has stunned the local community in Ballygar. To everyone in the extended Ward and Kenny families, our sincere sympathy on your sad losses. May Colm and Rosaleen also rest in peace.

And finally…

A Mass in memory of Conor Connelly will be held in St Patrick’s Cathedral, New York, on Friday, September 15th at 12.30 pm.

Conor, who sadly passed away in March 2020, was an outstanding player for Roscommon over many years, while he also played club football with distinction in Roscommon for both Creggs and Michael Glavey’s.

This will be an opportunity for people in

the New York region to come together to remember Conor during this special Mass.