Importance of supporting our local businesses

A few weeks ago, in one of these weekly pieces, I was delighted to write about the manner in which the village of Athleague was, if you like, fighting back against the nationwide rural demise, and amongst the many positive bits of news was the fact that Applegreen were about to take over, and re-open, the petrol station on the Roscommon road.

However the local papers last week carried advertisements placing the newly-acquired business for sale, which would immediately set alarm bells ringing and begs the question why it would be beneficial for the Applegreen people to sell the Athleague station so quickly.

I’m told they bought ten such stations around the same time, all over the country, and they are also offloading one outside Westport, so I have to assume those two purchases have proved less successful than they would have hoped for.

Why that has happened, obviously I have no idea, but I suppose the message must be the same to everyone in the local catchment area – whether it’s sold or not, local businesses need to be supported, and it’s only when they are gone that we realise how much we miss them.

Up here in Athlone, a while ago the media carried stories about the proprietor of a local shop, The Cova, which is situated just as you hit the motorway off the Ballymahon road – and it reported how the owner had been viciously assaulted in the course of the third robbery in a matter of months: sadly that business is now closed, and, whatever the reason, another small family business has bit the dust.

Now I realise the circumstances are not the same, but too many local ventures are failing and it’s up to us to do our bit to try and prevent such happenings, and with Christmas coming let’s keep a little bit for our own local shopkeepers.

The ugly truth

Changing subjects entirely, and, as they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, which may explain why a riot broke out in Zimbabwe last week over the result of a Mr Ugly contest, in which the winner, 42-year-old Mison Sere, was branded as too good looking by supporters of the former three-time champion, William Masinvu.

The judges were mobbed by the loser, and his followers, who claimed Sere only won because he was missing so many of his front teeth.

Masinvu claimed that he was naturally ugly, while the winner was ugly only when he opened his mouth! I haven’t seen any pictures of the runner-up, but based on what I’ve seen, Sere seems to be a worthy winner and is ugly enough to deserve his 500 dollar prize. I told you last week about the hurdy-gurdy men, and the Punch and Judy shows, who used come to the local schools when I was a child, and how we used enjoy them!

Well it seems Mr Ugly is visiting schools in Zimbabwe, showcasing his ugliness, and he’s looking forward to using that as a stepping stone to a lucrative TV career. It just goes to show that there’s always a way, and even if you’re like the back of a bus, don’t give up –I know it’s a long way away, but you could always hit the big time in Zimbabwe.

What’s happened to Barbie?

I didn’t see the TV3 toy show last Friday night, as I was in the hall, but earlier in the evening, as I was tucking into the dinner, I saw a six-year-old girl, who was featuring on the show, being asked what she had asked Santa for for Christmas, and I was saddened when she said she had asked for an iPad (at six years of age). What’s happened to Barbie, or a different doll, or skates, or a kitchen set – anything other than a technological gadget?

Great entertainment

Being a star in Zimbabwe is one thing, but last Friday night we had several local stars in action in the parochial hall in Kilbegnet, when the local drama group staged AJ Stanley’s three-act play, ‘Troubled Bachelors’.

Now I have long been an advocate of locally-based entertainment and I can only say that the Larry Donoghue-produced play was just brilliant, and every one of the cast was quite superb.

It’s probably not fair to mention any one member, but the performance of Seamus Keane was on a par with anything you would see from any professional actor in any setting, and the whole offering was great.

The good news is that, if you missed it, don’t fret, as it’s all on again this Friday night, 27th November at 8.30 pm in the same venue. All I can say is don’t miss it – it’s great craic, and well worth a visit.

Launch of Barrie Harris Walk

Anyway, back to local matters, and next Saturday night the 21st annual Barrie Harris Walk is being launched in Mikeen’s, at 9.30 pm, and everyone is encouraged to come along, get your sponsorship cards, and make sure a huge amount is collected for all the many charities that benefit from the walk every year.

Hundreds of thousands of euro have been raised over the years, and so many charities have been supported, so let’s make a special effort for the 21st and make it one to remember. In the meantime, I’ll see you on Saturday night and we might even have a pint.

It’s all go on the local social scene at the moment, and on Saturday night, 5th of December the local GAA club are launching their long-awaited history of the club, in the school hall at 9 pm.

This has been a massive undertaking, and the end result will, I’m sure, be well worth waiting for! Everyone who ever had anything to do with the club (or even with any of the players) is invited to attend the launch, which is being done by the Roscommon football manager, Kevin McStay. The book will be on sale at €15, and by all accounts it’s a steal at it!

And finally…

Finally for this week, it’s been birthday after birthday out our way over the last few weeks, so, in Creggs, happy birthday (belated) to Tina Gavin (age unspecified), Laura Keegan (21st), Killian White and Michael Roarke (30 each), while over in Terry Leyden’s a few weeks ago, there was a huge crowd (including two senators, and a TD) for Indian Mick Larkin’s 60th birthday. Congrats to them all.

‘Til next week, Bye for now