Is it time to hand over our mobile phones when we go to the pub?

Our man Frank on why he agrees with Bob Dylan; A Hospice fundraiser; Joan’s great project…and a donkey milk brainwave!

You will recall that on a few occasions down through the years, I have mentioned the sad fact that mobile phones (well, more accurately the use of mobile phones) have had a detrimental effect on the art of conversation – particularly in our public houses.

Tongue in cheek, I have suggested that customers should put their phones across the counter upon their arrival into their local pub. My idea was a bit similar to the old west, when everyone had to surrender their guns when they entered the saloon, and only got them back as they were leaving. Maybe the same theory should apply to mobile phones in pubs!

While it might be difficult to keep track of every phone, it would mean that all of those who are constantly fiddling with them would at least have to make some effort to chat to whoever was beside them. After all, most people actually used to go to the pub to have a chat.

Anyway, all that came into my head when I read that the legendary singer/songwriter, Bob Dylan, didn’t allow any mobile phones into his recent concert in the 3 Arena. Apparently you had to put your phone into a sealed envelope and only got it back after the concert. There was a specific area where people could go to answer important or emergency calls, but apart from that, your phone was out of action for the duration of the show.

I think it was wonderful that Dylan introduced the ‘no phones’ rule, and the reaction from everyone was very positive. The general consensus was that they enjoyed the show much better without the constant flashing of phone camera bulbs, and they could concentrate much better on Dylan’s music.

If, this weekend, we all had to hand our phones across our local pub counters, it would be a great step forward and could prove once and for all  that, as Bob himself might say, “the times, they are a-changing”.


Whisper it: Please support Hospice fundraiser

A couple of weeks ago I told you about the big night that Castlerea legend, Johnny Carroll, was organising for Galway Hospice in the wonderful surrounds of Galway Cathedral, and the fabulous line-up he had managed to put together.

Well it all took place last Thursday night, November 10th, and it is no surprise to hear that it was a complete sell-out! Johnny told me that they had to announce on the Tuesday beforehand that tickets were completely sold out, with more than 1,000 people attending the fantastic show.

Johnny and the Roscommon Solstice Choir have recorded a beautiful single, ‘Whispering Hope’ which is now on sale, with all the proceeds going to the Hospice.

I had fully intended going along on the Thursday night, but Covid decided to pay Carol and I a visit, so we had to keep to ourselves for a week or so, and obviously couldn’t go to Galway. People can still support the very worthy cause by buying a copy of ‘Whispering Hope’ – and maybe give a copy to a few of your friends as a Christmas gift.

Anyway, well done to Johnny and to all who contributed to a wonderful night’s entertainment. I am delighted it turned out so well! I wonder if it could become an annual event?


Happy birthday, Tina!

After the absence of music in the pubs for so long, within the last couple of weeks I have seen Decie Walsh perform twice in Mikeen’s.

The first time was as part of the Harvest festival, and then there was last Saturday night, when Decie provided the excellent entertainment for Tina Gavin’s birthday. It was one of those birthdays that ended in a zero, but that’s all you are getting from me! No matter how many pints you buy me, I am not going to reveal Tina’s age.

However, it was great craic, and it marked my reappearance after recently having Covid. There was a real party atmosphere. It is great to see normality slowly coming back after a long absence. So, congrats Tina, happy birthday, and here’s to the next big one!

Homeward bound: Joan’s great project

A week or so ago I watched a lovely edition of Nationwide on RTE 1, which focused on the restoration of the old Killian homestead outside Lanesborough.

It followed the journey of Connecticut-born Joan Killian Gallagher and her quest to bring her old family home back to its original state. It took thirteen years for her to get it all restored, and I have to say it looks amazing, and is a credit to the extremely successful American businesswoman.

However, in watching the programme, it was an old letter written by Joan’s granny some months after leaving Ireland for the US more than 100 years ago that left the most profound effect on me. It made me realise how sad it is that no one hardly ever writes at all any more. Granny’s letter is still lovingly preserved by the Killian family, and I just thought it so beautiful that they can still read her thoughts and feelings after all these years.

Now that we are in the era of text messages, Whatsapps and emails and other types of convenience contact, it saddens me to think that traditional letter-writing is a thing of the past.

In the same programme, there was an example of Joan’s grandmother’s handwriting in her Penmanship Workbook, written when she was ten years old; she thought it important enough to bring to America with her, and it too has survived to this day. And the striking thing about that book is the sheer quality of the handwriting – it is so beautifully written. For someone still slightly short of her 10th birthday at the time, it is amazing.

Many years later, when I went to national school, there was still a huge emphasis on handwriting. It is safe to say that very few people can write at all any more, and it’s a very sad development.

Anyway, well done to Joan: it’s been a long road, but watching the programme, it was very easy to see how much the family homestead means to her. There is no doubt it was all worthwhile.


Hee-hawing all the way to the bank?

One of my regular readers (possibly the only one) saw fit to ring me the other day to tell me about a new way to make money!

Apparently he saw Hector’s new programme, ‘From the Balkans to the Baltic’, and realised that donkeys’ milk is an extremely expensive commodity. It seems that by mixing donkey and goats’ milk and producing cheese, you can fetch up to €7,000 a litre (how much milk a litre of cheese takes, I don’t know). He wondered why aren’t we all milking donkeys and making our fortunes.

It has been scientifically proven that donkeys’ milk is almost as nutritious as mothers’ milk, so it looks like a no-brainer to me. As a country that always has its fair share of donkeys, maybe we as a nation are missing out on a big opportunity – it might be time to start making donkey cheese! We can be laughing (hee-haw) all the way to the bank!

And finally…

Out here in Creggs, we were saddened to hear of the recent death of Martin Joe Keane, a man who won All-Ireland medals in both hurling and football with Roscommon, and who was a tremendous inspiration to all of us who were lucky enough to play football with him in Creggs.

A superb midfielder, he represented Connacht in the now defunct Railway Cup competition, also playing hurling for Tremane along with his brother Seamus. He was a great businessman and a family man, and will be dearly missed by everyone who knew him.

To the Keane family, I extend my sincere sympathy. May he rest in peace.