Murder in the mall: Will Americans ever change their gun laws?




It’s Friday afternoon. Carol and I are visiting our daughter in Dublin, and as you do on these occasions, we head off to some big shopping centre where Lisa (our daughter) says there are sales everywhere (music to Carol’s ears), and for a couple of hours we mingle with the huge Bank holiday crowds, do a bit of window shopping, a bit of real shopping, have a break for a coffee and scone, and generally enjoy a nice, peaceful, lazy afternoon.

  Fast-forward to Saturday afternoon, and over in El Paso, Texas, a similar scene is taking place in a Walmart shopping mall, and shoppers are going about their business. It’s probably exactly the same scenario as we had experienced the day before. Then, a man casually walked into the mall, and opened fire with an assault rifle at random…in a matter of minutes, 20 people are dead and 26 injured. Among the dead is young mother Jordan Anchondo, who died as she tried to shield her two-month-old baby from the attack. The suspect is Patrick Crusius, described as a hate-filled anti-Hispanic white supremacist.

  Apparently, the gunman wanted to kill as many Mexicans as he could. In fact there were three Mexicans amongst the victims. The killer, we are told, didn’t want to kill Americans, but reports indicate that the majority of his victims were indeed Americans.

  A number of hours later, in Dayton, Ohio, as revellers were queuing to get into a bar, a second gunman, Connor Betts, opened fire on unsuspecting innocent victims. He killed nine people, including his own sister.

  Following this carnage, America’s gun laws are yet again coming under huge scrutiny. I am well aware that there is a powerful lobby, fuelled by enormous financial muscle, which doesn’t want any change to the very liberal rules which apply to gun purchase and ownership – but surely, after 251 mass shootings in the country so far this year, something has to change?

  As for all of us, who throughout last weekend attended festivals, carnivals, bars and nightclubs all over the country, while it rightly never enters our heads, it’s nice to reflect on the fact that we can do so in relative safety, with only long queues and maybe the odd row between a couple of drink-fuelled lads to upset us. For those people in America who do the very same thing, there now has to be the nagging thought, even if it’s buried deep in their head, that there might just be someone in the crowd who is planning to carry out another terrible atrocity. Not a nice situation, and one that the politicians over there surely ought to address right now. However, we won’t hold our breath.


Fun (and buns) at the fair!


It’s now Monday afternoon, and I am just back from a visit to Ballygar – where the Fair Day is taking place – and I have to say it was a visit that I thoroughly enjoyed. The weather, which hadn’t been great earlier in the morning, had cleared up quite a bit, and there was a huge crowd roaming the streets…looking at the massive amount of stalls, having fun on the amusements, and generally enjoying themselves – and the atmosphere was just lovely.

  I got away from the amusements as quickly as I could as there was a flying machine going around that reminded me of a trip I took on one on a Sunday morning a good few years ago, when I thought I was going to die. It was the following Thursday before I recovered, so even looking at one flying around in Ballygar was almost enough to make me sick all over again.  

  I met loads of people who were out for the day, and among them were two of Ballygar’s finest footballers – triple All-Ireland medal winner, Sean Cleary, who was there with his wife Ann and his brother Shay, and also Tomas Heavey. Tomas, whom I often played against during his football days, never wanted to let me have the ball, and used to knock lumps out of me to make sure I didn’t get it! He was promoting a book, ‘From Ballinamore to Ballygar and Newbridge’, a history of the parish of Ballygar, Newbridge, and Toghergar from 1800 to 1918. Written by Michael A. Martin, it looks to be a ‘must buy’ for all local people. Sales were flying when I was there, so I’m sure it will be a bestseller!

  Our good friend, Myra Fitzmaurice, was on a stall for the tidy towns selling all kinds of cakes and stuff, and I couldn’t resist a few of the most gorgeous cream buns. I’m just boiling the kettle now, so I will take a little break from my writing and have the cup of tea and bun.


(A few minutes later…)

The tea is over now, and the bun(s) proved to be delicious, and just for a moment my mind drifts to this coming weekend when the All-Ireland football semi-finals take place, and I can’t figure out how all of a sudden there is a feeling that Mayo can shock the five-in-a-row chasing Dubs.

  I realise that the men from the west have given the Dubs really hard games before, but they still haven’t beaten them, while this Mayo team has already lost to Roscommon and Kerry this summer. Now, while I admire Mayo enormously for all they have done in the last few years, I really think the champions will have way too much for them and will win easily enough. I also admit that I hope I am wrong, and if ever a man looked forward to eating some humble pie, then I am your man.

  The other game is harder to call, but I hope the Kingdom overcome Mickey Harte’s Tyrone and set up a mouth-watering All-Ireland final.


And finally…TC’s great birthday gesture


Finally for this week, Glinsk’s Tom Cunningham, better known as TC, has asked me to tell you about a big fundraising dance he is holding in Dowd’s of Glinsk on this Friday night, 9th of August.

  Tom will have turned 60 (hope he doesn’t mind my telling you) by the time you read this, but rather than have a big birthday party, he has decided for very important personal reasons, to hold this fundraiser, proceeds of which will be going to the Irish Cancer Society and Ability West.

  Music on the night is by Jimmy Kearney and The Lancers, admission is optional, and local TD Michael Fitzmaurice will conduct an auction. Light refreshments will be served.

  I can only say fair play to TC for this wonderful gesture, so now it’s up to you (and me) to get to Dowd’s on this Friday night – and make it a night to remember. See you there.



Till next week, Bye for now!