My diagnosis for Children’s Hospital: A monumental error

Ten years ago when I started to write this column, I decided that I would leave politics to the politicians. And it’s only been on a very odd occasion that I have delved into that dark and, occasionally, controversial world. However, when a monumental error is made, which will impact on the welfare of thousands of Irish families in the future, it simply cannot be ignored.

  I am talking about the decision to site the new Children’s Hospital in the grounds of St. James Hospital in the inner city, in an area where parking and accessibility is already a major problem. I am told that everything about the location is wrong and that when it is up and running, sick children and their parents will face a logistical nightmare trying to get to the hospital. It may be that they will have to park well away from their destination, and take the dart, bus, luas or taxi to get to where they want to go, which will put enormous extra stress on people who already have enough to deal with.  

  The Mater was the original site chosen for the new hospital and when planning permission was refused for there, it was then proposed to seek submissions from six hospitals in the Dublin area. How the Government went with the James Street site is a mystery, as it is widely accepted that Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown ticks all the right boxes; accessibility, a huge area available for development, and no parking problems.

  Rumour has it that the pediatric consultants refused to travel out to Connolly which, if true, reflects badly on those consultants. Others would say that it would be cheaper, more efficient, and much more suitable for parents and children to build from scratch outside Dublin, but, one way or another, the decision as it stands will result in enormous hardship for people who already have serious problems on their plates. I don’t know if it’s gone too far to have any changes made but, from all I have seen and read, we are making a massive mistake.

Munster and Leinster on title charge…

As a rugby follower, it was a great weekend for the supporters of both Munster and Leinster as they each put in very impressive performances in qualifying for the semi-finals of the competition that I still regard as the Heineken Cup. Leinster appear to have an unending supply of young, talented and, very importantly, Irish backs, and they were far too good for a disappointing Wasps team, and the future, once again, seems very bright for the province. Mind you they face a very difficult task in the semi-final when they have to travel to take on the brilliant French club, Clermont Auvergne, in Lyon.

  Munster were a bit like the parson’s egg, good in spots, in their victory over Toulouse, and will know that they need to really up their performance before meeting the reigning champions, Saracens, in the Aviva. I can only imagine the atmosphere that will be there for that game, and even though both provinces will be underdogs, I cannot rule out an Irish final. What an occasion that would be.

Springing into action on the fairways

For many years I used to look forward to the winter because the short evenings meant you couldn’t be expected to do any sort of work after it got dark, and so it was very easy to park in front of a warm fire, turn on the telly, and basically have a doss every evening of the week – not recommended by any of the many doctors that have attended me over the years.

  However, as I got older my perspective changed and nowadays nothing excites me like the arrival of spring and the long evenings, which, amongst other things, allow us to once more head back to the golf course. And so, today I made my first appearance of the new year on the beautiful Castlerea course and I can’t think of anything more enjoyable.

  Last evening, on a pre-masters programme in Augusta, Georgia, a commentator asked a 10-year-old girl why she had taken up golf and she simply said because it’s so much fun. And even for dinosaurs like myself, the answer is still the same; it’s great fun. You get to spend hours in the lovely fresh air, it’s very relaxing, and you are walking in a beautiful parkland setting, and it doesn’t matter if you can’t hit the ball out of your way.

  I now tell myself to think like Rory McIlroy when I’m playing, but so far we don’t seem to be on the same wavelength. However, all you out there who don’t want to play football, who don’t like walking, but who would need to do some exercise, get yourself a few golf clubs and balls, hit for your nearest golf club, and I guarantee you will soon be hooked. If you go to Castlerea, tell Mickey Freyne that I sent you and he will make you very welcome, and who knows, you might be the next McIlroy.

Great entertainment in Glenamaddy

If you remember, last week I told you about my impending trip to Glenamaddy to the Theatre Festival, to watch the Corofin (Clare) Players as they put on the well-known Martin McDonagh play, The Cripple of Inishmann. I can only tell you it was just a fantastic night’s entertainment. Everything you could want in a play was present, loads of laughter, often at the expense of the clergy, sadness, unrequited love, brilliant acting, full house, great atmosphere, all taking place in a most intimate arena.

  I am ashamed to say that until that night, I was unaware that such a beautiful theatre existed in our neighbouring town. I don’t know if they won any prizes at the festival, but if they didn’t, the other entrants must have been out of this world – all the actors and actresses were just so good that they could easily have been professionals, and unusually, there wasn’t a weak link among them. Billy, my brother, sowed the seeds for my theatrical visit and I can only say I thoroughly enjoyed it.

See you at the quiz…

Finally for this week, the Tidy Towns are holding a follow-on table quiz in Mikeen’s this Friday night. The proceeds go to fund the great work the committee does in improving the layout of the village, as all the shrubs, flowers, plants, and trees that look so beautiful don’t come cheap and have to be paid for. We all benefit from the efforts of Carmel Roarke, and her committee members, so let’s see everyone from the village in Mikeen’s.

  It’s time we gave them a boost by turning up for this table quiz and letting the committee know their great work is really appreciated. Once again, I’m your quizmaster and Dowdy, fresh from the Rossies’ great win over Cavan, will set the questions. The personality of the year, Tom Connolly, will be in attendance so all you need to do is make sure you are there on time on Friday night, 7th of April in Mikeen’s, and make it a night to remember!

‘Till next week, Bye for now!