Not exactly a (TV) licence to thrill…with the odd exception!

Our man Frank on a reader’s concerns over the cost of living (and the TV licence); Why he’d empty the jam jar to back the Rossies in Connacht (!)…and his justified appeal for people to support the big draw being run by the super-progressive Creggs Rugby Club

On Friday evening, as I was tucking into the evening tea, I got a phone call from one of the regular readers of this column. He had two things on his mind: the first is the extremely worrying rise in the cost of living (especially the cost of heating and energy), and the second is the terrible value he believes we are getting for the large amount of money we pay every year for our TV licence.

  Dealing with the TV licence first, my caller mentioned something I hit on some time ago in a previous column – the number of house building, cookery, and travel programmes that have sprung up on various channels. There is hardly an hour goes by that at least one of those programmes is not on.

  What makes it worse is the fact that the houses in question are usually ‘top end’ properties that bear little relationship to the type of houses that most of us live in, and generally the budgets are totally outside the reach of normal folk. Throw in the fact that so many of the programmes are repeats, and my reader feels that if the TV licence fee was halved, it would be more representative of the value for money that we are actually getting.

  I have to admit that I was in total agreement with him…though I didn’t have the heart to tell him (Editor: You have now!) that as a 70-year-old man, I am now exempt from having to pay for my TV licence.

  However, as I write this on Sunday evening, I have just watched a programme on RTÉ 1 that restored my faith in television, humanity, and the basic goodness of Irish people.

  Presented by Baz Ashmawy, the show revolves around Ashmawy’s team of volunteers (including Glinsk’s Stephen Brennan) as they set out to build a house entirely from scratch for Kilkenny’s Johnny Aylward, a man who is terminally ill with motor neurone disease and who may have less than two years to live. To see the massive effort put in by up to a thousand volunteers was so uplifting. In just ten days they had built an amazing home for the terminally ill man, a home that will mean his family will have a place to live in even after Johnny has passed on.

  So, while I still agree with my reader’s assertion that the licence fee is poor enough value, I also have to admit that occasionally there can be something (on TV) to lift our spirits.

  As I pondered over his concern about the cost of living and the ferocious rise in the price of petrol, diesel, essential services and foodstuff, I got yet another call from another reader who was in almost terminal despair at the ESB bill they had just received. Believe it or not, in a small residential holding with two bedrooms and a dining room/kitchen, her bill was an extraordinary €700 for two months!

  So, with everything gone absolutely crazy (my own two-month bill was €448) is it any wonder that people everywhere are worried sick and unsure as to what the economic future will hold? We keep hearing promises from the Government that they will try to ease the pressure on the population, but the question is…what can they really do?

  According to a recent survey in a national newspaper, which incidentally took place before the ESB and Airtricity announced increases of 24 and 25 percent respectively on their bills, more than half (55%) of Irish people are struggling to pay their energy charges, and as there seems to be new increases in everything every day of the week, it’s no wonder that so many of us are stressed and worried.

  Anyway, without being a political genius, it does seem that there will be no relief until the horrendous war in the Ukraine is over. At this point in time, there doesn’t seem to be any likelihood of that, so it looks as if we will simply have to put up with rising prices for the foreseeable future.

I’m happy to acknowledge…it was a great weekend for Roscommon GAA!

It’s now Monday morning as I write, and out here in border-land, it is only right to acknowledge the wonderful weekend that the Rossies had on the football fields of Ireland. The men’s senior team got the better of Galway again in the Division Two league final up in Croke Park, while the ladies beat a very fancied Wexford side in Birr to win the Division Three title.

  The goal that Diarmuid Murtagh scored in Croker will be talked about in Roscommon footballing circles probably until the end of time, and so it should, as it was one of those goals that defy all logic. If ever a score deserved to win a game, that was it. So, despite my lifelong allegiance to the maroon and white, I have to congratulate Anthony Cunningham’s men on a smashing win. They must be looking forward to a big crack at winning the Connacht Championship.

  As for Galway, I felt they were second best for a lot of Sunday’s game, but at least Kerry seem to have shown that Mayo are not the red-hot favourites for Connacht success as was once thought. At this stage, if I were a betting man I would be putting the contents of the jam jar on the Rossies!

  However, for us in Creggs, it was the victory by the ladies that gave us the greatest pleasure, because our own superstar Laura Fleming was captain of the Rossies from her centrefield position. For a good while now Laura has excelled on both the camogie and football fields, and we are very proud of her achievements. So, to her and all her teammates, congratulations on a famous win! At least the maroon and white (Creggs colours) can proudly fly in honour of their great win.

50,000 reasons why you must be in the Rugby Club draw!

It’s ironic that I should be writing about the cost of living and the struggles that a lot of people are now facing, because out here in Creggs we are looking forward to the big Rugby Club draw which is taking place on Easter Sunday night, with a massive prize of €50,000 up for grabs. There is no doubt that for the lucky winner there will be no worries about ESB bills (or any other bills for that matter) for a long, long time.

  Whoever wins can opt to have the money, or a choice between a Toyota HiLux Invincible and an Electric VW ID. 4 SUV. I suppose the choice is yours, but if I win I’ll be passing on the car or the HiLux!

  Anyways, there’s just over a week left to get your ticket. The cost is €20 for one, €50 for three, or €100 for seven. You can purchase them online at, or from a number of committee members.

  It is no secret that Creggs Rugby club is one of the most progressive and ambitious clubs in Connacht, and the facilities that are now in place in the tiny border village are the talk of rugby communities all over the country. The funds raised from this huge draw will go towards the development of state-of-the-art facilities for our girls and ladies teams.

  Anyone who drives into Creggs cannot fail to notice the incredible building that is going up behind the clubhouse. When it is completed, the facilities for our women’s teams will be second to none. So now is your chance to support a club that has punched above its weight all through the years since its formation in 1974, and in the process maybe boost your bank balance by an amazing €50,000!

  The draw is on Easter Sunday, so get on your bike and buy your ticket. If you win, you can buy me a pint of Guinness, or even two!