Omnipresent Michael Fitz and a week of worthy local launches!


It’s Monday morning, and I’m thinking back on a week which saw as many launches locally as at the Kennedy Space Centre, and while I didn’t make it to the launch of the book of poems, ‘To the river again’ by Marion Neary-Burke in Dowd’s last weekend, I am told that a good crowd turned up.

  Local TD Michael Fitzmaurice did the business, and all the proceeds from the sale of the books (which are available for €10 each), are going to the Mayo/Roscommon Hospice. Marion, who is a native of Curraghreevagh (down the road from me in Kilbegnet), is a prolific poetry writer, and has previously successfully launched another collection of poems, entitled ‘Soul Journey’, the proceeds of which also went to the Mayo/Roscommon Hospice.

  However, I did make it to the launch of Tommy and Rachel Burke’s CD, ‘Mansion on the Hill’, which also took place in Dowd’s, on Friday night, and as I headed off on what can only be described as a Baltic night, I wondered to myself would the unkindly weather have any effect on the size of the crowd. It seems that I needn’t have wondered because the place was absolutely jammed, and I have to say that it was a right good night’s fun.

  Dene Lane, James Shevlin, and Sean T. Kelly, from the band Gracelands, aided and abetted by the multi-talented John Staunton (long-time member of Daniel O’Donnell’s band and one of Ireland’s most respected musicians) provided the music and the huge crowd kept the dance floor buzzing for the entire night. Naturally, of course, the closest I got to the dance floor was on my way to the loo, but I could tell everyone was having a real good time, and the CDs were selling like hot buns! Michael Fitzmaurice did that launch also, this time with Marty Ward (a very accomplished MC), and on the night both Tommy and Rachel treated the crowd to brilliant individual performances. Tom Connolly had told me that Tommy was a superb singer, and he was definitely right. I had never heard Rachel sing before either, and I thought she was amazing, so a big well done to them both, and I’d say the proceeds will build a top class Church out in Tanzania.

  As for the many people who have expressed an interest in buying the CD, they can log on to and place their order. Now I know it can be a very expensive time of year with the Christmas coming up, but both Marion’s book and Tommy’s CD would make lovely Christmas presents, and as both are helping very worthy charities, I urge anyone that can to make the effort and buy one, or maybe both, of these excellent local offerings.

  On then to Saturday night, and all roads led to Mikeen’s, where the Barrie Harris Walk was being launched, and I really must offer my most sincere apologies for saying it was to be on the 22nd, rather than the 23rd. The large crowd there, including myself, had a ball with music by PJ Davis, lots of goodies from  the ladies committee, and yet another appearance by local TD Michael Fitzmaurice.

  I was going to say you would think there was an election looming, so often was ‘Fitz’ to be seen, and indeed maybe there is, but that would not be fair to a man who has supported and attended every dogfight since, and indeed before, his election, and I have to say that I have seldom seen a more committed public representative anywhere in my lifetime. I know that, as of yet, there is no election called, but if there is, I sincerely hope that ‘Fitz’ makes it safely back to Dáil Eireann.

  To jump back to the big walk on St. Stephen’s Day for a second: I’m sure all who got cards will make a big effort to fill them, and you must remember that every euro counts, so don’t be too shy to ask for or give a donation. Hopefully we will yet again make the Barrie Harris Walk an amazing local success story.

Well said, Terry!

Talking of amazing success stories…one of the longest running and most successful political careers is that of Castlecoote man Terry Leyden, and I see he captured the headlines with his verdict on the failed Irish bid for the 2023 Rugby World Cup. He was scathing in his assessment of our efforts, and delivered the immortal line that the government delegation “couldn’t organise a p**s-up in a brewery”.

  Social media fairly latched onto it, and when you understand that there is no such thing as bad publicity, maybe Terry’s uncanny ability to generate headlines might well be one of the reasons he has stayed at the top of the political game for so long. Very notable it is too that this time he is undoubtedly right: we overestimated our own popularity and pulling power, and completely underestimated the financial clout the French, in particular, had at their disposal.

  Not for the first time, money talked, and the mystery is how we failed to realise just what these big tournaments are all about. Surely all the scandals regarding the awarding of various Olympics’ and soccer World Cups should have set off warning bells, but obviously not! Well said, Terry. Maybe they should have got you on board, because maybe they might’ve had a better chance.

And finally…

Finally for this week, I would like to recognise the marvellous achievement at the weekend of Limerick woman and former Irish ladies rugby international, Joy Neville, when she was named as the World Rugby Referee of the Year.

  This achievement comes only four years after her retirement from a playing career in which she got 70 caps for Ireland. It truly is an amazing transformation, so a very well done to Joy.

‘Till next week, Bye for now!