Paul Healy’s Week

Paul Healy…on meeting a remarkable Roscommon-born priest; Ciaran Mullooly’s book launch (and Enda’s moustache); terror in Paris; watching Ireland’s crunch Euro 2016 tie by fast-forwarding; …and Anthony Cunningham’s ‘Kangaroo Court’…


Today I meet a remarkable Roscommon man. Fr. Gerry O’Rourke, now in his 91st year, is in impressive physical condition and presently enjoying a holiday ‘home from America.’ He is a nephew of the late, great Dan O’Rourke and spent almost his entire childhood living in Abbey Street, Roscommon. Fr. Gerry has spent most of his 65 years (to date) in the priesthood in America, and is currently based in California. His has been no ordinary life; he has been to the forefront of many prominent and well-received initiatives, including in the area of peace and reconciliation amongst people (across the world) of diverse religious and political backgrounds. Fr. O’Rourke will concelebrate Mass with Pope Francis in Rome next week; before that, he got to talk to me about Roscommon GAA, his life and times – and Fianna Fail!.


There are no plans (yet) for Ciaran Mullooly to concelebrate Mass with Pope Francis (see previous item), but the RTE Midlands Correspondent is surely in the good books of the Catholic Church following his acclaimed documentary (first shown on RTE last Christmas) on the restoration of St. Mel’s Cathedral in Longford.

Fresh from his successful foray into the world of documentary-making with ‘The Longford Phoenix,’ Ciaran has now published a book in which he reflects on challenges facing rural Ireland.

Many of Ciaran’s experiences over thirty years working as a journalist are alluded to in a book which is part-social history, part-political and part-biographical. Partly-based on Ciaran’s always thought-provoking columns in the Roscommon Champion, the book is a considered overview of life in rural Ireland, and an exploration of how – working together within our communities – we can deal with the challenges we face.

The Roscommon town launch of ‘Back to the Future’ took place in the County Library on Friday evening and a very enjoyable occasion it was.

Speakers complimented the author on both his work as a journalist and his community endeavours, to the point where Ciaran quipped that it was like being present at his own funeral!

Ciaran, if he’s reading this, should look away now, because I will take this opportunity of praising him further (normal service will resume shortly).

In between his family commitments and responsibilities for RTE, Ciaran is, as I noted on Friday night, a great community activist. I’ve seen him operating at close range; his energy, passion and forward-thinking approach are attributes that have significantly helped communities in counties Longford and Roscommon.

There are of course many other volunteers in our community who do similar work; their resilience, ambition and collective endeavour is needed now more than ever. As I said on Friday night, ‘more Ciaran Mulloolys’ in our community would be greatly to the benefit of rural Ireland.

As for the book, I very much recommend it. The book addresses, with just the right journalistic edge, issues affecting this area – the author by times challenging both himself and the reader, by times putting forward possible solutions to problems affecting this region. Ciaran writes movingly about the loss of family members – particularly poignantly about his late mother’s experience of Alzheimer’s.

Some of the proceeds from sales of the book are being donated to the Carers Association. It’s great to see ‘local’ books being published. We are taking the fight to the Internet! ‘Back to the Future’ is a great read and an ideal Christmas present.

People present…

The book launch was performed by Roscommon town actor Enda Oates. I hadn’t met Enda in about seven or eight years and didn’t recognise him at first; it turns out he’s sporting a fine moustache, as he’s playing the part of James Connolly in an upcoming series on the 1916 Rising which will be broadcast on TG4.

The assumption that people in the acting profession live an entirely glamorous life has long been debunked and it is now widely accepted that, for the vast majority of actors, making a living and getting regular work can be a struggle.

Happily, Enda’s career seems to be peaking in recent years and he is popping up regularly on our television screens (and in theatre and film). He is now, without question, established as one of our most popular, hardest-working, most-in-demand and most accomplished actors and, as Ciaran Mullooly said on Friday night, we in Roscommon are suitably proud of Enda’s achievements and ongoing success.

The attendance included public representatives, community leaders, friends of Ciaran and Angela Mullooly and many colleagues from community organisations which the RTE Midlands Correspondent is involved in.

Fresh from a very respectable showing in that morning’s Seanad Bye-Election was Dr. Keith Swanick, who arrived at the launch in great form and looking very like a politician of the future.

Dr. Keith, a Castlerea native who is based in Mayo, won’t be seeking a nomination for Fianna Fail in the forthcoming General Election, but he has his sights set on a Senate seat.

We chatted to Michael and Eileen Fahey. Eileen, a great community champion in Kilteevan, was looking forward to the following morning’s Pride of Place Awards, but not expecting further accolades beyond those already gained by the local Development Group’s inclusion as one of the nominees.

As it turned out, there would be cause for further local ‘Pride of Place’ celebrations, as both Kilteevan Community and the Roscommon Lions Club sponsored Quad Youth Centre project in Roscommon town were recognised with awards on Saturday. Congratulations to both!


The shock-waves following the terror attacks in Paris continue to reverberate around the world. Paris is a majestic, wonderful city with fabulous architecture, many beautiful sights – a certain grace and majesty – and populated by a proud people.

It is heartbreaking to think that this great city is now living on its nerves, a regular target for random and senseless and despicable attacks.

However, in the days since the attacks, it has been heartening, inspirational indeed, to see and hear people in France and throughout the world insist that they will continue to live life as normally as possible, in defiance of the terrorists. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.


We were on the road, driving, as the match kicked off. How does that happen? I guess it just does happen sometimes. I know many people are less smitten now by the exploits of the Irish soccer team than in the past, but still, this was a big, big occasion…

Yet, despite it being a big event, I’m on the road, in the car, nowhere near a television screen. The kids are insisting on ‘The Kinks’ CD being played (it’s flavour of the month in our car at the moment).

This suited me, ‘cos I had recorded Ireland v Bosnia & Herzegovina, and didn’t want Newstalk or RTE Radio giving me any update on the game. By 8.20 pm or so, making sure not to check my mobile, I was clueless as to how the game was going and getting closer to home.

‘Dedicated Follower of Fashion’ was blaring out and I was the only one in the car aware of the unfolding crisis. Great song, but it was time to find out how Ireland were doing.

When I finally got home to the remote, a decision to make: go live to the game – or race through what had already been recorded? I did the latter, fast-forwarding every time there was a throw-in or any such stoppage, but, needless to say, I saw Ireland take the lead in fast-forward mode, not as it happened.

So I had to rewind to see the penalty decision, all of the suspense drained, as I already knew that the spot-kick would be successful. At (my) half-time, I skipped the ads and the three wise men (Dunphy, Giles and Brady).

I began fast-forwarding through the still-recording second half, desperately trying to catch up with the live action at the Aviva. Every now and again I pressed ‘pause’, but the temptation to speed it up remained (fast tempo to this game, actually).

Yep, sure enough, I missed the second goal in real time. While fast-forwarding, I suddenly gleaned that there were more ecstatic celebrations, so I re-wound to see the goal. I finally caught up with the live version of the game with about a minute to go. I don’t know about the Irish players, but I was certainly mentally exhausted by the full-time whistle.


Today’s papers have extensive coverage of the confirmed demise – in instalments – of Anthony Cunningham’s doomed management of the Galway senior hurlers.

Cunningham bowed to the inevitable on Monday night, bringing an unseemly saga to a close by stepping down.

He parted with a strongly-worded press statement, in the course of which he complained bitterly of being the victim of a ‘kangaroo court.’ I share his sentiments. My view is no doubt an old-fashioned one that some people will feel is tunnel-visioned, but I think so-called ‘player power’ stinks.

Players should play, managers should manage and administrators, who are answerable to the clubs, should deal with the business end of things.

Anthony Cunningham has been treated appallingly and I suspect the players have only succeeded in putting more time and space between Galway hurling and the ‘Holy Grail.’