Paul Healy’s Week – 22nd April

Paul Healy…on talking to Joe and (sometimes) listening to Liveline; Forlornly seeking a smile from SIPTU sourpuss Jack…and a spring evening in Lecarrow ahead of this weekend’s ploughing…
Every day, forever

You have to hand it to Liveline, all the same. Joe Duffy can be very annoying, particularly when he does his ‘mock innocence’ or ‘mock indignation’ bit – with a view to further dramatising his engagement with whoever happens to be talking to Joe at the time.

So he certainly plays the game – but then I guess it’s showbiz, in a way. He can also be great in a conventional journalistic/empathetic broadcasting sense. He’s certainly a very accomplished presenter. You almost forget that it was Marian Finucane who established Liveline; Duffy has long made it his own.

From time to time, I hear exchanges on Liveline. Last week (Monday, 11th of April) there was a memorable clash between Duffy and the formidable Fr. Brian McKevitt, editor of Alive! magazine, a joust that was further complemented by a contribution from a slightly scary woman who sounded like she was possessed as she attacked the “disorders’ that she believes are contaminating modern society.

If you missed it, you can listen back online (I’d recommend you do, mainly for entertainment purposes). Then last Monday (April 18th), there was a much more sedate Liveline moment – but still an example of the show’s midas touch – when an English woman who lives in Ireland rang in.

Her dad, “who loves Ireland”, is currently over from England visiting her. Last Thursday he parked his car in Wicklow town and went about his business on foot. Subsequently, he couldn’t find his car anywhere.

Friendly Gardai drove the upset man around Wicklow town looking for the vehicle, but to no avail. There was no real suggestion that the car had been stolen; it had been lost. Next, the woman revealed that her dad’s bagpipes were in the boot of the car – he’s had those bagpipes for sixty odd years. (Joe Duffy: “Your father sounds like a very interesting man!”).

The car also contained a number of his favourite poetry books, the daughter added. At which point, ‘Joe’, a Wicklow taxi driver, rings in and reports that he’s looking at the car at that very moment. This is four days since it ‘went missing.’ The woman is ecstatic.

Joe Duffy asks the taxi driver to check the vehicle, see if it’s been broken into, see if the boot is okay (and therefore, the bagpipes).

Joe knows how to drag as much drama and emotion as possible from a story, but in fairness he deserved this one.

Taxi man reports back that all is well with the car. “I can see a book of WB Yeats’ poems in the back seat.” Ah, great stuff, and only on Liveline…


Leicester City may have gone over 500 minutes without conceding a goal recently, but did you know that Union leader Jack O’Connor has gone 5,000 hours without smiling on television?

Honestly, this grumpy SIPTU sourpuss must be the most annoying person to ‘grace’ our current affairs programmes in many years. On ‘Claire Byrne Live’ tonight, he was as dour and petulant as ever.

This is the guy who walked off the set of Vincent Browne’s Tonight Show just because he didn’t like the presenter’s questioning. And he famously threw a wobbly when Pat Kenny got under his skin on the now defunct ‘Frontline.’

O’Connor is certainly entitled to debate with vigour and in whatever style he wishes, but he really should drop some of the self-righteousness – and treat viewers and listeners with a bit more respect.

Expecting a smile and/or evidence of having a sense of humour would probably be a bit unrealistic.

Monday evening

At the St. John’s pitch on Monday evening, the kids chased every ball, lived every second, inhaled the magic of it all.

In this week’s Roscommon People we’re reporting on rural Ireland (see special supplement on ‘Farming & Rural Life’) and it strikes me that Lecarrow is one of the numerous small and proud villages in the county where a great community is valiantly standing firm against rural decline.

This Saturday, the rescheduled County Roscommon Ploughing Championships will be hosted at a venue in the village. With our son in tow, I take a spin out to Lecarrow on what is a lovely spring evening. The place looks beautiful. Preparations for the ploughing are ongoing and locals are putting in the voluntary hours to ensure that Lecarrow looks its very best on Saturday.

On a sunny evening – the rain and dark evenings gone – rural Ireland’s great beauty and serenity takes the breath away. Lecarrow looks like some sort of designer small village, with flowers everywhere!

On our left, the excellent facilities of the Roscommon & District Soccer League. Further up, the local businesses…landmarks set into the bosom of the village – inviting you to stop and stay.

Pride of place to the miniature thatched cottage which was made by great community stalwart Billy Kelly and his son, Paul, and donated to the Lecarrow Benevolent Fund to benefit their fundraising endeavours.

At Lecarrow Harbour, it’s quiet and peaceful, save for a few workmen engaged in one of the seemingly endless projects which have led to the enhancement of facilities there. A father and his children are in the play area. A sign for ‘boat and bike’ hire is a reminder that summer is not far away.

We might have turned for home, but instead we drove in as far as the St. John’s soccer pitch, and initially when we saw a number of cars there, we thought some adults might be using the astroturf facilities.

In fact there was an underage soccer match in full flow. In the village pubs, Spurs and Stoke were in combat on Sky Sports; but here, midst the stone walls, young boys and girls were playing a soccer match for the innocent love of it all. Parents and coaches shouted encouragement, their voices puncturing the stillness of the evening.

The kids watched every move of the ball. A rural community expressing itself. In the shadow of the village, great sporting facilities brought to life by the adults of the future. I couldn’t help but wonder where their futures lie.

Perhaps in some far-off spots around the world. But that’s a long way off. Just now, on this beautiful spring evening, they are the life and soul of their village, their home place. The present and the future merging in a proud community.

We headed for home, all the better for our sojourn at St. John’s pitch. Take that, Sky Sports!