Paul Healy’s Week – 27th May

Paul Healy on theft in a sacred place of worship; a great sporting weekend; a poignant reminder of ‘Páidí’, the force of nature; an encounter with a low-flying bird…and when Brendan met Enda…

This is where the people come to pray and worship. This is where they came to steal.

The Sacred Heart Church in Roscommon is a magnificent Church, one that we are rightly proud of. It is a place of comfort and calm – and reverence.

Visually, it is quite spectacular; frequently it is admired and photographed by tourists. It is ours. What happened there on Thursday is shameful.

A thief, or thieves, made off with a replica of the Cross of Cong, which was located in a glass cabinet near the sacristry.

The cross is over one hundred years old. It has been in Roscommon for all of that time. It is presumed that the reprehensible theft was fairly ‘sophisticated’ – the cabinet was prised open, the brazen criminal act conducted during the day. The cross belonged to the people of Roscommon. Its theft is an affront to the people of Roscommon.

Most of all, there is something deeply offensive and sickening about the fact that someone walked into a Church and carried out this crime.

This is where the people come to pray and worship. This is where they came to steal. Shame on them.

Saturday & Sunday

I remember John O’Leary winning the Irish Open in 1982. We heard the news on the car radio. The car was parked on a beach, probably in Enniscrone.

In those days, it was common on warm summer Sundays for families to drive on to beaches, enjoy a picnic and listen to Micheal O’Hehir (in this case, the golf).

On Sunday, as I sat into our car in Carrick, the man on the radio told of wonder shots from Rory as McIlroy won the Irish Open in thrilling style.

What a weekend of sport it was. Connacht’s great victory over Glasgow, Leinster’s win over Ulster. Tyrone’s ruthless demolition on Derry. I enjoyed the FA Cup Final on Saturday. I quite like van Gaal. They’ll never forget his time there. In years to come they’ll be nostalgic when they look back on his occasionally erratic antics on the sideline, his eccentric press conference utterings and hey, they won the FA Cup.

It’s amusing to hear Manchester United fans moaning about lack of success and negative football since Alex Ferguson left. For God’s sake, Manchester United fans, you have no divine right to success or attractive football! Fans of other clubs may not like a few years in the relative wilderness, but they get on with it!

To Carrick on Sunday, where Roscommon mixed the very good with the not quite so good during a confidence-restoring win over Leitrim.

The weather stayed dry, there was a good crowd, but the match was obviously much more one-sided than had been expected.

In pretty heavy post-match traffic, we took a diversion to lovely Leitrim village, which is always worth calling to.

Passing through Dromod and Rooskey later, we hadn’t time to stop – no doubt the craic was good in those villages as fans of the two counties reflected on the latest clash of the neighbours.

Monday began with the Roscommon flags flying proudly, memories of the scare in New York banished, the sun shining and everyone looking forward to taking on Sligo in the Hyde.


One of the television documentaries that have been made about ‘Páidí’ was repeated tonight, and while I had seen it before, I couldn’t take my eyes off it once my channel-hopping landed me there.

‘Páidí’ was such a legend that no other word is needed – ‘Páidí’ suffices. Well, just for the record so, I am of course referring to the late, great Páidí Ó Sé, the rock-like Kerry footballer who later became a very successful manager.

It was an evocative programme, with beautiful shots of rugged Kerry shores – and that poignant footage of Páidí walking on the beach – reminding us that Ventry is a place apart, and that this was a man apart. He was a warrior, a legend, a Chieftain. Life is that bit duller without him.

The documentary reminded us of his extraordinary feats (eight senior All-Ireland medals won) both as a player and later as a somewhat underrated manager. He was perhaps complex…he could be the life and soul of the party but was also a deep and often quiet man.

Looking at the waves crashing against the cliffs, watching as a community laid their giant to rest, one couldn’t but be reminded at how time’s march and nature’s supremacy refuse to give way to even the least ordinary of mortals. It was poignant footage.

An era passing before us. So much energy and passion and crazy brilliance brought to a premature end. How ever will we explain to future generations the force of nature that the bould Páidí was?

Still, midst the nostalgia and sense of loss, there are, for his family, his place and his fans, countless happy memories and a legacy built from the stuff of pure legend.


I’m driving past the County Hospital, when a low-flying bird swoops below the bonnet of the car.

I hear no impact, but think I’ve hit it. I look in the rear view mirror (it takes a second or two) to see the bird continuing on its way.

I look in front again, and have to brake hard because a vehicle in front of me is turning right.

It was a close thing – my car was only inches from that vehicle. I’ve decided that the moral to the story is a simple one: ‘Keep looking forward, and never look back’. * (Except when reversing a car, obviously).

Later on Tuesday

I caught a few minutes of ‘Oireachtas Report’ (or they caught me). Thought it was ‘Britain’s Got Talent’, but no, it was ‘Oireachtas Report.’

Enda couldn’t stop smiling, almost laughing indeed. I soon found out why.

He was being taken to task by the new Labour leader, Brendan Howlin. Howlin, the Alan Kelly slayer, was all guns blazing, and it really was quite funny.

Wasn’t Howlin inseparable from Kenny just a matter of weeks ago? Didn’t Howlin swear by every stance Kenny’s Government took over the past five years?

It’s quite amusing watching the Labour TDs metamorphosising (yes, I’m sorry I started that word too, but it’s stayed with me since the days of the original Incredible Hulk)…it’s like they were best friends with Fine Gael for years but now they’re crossing the street with their heads in the air every time they see one of their old pals.

I suppose it’s always been that way when a party makes the transition from Coalition Government to opposition. It’s still funny.

I could say ‘Only Fools and Horses without the horses’…but that would be a little unkind.