Paul Healy’s Week – 4th December

Paul Healy on talking to Joe; Ryan Tubridy’s jumper; Roscommon treasure John’s memories of the Snug; A singing Santa in his Santamobile and er…young people and politics…

Friday morning

I’m sitting in the Shannonside Radio Studios, as a guest on the ‘Review of the Week’ panel. Host Joe Finnegan is asking one of the other guests whether or not the banking enquiry – approximate cost €5m – has been “good value” for the Irish people.

As the very pleasant IFA man from Longford addresses a value for money question (story of his week, no doubt), the Sinn Fein candidate (a Cavan woman) sitting beside me has some notes on the banking enquiry scribbled down in front of her.

Good idea… I realise that I haven’t passed any heed on the banking enquiry for several weeks, not since Bertie Ahern emerged from obscurity to confound his critics with a confident appearance. The banking enquiry? Is that really still trundling along? Is that where Joe Higgins has been hiding?

I prepare my thoughts, i.e. it’s a waste of money, the public have no interest in it, it’s been politicised beyond rescue, we’ve learnt nothing and it’s time to move on. Joe seems happy enough with that. I had meant to say something even more profound; that the Irish people were far more preoccupied last Friday with what jumper Ryan Tubridy would be wearing on the Toy Show than they are with the discredited autopsy on our banking collapse.

Friday evening

They say you learn something new every day, and this evening I learn that John Kerrigan has a fine singing voice. John is a well-known historian, who lives in his beloved Henry Street, of which he is a native.

This evening he’s launching his DVD, ‘Memories of the Snug’, in which John reminisces about the two quaint snugs which are at the front of the landmark JJ Harlow’s bar in Roscommon town, which John aptly describes as a “a truly authentic old-style pub.”

When John, who is now in his 70s, was a small boy, his grandmother regularly brought him to the snug in Harlow’s, and to this day he has fond memories of the “gracious old ladies in black shawls” who gathered there for a glass of stout and a chat, and for whom the small, partitioned-off snug was like “a confessional.”

On Friday night, there’s a great crowd present for the launch. After welcoming guests, John introduces the DVD. The lights go down and the audience savours what follows.

It’s a lovely trip down memory lane, with John regaling us with his memories and providing insights into the various antiques/old photographs adorning the walls and shelves of the pub. It’s a very stylish production (well done Mimar Media in Athleague).

There’s a great story about John writing a poem about Lady Betty (the infamous Hangwoman) on beermats, and references to products and town personalities from the past that will prove nostalgic for people.

A real highlight of the DVD is John’s singing of some songs from his childhood. Like I say, I’ve now discovered that John is a fine singer! When the screening ends, there’s a big round of applause.

John swivels around in his front row seat, takes a bow, then, glass of whiskey in hand, he poses a question… “Why would a man of my age take on this project? Because I want to leave something behind of lasting value.”

It was an emotional moment really. He will leave a lot behind, and he has lots more to do. He is a historian who delights in passing his extensive knowledge of the town on to younger generations. This he does through speaking in schools, hosting tours, writing extensively and now in DVD form.

Truly a one-off, John Kerrigan is a town treasure.

* ‘Memories of The Snug’ is a beautiful DVD which I highly recommend. A great Christmas gift, but make sure to get a copy for yourself too! It is likely to be particularly cherished by people with any association with Roscommon town ‘in the old days.’ It’s available now (€15) in ETL, Roscommon and in JJ Harlow’s.

Friday night

There are times during the year when the Late Late Show in general and Mr. Tubridy himself can leave you screaming at the telly. Or just switching channels…

But there’s no doubt about it, the golden boy is excellent at hosting the annual Toy Show. It seems he can sing too – and dance. I didn’t think it was one of the great Late Late Toy Shows, but it was still good, and Ryan Tubridy was superb.

In the great Toy Show tradition, he wore a ‘fun’ jumper; meanwhile the studio audience were weighed down with presents, leaving the television audience at home gritting its collective teeth!

Midst the many new toys, it was great to see ‘The Field’ – created by Castlecoote man Padraic Cuddy – featuring prominently, and I hope it’s a huge success for the local entrepreneur.


Santa was in great form when he arrived in Roscommon town on Sunday – and he can sing too! He mesmerised the huge crowds as he eased through the Main Street on his special Santamobile, disembarking at the Square, greeting his captivated audience, leading all present in a few festive songs, and then formally switching on the Christmas lights.

This man gets around even more than Enda. It was a wonderful evening, with local business people playing a blinder as they handed out complimentary hot drinks to cold but happy (and grateful) members of the public.

As ever, the Christmas lights in the county town are excellent. Congratulations to all involved in the project. I know that similar tremendous work is being done in other towns and villages and well done to all of the volunteers involved.

There is real anecdotal ‘evidence’ of a budding revival in our fortunes, I think. And it is obvious that the Council/community Town Teams are playing an important role in this. Anyways, and not to digress too much, if you’ve been paying attention you’ll have received confirmation that John Kerrigan, Ryan Tubridy and Santa can all sing.


Ah, we give out about them, but you have to admire how in touch the political parties are with the young people of this country.

Like our son. He’s five.

See, four years ago, certainly not because of any political leaning, but because I am friendly with the ticket seller, I signed up (in a moment of weakness) to a ‘super draw’ which one of the political parties was running. (First prize: A recession, but I digress!).

Anyways, in that peculiar tradition whereby doting parents put a child’s (one of their own) name on a ticket, I put down our son’s name. Our son, Matthew, was only a few months old at the time.

Now the political party in question writes to Matthew every year, asking if he’d like to buy a (€50) ticket for the super draw.

The letter is personally addressed to Matthew. I’m in a real dilemma, because I know if I ask Matthew if he’d like to fork out €50 on this, he’ll probably want something else. Like a dinosaur, or a character from Star Wars (The Force Awakens).

Mind you, the letter to Matthew is very nicely worded. The thoughtful political party in question makes a point of thanking Matthew for everything he has done and “continues to do” for the party.

Surely just a bit of scribbling on leaflets over the years? Or has our five-year-old son been secretly helping the party formulate policy, even as he keeps one eye on Spongebob Squarepants?

Anyways, decisions, decisions… Will Matthew commit €50 (not that he has it) to help “deliver a fairer Ireland for all”…or suggest some other cause for the money?

See you in the dinosaur section of the toy store, I imagine.