Paul Healy’s Week – 4th March

Paul Healy on Eugene Murphy’s sweetest day; Frank Kelly’s legacy; Roscommon’s amazing win; the weather and the caretaker Government…and Donald Trump’s relentless rise…

I first saw Eugene Murphy in full flow after Mass, opposite the Church in Strokestown, in the late 1980s.

He was an impressive orator, commanding attention as he praised Brian Mullooly, his voice rising at just the right moment in each new segment of the speech, his audience suitably captivated.

Over a quarter of a century on, and after many highs and lows in a rollercoaster political career, Eugene Murphy is standing in the Hyde Centre, moments before being formally declared a newly-elected TD.

There are tears in his eyes as he embraces his loved ones. The confirmation comes – and his emotional supporters lift him into the air.

It’s one of the great political stories of the past thirty years or so, right up there with Tom Foxe and ‘Ming.’ Eugene Murphy simply refused to give up. He has earned what he aptly called his “sweetest day.”


The actor, Frank Kelly, who has died, was a regular radio and television presence for many decades. In latter years he won millions of fans for his portrayal of ‘Fr. Jack’ in the hit comedy, ‘Fr. Ted.’

I was never that keen on Fr. Jack. To me, it was the same joke over and over again. It must have been a nightmare to play too…having to spend all that time in make-up before acting out a role that involved limited physical and verbal range.

Having said that, Kelly played the part terrifically, and of course it brought him a whole new international audience – and hopefully some prosperity too.

For many of us however, Frank Kelly will be remembered more fondly for his role in Hall’s Pictorial Weekly, his radio character Gobnait O’Lúnasa and his timeless comedy song, ‘Twelve Days of Christmas.’

I agree with a son of the late Dermot Morgan (who played Fr. Ted) who said this week that it would be a pity if Frank Kelly is primarily remembered for playing Fr. Jack “as it was the most one-dimensional character he ever played.”

That kind of captures what made him special – the fact that Fr. Jack, while played very well, was actually a long way from being his most distinguished work.

Frank Kelly will be fondly remembered for the work that preceded the ‘Drink! Feck! Girls!’ era, a body of versatile work which marked him out as an Irish comedy great.


Punch-drunk from the election count, I ‘detoxed’ by catching up on coverage of the ‘national picture’ on television on Sunday afternoon. Then I remembered – Cork v Roscommon.

I checked in with Willie on Shannonside and could not believe my ears. Roscommon’s sensational win, by eighteen points, reminded me of a very wet day in Kiltoom back in the late 1980s when Roscommon hammered a star-studded Meath team by a similar margin.

Thinking of that rout of the Royals then reminded me of a National Football League game between Roscommon and Dublin, in 1989 or ’90, which was played in Portlaoise (it was a quarter-final).

It was a classic, Roscommon winning in extra-time, with Tony McManus scoring 2-5 ‘off’ Noel McCaffrey. One of his opponents once said that, such was George Best’s wizardry, he had given the opponent in question “twisted blood.” I think McCaffrey must have felt he had twisted blood that day in Portlaoise, because McManus ran him ragged. (My other vivid memory of that game is of ‘Red’ Owen McManus coming on as an ‘impact sub’ and immediately making his very physical presence felt!).

Well, back to last Sunday, and the demolition of Cork must rank amongst Roscommon’s best-ever league performances. We are doing brilliantly in Division One. Exciting times!


You will remember when Fine Gael and Labour swept into power in 2011, there was an immediate improvement in the weather. With that in mind, I was initially surprised when the now-familiar storms raged again last night. ‘Storm Healy-Rae’ I think it was this time.

The weather usually picks up when we get a new government, but last night the bins were rattling and the dog was prowling around nervously, as if there was an errant canvasser outside.

I have reflected on this, and worked it out. I wouldn’t panic yet. I think the winds are only still raging because we have a caretaker government. Once we actually elect a new government, the weather will improve.


When we were on holidays in America last October, I was struck by how deeply worried people were about the Donald Trump presidential bid. We thought it was a joke, a silly season story that was just overstaying its welcome. But Middle America was very, very worried.

They saw him as a racist, dangerous buffoon. We said ‘don’t worry, nothing will come of it’ – but little did we know. Four months on, and, to the incredulity of millions of people all over the world, the Donald Trump freak show is threatening to turn from a nightmare that must end at some point – into a possible reality.

Obviously this man has legions of fans and, to put it mildly, he’s a huge personality and a billionaire who must have some considerable leadership qualities.

However, I am a long time observing American Presidential elections and I have never seen a candidate remotely like this loosest of loose canons.

Unless this man is putting on an act – to win the support of extremists and the disenchanted – and would be prepared to rein himself in if elected, his emergence is indeed a deeply worrying development.

Over to you, Hillary!