Paul Healy’s Week – 6th May

Paul Healy on…detour de Boyle; Exclusive! Children play in the open air; Political musings; Lamb Festival 1 Weather 0; Leicester’s deserved big break; A strange thing happened in New York…and…working on bank holidays…

I’ve been calling to the hospital in Sligo (as a visitor) a few times lately. Did you know that the road to Boyle is laden with roadblocks these days?

I’m not the best on the roads. I have no sense of direction and I don’t like narrow roads – or indeed wide motorways either. But that’s beside the point.

When I headed for Boyle in the new circumstances that now prevail – there are major detours in place due to extensive roadworks – I was all over the place. I found parts of the county I hadn’t seen in years.

Sure, I got to Tulsk alright (there are traffic lights in place on that route too). Then I realised Elphin was off limits (well, you know what I mean) and that traffic to Boyle was being diverted via Frenchpark.

But I got flustered, and while I did turn for Frenchpark, I took a wrong turn a few miles on and ended up in the general Ballinameen area. But then I took another slightly wrong turn and ended up in a remote (but lovely!) area.

Now I know I’m not exactly new to County Roscommon, but I had been running late, hadn’t thought of the detours and perhaps hadn’t been concentrating (I had been listening to ‘Off the Ball’ on Newstalk).

Anyways, it seems one bad turn deserves another, and I had made two bad turns.

Next I saw a man on the road who I hadn’t met in years. I pulled up and we chatted about several things, including life.

He put me back on the right road and I eventually got to Sligo Hospital, suitably embarrassed by my shocking command of the roads.


Maybe experts would call it mindfulness with grass…

Anyways, I was cutting the grass, with the assistance of a lawnmower, when – happily – I was able to stop time in its tracks… …and enjoy watching the kids enjoy themselves in the open air.

They had no gadgets in their hands, weren’t lost in some game on their smartphones. Our daughter, Ciara, aged 11 as and from this week, had a few friends around.

Whatever they were playing, it was all very furtive. Every now and again two of them would emerge from a side door of the house, look to see if they were being chased, and then proceed to avoid their pursuers by hiding in the garden shed/going behind a tree/sneaking back into the house via another door.

Seconds later, a few of their ‘enemy’ would emerge from the house to begin looking for the others. As luck would have it, they’d usually go running in the opposite direction.

Every now and again our son, Matthew, would emerge from somewhere with a Star Wars machine gun, and sometimes run in both directions, followed by Coco the dog, who, like the others, had no idea which way to go. They were all very good at this game…everyone avoiding everyone else, tip-toeing around the house and garden, almost in slow motion, like those Tom & Jerry cartoons where one of the characters is chasing the other around street corners and house gables.

It all seemed like a silent movie, or a very quiet cartoon – that added to the enjoyment I got from observing it.

Then I realised that I was wearing ear muffs for the very first time, in order to deaden the sound of the lawnmower. That, I guess, explained the atmospheric silence! What a nice way to usher in the summer.

And I must say I recommend the use of ear muffs when mowing the lawn. I’ll be using them again…next time I’m cutting the grass, or when George Hook is on the radio (whichever comes first).

In recent days…

It’s been an interesting few days on the political scene locally.

To the ordinary person, the Seanad elections are, as Leo Varadkar might say, surreal. Just exactly who votes? And how do they total the votes? And why does it go on for several days?

I hadn’t the will to chase the ‘breaking news’ online. But I got bits of news via texts, twitter and word of mouth. Late on Tuesday night of last week the word went around that Fianna Fáil veteran Terry Leyden was in big trouble. But it turned out that rumours of his political demise were ‘greatly exaggerated.’

By Wednesday he had bounced back and was back in the Seanad. Cllr. Nigel Dineen fought a good fight but didn’t make it on this occasion. Dr. Martin Daly lost out, but Dr. Keith Swanick, a Mayo-based native of Castlerea, won a seat.

Then, a day or two later, came the news of a commanding triumph by Maura Hopkins (Fine Gael), now elevated from councillor to Senator. Senator Hopkins has bounced back impressively following her narrow loss in the General Election. Suddenly, Roscommon has a host of TDs and Senators.

Now we wonder whether or not, to quote a national newspaper, Enda Kenny is going to bury the hatchet and promote Denis Naughten to ministerial office.

Michael Fitzmaurice, like Naughten, is also prominently to the forefront of Fine Gael/Independents’ talks. We could certainly do with a minister here. This is fairly high-stakes political poker.

In the coming days we’ll have a new government, and it will be very interesting to see where Naughten and Fitzmaurice are positioned once the deal is done.

All weekend

The Roscommon Lamb Festival cheerily ignored the rain and hail and embraced the sunshine on an erratic weekend weather-wise.

As ever, the organisers should take a collective bow; it’s a highly impressive festival in terms of the range and ingenuity of events organised.

The festival wasn’t really smiled upon by the weather this time, but while some events suffered, many others attracted good crowds, and an enjoyable time was experienced by those in attendance.

Likewise, Wear Orange Day was a success, with the community again rallying in support of the three Naughton brothers – Archie, George and Isaac – who have all been diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. The boys thoroughly enjoyed the weekend activities with their family, friends and their wider Roscommon family.


I’m driving back from another visit to Sligo Hospital, but I’m taking a country roads route.

I don’t want the monotony of the lorry-laden N4, even for 15 or 20 miles, or whatever it is. So I am on my own personal country roads route, listening to Sunday evening radio.

But, motoring along in rural Sligo, I can’t get a good Shannonside reception, and I have to listen to two annoying DJs on some other station, when I know that Willie is breathlessly setting the scene in Gaelic Park, where Roscommon are playing New York.

Later, I do get to tune into Shannonside, where Willie is playing requests galore in between reporting on the disquieting drama that’s unfolding on the pitch.

The last five minutes or so are riveting radio. Roscommon just hang on.

Earlier, Willie told us about the Roscommon man who arrived in New York on Thursday and returned home on Friday because his wife had a baby. If the man’s actually a football fan, it seems like he won on the double; a beautiful new baby, and he missed the match.

Still, Roscommon won, and we live to fight another day. We’ll travel to Carrick with hope – not hype – in our hearts.


What a sporting win for Leicester. And I actually thought that Ding, with his remorseless century breaks, was the man with momentum, but fair play to Leicester’s Mark Selby, he bossed the World Snooker Final in the end. (The city’s football club also did well at the weekend).

Earlier on Monday

I seldom work bank holidays any more, so I don’t have to feel sorry for myself. But today I went in to edit some copy for a few hours.

First there was Seamus Duke’s report from New York. As I edited it, I thought ‘I bet he’s off to join a few hundred other Rossies for more craic in Terry Connaughton’s or somewhere’ – and good luck to them all! (See Seamus’ New York Diary and match report and analysis).

Then I edited more sport, and I remembered that our (new) man Dan’s not here this week. He’s even had the cheek to send copy about Barcelona from right beside the La Masia soccer training academy in Barcelona (see page 48).

Then, Frank Brandon’s column came in – and it was ‘live from Spain!’ It turns out that Frank and Carol are over there on a beach, with Nathan Carter. Well, Nathan’s not actually with them in person, but Frank brought Nathan’s DVD with him, ‘cos Frank doesn’t have a DVD player, but – guess what – it works in their accommodation in Costa Blanca. (Read all about it on page 4).

I hope they’re all enjoying their travels, but I must say that by 9 pm on a bank holiday I was beginning to feel a bit sorry for myself. I went home just in time to see Deputy Mattie McGrath on the RTE News.