Paul Healy’s Week – 8th July 2016

Paul Healy on the untimely passing of Caroline Aherne; still waiting for the All-Ireland Football Championship to sparkle; making noise in Salthill; Newsflash! Miriam poses at Dublin Zoo; how Bale has (hopefully) stolen Ronaldo’s thunder…and, a dramatic editorial meeting in Old Moore’s office…

We sometimes think we know these celebrities, but of course we can’t possibly; we only get glimpses of their lives, and that’s usually when they’re ‘on.’

Caroline Aherne wasn’t in the superstar league – not least because she seemed to shun the limelight – but she was an enormously talented person who has left a unique body of work behind.

Caroline, who passed away today after a long illness, was a writer and actress who came to prominence through The Fast Show and The Mrs Merton Show.

In more recent times, television viewers will be familiar with her as the narrator of the brilliantly original Gogglebox. But it was for her co-writing of and acting in The Royle Family that she will be most remembered.

A little like Gogglebox, this great comedy was almost entirely based on the utterances of family members sitting around the television, living their ordinary working class lives.

The main strength of The Royle Family was its rejection of sit-coms’ long-established ‘rules.’ I remember one scene where the UK-based Irish in-laws partied with the Royles, everyone singing along to, if I’m not mistaken, ‘I’ll take you home again Kathleen.’

No other programme would have included the full song; The Royle Family did, and it was a moving piece of television that captured both the complexity and simplicity of ordinary families.

Indeed The Royle Family was a beautifully and very cleverly structured comedy/drama that always played to its own rules. The magic of the show was its slow pace, the wonderfully drily delivered lines, the wit, the realism and the poignancy. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. It ran from 1998 to 2000, with the half-hour episodes followed by specials from 2006 to 2012.

Caroline Aherne had more than a fair share of demons during her 52 years, but she came across as a lovely, generous woman, a shining light extinguished far too early. She was a great talent, and her work will live on and be enjoyed by millions of people long into the future.


On The Sunday Game, Joe Brolly and Colm O’Rourke are giggling like naughty schoolboys when Michael Lyster invites them to discuss the first half of the Kerry/Tipperary game.

It’s apparent that Brolly has been slating it off-air. Brolly can be infuriating and downright offensive, but he’s also entertaining and frequently insightful. It goes without saying that he would cause a loud argument in the company of a Silent Order of monks.

The GAA football championship has been terrible. Well, the games I’ve seen have been. (Obviously the Tyrone v Cavan replay, which I didn’t see, must have been a welcome exception!).

Between blanket defences, cynical play, a backdoor system that has devalued the provincial championships – and the increased public apathy this has all led to – we are in a bit of a mess.

I watch provincial championship games, and qualifiers, and often there’s little enough intensity, none of the ferocious man to man combat of the past.

The Ulster Championship is usually an exception, and the All-Ireland quarter-finals, in fairness, tend to kick-start a compelling finale/start to the season. But many of the earlier provincial games and the lacklustre qualifiers – the latter with teams bereft of key players, and morale often diminished – lack intensity and point to a flawed championship format.

Too often, modern-day gaelic football is ugly and dour. Thankfully, Roscommon are one of the counties still loyal to this particular ‘beautiful game.’

Generally, we are pretty on the eye, attacking at pace and playing with flair. Hopefully we will express ourselves in this way this Sunday in the Connacht final in Salthill.

Sunday and other Sundays

How did it happen? For this to have happened, someone in The Sunday Independent must have had to keep a straight face while suggesting that they do another interview with Miriam O’Callaghan.

Then someone had to ring the RTE star with the suggestion – and Miriam had to say yes. Then, for this to be real, someone obviously must have said ‘We’ll do a photospread at Dublin Zoo.’

And Miriam must have said ‘Yes, I’m up for that’ in response to someone else saying ‘We were…er…thinking of doing a photospread at the Zoo…’

In fairness to Life Magazine, today’s update on the life and times of Miriam only runs to seven pages. Previous features on our Golden Girl have run to 10 or 12 pages.

It is bewildering, this ‘interviewing Miriam’ fixation in Life Magazine. What can she possibly tell us now that she hasn’t said in a previous spread?

If I was Lucinda Creighton or Yvonne Keating – not to mention Gerald Keane and Lisa Murphy – I’d be furious.

Next Sunday

My earliest memories of Salthill are from the early 1980s. I had four friends with me. My father drove us there, a caravan in tow. We parked up in a proper campsite, paid the booking fee, and took the rules on board from the gruff owner.

Our caravan was surrounded by many more caravans – and a few tents. Believe me when I say that we were in no way rowdy, certainly no louder than other youngsters there.

It soon became apparent that the campsite boss was an eccentric sergeant major type. We began to be wary of him when he greeted us one day by telling one of my friends to pick up some ‘random litter’ from the centre of his park!

Our trips into Salthill at night ended with nervous exchanges with the park owner on our return.

Then, one fateful night, we had a bit of a singsong. Next morning, we were awoken by the caravan rocking back and forth. Suddenly the door opened, and the boss/sergeant major, his eyes popping with mounting anger, stuck his head in.

By now he had our caravan hooked up to his jeep. “Sing, will ye? I’ll put ye somewhere where ye can make lots of noise!” He then proceeded to tow our caravan out of his park, onto the main road and off into the distance, while the five of us tried to make sense of this unscheduled mystery tour.

From inside the caravan, we looked out, wondering just where he was going to deposit us. It turned out he owned another site, a more remote one, and that a feature of it was a big hill in the distance.

Within minutes, we were the new occupants of the hill. “Now,” he proudly exclaimed as he abandoned us (we had no car), “ye can make all the noise ye want.”

Before our holiday ended, I think we actually ended up on friendly terms with him. I’ve no idea what became of him, but I’ve ruled out a glittering career in the tourist industry.

Anyways, it’s back to Salthill this weekend, when the Roscommon supporters can make all the noise they like, and hopefully we’ll be celebrating a Connacht Final win on Sunday evening.

Every day

I know it’s easier to smile when you’ve been winning, but from the first kick-off, Gareth Bale of Wales has delivered a stunning knockout blow to Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal in an unofficial superstars’ head-to-head that is due to come to a climax as we go to press on Wednesday night.

You’ll know the result of the Euro 2016 semi-final between Wales and Portugal as you read this – I don’t, as I write – and perhaps Ronaldo proved to be the matchwinner and is now stamping his undoubted brilliance over the closing stages of the tournament.

But, even if he did, Bale has beaten him hands-down over the past fortnight. Bale and Ronaldo, team-mates at Real Madrid, are probably in the world’s top three at the moment – along with a certain Mr. Messi of Barcelona.

But at these championships, Bale has surely won the hearts of millions, while Ronaldo copperfastens his reputation as a champion of soccer and surliness.

Ronaldo’s petulant disdain for his team-mates – hands self-indulgently raised and a grimace on his face just about every time a pass fails to find him – is in sharp contrast to the smiling, selfless, indeed heroic leading of the Welsh cause by Bale.

I hope the above still applies after last night, and that a scowling Bale didn’t headbutt the referee while a charming Ronaldo gave the kiss of life to a frail old woman who fainted on seeing his third goal go in.

No, whatever happened last night, Bale and this entire Welsh team have been the heroes of Euro 2016.

Cameron? Iceland? Are you crazy?!

Yes, we have got our hands – exclusively – on the minutes of that dramatic editorial meeting in the offices of the English edition of Old Moore’s Almanac.

The minutes date from several months ago, when the 2016 edition was being planned. During the discussion on…er…predictions…the sceptical Chief Predictions Reporter had almost had enough.

“So let me get this straight” the guy said, sweat dropping on his brow. ‘You want me to say that David Cameron will resign in 2016?’


‘And that Jeremy Corbyn won’t resign, even though a majority of his party ask him do so.’


‘You want me to also publish a prediction that England will vote to pull out of Europe! And that after that, Boris will opt out of the race to succeed Cameron?’

‘Yep, and you can lose Farage while you’re at it – he’ll be off too.’

‘And you want me to say that Roy Hodgson will resign during Euro 2016…let me get this right…AFTER ICELAND BEAT ENGLAND?’

‘Yep, write it up, we’re going with it all!’

‘No, I can’t to it. It’s too outrageous. I can’t put my name to such crazy predictions. My credibility! I quit!’

The Editor looked at his Chief Predictions Reporter. ‘Ah no, don’t go, it will all come true. Your credibility will be fine. And I predict I will give you a rise in 2016.’

‘Okay, I’ll stay.’

‘Just one more thing…will you add in that Leicester City will win the Premier League…’