Paul Healy’s Week – 9th September 2016

Paul Healy on going down memory lane in Down The Hatch; Suddenly and inexplicably buying Ireland’s Own; Not wanting to see Shane Ross on the Late Late; wanting to see Mother Teresa in Knock; The great Gene Wilder…and ‘talking American’…

I don’t tweet yet, but when I do, I might tweet Shane Ross and advise him to stop appearing on the Late Late Show. Of course the Late Late shouldn’t even entertain such guests.

Ryan – please stop doing serious interviews. People who are out for a Friday night in Dublin, all dressed up and clutching their Late Late tickets, do not want to hear harrowing stories, or listen to a minister talk about tax policy for multinationals.

As for Shane, I think he should stop appearing because the perception that is being created is of a man who is obsessed with publicity and with how he is being viewed.

Nice guy, but maybe he should spend a bit more time behind his desk and a little less time in the media spotlight.


With all the talk in recent years of the decline of the Irish pub, it was refreshing on Saturday night to see and hear people relishing the buzz and atmosphere in Down The Hatch in Roscommon town, where weekend-long celebrations continued as proprietors Larry Brennan and Seamus Hayden celebrated 20 years in business there.

A huge crowd of well-wishers gathered to enjoy the main night of celebrations.

When the role of the Irish pub was mentioned during the speeches – how the pub is a meeting place for friends, for good conversation, for a break from the mundane – we were reminded of all that we are in danger of losing.

Pubs are in decline, particularly in rural Ireland, and it is not a good trend. It is especially devastating to see the impact on elderly men in isolated areas; many of them have had one of their main social outlets effectively removed from their lives.

Visit pubs in places like Kerry, Cork, Galway, Doolin in Clare…and you will see the massive role they have to play in our tourism industry. The Irish pub is a great institution and its survival should be fought for.

Thankfully, pubs like Down The Hatch continue to be popular meeting places, surviving despite austerity and social and cultural changes. The huge crowd present on Saturday night – from Roscommon town, Kilteevan and surrounds – was a reminder of the heyday of the Irish pub. It was a night of nostalgia and great socialising, reminding us of the craic, conversation and vital social interaction that can still be enjoyed in our pubs.

It reminded many of us of the social scene in Roscommon twenty years ago. Little wonder that DJ Seamus played a little ditty ‘bout Jack & Diane.


Today, Mother Teresa was declared a saint at the Vatican. Which reminds me of that day in 1993 when, amazingly, the woman then known as ‘The saint of Calcutta’, actually came to the west of Ireland.

We had seen her on the Late Late Show in the black and white days, but now, the great woman was actually coming to Knock. And, just as we went to see Pope John Paul when he came to Ireland, we had to go to Knock.

There were crowds, there were queues, there were delays…then Mother Teresa arrived, in the distance. Later, after the formalities, she was driven through the crowds.

It was chaotic as people tried to manoeuvre themselves into a position where they might catch a glimpse of her. Suddenly, and memorably, it happened for us…there was a parting in the crowd, the car loomed into view, a scramble followed, and then, for ten seconds or so, we were within touching distance of the vehicle.

From the back window, her face peered out. She stared directly at us. She waved and made the Sign of the Cross. We felt we were in the presence of a very special being, and so we were.


It happened without warning, as these things often do.

Every now and again something happens that makes you think ‘I must be getting older…’ Which, logically, we are all are. But I wasn’t prepared for this to happen.

It just crept up on me, a stunning strike against the norm. I don’t know what came over me, but, before I knew it, I had done it. I had bought a copy of Ireland’s Own.

Is it in some way ageist or something to suggest that suddenly buying Ireland’s Own might be a sign of ‘getting older’? Oh well, who cares, that’s how I felt anyway.

Why did I buy it? I think there was something so attractive about the cover, so colourful and heartwarming, that drew me in.

Now, bar throwing the odd glance at it in a doctor’s waiting room, I haven’t studied a copy of Ireland’s Own in over thirty years. In those days, it was a fashionable publication.

By now, you’d have expected it to have long gone out of fashion. But in fact Ireland’s Own has never really gone out of fashion; it has defied all social and cultural changes in Ireland and the world.

Its website quite reasonably describes it as “Ireland’s best selling and longest running family magazine… published without interruption since 1902…a phenomenon in Irish publishing.

”This issue that I bought? Well, I really can see why it’s so popular. It has that winning mix that first endeared it to the public. There’s interviews, short stories, profiles, sport, etc. All ‘easy reading’ and generally entertaining and informative. (Included in this issue is an article on that famous little chapel in Carrick-on-Shannon, reportedly “the second smallest chapel in the world”).

A nice option, fulfilling yet not very taxing, as the Irish politician said to the Apple executive.

Every day

I have noted, with a despairing sense of approval, the outcry over the continued ‘Americanisation’ of our everyday language.

This peaked in recent weeks when British and Irish commentators and pundits persisted in talking about competitors in the Olympics ‘medalling’ or attempting ‘to medal.’

I ‘dialled’ our daughters on their ‘cell phones’ to see if the younger generation shared my frustration, but they didn’t ‘pick up.’

Why we’ll always watch Wilder…
Last week

When we were in Boston last year, I was able to pick up a few books that you might not come across over here.

They included a biography of Johnny Carson (the late, great chat show host) and Gene Wilder’s autobiography. I recently read the Carson book. I’m glad I haven’t opened the first page of the Wilder book yet, and am not looking forward to closing the last page.

If you love great comedy acting, you had to be wild about Wilder. Some weekend tributes to Gene Wilder, who died last week, noted that he wasn’t that funny ‘in real life.’

That’s irrelevant. He wasn’t a comedian. He was an acting genius, also a gifted comedy writer, and, by all accounts, a really lovely man, untouched by the Hollywood/showbiz madness.

In fact I would go as far as to say he surely deserves to be remembered as one of the most compelling and brilliant comedy actors of all time. Wilder fans know the body of work…The Producers, Young Frankenstein, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Blazing Saddles, Stir Crazy, See No Evil, Hear No Evil and others. In Blazing Saddles, Wilder’s character (Jim) is telling the new sheriff (Bart) how he used to be the fasted gunslinger around… until he got too fond of whiskey.

Jim: ‘Look at my hand.’ (Raises right hand and holds it level). Bart: ‘Steady as a rock.’ Jim: (Raises left hand, which is shaking violently). ‘Yeah, but I shoot with this one!’ Gene Wilder will brighten the lives of generations to come for years to come.

I think we will watch his finest films with renewed joy and nostalgia in the future.