Paul Healy’s Week



Our survey says…

On Newstalk this morning, the newsreader references a survey which claims that parents turn off the light in an empty room on average 333 times a year!

According to the price comparison website, another big frustration for parents is having to switch off the TV when nobody is watching it. Parents claim they have to do this on average 218 times a year, leading to 45 arguments.

Maybe because the website in question deals with price comparisons – in this instance highlighting the extra costs incurred – there were no references to tidying of bedrooms, commitment to homework, time spent on devices, or Loading The Dishwasher The Wrong Way.

I suppose children might make the point that a survey on what frustrates them about their parents would also be timely!




Ghost of elections past…

Those folks in the Dáil! Just as a rather smug Sinn Féin were marching Paschal Donohoe along the road towards the court of public opinion, they met the ghost of elections past coming the other way.

To Sinn Féin’s dismay, the ‘ghost’ was shaking its head and brandishing a number of unpaid invoices relating to that party’s hiring of venues at election time.

As the red-faced SF folks hastily did some thinking on the spot, Paschal – until then under fire for non-declaration of expenses related to postering – breathed a sigh of relief.

Despite weak attempts to maintain that what Paschal didn’t do was worse than what they didn’t do, SF have now more or less accepted that the ghost of elections past has won this one.




21st century rambling

I heard about the rambling houses of old from my late parents, and from others, when writing my book God Save All Here. In those distant days, neighbours would ramble in from nearby dwellings, gather around the fire and then pass the night with stories from folklore, gossip, maybe a ghost story or two, and the odd song and dance. The men might even have a drop of poitín.

It’s all a far cry from today’s world, when technological advances have given us so many ‘entertainment’ and information options that we are at risk of being exhausted – mentally at least – by the scale of the possibilities. At the same time, our exposure to traditional human interaction is being reduced, which is probably not a good thing.

Just think about a typical house in Roscommon, say on a weekend night. Invariably (at least in most houses) family members will be immersed in devices/technology. Some will be on Facebook, others on Instagram, TikTok or Twitter. Podcasts are a popular option, likewise YouTube. Hopefully there are a few newspapers lying around! For younger children, PlayStation and its ilk often rules. Phones ping with WhatsApp and Snapchat messages. ‘Traditional TV’ is still in play, albeit under pressure from the streaming services, such as Netflix and others. This is Life In The Social Media Age, the world rambling in your house.

Personally, as a keen reader of books and newspapers all my life, I sometimes struggle with the limitless choice now, and the immediacy of social media.

Tonight is a perfect example. Weekend nights are for relaxing. What medium will I choose? Those bulky weekend papers have an enduring magic for many of us, but now there are temptations all around. Still, flicking through the TV menu or scrolling on your smartphone can often mean you are just browsing, but not actually consuming and enjoying content. Do you  watch the Late Late & Tommy Tiernan, or wait for the reaction on Twitter?

(Twitter is always tempting, with its bewildering menu of madness and mayhem. Sometimes I dive in, often I prefer to avoid exposing myself to the permanently angry).

The clock ticks, a quiet backdrop to the news and information tsunami bubbling away in front of us. Maybe I should have gone into town for a pint, where we could have muttered about social media making us all unsociable.

In any event, the joys and pitfalls of modern technology will continue to dictate much of our lives. It’s for us to work out the extent to which we embrace/reject/enjoy/manage it all!

The rambling houses obviously died out decades ago, but these days, even the odd visit of neighbour to neighbour is a rarity. The pandemic has accelerated this sad decline in human interaction. If someone knocks at your door now and they’re not selling broadband or fish – or delivering that takeaway order – you get quite the shock.

Oh well, in our house we’re all having a relaxing evening in our own way, and I’ve ended up typing this. The clock is ticking towards another Monday morning. And, trust me, there’s no poitín in the house.




Winning start…

There was a great atmosphere in town before the Roscommon v Tyrone game in Hyde Park today. The match itself turned out to be quite the thriller, Roscommon producing a great second-half performance to make a winning start to this season’s league. Supporters were beaming on exiting the Hyde after this stirring campaign opener. See our coverage on pages 38-39.




Casey’s crowned

A few years back, when writing about social change over the decades in Roscommon, I made a tongue in cheek reference to life here ‘BC’ – before Casey’s.

Certainly the Casey family-led business at Circular Road – overlooking the roundabout now unofficially named after it – has become quite a phenomenon over the years. It is now well established not just in County Roscommon terms, but nationally too; recognised as a landmark ‘go to’ business.

All of which comes to mind with the news that Casey’s has been crowned ‘Store of the Year’ at the 2023 Fed Awards at London’s Royal Lancaster Hotel, heading off competition from Ireland and the UK (see page 23).

Congratulations to the Casey family, Jim McCausland (manager) and all the staff on this significant honour.