Paul Healy’s Week


French connection

Ireland were at their domineering best from the first whistle against Wales today, their Six Nations opener virtually wrapped up inside the first quarter.

The home team had a fine spell after half-time, but Ireland kept them at bay for the most part, Wales managing just one try before Andy Farrell’s team went through several phases and crossed for a fantastic bonus point win.

The focus now switches to the Aviva Stadium this Saturday, and a potential title decider between Ireland and France.

The French had a tremendous 2022, making them favourites for this year’s World Cup (taking place in France). Their narrow win over Italy last Sunday has halted their gallop, but may also be evidence of the Italians’ progress.

The French, their egos wounded, remain very formidable opponents this weekend. It promises to be a fascinating game between the two form teams of world rugby.


Rossies on roll…

Arriving in Salthill, the memories of past visits flood back. The resort never really seems to change…the familiar tapestry of bars, restaurants, casinos, takeaways, the scent of the ocean, the cold but irresistible sea breeze, the stunningly beautiful landscape, the distinct atmosphere that makes Salthill quite special.

There was a great crowd at the match, with a sizeable Roscommon contingent. After a bright start, Roscommon began to make a series of rash choices, shooting from difficult positions. Galway led by two at the break. The third quarter was no classic either, and the home side looked to be heading for victory.

That the Roscommon subs would make a positive impact wasn’t surprising, what was surprising was the fact that – in a low-scoring game – the visitors were able to score the final five points, keeping Galway scoreless, and securing a dramatic win with the last play of the game. See pages 38 & 39 for our coverage.


Phonebox Man…

I hadn’t heard of ‘Phonebox Man’ – but I have now.

On Newstalk today, Sean Moncrieff went into bank holiday mode and presented some highlights of the previous week. And his interview with 58-year-old Paul Murphy was both interesting and nostalgic.

Murphy – aka Phonebox Man – locates and restores old Telefón phoneboxes (or kiosks). For many Irish people, these distinctive landmark structures bring back memories of life before mobile phones, of the days when every town and village had at least one of those green and white phoneboxes, with their coin-operated phones.

This lovely interview was about more than the joy (and livelihood) Murphy gets these days from restoring the now ‘decommissioned’ phone boxes. This too was a story of how a talented man who was working in the security industry overcame career setbacks and depression by pursuing his love of restoring antiques.

When Paul began restoring an old phonebox in his front garden in Dublin, it opened up a whole new world to him. People passing would stop and chat to him, enquire about his work, and – perhaps best of all – share their own memories of the public phonebox era.

‘Phonebox Man’ now restores and sells the dwindling stock, with pubs, tidy towns groups, collectors, etc. amongst his customers. His hobby-turned-business has also worked wonders for his mental health. Having turned his back on corporate industry, Paul’s advice to listeners was: It’s never too late to make a career switch.


Absolutely typical!

The word today is that Fawlty Towers is to be revived, over 40 years after the ‘shutters came down’ in the hilariously chaotic hotel.

Naturally, I read the news with the greatest confusion and uncertainty.

The fact that I wasn’t consulted about this should not undermine my status as one of the leading cheerleaders for Fawlty Towers’ claims to be considered the best sitcom in history.

While I have decided to withhold personal comment at this time, a quick glance at the court of public opinion (Twitter) suggests that most people think this completely unexpected announcement, if actually true, points to misguided judgement on the part of John Cleese (all bow).

Reports suggest that Mr Cleese and his daughter Camilla will both be involved in the revival, which will explore how Fawlty – now running a boutique hotel in the new series – “navigates the modern world”.

As one of the original series’ greatest fans – and, let’s face it, part of its magic is that only 12 episodes were ever made – I need time before deciding whether to laugh or cry. I just need time!

I will of course be issuing further statements…


Horror and heartbreak

Putting perspective on everything else worldwide this week, is the devastating news from Turkey and Syria. I normally try to keep this column light-hearted, tongue in cheek…but there are weeks when the real world cannot really be ignored.

It is utterly tragic and heartbreaking that so many thousands of people have perished in this disaster, the death toll over 11,000 as I write – and rising. Our prayers and thoughts are with the dead and their loved ones.