Paul Healy’s Week



Observing the demeanour of the two middle-aged ladies when they entered the office today, I feared the worst. My instincts were right. Sure enough, after some small talk about the weather and Bruce Springsteen, they both firmly (but politely) ruled themselves out of the running to host the Late Late Show, citing busy schedules and exciting new projects. “The timing is wrong” one of them added slightly sniffily, as she picked up a copy of the Roscommon People.

The bleak encounter perfectly matched the sense of growing gloom. Earlier, a well-known Roscommon man from Ballaghaderreen had emailed a press release to our newsroom, withdrawing his name from the race. His statement was solemn, although we think he was signing off with a joke at the end: “Also, I couldn’t bear the prospect of possibly having to host Mayo as All-Ireland winners on what would be one of my first shows, in July”).

Alarmed at the pattern of withdrawals, I went for a walk, needing to clear my head. An elderly man out cycling slowed his bike to a halt. He looked bashful, almost guilty. “Paul, it will save me phoning you. I’ll give you an exclusive, and you can tweet it. This morning, I have informed RTE that while it was an honour to be linked with the Late Late Show vacancy, I will not be allowing my name to go forward”.

As we chatted, a passing motorist lowered the car window and shouted: “In case ye are chatting about me being on the shortlist to replace Ryan Tubridy, I’m very flattered but…” We missed the rest, but we knew…

It fell silent between me and the elderly man on the bike. I looked at him, and he looked at me, both of us consumed by this crisis, yet powerless.

Bidding him farewell, I went to walk on. Sensing my concern, upset even, he tried to quash the perceptible tension with a final flurry of words.

“I’d be available to be King of England this weekend though, but I was born a commoner… is that still a drawback?”



Concert success

Tonight’s Solstice Choir concert in the Sacred Heart Church, Roscommon was a big success. Ten years have passed since this great voluntary community group was formed. They’ve entertained thousands of people, and raised huge sums of money for local causes.

Meanwhile, Geraldine Grealy, PRO of the Sacred Heart Church Fundraising Committee, informs me that the total raised so far (for restoration works) is just over €51,000. Well done to the committee and to all who have supported this project to date.



Alien to me…

Relegation-threatened Leeds United were spirited in defeat to Premier League leaders Manchester City today. As Leeds fans (me included) come to terms with the arrival of the divisive Sam Allardyce as manager, the last thing we need now is talk of judgemental aliens arriving too…

But, browsing the comments on the BBC website, I note that someone unkindly posted: ‘If an alien had just landed on Earth and watched this game, without knowing anything about these two sides, he would think that this was a cup tie between a Premier League side playing its ‘back-ups’ and a non-league side’.

In response, I make the point that if an alien had just landed today, the chances of them starting their earthly experience by checking in on Sky Sports’ live coverage of Manchester City v Leeds would be extremely slim. Furthermore, the alien would be unlikely to know the distinction between the Premier League and the non-league backwaters.

I guess I’m just a little sensitive on this issue at the moment..



Kin and king…

The curtains in our living room are drawn. The dog snoozes in solidarity with the significance of the moment. A sense of anticipation grows. The weekend’s big TV event is imminent. Not the Coronation across the water… it’s the final episode of series 2 of the hit RTE crime drama, Kin.

I haven’t been watching, but am assured that Kin is brilliant. As family members prepare for the big finale, I disappear to claim the other television.

While dipping into The Sunday Game (where passionate hurling pundit Dónal Óg Cusack was on the warpath), some channel-hopping brings me to BBC’s coverage of the Coronation concert at Windsor Castle…  just in time to see King Charles III passing the ‘good sport test’ by bopping along to Lionel Richie.

“One has to do these things” the king was presumably thinking, as he traded the slight embarrassment of publicly dancing to pop icons with the reality that he is finally on the throne (i.e. it’s worth it).

Royals are traditionally reserved in public, but modern society demands that they curb their aloofness and show a more human side.

Relieved that Lionel finally got to the end of ‘All Night Long’, King Charles took his seat again, only to see Gary Barlow and Take That emerge on to the stage for a reunion finale…



Glory days…

Communities around County Roscommon are basking in the afterglow of a few days of great success for competitors in various ‘fields of endeavour’.

On Saturday, St Dominic’s GAA Club claimed two national Scór titles, while our U-20 hurlers gave it everything in defeat to Derry in the All-Ireland final. There was All-Ireland glory for the Roscommon minor camogie team on Sunday.

Roscommon Community College students Joshua McCormack and Evan McNeill scooped the top prize in the senior category at the Student Enterprise Awards in Croke Park. Students from St Nathy’s College in Ballaghaderreen also won a top award.

Meanwhile, three creative pupils from Elphin Community College won a ‘golden ticket’ to represent Ireland at the Junk Kouture World Final later this year. See coverage throughout this issue. Congratulations to all concerned!



European drama

In tonight’s European semi-finals, Ireland’s Wild Youth exited (the Eurovision), while Manchester City are very much still in (the Champions League) after an exciting 1-1 draw away to Real Madrid.

After a madcap night in Liverpool, the nicer people on Twitter came out to play, one joking that Wild Youth now go into a group with “Carlow, Laois and Roscommon” and others saying the Eurovision final will be shown live on GAAGO!