Paul Healy’s Week


Nothing compared…

Ireland is in mourning. We are wounded…by the sudden shock, by sadness, grief indeed, by the scale of the loss. I am pretty sure we are also troubled by another emotion that has inconveniently burrowed its way into our minds…guilt.

As an artist, Sinéad O’Connor was amazing, one of the greatest voices of her generation. We pocketed her brilliance as a performer and labelled her a complex and troubled person. Our relationship with her became complex and troubled too. But we weren’t keen on nuance. We were hard on Sinéad. We didn’t fully understand Sinéad. Many of us weren’t empathetic enough. Many of us were too judgemental. We scoffed and mocked, when instead we should have listened, and tried to understand. It is only through the darkness of her untimely death that we are belatedly seeing the light.

For a period – mercifully not always – society virtually spurned her. She was ‘mad’. Maybe it was just that we didn’t understand her. After the initial flame of fame had dimmed, she was categorised as an attention-seeker, a willing controversialist. There was, after all, a series of name changes, her unlikely ordination as a Latin Tridentine priest, various public spats too. But our dismissal of her was perhaps overly simplistic, certainly unforgiving. Did we ever stop to wonder why she was so angry? How much she was hurting? Why she was hurting?

People always loved her music, and admired and respected her social campaigning. But it is only now that we fully appreciate how much she meant to us. The outpouring of love for Sinéad since her death was announced yesterday reflects how unique and special she was, how great the loss is to Ireland and the world.

Listening to tributes on radio today, I was in awe on being reminded of the extent of her progressive advocacy. Abortion rights. Homelessness. Racism. AIDS. Travellers’ rights. Refugees. The LGBTQ+ community. Against oppression of women. Most famously of all, she lifted a lid on sex abuse in the Catholic Church, an outraged public (worldwide) responding with scorn. She bravely stood against any injustice that was contaminating society, any agent for inequality or discrimination.

We were hard on her at times. Now people are trying to come to terms with it all, with what Sinéad actually meant to us. There’s tears, pride, regrets, belated pledges of love, the latter so effusive it’s perhaps partly to offset our guilt. Best to show love when someone needs you most.

But we did love Sinéad, and were proud of her on the international stage, of her legacy as a singer-songwriter to whom few compared.

The picture that was always there – often in the shadows – is now clear.

She was intelligent. She was generous. She was unique. She was a force of nature. She was ahead of her time. She was the voice of her generation. She was a voice for the voiceless. She was provocative. She was frustrating. She was vulnerable. She was hurting. She was fiercely independent, and she was fierce. She was funny. She was a champion of the oppressed. Most of all, Sinéad was fearless.

And she was right.




Not Marc’s money

As he ended an interview with Sligo-Leitrim TD Marc MacSharry this morning, Pat Kenny switched to an update on Newstalk’s popular daily cash competition.

“We have a new total in the Newstalk Cash Machine today, because Mark/c took the money yesterday”…

Pat didn’t clarify, but it wasn’t Deputy MacSharry who struck it lucky the previous day!




Missing Love Island…

Headline in today’s Irish Independent: ‘I gave Love Island a miss this year and it’s liberating’.

To which one might respond: ‘I gave Love Island a miss every year since it started (2015) and it’s very liberating’.




A visit to Forest Park

We spent the evening in the fabulous Lough Key Forest Park, a world class facility on the edge of Boyle. The Forest Park was always a beautiful amenity, but the scale of the development there in recent years has elevated it to a new level as a key attraction in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands.

There’s now a wide range of activities for people to enjoy, as well as caravan and campervan camping. This evening, our party of ten (well, maybe not every single one of us) took on the Zipit Forest Adventure, a series of high wire challenges.

The young crew with us all enjoyed the experience.  The Zipit Adventure course is recommended, as are  the many other activities there. Lough Key Forest Park is a gem.

A final observation: the staff we encountered were fantastic… professional, courteous, and extremely friendly! Continued success to all there!




On Dubs (and David)

Dublin deserved their win in today’s All-Ireland football final. It was some achievement to twice turn a three-point deficit around in the second half.

Some of the criticism of David Clifford (mainly on Twitter) is laughable. He scored 0-3, set up Kerry’s goal with a brilliant pass, but just had an off-day (by his standards) with his shooting. I first saw him in the flesh in the 2017 All-Ireland minor final (he scored 4-4) and concluded there and then that he’d go on to become the greatest Gaelic footballer of all time. I still think he will.

As for the Dubs…hats, scarves and rosettes off to them!




World Cup musings

Already out of knockout contention, the Republic of Ireland’s Women’s World Cup ended today with an  honourable 0-0 draw against Nigeria.

All told, it was a very decent World Cup for us. The achievement was in qualifying (for the first time).

Off the pitch, the FAI and Vera Pauw are either on a collision course, or playing a football version of poker, with mixed signals over the manager’s future. The fact that team captain Katie McCabe publicly remonstrated with Pauw today strongly hints at probable tensions in the Irish camp.




Never do this…

Despite not being a fan of drivers of very long lorries who annoyingly use our narrow road (at Newtown, off the Creevy Road) because they want to avoid town roundabouts, I still ‘gave way’ to one such driver today. To be fair, he acknowledged my courtesy with one hand…while holding the mobile phone which he was chatting into in his other hand.