Paul Healy’s Week


A pint for Sean…

After another rather self-pitying interview to promote his book (and yes, he was a great employer in his region), Sean Quinn was asked by Claire Brock on Virgin Media what he was planning to do after the show.

The controversial former billionaire – whom Brock probably had a fair idea would be welcomed by a huge crowd at the Slieve Russell Hotel after the interview –  replied: “I’ll have a few pints tonight”.

It’s not clear if the bould Sean asked the barperson if they serve pints of bitter…


Kielty’s debut

I’ve long been a critic of the modern-day Late Late Show, arguing in recent years that it was time to consign it to (fond) memory.

If, however, the show was to stagger on, at least two changes were necessary: the ‘Late Late’ needed to be shorter and snappier, and the ‘Misery TV’ element would have to be dispensed with. The ‘Misery TV’ I refer to is the tendency to include sad/tragic stories, usually as the last segment on a show that could often run for over two hours. This, I argued, is not what audience members and viewers should be faced with on a Friday night, on a show which the public sees as light entertainment. Meanwhile, the case for following in the footsteps of popular American chat shows – and Graham Norton, across the water – by having the host deliver a witty, topical opening monologue was also indisputable.

Mercifully, RTE has made some such changes, and tonight’s first show in the new series was all the better for that. Patrick Kielty had a good debut. There was the odd ‘rookie error’ from the new host, but overall Kielty was a breath of fresh air. Like Tommy Tiernan, he appears to be a good listener. I was confident that RTE had chosen wisely in selecting him as Ryan Tubridy’s replacement; he will do well in the role. The shorter format is welcome, and I hope a lighter mood prevails.


Ciaran’s new book

As a long-time admirer of author Michael Harding, it was important that I didn’t gush too much in the event of meeting him (for the first time) today.

I met him today, and I gushed too much.

When I informed Mr Harding that he’s a prolific writer – the cheek of me – he threw me a gentle look of slight bewilderment. Just at that moment, I wondered if I might end up in one of his Irish Times columns, under ‘strange people I met recently’. In the end, we had a brief and friendly exchange.

The occasion was the launch this afternoon of Ciaran Mullooly’s new book. ‘The Future is Now’ addresses a number of issues affecting rural Ireland, with Ciaran also touching on his RTE career, and the recent turmoil there.

This was a lovely event, with a big crowd in attendance in the always welcoming Longford library. Special guest Michael Harding and the man of the moment, Ciaran, both made fine speeches. Harding was warm in his praise of the former RTE Midlands Correspondent, hailing his arrival at the national broadcaster over a quarter of a century ago as a big boost for our neck of the woods, Ciaran being an authentic voice of rural Ireland who gave local people and events a platform on the national stage.

Ciaran’s book addresses many themes which he wrote about in his Roscommon People column, including Just Transition, rural renewal, and community development. These are important issues, ones that need to be discussed. ‘The Future is Now’ is a welcome publication and I wish Ciaran every success with it.



From Ciaran Mullooly’s book launch in Longford, it was back to Roscommon town and a visit to Hannon’s Field where the annual Roscommon Show was well underway.

The committee members I spoke to were all very happy with how well the morning and afternoon had gone.

It’s great (and a relief) that Roscommon Show got a break weather-wise, and that today’s event was such a success. Congratulations to the many people involved at committee level.

This is great volunteerism in action, rural life at its finest.



I’m glad to see Johnny Sexton being so reverentially celebrated in this, the swansong of his great career (Ireland beat Tonga easily at the Rugby World Cup yesterday). Standing ovations for him are now the norm; our relationship with Sexton has evolved to the happy point where – on the merest sight of him – we instinctively salute his greatness, the acclaim no doubt partly influenced by the knowledge that the stage will soon be stripped of his presence.


In praise of Fairy Village

After leaving the car to its fate in the NCT Centre in Castlerea this morning, I went for a walk in the nearby Demesne. I’ve often highlighted the magnificence of both Loughnaneane Park and Mote Park, so it’s time to (again) laud Castlerea’s own fabulous gem.

Not for the first time, I was really impressed by the wonderful Fairy Village (if you have small children and haven’t been to see it, I recommend a visit). A walk through the Fairy Village is a lovely, relaxing experience. The fairies have been very proactive – there’s a post office, a medical hall, a café, and so on. The village even has a music area, which must be a delight for visiting children.

I continued on through the Demesne, which is such a beautiful amenity. A few locals were out walking, the odd dog in tow. The Demesne is a credit to those involved in maintaining it. As the rain cascaded down, a man cut some branches, whistling as he worked. We exchanged greetings. As for the fairies, they were wisely staying indoors.

Anyway, the car failed (or I failed it) – so I guess I’ll be back in the Fairy Village soon.



‘In Song and In Story’

Declan Coyne kindly dropped a copy of a new songbook into our office today. ‘In Song and In Story’ is a beautiful 80-page book of original songs, stories, parodies, poems and ballads, the work of the South Roscommon Singers Circle and friends.

The book will be launched in Murray’s of Knockcroghery this Friday night, 22nd of September (8 pm). Special guest is Cathy Jordan. Congratulations to Declan and friends on a very welcome publication.