Paul Healy’s Week


College calls

Another milestone recently, with our third (and youngest) daughter taking flight to college! Hundreds of families locally are also experiencing the emotional rollercoaster such experiences are (for students and parents).

First came the stressful trawl for accommodation (finally, a breakthrough), then the blurr of the last few days before departure. Often, it was best to minimise eye contact, to talk about something else. The journey to Dublin to drop Ciara off at her ‘digs’ was a mix of excitement, nervousness, emotion – and a realisation of how quickly time passes.

On the drive home – with one less passenger… the temptation to Snapchat her (already). Comfort for all local families in the knowledge that the babies who are suddenly college ‘first years’ will be ‘home on Friday’. 


Heroic Ireland

This evening’s World Cup battle, in which Ireland defeated current world champions, South Africa (13-8), was a sporting classic, a battle for the ages. Peter O’Mahony was at his warrior best. Mack Hansen is our moustachioed maestro. James Lowe was magnificent, Johnny Sexton a defiant combination of defensive strength and calm creativity. Bundee Aki continued his sensational form. They were all heroic. It was great to see our local man, Robbie Henshaw, getting some game time too. 


On ‘Zombie’…

The controversy over the ‘Zombie’ song is ridiculous. Irish rugby supporters have adopted the Cranberries’ classic, creating an electrifying atmosphere as they sang along to it in the Stade de France after Ireland’s win over South Africa on Saturday.

Cue outrage on Twitter (and elsewhere) as people take umbrage with this new wave of popularity for the song. As ‘Zombie’ was written in response to IRA violence, some argue it is pro-partition and anti-republican (presumably many of the currently unhappy brigade have no issue with Celtic Symphony/‘Ooh, ah, up the ‘Ra’ being a sporting anthem?).

Anyways, it’s all a bit silly. I’m inclined to agree with former Irish international Shane Byrne (a voice of reason in this instance) who said: “Sometimes a good tune is just a good tune”.


Real world v Twitter

Aslan sang about a ‘Crazy World’ – a modern ‘anthem’ might be ‘Angry World’.

From protests at libraries, to street confrontations with Gardaí by provocative smartphone-wielding agitators, to cowardly trolls on Twitter, we live in an Age of Anger.

The louts who engaged in nasty, aggressive and verbally abusive conduct outside the Dáil – while physically confronting Deputy Michael Healy-Rae, and some Leinster House staff – are angry (and reprehensible).

It’s mostly on Twitter where the anger manifests itself (well there, and on our roads, where road rage is a growing problem). Some of the anger on social media may be justified, but the level of it is tiresome, and sad. And much of the anger is the slightly pathetic ranting of people who just want to pick fights, who can’t resist piling on, who are self-righteous and tunnel-visioned, bitter, frustrated (maybe all of the above). Of course many of those engaging in vitriol feel empowered by being anonymous.

It’s wearying. People being angry about housing, the economy, inequality – social issues generally – is understandable. But trolling and orchestrated pile-ons too often flourish at the expense of reasoned debate.

It’s probably healthy to be angry – in a controlled way – about some of the stuff that affects our lives. But just now, people are angry about everything and anything! Angry about Piers Morgan. Angry about individual politicians. Angry about Manchester City’s spending. Angry about Trump. Angry about Tubridy. Angry about gender issues. Angry about Vera Pauw and the Irish players. Angry about abrasive rugby coach Eddie Jones. Angry about Mickey Harte becoming Tyrone manager. Angry about ‘Zombie’. Angry every morning, angry every night.

I went for a walk just now, leaving what Vincent Browne used to call ‘the Twitter machine’ behind. No radio or headphones either. Instead, I embraced the real world! Four tourists emerging from the Sacred Heart Church (there are always tourists at the Sacred Heart Church) were still beaming at the beauty and majesty of what they had just encountered.

Further on, the field on the edge of town which hosted a funfair last week has been ‘empty’ again for a few days, the colour and music gone. But now there’s a circus in town! ‘Courtney’s Daredevil Circus’. That field will come alive again, to kids smiling and laughing. The real world (an innocent one, at least).

On my way back, an elderly man and an elderly woman are chatting on the footpath, complete with headscarf (on the woman, not the man). Naturally I don’t eavesdrop, but I sense they’re not talking about The Cranberries’ Zombie, or the provocative far right, or Enoch Burke either. If they are, it’s without anger.

Further along the street, I meet a man I haven’t seen in a while. We chat, and in contrast to the invective that often permeates social media, we effortlessly manage not to angrily throw labels at one another.

On the final stretch (Abbey Street), there’s peace and quiet, that and the tempting allure of coffee from District Coffee Shop.

Back in the office, I’m all the better for the fresh air and the human interaction, and not a Zombie in sight…


This is awkward…

After all the controversy of recent months – which didn’t really take the gloss from a historic first ever World Cup qualification – the Republic of Ireland ladies team are suddenly blossoming on and off the pitch.

A 3-0 win over Northern Ireland at the weekend was followed by a 4-0 win away to Hungary this evening (both in the UEFA Nations League). Ireland played some great football.

This is slightly awkward for people (like me) who felt former manager Vera Pauw was treated extremely badly – with the players not blameless. Of course one can still both admire the team’s current form and retain the view that the Pauw saga was shabbily handled.

Anyways, for now at least, I suppose it’s a case of to the victors the goals…