Paul Healy’s Week


A horrifying day

A horrifying day… one that has left us shocked, shattered, and sad.

The vicious attack on innocence happened at around 1.30 pm, with three children and a creche worker stabbed outside Gaelscoil Cólaiste Mhuire in Dublin.

With this shocking attack allegedly carried out by an Algerian national, far-right activists reacted with a violent protest. Our capital city came under attack, initially orchestrated by those far-right elements.

At the height of a terrifying breakdown in law and order, the Gardaí were overpowered, Dublin suddenly in the control of a mob.

An evening of mayhem slowly and starkly stole our freedom. Carnage reigned, until calmness eventually returned.

It seemed that every available young thug in the city centre had joined in with relish, burning buses and Garda patrol cars, damaging properties, looting shops, delivering terror to the streets.

One video on social media, which showed an isolated Garda being physically attacked by a gang of louts, was particularly shocking. Those of us of a certain age wondered how a Garda could ever be met with such hatred. (These blackguards should be shown zero tolerance. Being made to do a day’s work would probably be the greatest punishment they could be subjected to).

It was a horrifying day, followed by a night of shame. What happened at the school was horrific. What happened later, in our streets – our streets – was shameful.

As for our immigration policy, I believe there are legitimate issues that should be addressed. But there is no justification for thuggery, for wanton destruction, for imbecilic violence against the custodians of our republic, against citizens, or property. Our country is turning on itself. We are better that this; certainly we were.

Can we step back from the precipice? Probably not. It’s more likely to get worse.




Billy’s birthday

And now for something completely different… a random few words on legendary Scottish comedian Billy Connolly, because mention of his name might remind us to smile or laugh (prompted by the Internet informing me that today is his 81st birthday).

I was disappointed that he didn’t feature particularly highly in recent online polls on ‘Greatest ever comedians’. Of course these are subjective exercises which carry no factual credibility. One person’s Richard Pryor can – bizarrely – be another person’s Jimmy Carr.

Those of us who saw Billy in his prime will never forget the experience of seeing him for the first time (and enjoying him in subsequent years). He was exhilarating: a force of nature on stage, a wonderful storyteller, authentic and hilarious.

For many of my generation, Connolly first came to notice through now legendary appearances on the late Michael Parkinson’s BBC chat show. Later, broadcasts of his live shows introduced his genius to millions of TV viewers.

Connolly’s illness (he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease many years ago) eventually brought forward his retirement. In occasional documentaries, we see its debilitating impact on him, but also how courageously and stoically he is coping.

New heroes emerge in comedy, as in all entertainment and sporting genres. But for millions worldwide, Billy Connolly cemented his place in the Comedy Hall of Fame a long time ago. Happy birthday to a much-loved genius.




Uplifting Toy Show

I was concerned that the appalling events in Dublin the previous day – when three children were victims of a shocking attack – might cast a huge shadow over a night that is aimed at them and their peers.

Instead, host Patrick Kielty began tonight’s Late Late Toy Show with well chosen words which spoke for a nation’s empathy for the children (and their families) impacted by Thursday’s terrible event. And in the hours that followed, the show was pitched perfectly, with a tone and dignity that lifted the national mood, while remaining respectful of the emotional backdrop arising from the previous day’s tragic events.

This was a very slick production and a triumph for Kielty, who did a fine job in his first Toy Show outing.




Katie’s greatest feat?

When it comes to Katie Taylor – whether with the written word or in conversation – I think we’re all grasping for new superlatives now.

Icon. Legend. Superstar. They’ve all been used many times, and still we breathlessly observe her ever-growing greatness.

Was tonight’s win over Chantelle Cameron the greatest of Katie’s incredible career? Almost certainly. After all, it was Cameron who had inflicted the first defeat of her professional career on the Bray boxer. Cameron was herself unbeaten as a professional going into tonight’s bout in the 3Arena. And with Katie being 37 years of age, many of us wondered if she really could roll back the years against such an accomplished champion.

Taylor’s win – after 10 thrilling rounds – silenced all doubters, and enhances a reputation that is already peerless. What a sportsperson she is. Avenging her defeat to Cameron earlier this year and becoming an undisputed world boxing champion at two different weights just elevates our superstar to even greater heights, and leaves us… searching for superlatives.




Christmas kick-off!

There was a great turnout for the annual Roscommon Town Christmas Lights switching-on ceremony today, which happily could proceed despite ongoing works in the Square.

For the umpteenth year in a row, Santa Claus prioritised Roscommon in his pre-Christmas calendar, loyalty on his part which is clearly attributable to two things: (a) the great time he has for the children of Roscommon and (b) his appreciation for the tremendous voluntary work put in year after year by the members of the Christmas Lights committee.




Castlerea crowned

The celebrations are ongoing this week after Castlerea St Kevin’s continued their great championship odyssey of 2023 with a magnificent Connacht title triumph in Tuam on Saturday.

This was a great achievement by a proud club which has a very distinguished history and a tradition of producing top inter-county players. Congratulations to the Castlerea players and management.

The sleeping giant is wide awake!