Paul Healy’s Week


Tabloid wars

The so-called ‘tabloid press’ isn’t remotely as influential as it used to be, but I still bristled on seeing the large headline in one of the morning papers in a shop in town today.

Yesterday it emerged that a man injured in the shooting incident in a restaurant in Blanchardstown on Christmas Eve has died, the second fatality arising from that shocking gangland-related attack.

This morning, the ‘Irish Sun’ front-page headline read:

‘NOW IT’S WAR’, the paper dramatically alluding to the possibility/likelihood of reprisals.

‘NOW IT’S WAR’ was, I think, an ill-judged, provocative headline; such incendiary-like front pages can create fear and heighten tensions, while unnecessarily giving the criminals the public gangster status many of them thrive on.

These days, social media is a bigger problem than hype-loving ‘red tops’ – but this was lamentable and irresponsible journalism.


Remembering David

We loved ‘The Rockford Files’, ‘Columbo’ and ‘Kojak’ – and others of the genre too – but ‘Starsky & Hutch’ seemed to capture our imagination in a whole new way. Could the business of catching bad guys be any more exciting?

I’m not sure how often – if at all – we daydreamed of being Lieutenant Frank Columbo or Detective Lieutenant Theodopolus (‘Theo’) Kojak. We certainly quoted their catchphrases endlessly: ‘Just one more thing’ (Columbo) and ‘Who loves ya, baby?’ (Kojak).

Starsky & Hutch were different. Hooked from the moment we saw that breathtaking opening sequence, we wanted to be them (daft as that may sound). Whatever about imagining ourselves in their roles, we could not wait to see the show every week, aired (the combination was magical) on the same night as Match of the Day.

That opening mesmerised us – our heroes in a car chase through city side-streets, papers swirling in the air (Starsky finally rolling across the bonnet before overpowering a villain); scrambling down a flight of stairs, falling out of a burning car…

David Soul, who died yesterday, played Kenneth Hutchinson (‘Hutch’) while Paul Michael Glaser played his colleague, David Michael Starsky. Soul went on to have considerable success as a singer (‘Don’t Give Up on Us’ and ‘Silver Lady’ stood out).

Starsky & Hutch was TV gold. As the closing credits roll for David Soul, his place in TV’s Hall of Fame is assured.


Super Salthill…

It’s hard to be within close proximity of Salthill and (if time permits) not pay a call to the quaint old place. And so, having dropped our daughter back to Galway today, I couldn’t resist a quick trip down memory lane…

Salthill changes, but Salthill doesn’t change. I largely ignore the minimal changes, instead preferring to pick out favourite old haunts… the distinctive, charming bars, casinos, restaurants and assorted premises’ that have changed very little over the past 40 years.

CJ’s is still there, so too Lonergan’s and Killorans (we watched Michael Carruth winning gold at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics in the latter premises).

The small casino (near O’Reilly’s Bar & Restaurant) where I naively lost quite a few bob on roulette in my youth, is still there. So too is the landmark Galleon Restaurant (beside the Church), although the boat in the front window, oddly, is gone.

Across the road, on the corner of the street, stands Salthill’s biggest casino, ‘Seapoint Leisure’. I popped in for old time’s sake, not because I used to gamble there, but because Fiona and I often took the kids there when they were small, to enjoy the innocent fun activities such as trying to win cuddly toys in the ‘claw machine’.

“Can I just have one more euro please?’ is a phrase many parents will be familiar with from such visits.

Today, I note that the casino is now largely dominated by modern-day ‘one-armed bandits’/fruit machines, all very sophisticated now relative to the 1980s and ‘90s. I take a quick walk through… there are many middle-aged and elderly men and women engrossed in their afternoon gambling. Each to their own, I guess!

Back outside, a quick walk along the promenade, in front of the majestic sea, as always provides the special feeling one gets in Salthill. It is timeless.


Brigid’s march on

Onward then St Brigid’s march, after another quality performance earned them a four-point win over Castlehaven to secure a place in the All-Ireland senior club final for the first time since 2013 (when the Roscommon club so memorably won the title).

In the stands in 2013 were daydreaming young boys watching club heroes on the pitch evolve into legends. Could they really have dreamed of perhaps emulating them?

Just over a decade on, and the boys of 2013 are the men of 2024, a beautifully balanced team led by a calm manager in Jerome Stack (who was most impressive in his various media interviews after Sunday’s win).

St Brigid’s started brilliantly on Sunday, outplaying Castlehaven to move six ahead. Thereafter, the Roscommon and Connacht champions had a worrying 22-minute spell without a score, that famine partly down to hasty decision-making and loss of composure, while also reflecting the fact that a dogged Castlehaven were growing into the game.

Mercifully, St Brigid’s steadied the ship just as the storm was raging at its fiercest – the Cork team closing to within a point. A John Cunningham point was a welcome settler, followed by Paul McGrath’s score, then the penalty award (Ben O’Carroll wisely took a point) that confirmed the win. See our coverage on pages 35 & 38-39.


€1000 Giveaway…

Thank you to the hundreds upon hundreds of Roscommon People readers who took the time to enter our popular pre-Christmas ‘€1000 Giveaway’ draw (organised in conjunction with Roscommon Chamber of Commerce). Once again we had a fantastic response. The ten lucky winners – each of whom will receive a €100 shopping voucher – will be selected and contacted over the coming days (with results published in next week’s edition).


Joanna calls it…

“It’s cold” said weather forecaster Joanna Donnelly on RTE One (TV) after The News tonight, adding that “the high pressure will stay in charge”. At the end of her broadcast, she announced “Staying cold!” In between, there was some technical talk, but we’d got the message…