Paul Healy’s Week

Thursday (11th)


Last week, we returned from a short break in the USA and Canada, a visit to very hospitable relatives. Returning to Boston for the first time since 2015 was a pleasure. This vibrant, sports-loving city, rich in history and with long established strong Irish links, exudes a warm glow as it draws you into its welcome embrace.

On our one evening in the city, we enjoyed a pleasant walk on Boston Common, where the many joggers are outnumbered by the very cute (and inquisitive) squirrels.

A visit to the bar that inspired classic sitcom Cheers is of course mandatory. As a sitcom enthusiast, I enjoyed this return call to a venue buzzing with atmosphere. Ice hockey on the TV, Cheers memorabilia at every turn, and ten dollars for a local beer!

Dinner that night was with relatives and friends in a beautiful restaurant on Beacon Hill. Next morning, my 8 am walk into the heart of the city was punctuated by torrential, dare I say biblical-like rainfall. I took refuge in a café and spent five minutes trying to determine how to work the coffee-making gizmo.

Along Boston Common, teams of workers were erecting barriers in preparation for the following Monday’s world famous Boston Marathon. One of the structures bore a sign which read: ‘Trump 2020 mobile mini storage’, apparently some show of support for the big guy who has his sights set on a return to the White House (you may have heard of him).

The previous night, the visiting Rossies (there were four of us) had mischievously introduced the topic of Trump. The Bostonians present duly responded with very animated, strong views on the upcoming presidential race! A humdinger of a ‘debate’ followed. To paraphrase Billy Joel, we did start the fire…

Friday-Monday (12-15th)

Canada (no John)

On the Friday, we took the five-hour drive from Boston into Canada, passing through the states of Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire. This was a beautiful drive, with stunning scenery, highlight of which was the sight of a handful of people skiing down massive slopes on the Canadian Rockies.

There was no issue at border control, a man with a moustache checking our passports and wishing us well on our onward journey.

We spent the next few nights in the very quaint North Hatley, just over an hour and a half’s drive from Montreal. It’s a beautiful little village, dotted with extremely charming wooden/timber frame homes, many of them over a century old, most fronted by wraparound porches that reminded me of the house in the classic TV show, ‘The Waltons’.

The village has a few lovely bars, restaurants, shops and art galleries. Everyone speaks French in this part of Canada. The scenery is fabulous, North Hatley overlooking Lake Massawippi, in a very popular tourist area.

After three days with our wonderful hosts, we headed for Logan Airport in Boston. At Border Control, a man with no moustache browsed our passports, had a look at each occupant of the car, and then asked if ‘John’ had also travelled with us. He also wanted to know if we had any fruit ‘on board’. We had fruit, but we didn’t have a John.

I explained that I’m down on my passport as ‘John Paul’ – long story. The friendly but formal Passport Man asked us to park up and wait while he checked if I actually exist.

“We have no record of you entering America” he announced, which, perhaps worryingly, made me slightly proud for a moment. After ten minutes or so it was all resolved, once it was established that Paul Healy is also John Paul Healy, and that while John doesn’t exist, I do.

We told him about the fruit.

Tuesday-Wednesday (16-17th)

 Don’t do this…

On the train home from Dublin, a man called from the airport and joked: “I have your passport; it’s going on to the black market”. It was a joke (the black market bit). He was an honourable employee at the airport. They had found my passport, which I had left on the plane. That was silly of me. On Wednesday, I was tired.

Thursday (18th)


Back to Dublin Airport, where the first success of the day sees me navigate the train/bus combination journey without incident. Success number two is being reunited with my passport. First, I had to queue behind a grumpy Scottish man with a thin face. He’s grumpy because the five young women in front of him are trying to convince the Aer Lingus lady (who is patiently trying to sort their paperwork) to fly off with them on their hen party adventures.

Friday (19th)

A near-miracle…

The excitement in the locality today was at… fever pitch.

Some locals wondered if we should erect bunting, such was the sense of sheer joy and wonder.

There were unconfirmed reports of similar outbreaks of ecstasy countywide. It wasn’t just us.

Small babies (they are all small) were beaming, transfixed, confused. They had (literally, I think) never seen anything like it.

As we savoured this wondrous day, I briefly considered ringing Danny Burke and inviting the Castlerea Brass & Reed Band to attend.

In the end, we just calmed down. Collectively, we marvelled at this near-miracle… the arrival of sunshine, and the End of the Rain.

Then we cut the grass.

Saturday (20th)

A stylish wedding!

Years ago when Sir John (‘Jack’) Leslie – the then-owner of Castle Leslie in Monaghan – occasionally appeared on TV chat shows, his fondness for dancing in nightclubs into his 80s (including regular trips to Ibiza to go clubbing) was always highlighted. The charismatic John passed away in 2016, at the age of 99.

He certainly put the exclusive wedding venue on the map (amongst the famous people to celebrate their wedding there were Sir Paul McCartney and Heather Mills).

Today, we had our first visit to the Castle Leslie Estate, where we were among the guests at the wedding of Noel Reynolds (Elphin) and his bride Lynn (from Cavan). A beautiful ceremony was followed by a memorable reception in this breathtakingly stunning venue.

Wishing the happy couple, Noel and Lynn, many years of wedded bliss together.

Sunday (21st)

Sunny Hyde

Home from the wedding, I made it to Dr Hyde Park for Roscommon v Mayo, played in beautiful sunshine. The newly-enhanced stadium looked great, but we lost. See pages 42-43.