Paul Healy’s Week



When the country was in lockdown – as restrictive and unnatural as it was – we knew where we stood. As a nation, and locally. Now, it’s different. Now that the economy has been reopened (though not fully) and restrictions have largely been lifted, we’re in a tricky middle ground position.

The Covid cases are rising quite significantly again, with lots of clusters nationwide, and a surge in community transmissions too.

On the ground here in Roscommon, the vast majority of people are being very responsible. In shops and in other businesses, you see people being very vigilant about hand hygiene. There’s a massive increase in wearing of face masks/coverings. In Roscommon, we must be close to 90% compliance in terms of people wearing masks in shops and other public places. However, I have seen many instances of people not adhering to social distancing guidelines.

With the reopening of schools now almost upon us, people are worried about the logistics, ultimately about the possible health threat. The schools don’t appear to have received much clarity from Government; parents have plenty of questions too. I have no doubt that the challenge facing staff in schools is very significant.

Many parents are really worried about sending their children into school, even though we all know that a return to a degree of normality is desirable. But, how will it all work out in practice? Safely catering for hundreds of pupils and dozens of staff, with parents also to-ing and fro-ing in close proximity, is one difficult challenge. Inevitably, there will be an element of ‘trial and error’ involved. Everybody will surely do their very best to make the return to school work out, but it will be a surprise if there aren’t setbacks. Hopefully all will go well.


All weekend


The World Snooker Championship was strange this year. Like everything else, it had to dance to the lamentable tune of Covid. No crowds (until the final) meant no atmosphere, while even seeing the players touch elbows rather than shake hands was surreal.

For most of us, it doesn’t have the appeal of the sport’s heyday, when a wonderful array of characters gripped millions of viewers in tournament after tournament.

Less characters now, but despite what Ronnie O’Sullivan says, the players are better than ever. Of course they’re more robotic now, a touch boring indeed.

In the final, O’Sullivan regained the world title after a seven-year itch, easily accounting for Kyren Wilson. ‘The Rocket’ has now matched Ray Reardon and Steve Davis in winning six world titles. Only Stephen Hendry (with seven) has won more. It’s hard to see the brilliant O’Sullivan failing to match Hendry’s record in the future.


A few hours on

the Shannon…(Sunday)


Rooskey, like most of the world, was quiet on Sunday, save for a nice bit of activity at Tighe’s Centra and across the road, where five or six people were relaxing outside the quaint new café.

On the other side of the bridge, there were lots of kids in the excellent new playground, parents keeping watch, some normality released from captivity in this most troubling of years.

It was sad to see the bars (and hotel) bereft of Rooskey’s traditional summer buzz. Here’s to better times on that front.

A day trip on the Shannon, something we’ve often enjoyed over the years, did not seem likely to happen this year. On Sunday however, we got to spend a few hours on the river, all aboard the trusty old cruiser which one of my brothers captains.

Boating on the river, particularly on a nice day, is lovely and relaxing. We passed Rabbit Island (also known as Goat Island) where some wild goats obligingly appeared when they heard us chugging by.

The Shannon really is a sensational river, with beautiful scenery to be admired on any such trip. At Carnadoe, peace, quiet and a few friendly boating folk, their cruisers moored at the harbour.

The Kilglass Lakes are beautiful, a series of scenic channels taking us towards The Silver Eel (near Strokestown), where we stopped for lunch.

Having moored at The Silver Eel, we then enjoyed some very nice food and a drink or two there – and a chat with some locals – before taking the return trip back to Rooskey. It’s about an hour and a half by boat from Rooskey to the Silver Eel, and a very enjoyable and relaxing trip it is.

As always, holiday-makers on the river are friendly and relaxed. There’s a wonderful variety of boats, some of them hired, some privately owned. It’s a fabulous holiday option, a lovely relaxing way to unwind while exploring the beauty of our country by water.

The wildlife (enjoying a stress-free, Covid-free existence) that one observes is of course fascinating, the odd heron cockily standing on the upright markers (or ‘buoys’) which are there to guide you and help you navigate.

Every now and again a fish will leap from below the water and check in on what’s happening. Meanwhile, the swans are as majestic as one might expect, unhurried and unfussed, the River Shannon their beautiful home – we are mere visitors!