People Platform – November 15th






Tributes paid to ‘people person’ Brian O’Neill


Tributes have been paid this past week to well-known Roscommon town businessman Brian O’Neill, as news of his passing at the age of 60 spread on Monday, November 4th.

  Brian was a native of Derby in the UK but moved to Roscommon in 1999, where he played a leading role at his brother Denis’s Ballymurray-based company Athlone Laboratories up until 2010.

  A larger than life character, Brian went on to set up Roscommon Restoration Services on the Lanesboro Road, a company which specialised in kitchen and furniture restoration and refurbishment.

  Brian was described as a “people person” by friends this week as well as a big fan of live music. He was a regular customer in JJ Harlow’s where he was fondly remembered by co-owners Caitlín McConn and Brian Mugan and their staff.

  Caitlín said Brian was generous of his time and had many friends in Roscommon town.

  “Brian was someone who would do anything for anyone. He had amazing cars so he did a lot of weddings for close friends; he would have driven the bride, bridesmaids, and others to the wedding.

  “He loved his cars and could be seen driving his Mustang or later his BMW in the town. Last year he bought a big four-wheel-drive jeep before the winter – he wanted it for the snow because he had got stuck the winter before. So he bought this jeep and all he wanted was snow last year so he could help neighbours who got stuck!”

  The bar owner smiled as she remembered Brian’s daily battle with a newspaper crossword.

  “He’d be in here (JJ’s) every day for a coffee and to do the Daily Star crossword…badly! He’d show us the crossword every now and then and it was a case of: ‘Brian, this is wrong and that’s wrong and this is spelt wrong’.

  “He was very much a people person though and his house was always open to people and no matter where a friend wanted a lift, even if it was Dublin, Cork or Galway, he was the man. He loved being able to help people and he was the best man here for every gig…well except for folk music, trad or jazz!

  “There have been so many people coming in over the last few days whom Brian had a connection with. He loved Roscommon even though he was known as ‘English Brian’. He’ll be very sorely missed and he’ll definitely never be forgotten in here,” she said.

  Brian will be very sadly missed by his son Steven, daughter Stephanie, brother Ken, and all his other relatives, neighbours and many, many good friends both in Ireland and in the UK. Brian will be laid to rest in Scotland where he will be reunited with his late father and mother William and Janet O’Neill, and brother Denis (RIP).
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam. May he rest in peace.



‘Don’t change traffic system in Roscommon Town centre’


1, Ascaill Chluain Breacna,

Baile Ros Comáin


Dear Editor,

In principle I’m in favour of some revitalisation of The Square, Roscommon, having some type of a limited, continental-style, plaza there – BUT NOT at the expense of the excellent, one-way, free-flowing, very safe, traffic system that has operated there for very many years now.

  If I remember correctly, it was designed by the late Martin Keaveney B.E., with pedestrian safety and free movement foremost in his mind. Prior to that, there had been many traffic accidents in the town centre, involving vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists.

  At that time, the then 2-way system was chaotic. If one used the street on the west side of the bank, merging with traffic on the other side, it nearly always caused problems/blockages. There are no such problems nowadays. Traffic ‘coming at you’ from both sides caused big problems for less-agile pedestrians trying to cross over to the other side – and indeed there was nothing easy for any pedestrians trying to navigate the same territory with the then 2-way system.

  Another step backwards in the new proposals is the permitting of traffic coming from Castle Street to turn right towards St. Ciaran’s Park, etc., in the face of oncoming traffic from Main Street. This would be a recipe for disaster, potentially a cause of accidents. Why do this when we have a perfectly safe, proven system in place here already? This should be ‘off the table’ instantly in any minor realignment proposals. 

  What’s wrong with the present system? NOTHING, I would suggest. Isn’t having traffic going in the same direction (one-way) the basic principle of road safety the world over? Isn’t that one of the main reasons for building motorways and one-way systems – or should we revert some of them to two-way, and increase our road deaths and injuries to the appalling levels of the past? Such a reversion in Roscommon Town would be just as daft as doing so with any national one-way road.

  In the council’s first proposals there was to be NO TRAFFIC on the West side of the bank and no parking available to its front or rear, so all traffic into and out of town centre would travel on the new 2-way system, East of the bank (Newsround side). Daft, unnecessary and dangerous, I would say. There are 59 parking spaces being withdrawn. To add to the dilemma, there are/will be people who will still park their cars all day in the same places from early morning, while they are at work, thereby blocking spaces for potential customers. How does the council suggest this would improve business, or does it want Roscommon town centre to have ghost town status?

  I believe an overwhelming majority of submissions were against the initial proposal to totally pedestrianise the West side of The Square. Now the revised proposals suggest limited vehicular access there. It is planned in such a way as to make it unattractive to travel on that side of the bank – with a STOP sign facing you at the end of the Post Office, with the inevitable ‘tail-back’ where there is free-flowing traffic at the moment. There you must stay until the way is clear in another new, 2-way stretch between there and junction with Castle Street (in front of Stone Court/Old Jail), where there is another STOP sign. This is done to ensure that all of us would now have little choice but to travel on the East side in the new 2-way system. It was dangerous in the past, it would be dangerous in the future.

  You may turn left for St. Ciaran’s Park, etc., just as those coming up Castle Street may turn right at the same junction. Who will have right of way? I can see 2, if not 3 ‘pinch points’ at that end of the Square and tailbacks down past Lanesboro Street, when someone coming up Castle Street wants to turn right but can’t, because of a stream of cars coming in the opposite direction. We’d then have blockages, which we do not have at the moment, with our free-flowing and safe system. Nobody would benefit – certainly not the motorists, cyclists, pedestrians or business people.

  The proposers of this plan may say it’s trying to get people back into the town centre. Well-intentioned as it may be, it’s taking away a huge amount of parking spaces, making crossing the street a hazardous endeavour, and wasting far too big an area (more suited to a very big town or city), where a few people with nothing to do can enjoy being in splendid isolation as they watch the world go by. That’s not the way to create extra business in the town centre. With far less parking bays available, people will ‘vote with their feet’ – sorry, cars – and go elsewhere.

  Having said all that, I do feel that the town could do with a far smaller version of what’s being proposed as a recreational area – maybe in front of the Bank of Ireland and also maybe a part of the area to the rear of the same bank, but in any case, within the parameters of the present, excellent traffic system.

  If Roscommon County Council was serious about how taxpayers’ money was spent, and wanted to make some alterations in The Square, why did it not do so BEFORE the expensive, major upheaval that took place in the very same square in the last year? Now they want to tear it all up again. Would that sort of extravagance/irresponsibility take place in the private sector? Certainly not. What did that cost?

  What is the projected cost of the present proposals? (It doesn’t matter if it comes from central funds and is for a nominated specific project – it’s all taxpayers’ money). There are many other, more worthy projects that could’ve been chosen.

  I’d like to know where our six local elected councillors stand in all of this saga. I emailed my first submission to all six and not all of them acknowledged it. Isn’t it time they made their positions known to the electorate?                    

  Also, should anybody think this letter/submission is full of negativity, it is very serious and full of reality.


Is mise le meas,

Bill Cunningham