Quest for Sam not the only issue over Mayo way!

It’s not just ‘Sam’ our Mayo friends are preoccupied by! In this week’s column, our man Frank responds to issues raised by readers… and he hails local GAA volunteers…

You could be forgiven for thinking that down in Mayo  the only thing that bothers them is the hunt for Sam Maguire – but that’s where you would be wrong.

Friends of mine who do a regular commute from Claremorris to Castlebar have other things on their minds; they have been complaining for some time now about the seemingly never-ending traffic hold-ups along their route. A journey that should take 25 minutes or so can often be nearly twice that, and the roadworks that are causing the problem – and which are ongoing at the moment – will apparently be continuing for another considerable length of time.

Last week we travelled that road, and on our way from Claremorris to Castlebar we experienced the hold-ups for ourselves. Just outside Balla, there was a huge build-up of traffic, and we realised that our friends were not exaggerating in any way about the huge inconvenience they faced every working day of the week.

Anyway, as we were going back later that evening at approximately 6 pm, we were all surprised to see hundreds of thousands of euro (maybe millions) worth of machinery lying idle on the roadside, obviously with work finished for the day. Who is running the show down there I don’t know, but why can the work not continue right through the night as it does in other countries, thereby speeding up the whole process, and also giving extra employment for loads of workers through the different shifts? I’m sure there are unions and politics involved, but at a period of the year when we have the most amount of daylight, surely it would make sense to keep the job going and get it finished as soon as possible. My friends both work in hugely important jobs and the last thing they need is to spend so much time stuck in traffic.

The amount of taxpayers’ money that has been squandered in the RTÉ debacle is mindboggling, but things like the massive overspend on the National Children’s Hospital (which of course should have been located in the Midlands), and the MetroLink line in Dublin, on which €300 million has already been spent without any work being done – and which won’t be ready until 2034 – shows that when it comes to public money, there really is nobody accountable. And so I feel sure that the work in Mayo will continue at a snail’s pace, and my friends will go on being frustrated twice daily as they go to and from work.

At least we can all hope that by the time Sam finally returns to Mayo (if he ever does), he can travel in peace on the N60 and not suffer any hold-ups or tailbacks!

This is not a rubbish suggestion…

Of all the changes that have taken place since my younger days, the disposal of stuff like old couches, armchairs, and mattresses, amongst other things, has got to be one of the most awkward and inconvenient for the average household.

Back in the day, we either buried or burnt everything, but of course those options are no longer environmentally acceptable. Nowadays we have to find different ways of getting rid of these types of bigger items.

And so, to give credit where it’s due, occasionally local Councils have special days where, for a very small fee, people can load up the car, van, or trailer with everything from carpets and furniture to hard plastics, and bring them to their local civic amenity site. One of these events took place in Roscommon a week or so ago, and laudable as it was, one of my readers contacted me with a few reservations about the logistics of the whole thing.

He told me that so many loads of stuff turned up, there ended up being long delays in getting into the actual site. Several people, including my reader, had to turn around and bring their goods home again.

However, his biggest concern was the danger presented to the heavy traffic that was going both ways, to and from the site. He told me there was a long line of rubbish-bearing vehicles in the middle of the road, waiting their turn to get access to the Civic Amenity Site, all while the regular traffic drove at speed on either side of this slow-moving centre line.

Now I am only going on his observations, as I wasn’t there, but he was very concerned at the possibility of a serious accident happening, and feels that as these events are obviously so popular and necessary, they should take place on a more regular basis. I don’t know how often these events actually occur, but he thinks that if they were held once a month the problems which he says arose the last time might be alleviated.

GAA volunteers…quick on the draw!

As you know by now, sport is something that I enjoy and have a great interest in. But of all the aspects of great sporting endeavours, there is nothing quite like the effort put in by unpaid volunteers who do their utmost to keep their own little local clubs alive.

Last Friday evening, Creggs travelled to Croghan to play Shannon Gaels in an O’Gara Cup match, and I was hugely impressed by the work taking place in their club grounds – a new stand has already been built, there are new dressing rooms (at least since my last visit) and toilets, and there appears to be ongoing development taking place on the town side of the pitch.

Small clubs like Creggs and Shannon Gaels are continually fighting for their very existence, so well done to all in Croghan. These developments don’t happen by accident, so everyone involved deserves great credit.

Not to be outdone, out here in Creggs we launched our big All-Ireland tickets draw last week. Members of the club, including chairperson John Hanley, Michael Keany, and my brother ‘Duff’ (Sean), headed to Croke Park on both Saturday and Sunday, selling tickets to all the different hurling supporters, including RTÉ’s Dáithí Ó Sé.

We also hope to be back up there this weekend for both football semi-finals, and we should all be eternally grateful to everyone who is giving up their spare time to go there and try and get some money to keep the club going.

I don’t want to single out anyone, but Duff must be the best known face around Croke Park (and the Aviva Stadium). There can hardly be a GAA or rugby follower out there who he hasn’t tried (and mostly succeeded) to sell a ticket to.

For €10 a ticket, three for €20, or eight for €50, you have a chance to win two stand tickets for the hurling and football finals, as well as a Saturday night B&B stay at the four-star Gibson Hotel. Both finals will be hugely attractive, so don’t miss out on a chance to be there!

Get your tickets online at, and if you win, I hope you do enjoy your stay in ‘the Gibson’ and have a great day at the final. As I said, small clubs need all the help they can get, so if you can, put your hand in your pocket, buy a ticket (or three, or eight!), and do your bit to keep a very small rural GAA club alive.

And finally…

A little bird tells me that it’s coming up on ten years since the Leyden family opened Castlecoote Lodge, and there will be appropriate celebrations in the very near future – so keep an eye out for the details.

It’s hard to believe how quickly the time has flown, but the Lodge is now well established as a very popular local hostelry, and I’m sure Terry, Mary and the family will mark the occasion in proper style. Looking forward to making some of the celebrations and meeting you all there!