Supercars and a super cause (observed from my 131 VW Passat)

Our man Frank on encountering Supercars on (charity) circuit; Meeting some Harry Styles fans; Galway’s last-gasp despair in Croke Park… and some local issues

It’s Friday afternoon, and as I am getting diesel in Roscommon town for my imminent trip to Dublin, I hear what appears to be the approaching sound of very loud thunder.

However, as I prepare to jump back into the safety of my car to keep me safe from any following flashes of lightning, I realise that the sound I heard wasn’t thunder at all. Instead it was the sound of Bumblebee 1000, a charity road drive featuring almost 100 supercars, which were passing through our county town on their way to an overnight stay in Westport. The following day they were travelling south from Westport to Cork, and the truth is the cars were a sight to behold.

There were supercars of all shapes and sizes souped up to the last, and their weekend trip was all to raise funds for the Bumblebee 1000 charity. Their last event took place in Dublin on the morning of ‘Darkness into Light’, when more than ninety supercars met at 7 am and went in convoy through the city, raising much-needed funds for Pieta House. But this time, the two-day road trip was to raise funds for a charity that I previously knew very little about. It’s called Little Blue Heroes.

This is a not-for-profit charity set up by volunteers from Garda members/staff, retired Gardaí, their families and friends, and other civic-minded people from local communities all over Ireland. Their aim is to help families from communities who have children undergoing long-term medical treatment for serious illnesses.

Basically, Bumblebee 1000 is a group of Irish and international supercar owners who raise loads of money for different charities by driving around our beautiful country and treating any of us who are lucky enough to see them to a never-to-be-forgotten treat. Although it’s not fully confirmed, their next visit to the West is thought to be happening this weekend, when they hope to get to Galway city to support another yet to be named good cause.

Anyway, as soon as they had departed from Roscommon, I headed off to Dublin in what then seemed to be my very basic and unexciting 131 Volkswagen Passat diesel. But as I drove along, I realised that firstly, I would never be able to afford even the spare wheel of a supercar, and secondly, even if I could, I probably wouldn’t be able to drive it!

However I have to admit that the sight and sound of the fabulous cars really was a sight to treasure and something to be remembered for a very long time.


When Harry met Slane…

As Roscommon gets ready for the huge music extravaganza that is coming this weekend (A Midsummer’s Weekend with the Stars), and as the cream of our Irish musical talent prepare to entertain the large crowds that are expected to attend, I find my mind drifting to boybands, and the huge success that the likes of Westlife and Boyzone have had over the last couple of decades.

While I would always have enjoyed the songs and music of both Irish groups, and I could, even now, name all the members of both of them, the truth is that I never got into the big international bands like Take That and One Direction, and apart from Niall Horan (and Robbie Williams), I couldn’t name any member of either of those massively successful groups.

And so last week, as I tuned into one of the morning TV shows, I happened to hear that someone called Harry Styles – who apparently had been a member of One Direction – was due to appear in Slane on Saturday and that an amazing 80,000 people had bought tickets to attend. However, the most extraordinary thing was that 90-95% of the attendance would be female and most of those would be aged 16 to 24 years of age.

Anyway, I thought nothing more about Slane or Harry until Saturday midday when we pulled into the Kinnegad Plaza for a bit of sustenance and rest, and encountered a busload or two of young girls on their way to the County Meath concert. All of them appeared to be in their mid-teens, all were dressed to the nines (although in some cases the outfits were a little scarce), and you could feel their excitement as they tucked into Supermac’s’ finest.

I would say there were maybe thirty or forty of the concert-goers there so I could only try to imagine what the excitement and atmosphere would be like with 80,000 of them in the one place.

I am writing this on Monday morning, and by now reports suggest that there were four/five-hour queues to get in, so some of the attendees found it all a little tedious and even quite stressful. However, not all concerts have to be stressful and there are concerts where there are no queues at all.

Out here in Creggs, such an event took place last Saturday night, when the renowned Irish singer-songwriter Ultan Conlon performed in the delightful Heritage Centre in the heart of the village.

Ultan recently featured on RTE’s Nationwide programme because of his musical performances on ‘The Little tour of Mayo’, where he sang and played in post offices, filling stations and cafes. He has released a number of self-penned hit records, with his latest release ‘The Starlight Ballroom’ coming out in early September. On Saturday night, our little centre was packed to its capacity of approximately forty, and Ultan, Alan Kelly, and Micheal O’Connor put on a show that everyone agreed was just fantastic.

Sadly we couldn’t make it, but by all accounts we missed a really wonderful evening’s entertainment.


Free blood pressure and pulse checks

Staying in Creggs… as well as keeping (or trying to keep) us on the straight and narrow, our local guard, Brian Neilan, is also doing his bit to keep us healthy; he tells me that the Irish Heart Foundation’s Mobile Unit, which provides free blood pressure and pulse checks as well as medical advice, will be at the Heritage Centre on Wednesday, June 28th from 1 am to 3.45 pm, and all are welcome.

As someone who has five stents fitted in my arteries, I am well aware of the dangers of heart disease, but even I didn’t know that 64% of people aged over 50  suffer from high blood pressure, which can of course, if undetected and untreated, lead to heart attacks and strokes. So make sure you visit the unit when it’s in Creggs – who knows, that visit might well save your life.

A heartbreaker at HQ

As I’m writing this on Monday morning, I have to mention the heartbreak and heartache that all of us Galway hurling supporters (that includes a large number of Rossies as well) felt yesterday afternoon when Kilkenny denied us victory in the Leinster final with a goal from the very last puck of the ball.

I don’t ever remember being as down after any game before, and even now, almost a full day later, I still find it hard to get over it.

I hear people say that Galway are still in the race for the MacCarthy Cup but I think it will take time to get over Sunday’s heartbreaking defeat, particularly because of the way it was inflicted.

However, if anyone should know how to lift them, Henry Shefflin should. So who knows, we may yet see them in an All-Ireland semi-final. Sadly however, I wouldn’t be inclined to bet on it; it looks to me as if Limerick, despite a few close calls, are still the team to beat.

Show jumping success

Out here in Crosswell, we are celebrating the fact that our daughter Tara qualified for the finals of the All-Ireland Amateur show jumping category for the third year in a row. The finals will take place at the Dublin Horse Show in the RDS from the 9th to the 13th of August.

On Saturday, 134 riders took part in a qualifying competition for eight places, so to make it through from that number was a major achievement. In total, there are four qualifiers held all over Ireland so, from about 500 or so entrants, 32 will get to the finals.

What makes Tara’s feat even better is the fact that she has qualified on three different horses, this time on Oilean Dunlop, a horse she has only had for a few short weeks. She still has a chance to get a second horse qualified as well, so fingers crossed!

Either way, please God she will be there in August, and who knows but she might come back as an All-Ireland Champion! However, it doesn’t really matter – the goal was to get there and she has achieved that, so congrats Tara! We are delighted for you and proud of you. Roll on the RDS!

And finally…

On Wednesday of last week, I met a lovely lady from Ballagh, retired schoolteacher Eileen Mannion.

She told me she was great friends with one of our own, the late Biddy Quinn, who lived in Roscommon town but never lost her love for, or interest in, her native village of Creggs.

I had a nice chat with Eileen, so I am taking this opportunity to say hello to her again and wish her well.