Thank God there’s life outside the M50!

Our man Frank on traffic jams in Dublin, a very successful weekend for provincial and local rugby teams, and tales of a crafty fox in Peru…

It’s Friday afternoon and for Carol and I, there is a bit of unusual anticipation in the air. For the first time in a couple of months, we are undertaking a journey to somewhere other than a doctor’s surgery or a hospital.

We are heading off to Dublin to visit our daughter Lisa, her husband Brian, and our granddaughter Riley – who has just spent five more days of her short life in Temple Street Children’s Hospital. Thankfully Riley is fine, and we were looking forward to seeing them all again just a few short days after the latest Covid-related changes to the social scene.

With so many Christmas parties cancelled, I wasn’t expecting too much traffic on the roads, rather a nice, quiet, and relaxed trip to the city. Nothing could have been further from the truth, however, and as I turned into the Pat McDonagh Plaza in Kinnegad, I was amazed at the huge numbers of both cars and people that were present. After a welcome break and a little refreshment, we once again hit the road and headed for Dublin.

We were heading just north of the airport (a journey that saw us travel on the M50) and for all of those unlucky workers who have to use the M50 to go to work everyday, I really wish to express my heartfelt sympathy. As we headed northbound, we could see that there were two accidents on the other side. For at least four or five miles, traffic was at a complete standstill with no forward movement possible. An unfortunate ambulance driver was trying to make headway through the gridlock, but just like all the rest of the stranded motorists, was making absolutely no progress.

The sad thing is that there is hardly a day that goes by that such traffic chaos doesn’t take place, so all I can say is God help all those poor motorists, and thank Him for the peace and tranquillity of rural living.

Later that evening, Lisa and Carol ventured to a local Tesco store but when they got there, could barely get in with all the people queuing in the alcohol section. I have said it before, but why the Government always sees fit to hit the pubs’ and the nightclubs’ opening hours makes no sense at all.

Based on the evidence in Tesco, people are just stocking up and drinking at home, and judging by the party that was taking place in a house over the road, all Covid regulations are being completely ignored. There seems to be no limit to the numbers that are let into private parties, and no attempt to impose any of the safety measures either.

On Saturday night, I had a couple of pints in each of the two pubs in Creggs – Joe Dolan’s and Mikeen’s – and I felt perfectly safe in each of them as regards Covid. I don’t think I would have felt the same way if I had ventured into the unsupervised house party in Dublin…the fact that I wasn’t invited would have had nothing to do with it!

Anyway, we had a lovely overnight stay in Dublin. Thankfully, even though the M50 was still pretty busy when we headed back west on Saturday morning, there were no crashes or tailbacks.

 

Creggs bring home the cup…well almost!

It’s been a while since I’ve mentioned sport of any kind, but after the weekend of rugby that we just had, I just couldn’t let it pass!

The Heineken Cup matches, which saw marvellous victories for all four Irish provinces, were topped off on Sunday when Creggs won the Cawley Cup for the fourth year in a row. Leinster’s win over a previously winless Bath side was totally expected, but Ulster’s victory in Clermont, and Connacht’s big win over Stade Francais in the Sportsground were both brilliant and thoroughly deserved.

However, the story of the round has to be the extraordinary performance by Covid-ravaged Munster against Wasps, which took place over the water in Coventry. A team comprising of a handful of battle-hardened internationals, along with a number of young academy players pulled off one of the great Munster victories of all time. And when you consider the amazing history the southerners have in the competition, that is some statement.

One of the stalwarts of Irish rugby for a long time now has been Peter O’Mahony, but in my opinion – despite all his renowned heroics for both Munster and Ireland – his display on Sunday eclipsed anything he has ever done before. His outrageous try-saving tackle in the first three minutes set the tone, and while getting great help from the other seasoned internationals, he set the example, which brought an unbelievable response from every one of the youth players.

What happens to those young academy players from now on is anybody’s guess, but there is no doubt that each and every one of them will remember December 12th, 2021 for the rest of their natural lives.

You would think that following this, all would be happy in my rugby world – and you would mostly be right. However, while delighting in Connacht’s win, I wonder why our Cawley Cup

Final was fixed for 4.30 pm on a wet and wild winter’s evening in Galway.

I don’t know if Connacht’s game had anything to do with the timing, but if it had, I wouldn’t agree with it. There are no Creggs or Castlebar players on the Connacht panel (to my knowledge), so why not play our final at the normal 2.30 pm time?

Anyway, the good news is that Creggs won. I couldn’t make it, but as I reacted to the news that we had the cup, I was saddened to note that in recent years, the old tradition of bringing the silverware back to the village seems to have died.

I know rugby is a bit different to the local parochial GAA scene. After all, Creggs is the only club in Roscommon and our players are drawn from different areas, but they are all proud and happy to be associated with Creggs RFC, and are delighted to wear the maroon and white. But some of the best and most enjoyable nights of my life centred around returning to Creggs with various cups, the bonfires blazing as we entered the village. It was a chance for players and officials alike to mingle with our local supporters, who, after all, are the lifeblood of the club.

Even though circumstances dictated that I couldn’t get to Galway on Sunday, I certainly would’ve enjoyed welcoming the victorious team back to the village, and maybe even having a pint or two to celebrate. Sadly it wasn’t to be, but if/when we win the next Connacht trophy, hopefully it will put in an appearance in our little village, where it really belongs.

In case you think I’m a sour old Grinch – nothing could be further from the truth. I am happy, proud, and delighted for all involved in this latest success!

 

Finally for this week…

One of the things you learn very early on in the second-hand furniture business is that everything may not be exactly as it seems. The antique sideboard that has been in the family for more than 200 years may be from the 1990s, and the chest of drawers that is guaranteed to be woodworm-free may have a thousand little holes on the back, carefully filled with wood filler and painted over to look as if they were never there at all.

Recently, a story from Peru concerning a family’s pet dog caught my attention, as it proved that it’s not only second-hand car dealers and furniture retailers that can stretch the truth a little!

Maribel Soleto bought a new pup from a pet shop in Lima, called him ‘Run Run’, and brought him home to her neighbourhood where he played happily with the other dogs in the estate. However, as Run Run grew up, he showed a great flair for chasing and killing hens and ducks. Gradually, he angered the local community.

Eventually, it emerged that the pet dog was in fact an Andean Fox who had been sold as a purebred puppy. However (proving that “cute as a fox” is no idle talk), the newly outed fox ran away before he could be caught.

Run Run ate three large guinea pigs as he escaped, and poor Ms. Soleto had to pay their owners for the dead pigs. The last we heard, Run Run was still on the run, and so far, he has outfoxed all his pursuers!

 

‘Till next week, Bye for now!