The day I was duped by an old lady (and almost abandoned in Bandon)

Our man Frank on when Mr Brandon went to Bandon; The importance of ‘puppy love’ (or caring for your pets)… and the hot issue: beef noodles and Haggis crisps

‘For sale! Red Ford Fiesta – immaculate condition, one owner from new, driving perfectly, owner emigrating, first to see will buy!’

This ad, or one almost exactly like it, appeared once upon a time in ‘Buy and Sell’, which back then was the undoubted bible of the day, where you could literally buy or sell everything and anything. I suppose it was the forerunner of online options like Done Deal, eBay, and Amazon, and for years it was an absolute must to get the weekly edition.

Anyway, when that ad appeared, a member of my family was looking for a small car – at small money. So when I rang the lady who had posted the ad and was (reluctantly) selling her prized Fiesta, I couldn’t wait to get to Cork to seal the deal.

However, the day I was to go to Bandon coincided with a family wedding, and there was no one available to drive me to the west Cork town. I was so anxious to get my hands on this immaculate Fiesta that I took a bus from Athlone, a journey that took about four hours. When I arrived in Bandon, I was met by the lady who had advertised the Red Fiesta.

In hindsight, I suppose I should have seen a red flag straight away, as the woman was definitely in her 70s, which would have been a little late for emigration. But I was still fully focused on the car, and after a journey of about seven or eight miles out the country we arrived into a large farmyard. There were a couple of tractors, a number of trailers, and a few items of farm machinery, and right in the middle of it all was a Ford Fiesta whose original colour might have been red, but which by now was a massively faded pink.

I can’t deny that my face fell, but the lady was quick to reassure me that I would forget all about the colour as soon as I drove the car. Handing me the solitary key, she told me to go for a spin and said we could do the deal when I got back. At this point, I realised that I had to buy this pink car, as there was no bus back to Athlone that night and I was literally in the middle of nowhere.

And so I turned the key and… nothing. Not a meg out of it!

“Don’t worry”, said the lady, “Jimmy (her husband presumably) will sort it out – he always gets it started every time that happens” – (which she now revealed was a regular occurrence).

Sure enough Jimmy arrived, did a bit of fiddling under the bonnet and away it went. Feeling a bit backed into a corner, I completed the deal – if I didn’t I would probably have had to sleep in the hayshed, since there was no offer of a lift back to Bandon.

Before I left, as the fuel gauge wasn’t working, I enquired as to what the story with petrol was. “Plenty in it”, she told me, “it’s full”. And with that comforting news, off I headed off across country to Creggs.

All went well, that is until there was a bit of a chug on the motorway near Cahir. Initially I wasn’t worried, but then all of a sudden the Fiesta simply ‘died’. Luckily enough my good friend, the late Jim (Gunner) O’Rourke, happened to be a Garda in Cahir at the time, and after I rang him, Jimmy and a squad car of fellow guards arrived out to try and get me mobile again.

These lads knew a bit about cars, and having checked various bits and pieces they came to the conclusion that I had run out of juice. The lady had obviously told me yet another lie. Anyway, the guards brought me to a filling station where I got sorted and hit the road again.

Somewhere south of Thurles we broke down again, and this time there was no guardian angel (another awful pun) to take me out of trouble.

A few days later I got the car back to Creggs, had the banjaxed alternator fixed, and was told by my family member that they wouldn’t touch it with a 40 ft pole. The outcome was that I sold it for 50 euro less than I paid for it, after paying to fix the alternator and missing my family wedding.

All of this came to mind recently as I drove on the motorway (or is it just a dual carriageway?) into Galway and spotted a poor motorist broken down on the hard shoulder.

There is no doubt that the Celtic Tiger left us with a fantastic road infrastructure, with motorways connecting the entire country, but I have to say that since that Bandon trip I have an irrational fear of breaking down on one of them.

Anyway, the unlucky car outside Galway was there for two days before it got moved, and I’m sure it would have cost a pretty penny to do so. I have to say my heart went out to him as it brought back memories of my own similar misfortune.

If dogs are man’s best friends, let’s look after them!

As we all know, Christmas is a great time for giving and receiving presents, but it seems that buying children puppies is not always the best idea – because as soon as the novelty wears off, the challenge of actually looking after a pup can be too much for either children or parents. Dogs have to be looked after almost like a human – they must be fed, watered, exercised, cleaned and washed, and like people, they will have many different medical problems.

Today I see that more than 400 dogs have been handed in to Dogs Trust Ireland since Christmas, while the charity had more than 4,000 requests to take in unwanted dogs in 2023.

Niamh Curran-Kelly of the Dogs Trust charity says that a lot of the dogs they take in are actually abandoned, but have extensive medical requirements, which makes her wonder if the owners simply can’t afford to keep them. She says there is a huge increase in the actual abandonment of dogs. Last year, the charity launched a campaign called ‘Save the Next Dog’, which aims to highlight the number of vulnerable dogs who have uncertain futures.

We all speak of the fact that a dog is ‘man’s best friend’, so anyone who has one should make every effort to keep it well fed, happy and safe – much the same as you would look after your baby. Dogs Trust is appealing for financial support from the public, so if you can, give them a few bob, and help to make life a bit better for some unfortunate dogs whose owners can’t, or won’t, look after them.

Musings on beef noodles… and ‘Haggis crisps’

Some months ago, after several failed attempts to get my hands on McDonnell’s BBQ Beef noodles, I decided to give them a ring to see why I couldn’t get them anywhere, and to ask where they could be located in the locality. Funnily enough, I am not a noodles man at all, but several members of my family loved them, and up to that time they could get them in most local supermarkets.

Anyway, I got through to a very nice, friendly lady. She had no idea why I couldn’t get them, but went off and found out they had been replaced by Sizzling Steak BBQ noodles. Despite my heartfelt pleas, they had no plans to reintroduce them.

I never thought about McDonnell’s BBQ beef noodles again until this week, when I read about a ten-year-old Edinburgh girl, Grace, who wrote to Taylor’s Snacks when she couldn’t get her hands on her favourite Haggis crisps and said if they didn’t bring them back, she would be sad. The head of Taylor’s was so moved by her letter, along with her picture of a sad face, that he decided to put the crisps back on sale immediately and sent her a taxi-full of a year’s supply of Haggis flavoured crisps.

A taxi-full of BBQ beef noodles might have been a bit much, but it goes to show that a nice letter from a nice young girl has a lot more power than a phone call from a disgruntled old-aged pensioner!

Anyway, well done Grace – fair play to you, and I hope you enjoy the year’s supply of crisps! For my gang, the consolation is that Bachelors have a BBQ beef pack of noodles, so they are making do with them.

However, if the Roscommon People has any readers up in the Boyne Valley region of Meath, maybe call in and give the boss of McDonnell’s a copy of the paper and tell him I am sad – and if any of you see a taxi-load of noodles heading west, you will know where they are going.

And finally…

On Saturday morning last, 350 children arrived into Creggs for an underage rugby blitz, and it was a sight to behold!

Along with parents and coaches and officials and grounds committee people, it must have been one of the biggest crowds seen in our little village since Bridie Gallagher in the 1950s, and Parnell himself back in 1891. Long may it last!