They broke the mould when they made the remarkable Una Farrell

The much-respected Farrell family weren’t expecting ‘callers’ to their rural home and business premises in the early hours of Monday morning of last week. They certainly weren’t expecting a gang of thugs who would do them harm.

Nonetheless, 93-year-old Una and her two sons – both in their 60s – were victims of what’s known in law as ‘an aggravated burglary’; something which is exceptionally nasty and which, over the past year, has become increasingly widespread across rural Ireland.

To put some context on the situation, figures released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) last month revealed that, when comparing the first three months of 2021 against the first three months of 2022, ‘there is a 35 per cent increase in reported burglaries’.

Perhaps this rise is down to the lifting of Covid-imposed restrictions resulting in the removal of last year’s roadblocks and highly visible members of An Garda Síochána from our roads? Then again, perhaps the surge in the cost of living is sparking an increase in theft and burglaries – who knows – either way, it’s my opinion that it takes a particular type of cowardly, contemptible lowlife to hold an elderly lady hostage, terrorising her in her own home.

Given the unsettling nature of this invasion, I’m wondering if the ruthless gang of suspects who targeted this family – the latter all senior members of the close-knit Ballintubber community – were a highly organised mob, or, if they were opportunistic thugs living it large on the spoils of pensioners they’ve brutalised and robbed? I’ve got no doubt An Garda Síochána have thrown all available resources behind this investigation and will get to the bottom of it as a matter of urgency.

What we do know is, the residents of this village are bearing the brunt of what is a highly alarming increase in violence. Indeed, it’s fair to say that wherever you go in this county, there appears to be an almost palpable air of unease and despair spreading throughout small towns and villages, especially ones where Garda stations have been shut down.

While the suspects fled, having allegedly stolen a sum of cash, along with other possessions, it’s clear to me  the one thing they didn’t steal is the amazing, the resilient and the courageous 93-year-old Ms Farrell’s incredible spirit. I believe this lady celebrated her 94th birthday only days after the incident.

Despite the brutal nature of this crime, where ‘nylons from the drawers’ were used ‘to tie up’ the family, and ‘screwdrivers’ and ‘other implements’ were wielded in an effort to threaten and terrify them, thankfully neither Una nor her sons sustained serious injuries.

Defying what would normally be the expectation of panic and the stresses and strains that must surely come with the trauma of having your home, your sanctuary, invaded by thugs, rather than buckle under the pressure, Una was, the next day, stoically standing behind the counter of Farrell’s Mini Market! This mob had “ransacked the house”, for what was “the best part of three-quarters of an hour”, yet it was back to business for Una, who possesses more moxy in the finger she uses to operate her till than the thugs who tried to intimidate her!

What a woman! This bravery is clearly a reflection of the physical, mental and emotional strength of this extraordinary lady’s ability to cope, nay rise from what would, for others, (me included) have been an overwhelmingly crushing experience.

The brutal nature of this incident has sent shockwaves right across rural Ireland, and most especially among vulnerable citizens, many of whom are pensioners living alone in rural areas who, due to this, no longer feel safe in their own homes; to that end, we must look out for them.

They broke the mould when they made Una Farrell; indeed the terms legend and heroine spring to mind when describing her! I’d like to tell readers what disparaging terms spring to mind when I think of the brazen, cowardly bunch of lowlifes who tried to intimidate this family; sadly, common decency and our editor’s good taste and decorum forbids me!


Feral cats… your friendly and free neighbourhood vermin control technicians!

I’d like to issue a heartfelt thank you to all those across the county who have engaged with the local TNR programmes, most especially with TNR South Roscommon and the Roscommon SPCA, to have the little feral kitties in their area spayed/neutered through their affordable programmes. May God bless each and every single one of you; you’re clearly an animal welfare-friendly bunch.

By having these beauties spayed/neutered, (who, by the way, are the product of what is, undoubtedly uncontrolled breeding by ‘unaltered’ domestic cats, i.e. cats who have owners), you, my dear readers, have not only saved precious lives, you’ve also earned yourselves a form of free vermin control!

In the past, the ‘issue’ of feral cats would have been, let’s say, ‘addressed’ by certain individuals who believed that destroying these creatures would have been the ‘solution’ to their ‘problem’. Not so! It’s against the law!

Let me advise that, under the Animal Health and Welfare Act (2013), the penalty for causing harm to any animal – this includes both domestic and feral cats – is a fine of up to €5,000 and/or imprisonment for up to six months. In fact, a perpetrator could, under this Act – of which I was a consultative body – even be charged up to €250,000 and serve up to five years behind bars!

Having someone ‘remove’ and ‘relocate’ the little ferals won’t work either! Let me explain why this is. Once spayed/neutered, your free vermin control, having been ear-tipped by the vet – to show they’ve been altered – will need to be returned back to their community where, by their very presence, they will prevent ferals from neighbouring colonies moving into a vacant niche. Simples!

Not only will these cats, (again, protected by law), stop an invasion of mice and rats; but, once ‘altered’ they’ll stop reproducing and they’ll stop other cats, especially ‘unaltered’ ones from entering the colony, i.e. your premises! Now I don’t know about you folks, but for me, this is a win-win method because it ensures there’s a static, stable population of cats in one area, (as in, the community won’t expand), who’ll live out their natural, healthy lives entertaining themselves by chasing away vermin!

And, so long as a humane and compassionate individual is happy to provide them with small amounts of food to prevent them starving and searching the bins, everyone should be happy! Isn’t nature wonderful!


This Government has an inherent inability to plan ahead!

It seems our Government’s inherent inability to plan ahead has forced our nation into facing what is now a series of much-dreaded energy blackouts this coming winter!

I don’t wish to nitpick, but, given we’ve experienced two system alerts for the country’s electricity supply during August alone, I’d say the Government should get off its backside and, instead of ‘looking at plans to reduce demand during peak times’; start ‘doing’ something to prevent an energy crisis of a like not seen since the 1970s!!

It’s 2022, and taxpayers are saddled with a Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Green Party coalition, each one scratching their heads in search of a solution to what I’d call a monumental fizz-up!

I’m not paid the big bucks like Michéal, Leo or Eamon, yet even I can see what must be done, and it’s this… If we’re to cover the expected demand for electricity we’re facing into this winter, it’s imperative we put in place some form of fail-safe system capable of   generating the supply needed; one which will not just cover us, but which provides a contingency plan should we need it!

I don’t know about you readers, but it’s an absolute mystery to me that we’re being hailed as one of the richest countries in Europe, yet our Government doesn’t appear to be advanced enough to make an executive decision to reopen the power facilities at Lanesborough and Shannonbridge! Mortifying or what?