Train tension! Heuston, we got a problem (with pre-booked seating)!

In a busy column this week, Frank muses on travelling by train; celebrates one woman’s resilience and courage; advises on matchmaking(!)…and highlights some local fundraisers and events

It’s Monday morning, and I am heading off to St James’ Hospital for a check-up (well, it’s my new pacemaker that’s due to be checked).

  I decided to let CIE do the driving – as they used to say in an ad years ago – and booked seats on the 8.37 am train from Roscommon to Heuston Station in Dublin. Because I don’t get out too often (only joking), Carol decided to go with me to make sure I don’t get lost. And so we both arrived in Roscommon station in good time to get the morning train.

  We had our seats pre-booked and were looking forward to a nice journey to the city, but when we arrived at our reserved section, we found our seats were already occupied – even though our names were quite clearly displayed above them. So, what do you do then?

  We told the occupier that we had the seats booked, but there was no great enthusiasm on either side to get them to change, so we headed off and found a different pair of seats. However, there was a booking number above them as well, so we were on tenterhooks all the way for fear the people that had them booked would turn up! What would we have done then?

  I am writing this somewhere the far side of Tullamore, and thankfully we are all still happily seated (so far)…that’s all of us in seats that have been pre-booked by other people, but all still heading for the capital. It makes me wonder what is the point of booking in advance, but I suppose if the train was completely full, we would have claimed our seats, thereby setting in motion a type of musical chair scenario (and probably causing World War 111). 

  Anyway, all’s well that ends well and it looks as if we might just make it without any fuss at all.


Monday evening 

It’s now Monday evening, and my pacemaker is still in good working order.

  The cardiology team in James’ have checked me out and told me I’m good to go, so I’m on the train back. Hopefully I will still be around for my next check-up in six months’ time.

  I have to say that James’ is an amazingly busy place, and according to everything I hear, it’s very hard to get parking anywhere near it. But the train service and a couple of Luas stops makes it much more accessible, and as long as they keep looking after me, I will always travel compliments of Irish Rail.


A note from Paddy 

When I got home from Dublin, I received a note from Paddy Lally, formerly of The White Heather Boys, telling me that he is celebrating his 80th birthday in The Glencastle Lounge in Glinsk on Saturday, October 8th, with music by The Lancers. There will be a raffle on the night and Paddy will be donating all proceeds to Cancer Care West.

  Put the date in your diary, head for Dowd’s, get out your dancing shoes (they probably need to be polished after so long) and show your support for Paddy and his family. Make it a night to remember and support a great cause, one which touches so many of us. I definitely hope to see you there!


Geraldine weathers the storm…

Now readers…a story of resilience and courage. Back in 2013, Geraldine Lavelle, a good friend of our daughter Lisa, was out for a routine cycle one evening when she was involved in a horrific collision, leaving her with a spinal cord injury that left three-quarters of her body paralysed. Overnight, she had to adapt from being an independent, physically active young woman, to being totally dependent on others to help her do even the most basic things.

  Such an ordeal would have overcome the strongest of people, but in the last nine years  Geraldine has come to terms with the cruel blow that suddenly hit her, and has become a powerful and strong voice for people with disabilities in Ireland. Geraldine has a Bachelor of Science Degree and a Masters of Neuroscience from NUI Galway, and, since acquiring her disability, she has worked in Abbott Diagnostics, lectured in Health Science and Physiology in IT Sligo, and has also qualified as an SNA assistant. She is a passionate advocate for people living with disabilities and has contributed regular articles to local and national media outlets.

  And so it is a source of great pride to Geraldine and all her family and friends that next Tuesday, October 4th, at the Wild Atlantic Words Literary Festival 2022 in Castlebar, Geraldine’s book ‘Weathering the Storm’ will be launched.

  The book is the story of her strength, resilience and courage in dealing with life’s harshest storms, and is an inspiration to all of us who can struggle at times with much lesser problems. The launch is happening at 7.30 pm in the Festival Dome, Bridge Street, Castlebar (F23 PN20), but if you can’t make it, you can order a copy of ‘Weathering the Storm’ from

  It really is a heartwarming story, and as friends of Geraldine for a long time now, we couldn’t be more proud of her.


Supporting Michael’s Golf Classic

On Saturday last, at about 9.10 am, the quartet of Richard Smyth, Ger Dowd, my brother Duff (Sean) and I headed off to the beautiful golf course in Mountbellew to take part in the Golf Classic that Michael Nolan was running for the orphanage in Haiti.

  The weather was absolutely smashing, and we had a really enjoyable outing. Remarkably, though we were nowhere near the winners’ enclosure, we didn’t play that badly. All three of the other team members got at least one birdie each, with Richard getting two. Sadly however, although undoubtedly the best golfer there, I failed to get even a single par.

  However, as vice-captain of our team, I am safe from any selection problems, as Duff and I are always guaranteed a starting place. Dowdy and Richard need our votes to keep their places, but for the moment, their weekend birdies keep them in pole position. What the future holds for them however is fairly uncertain!


Matchmaking musings

As I passed through Tullamore on Monday, my thoughts turned to my good friend Dermot Moore over in Cabo Roig in Spain. 

  A true Rhode man, I’m sure he would have celebrated his club’s fantastic win in the Offaly county final over the aforementioned Tullamore. Normally I wouldn’t be watching the Offaly county final, but because of Dermot’s passion for Rhode, I did so – and the truth is I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  Rhode were powered by a number of players in their 30s, including 37-year-old Niall McNamee, who kicked the winning point. McNamee’s winner came right at the end of a pulsating affair, and sealed a 31st title for the Rhode club – some record for a small enough rural club.

  The second half was full off all the things that can make Gaelic football great; high fielding, lots of long kick-passing, good point-scoring, near-misses, and great drama. Offaly football has been in the doldrums for a good while now, but under John Maughan they’ve made great strides in the last few years. Having won the U-20 All-Ireland in 2021, things are definitely looking up for them.

  Over in Spain, I suspect Dermot might be celebrating this week after his beloved Rhode’s historic win. That is before he puts his mind to organising next month’s matchmaking festival.

  Last year, as you may recall, I had a world scoop for the Roscommon People when I broke the news that Lisdoonvarna’s famous matchmaking festival was moving to Cabo Roig, and Willie Daly himself (the renowned Lisdoon matchmaker) travelled out for the week to launch what proved to be a very successful event. The good news is that Dermot tells me it’s on again this year, and I will give you all the details in next week’s column!

  You still have time to book your flights, get over to Cabo Roig, and if you are lucky, meet the woman, or man, of your dreams. Just tell them Dermot or I sent you, and you are sure to be on a winner!


And finally…

Maria Fitzmaurice tells me that the very busy ladies of the Glinsk Ladies Club are organising a bus trip to Knock on Sunday, October 9th, leaving Glinsk at 12 noon. Carvery lunch and refreshments on arrival is only €25, which seems great value to me.

  All are welcome, but if you want to go you have to tell them by the time of their next meeting on Tuesday, October 4th, in the Glencastle Lounge at 8 pm. You can ring Maria on 086 3035766.

  I have to say I love Knock, so I hope ye have a lovely day’s excursion. If you can, say a prayer for me – I think I could do with all the help I can get.