Why I’m thankful for traffic-free rural life!

Our man Frank on the benefits of rural living, the dangers of Halloween festivities, meeting an old rugby rival in Moylough, and a memorable interview with the late Fr. Norman Davitt…

It’s just after five o’clock on Monday evening, and my trusty old Passat and I are heading into Galway from the west side of the city, where I find myself in very heavy traffic going over the big bridge. As I’ll be turning off to the left towards the Tuam road, I stick to the inside lane, watching with a certain amount of annoyance as more adventurous drivers hop in and out of lanes with careless abandon, apparently leaving me further and further behind.

In particular, I notice a little black Toyota, also a ‘08 like my old Passat. It is moving like a will-o’-the-wisp as it flies in and out of the traffic, and to tell you the truth, I got a little bit cross with myself, and asked, ‘Why can’t I do some lane hopping and speed up my journey?’

The answer, of course, is staring me in the face – I simply don’t have the nerve. I hardly ever drive in that type of heavy traffic, as apart from the fair day at the Harvest Festival or whenever the Connemara All Blacks come to town, Creggs is a fairly peaceful place to drive through. Even on those busy days, it only takes a few minutes for the traffic jams to dissipate. Though as it happens, the All Blacks are coming to Creggs this Sunday, so watch out!

Anyway, I stick to my slow progress up the inside track and after what seems like an age, I get to the traffic lights before Dunnes Stores. There, to my amazement and huge delight, I see the ‘08 Toyota sat just two cars ahead of me. So, despite his constant in and out manoeuvres, the driver had gained hardly anything on me!

After that I set off down the Tuam road, and for the first time in a good while, I found myself heading for what used to be the awful bottleneck of Claregalway – and at peak time too. We were told that the new motorway was going to do away with a lot of the tailbacks and resulting delays, and so it was a little disappointing to find myself driving at a crawl once I got past the grounds of Corinthians Rugby Club, a ground that I once graced (or disgraced) as a young rugby player before Creggs RFC came into being. Eventually however, I made it through the village that is Claregalway.

The whole thing led me to reflect on the wonderful bonus all of us rural dwellers have by living far away from city life. How people face the never-ending traffic problems every day as they commute to the cities from the country, or actually from where they live in the cities, is beyond me, and I can not ever imagine living in one. At seventy years of age, it’s unlikely to happen, but all I can say is God forbid!


Halloween celebrations leave me cold


I have never considered myself to be a killjoy or a curmudgeon and I enjoy festivals and feasts as much as anyone. However, Halloween has always left me cold.

I understand that it was a celebration of the eve of All Saints day, but as far as I can see, it’s all to do with spooks, ghouls, and spirits, and the idea is to terrify people as much as possible and literally scare them to death! I hate horror films as well, and Halloween is recognised as the prime time for viewing such rubbish. However, one of my biggest pet hates around the holiday is the massive abuse of fireworks.

A friend of mine who happens to live in Dublin tells me that on both Saturday and Sunday night, the estate she lives in was akin to a warzone, with fireworks going off all over the place. My friend, who has a couple of dogs and a young family, said they were all absolutely terrified. Even though the area she lives in is regarded as fairly safe, there seemed to be no restrictions on the use of the fireworks or on the noise they created. It is another reason why I would never want to live in or near a city.

I always thought the sale or use of fireworks was illegal, but obviously the Gardaí have too much on their plates to bother about the damage caused by a few fireworks or the actions of a few youths who are simply having some fun! However, having heard stories like that of an innocent student who was blinded in one eye by a stray firework while sitting on a bench in Galway prior to Halloween, obviously there is something wrong. Maybe our legislators and law enforcers should come down a lot harder on the scandalously easy access to these dangerous playthings.

Anyway, when you open your curtains tomorrow to breathe in the clean, fresh air and then make the drive into your local town or village in just a few hassle-free moments, thank your lucky stars – and spare a thought for the thousands of commuters who may not be so lucky!


Scrum-half Jimmy could

still tog out for Dunmore!


As I walked out of a filling station in Moylough the other day with a lovely, unhealthy breakfast roll in my hand, I was surprised to hear someone call my name. As I passed an Elwood Office supplies van, who should I see only Jimmy Coen, long time adversary with Dunmore Rugby Club, and without doubt, the best scrum-half that I encountered during a long career in Connacht Junior rugby.

Jimmy is the representative for the office supply company, and he told me that he succeeded another legend, the late Jimmy Diskin, as President of Dunmore Rugby Club. As we chatted, it brought back great memories of the battles we had on the rugby field down through the years.

By an unlikely coincidence, Creggs and Dunmore were both set up in 1974, and before both of us got affiliated a few years later, we had to rely on each other to get any games. As a result, we played many friendly matches (and some not so friendly ones) in our early years. We shared some memorable evenings and nights in various licensed premises, but especially in Howley’s in Dunmore, where many a Sunday afternoon game didn’t finish until late into the night.

Jimmy and I reminisced for some time about the old times and the craic, and we both agreed that the singsongs and the fun were just fantastic. We would still be there talking of times past, only my breakfast roll was starting to get cold.

It was great to see Jimmy after a good number of years. My last thought was that he mustn’t eat too many of the lovely breakfast rolls himself, because he looked as if he could put on the Dunmore Number 9 jersey next Sunday and look perfectly at home in it!

Please God if things ever get back to normal, we might one day have another pint together. Whatever happens, it was good to meet and talk about those heady days, days that are now nearly fifty years gone!


Finally for this week…


Some years ago I had the privilege of interviewing Fr. Norman Davitt down in Donamon Castle, home of the Divine Word Missionaries, for the Roscommon People. In my lifetime, I can’t ever remember feeling as honoured or as humbled for being in the presence of any human being.

At that time, he was a long way into his nineties, and was still full of the joys of life and of living. The truth is that he left me feeling completely uplifted and inspired after our couple of meetings. So, upon hearing of his recent passing, I found myself sincerely saddened by the news.

I can honestly say that there will be very few people like him, even in the rarefied atmosphere of Heaven. May he rest in peace.


‘Till next week, Bye for now!