Why penalty points should be doubled on bank holiday weekends

Our man Frank on why motorists should ‘pay the penalty’ on bank holiday weekends; Memories of the showband era; Local GAA awards…

Friends of mine were recently visited by relations from Australia, and in the course of conversation they talked about the big increase in deaths on our roads this year, and what our government could do to reduce the number of fatalities.

Of course it’s not just the fatalities that cause unknown trauma and pain to so many families – the huge number of life-changing injuries that can result from any traffic accident can affect every single member of the family chain.

In the course of the chat, the Australians told my friends that in about half the states in Australia, a lot of penalty point offences are doubled on holiday weekends as a deterrent to irresponsible drivers. Over there, they call such black marks ‘demerits’, and like our penalty points system, if you accumulate enough demerits you can lose your licence and maybe find it very difficult to get insurance. They said those extra measures have been in existence for up to 20 years, and have helped enormously to reduce the carnage on their roads.

Funnily enough, I proudly told our mutual acquaintances that here in Ireland, we had the same deterrents, and that for last week’s Halloween holidays double penalty points were in place. However, I was wrong (as per usual), since we are still at the proposal stage; Jack Chambers, the Minister of State for Transport, is developing a plan to be included in the Road Traffic Measures Bill for 2023, which would indeed see the doubling of penalty points for various driving offences such as speeding – but (typically Irish)  both Houses of the Oireachtas have yet to approve his bill.

It is an absolute fact that bank holiday weekends are more dangerous for road users than any other weekends, hence why they are classed as high-risk periods. It is accepted there are lots more people on the move, driving longer distances, and more drivers under the influence of drink or drugs or both, so there should be no debate required at all.

Get the bill through and have it in place for the Christmas holidays! It might just save your life over the festive period.

Showband stars: Down memory lane with Seamus…

For many people of my age, the Showband era, when local carnivals were part of our normal lives, is something that we will never forget; nights at Creggs Carnival still fill us with nostalgia and special memories that seem to get more special with each passing year.

I have told you before that my late father Bill was secretary to the Carnival Committee for many a long year. And when he retired from the (voluntary) job, he passed the mantle on to a man who is better known for his membership of the Castlerea Brass & Reed Band, among many other things – Seamus Ward.

Seamus, who took the reins in 1978, told me how he used to drive to Galway with a big bag of tenpenny pieces in order to get on the public phones (rural Ireland did not have public pay phones back then) to try and book bands for the carnival. He would negotiate with various band managers to get the best possible deal for the carnival committee.

As we talked, he told me he still had some letters from bands offering their services, and on Friday night last he duly landed them up to me.

There were lots of interesting details contained in the collection. Among them was the fact that Sunday night was the principal night of the week for going out – all the bands were much more expensive for a Sunday night dance compared to a midweek one.

Saturday night didn’t feature at all back then. The carnival dance nights were Sunday, Wednesday and Friday, and in most villages the carnival lasted two weeks, with a total of seven dances – three Sundays, two Wednesdays, and two Fridays.

Of the letters Seamus had kept – bearing in mind they were from January 1978 – it’s amazing how many of the artists are still going strong! He had quotations for Paddy Cole, Sandy Kelly, Philomena Begley, Susan McCann, Hugo Duncan, Gina & The Champions, Gene Stuart, and the evergreen Brendan Shine, all of whom seem to have had big revivals in their careers in recent years.

Just to jog the memories of older readers, Maurice Mulcahy, Johnny Flynn, Jim Cantwell, Lucky Numbers, Top Ten, the Miami Showband, Ian Corrigan, Tweed, Gerry Reynolds & The Hi-Lows and The Memories also featured, with most of the latter list playing in Creggs in 1977. The carnival that year took place from August 14th to August 28th, but they were the last of Bill’s involvement, as he passed away in July of that year.

Seamus then took over, but carnivals were coming to an end – to be replaced by ballrooms, and later by discos. But I have to say it was heartwarming to go through all the letters and to see the sort of money the bands were on. Of them all, Chips were the most expensive, with a guarantee of £700 and a split of 50/50 (if that was bigger) for a Sunday night.

Anyway, thanks to Seamus – it was great to go through all the stuff and reminisce on long and late nights under the marquee at the back of the school. I don’t suppose we’ll ever see one in Creggs again, but you never know! Hope springs eternal!

The late Sean Crean

On Sunday last we bid farewell to yet another stalwart of our community when Sean Crean was laid to rest in Kilbegnet Cemetery.

Sean, who was closing in on his 90th birthday, was father of Padraig, Harry, John, Noel (and the late Raymond), Sandra and Stephanie, and all were very good footballers for Creggs who represented the club for many years.

Padraig, at 20 years of age, was the captain of our Junior Championship winning team of 1983, while Stephanie and Sandra were superb players on our ladies team of the 1980s. To show the line is still strong, Sean’s grandson Thomas is now a key man on our team, as well as a panellist on the Roscommon county senior squad.

Sean and his late wife Julia, who had the misfortune of trying to put some knowledge into my head during her time as a teacher in Creggs National School, kept the church choir going for many years, with Julia on the organ and Sean often the only male singer.

To the Crean family, their extended family, relations and friends, we express our deepest sympathy. May Sean rest in peace.

And finally…

Onto local matters: last week I told you about the big game between the Valley and the Mountain during the Harvest Festival and about the festivities that took place afterwards – but I forgot to tell you that the awards for the year were also given out that evening!

Mary Keane was the very deserving winner of the Club Person of the Year award. On the playing field, Ronan Dowd, who also featured on the Roscommon Herald’s Intermediate team of the year, was our Senior Player of the Year, our lad Paul was the Junior Player of the Year, and Dan Flynn was the Young Player of the Year.

Congrats to them all, and here’s hoping for a good year both on and off the playing pitch, in 2024.