‘You gotta have faith’… memories of most famous faith healer of them all!

Our man Frank on memories of a famous faith healer; Cathal O’Shannon and the horse meat-selling shopkeeper; How Storm Kathleen ushered in ‘reverse Gaelic football’… and our columnist’s gripe with a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to penalties for speeding offences…

Recently, friends of mine told me they had gone to see a faith healer – the truth is that I thought faith healers were a thing of the past.

Back in the 1970s, a young lad called Finbarr Nolan, born in Gowna in County Cavan, and the seventh son of a seventh son, became the equivalent of a Hollywood superstar on the back of his extraordinary reputation as someone who could cure practically any ailment.

Nolan apparently cured paralysis, stroke patients, skin cancer, and anything you care to mention. After he left Gowna to move to Foxrock in Dublin, thousands of people would queue for his services.

Although there was no specific charge for a visit, grateful people left very generous donations. It was said that the bearded, long-haired Cavan man looked like Jesus. He became a very wealthy person, and drove flashy cars, hung around all the hot-spots at the time, and (perhaps inevitably) came to the notice of the tax man. Even with all his powers of healing, Finbarr couldn’t fix that problem, and so left Ireland for Greece. Over there, once word of his alleged powers spread, it is said around 30,000 people turned up outside his house.

He then went to Cyprus, before later heading for America, where he continued to attract large crowds and even larger donations. Eventually the magic wore off, and he had some uncomplimentary things to say about his typical American clients. So Finbarr came back to Ireland, where he found the reception was very different – when he booked White’s Hotel in Wexford for a three-week healing session, only about fifteen people turned up!

Once upon a time, while working in Dundalk, a few of us decided to go to a clinic that the renowned faith healer was holding in Arva in County Cavan, having made up a list of imaginary ailments that we wanted to get ‘cured’. There were so many people there that we turned tail and left, as it would have taken hours to get to see the most famous healer of them all.

On June 2nd 2020, Finbarr Nolan passed away, but – almost like Muhammad Ali and Elvis Presley – he changed the world we live in, and whenever people talk about faith healing and faith healers, the name Finbarr Nolan inevitably crops up.

I thought all of that stuff was a thing of the past until my friends told me of their visit to one recently. Turning to Google, I looked up faith healers and discovered they are ‘ten a penny’. Obviously none of them have the same charisma or appeal as Finbarr Nolan had, but it seems that the art of faith healing is still alive and well.

How my friends fared out, and whether there is any benefit for them from their visit, I will find out in the near future (and I’ll let you know).

Dining forecast that didn’t make horse sense…

It’s funny what you can get when you go on to Google. As I went checking on Finbarr Nolan and the present generation of faith healers (see separate item), I chanced upon a piece from that excellent reporter of yesteryear, the late Cathal O’Shannon, most famous for a remarkable interview that he conducted with Muhammad Ali when the great boxer was in Dublin for a fight in Croke Park against Al ‘Blue’ Lewis.

This time, it was a run of the mill interview with a Mr Hickey from Phibsboro. Now there was nothing in any way remarkable about Mr Hickey except for the fact that in 1966 he opened a shop in Phibsboro where he sold horse meat.

O’Shannon asked a number of people whether or not they would eat the meat, and most of them said they wouldn’t. However, the proprietor said business was quite good, and as his steaks, chops, roasts and mince were all about half the price of lamb and beef, he was more than confident that he was on to a winner. He said the meat was a lot leaner than beef, and every bit as tasty, and predicted that soon horse meat would take over the entire market.

Almost 60 years later, it appears that Mr Hickey got it wrong. While you can dine on beef, lamb, chicken, pork, and other cuts of meat here in Ireland, you would be hard set to find any restaurant with horse meat on the menu. It seems some lad in Temple Bar had a go at selling it around 2012, but I don’t know if you can still get it there. Though if other prices are anything to go by in Temple Bar, I’d say a T-bone horse steak would still cost a pretty penny!

Anyway, fair play to Mr Hickey for his enterprising efforts, but if you want to eat a bit of horse, I’d say you better hit for France. Myself? I’m a bit like the people in Phibsboro that Cathal O’Shannon interviewed, and won’t be going to France… unless it’s on a holiday!

Storm Kathleen ushers in ‘reverse football’!

It is just after 9.30 am on Sunday morning as I write, and outside I can hear Storm Kathleen still doing her best to cause as much disruption as possible – although in fairness we seem to have got off fairly lightly around here.

In fact you would think that Kathleen didn’t pack much of a punch, as I haven’t heard of any fallen trees or ESB outages in this neck of the woods at all. But if you were to ask the junior footballers of Creggs and Clann na nGael… they might tell you a different story.

On Saturday evening at 4.45 pm, referee Val Beirne threw in the ball in their Junior B game, and at times, as both teams played into the teeth of Storm Kathleen, man and ball would literally be blown backwards! To say that kicking the ball into the breeze was difficult would be the understatement of all time, and both sets of players and the referee were to be pitied as they tried to come to terms with the very difficult conditions.

Still and all, we got a thoroughly enjoyable game (albeit a low-scoring one), made all the more enjoyable for some of us by Creggs enjoying a narrow win. As myself and the rest of the sparse enough crowd made our way home, I was proud of the fact that Kathleen didn’t manage to get our game called off.

Speeding sanctions should reflect scale of offence

Of all the ridiculous regulations that are currently in force in Ireland, the fines and penalties for speeding have to be the worst.

No matter how fast you are travelling and how much you are over the speed limit, you still get three penalty points and a fine of €160.

A couple of years ago I was stopped for doing 57 km an hour in a 50 km limit zone in Moylough on a Sunday afternoon. This was on a wide street (with no school children) and very little movement by anyone, where it made no sense at all to have a 50 km speed limit. However, that’s the law and I was breaking it – but even if I was going twice or three times as fast, the result would have been the same.

Surely the fine and penalty should bear a direct relation to the speed the driver is doing and the consequent level of potential danger? I do not believe I was any danger to anyone by travelling at 57 km an hour (any cyclist would be going faster) and I firmly believe the whole issue should be looked at – every deterrent should be appropriate to the seriousness of the crime, with the punishment reflective of that.

However, regardless of the stupidity of the regulations, we should all obey the limits and slow down; the carnage on our roads has reached crisis proportions, so let’s all do our bit to put a halt to it.

And finally….

On Friday last we had a big local wedding in Kilbegnet Church, when John Small, son of John and the late Mary, tied the knot with Laura Keegan, daughter of Peter and Sheila.

Both are very prominent members of our local community, with particular involvement in Creggs GAA Club. A great night was had and the large crowd thoroughly enjoyed the festivities in the Abbey Hotel in Roscommon.

Heartiest congratulations to the happy couple and may they have a long, happy life together!