Tony Conboy – “An Oblique View” 29th January


• I have seen a number of very good documentaries in the recent months and will refer to them next time. There is one being shown on RTE 1 this Wednesday night at 10.35 which looks worthy of watching. So I bring it to your attention here. It is called ‘Shooting the Darkness’. It is the story of men who unwittingly became war photographers on the streets of Northern Ireland since the late sixties

It rumbles on like a smouldering volcano. Cracks and creaks seem to be emerging. There was an outburst of negative sentiment to the response of the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s admission in Switzerland last week regarding the architecture of a ‘hard border’. I don’t get that reaction. I felt that it was time that the ‘doomsday’ scenario was put out there in order to really shock influencers into what was possible. I find it nigh impossible to see how it could work that if the United Kingdom crashes out of the E.U. with Ireland remaining, that a ‘hard’ border could be avoided. It would be the ugliest and most tragic of outcomes of course but ‘a free for all (invisible) border’ as Star Trek’s character Spock might say ‘defies logic’ and ‘Logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end’. Spock would not be impressed by Theresa May ‘repeating the same thing continuously but expecting a different result’. I have moved on from Theresa I’m afraid. She continues to pander to a hard right pro-Brexit vanguard and looks like someone for whom retaining power is her first priority though it creates rubble all around her.
It seems as if Fine Gael ushered a young faced T.D. Patrick O’Donovan out to Áine Lawlor to reinterpret the Taoiseach’s clear message. It was a cringing embarrassing performance by the young looking Limerick gun though he is 41.
I still think that it will go to extra time and that there will be a border of whatever architecture sad to say. I hope I’m wrong.
(As I go to post it seems that a House of Common majority are coming to an agreement on something which seems (again) as if Theresa May will go back to Europe saying The U.K. House of Commons have agreed that THE BACKSTOP (!) has to carved up ….never mind all the guarantees we have given over the last number of years. Ireland will not like it of course but in every war there is ‘collateral’ damage. They’ll have to get over it. I have to keep the DUP onside. So let’s get on and renegotiate The Withdrawal Agreement. I can see Michel Barnier and Jean Claude Juncker looking around for the wine bottle! ‘ Prime Minister we have been there several times. It does not run with us’ as we have told you many times’).

P.S. Wed. Am…… So with the vote in Westminster the ‘Backstop’ guarantee (plus the Good Friday Agreement) has been basically thrown under the bus despite the stream of guarantees and declarations over the last two years from Britain and echoed repeatedly by Theresa May. What happened last night was the various factions in Westminster ‘negotiating amongst themselves’ and coming up was putting their ‘Humpty Dumpty together again’ to suit their present thinking.
Now their huge problem has been hived over on the E.U. negotiators to either make serious concessions to Great Britain and by implication forcing Ireland to carry the can and make a ‘hard border’ inevitable. Their rationale for possibly some of that is that Great Britain is huge economy that the E.U. will still want to be aligned with in trade –import, exports-and mutual economic interest car industries etc. Ireland is a small fry economy and Europe has dumped on it before with the banking and repayment of bond holders etc. While it is impossible to envisage now but down the road maybe Ireland too might be get to thinking of leaving the E.U. The danger of all this is that other small countries might get the message that the EU is a ‘big boys’ club and the E.U. project that is hugely important to Germany especially would begin to break up further.
P.P.S…Regarding England and the E.U. the iconic President of France from the late 50s’ and early sixties Charles de Gaulle would not allow their entry to the E.E.C. as he never trusted their commitment to it.

Sporting Spring Shoots

I have just returned from the Abbey Park social venue (Monday 9 pm). It was a hive of activity therein with young and old in attendance. It was under-age registration night primarily but there were a number of other businesses in train also. The Treasurer was accepting stipends for the club Lotto which is the lifeblood of the Club finances. Enda Smith was there with the jersey he wore for Ireland in the Compromise Rules series v Australia in November 2017 framed for display. It will be added to the existing series of frames which tell the story of Boyle GAA teams and personnel down the decades. It is hoped to resume adding to the display in the coming months. Enda is the current Captain of the Roscommon senior team and one of its stand out players. There have been just two Boyle Club men who have captained Roscommon senior team for a Championship or League series that I can tell of. Enda in 2019 and David Casey in 2005 when Tommy Carr was manager for a period and was succeeded by Val Daly. Gary Wynne captained an U 21 team in 1982 to a final v Donegal in Carrick-on-Shannon. Fergal O’Donnell was captain in 2001. I wondered about Tom Ryan.
Roscommon ran Mayo very close on Saturday evening last in atrocious weather conditions at Castlebar. It was great to see three Boyle players on the Roscommon team with Evan McGrath at corner back joining Enda and Donie Smith. I was delighted to see Evan there as it is a real reward for his endurance and determination in overcoming a series of injuries in recent years. Sean Young would be happy with that also as he has always been a fan of Evan’s play. I believe that Cian McKeon is also close to being fully fit after injury so could we have, probably have for the first time, four players from the club on the county team in a big competitive game?

In a short time the Club will be ratcheting up for their big fundraiser of the year ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here’

Big Sporting Weekend
Next week end will be a major sporting week-end. For Roscommon they have another big challenge when they welcome Monaghan who defeated Dublin last Sunday. Monaghan are a top team with strength, skill and a steady balance throughout their team. In goalkeeper Rory Beggan and star forward Conor McManus they have two real marque players. Hopefully home advantage will be a help to Roscommon but it is still a big ask to see them emerge winners on Sunday.

Rugby will be a huge focus at the week-end. The meeting of England and Ireland on Saturday (Aviva 16.45) will get a full house and a huge television audience. This is reckoned to be Ireland’s glory year. They have a squad of fine players and emerging stars and it will be fascinating to see how it all goes. It will be a real battle against England. Most rugby matches at high levels are battles and I think that the physicality has gone way over the top. Rugby has bloomed in recent years and was never at such a popular pitch. The achievement of coach Joe Schmidt has been brilliant and if ‘a country once held its breath’ for a soccer penalty this accolade has transferred now to rugby. The emergence of Ireland to the top of the tree was well noted in a fine column by Neil Francis in Sunday 27th Independent Sport’s
page . Still at the top level the margins are very narrow and historically rugby results have been very inconsistent. On Friday France v Wales in Paris at 8 and on Sat. Italy v Scotland at 2.15. So don’t call me Saturday evening.

Walking in Boyle
We are blessed in Boyle to have such a variety of safe footpath walkways. One can adapt ones walk any time you want as there are so many options. Two circuits I use are out to the first arch, up Maple Drive, in the Carrick Road, through the Church grounds and back home via Abbeytown. At other times out Abbeytown to the first Arch down to Wooden Bridge and Wooden Bridge Road to Sligo Road and back around Abbey Park and so on. These can be adapted and adopted to whatever your requirements are. Then of course there is Lough Key Forest Park in daylight though the occasional car burglary is a negative element there. Walking is a basic but very positive exercise if one does it regularly. This evening I encountered a good number of walkers and nearly all were very well outfitted with their high vis vests. Occasionally though there is a maverick without this necessary clothing. I have come across this in a dodgy situation on Abbeytown Bridge. Why that small minority will not adopt the high-vis vest is a puzzle but then there is always one or more. Still the numbers walking in Boyle is very positive and their luminous dress is invariably eye-catching.
It must have been reaffirming for the organisers of the Saturday morning Park Run in Lough Key Forest Park to see such a positive thank you from Tom Brady in The Roscommon Herald last week Tuesday the 22nd page 15 on how it has benefitted him.

Rossie House Draw Triumph

A sure winner of some ‘Team of the Year’ award(although the December date may hinder same) has to be the team which ran the Roscommon GAA Draw for a House in Dublin part sponsored by Sean Mulryan. The draw netted nearly 1 million euro in a short blitz of a campaign. I imagine the feat has been the envy of many other counties and it will be interesting if other counties take it up such as Mayo with its wide diaspora. Any county will find it difficult to find a group of the calibre of the Rossie group headed by the ideas originator David O’Connor with Pat Compton of Strokestown who worked for a time in Boyle Post office. It certainly gives Roscommon County Board some wriggle room and potentially allows it gets to grips with its current debt and sundry demands. Hopefully Hyde Park will gets some necessary upgrading of basic facilities which fall far short of many such venues such as Tullamore, Carrick on Shannon and so on. So congratulations and well done to all involved in that fund raising campaign. The county GAA community and those at the coalface are indebted to you all.
The news from Cork with the overrun of €25 million on Pairc Ui Caoimh is a big hit to the GAA and will affect the potential help in infra structure assistance to the likes of Roscommon and nationwide. It was a huge overrun. Croke Park just have to get its grip on Counties who don’t keep a firm grip on their budgets. Interestingly rugby pundit Donal Lenihan flew the kite last week end of the Cork venue being used for big rugby games involving Munster as a way to alleviate the debt. They could hardly do much more damage than mild entertainer Ed Sheeran.
Locally on the fund-raising scene the success of the Boyle Celtic 50:50 draw is a great help to that club and fair play to them. Celtic on the field don’t seem to have the settled team of past seasons for various reasons. Still they are at the top end of the Roscommon League with five or so games remaining. They had an impressive win at Ballymoe on Sunday the 19th with a number of star turns from their top players. It is going to be a testing time in the run in to the finish line.

The Scandal of the Cost Overruns with the construction of The National Children’s Hospital
(While I mention overruns in a GAA context the real one on the national front is the alarming upward spiral of the cost of the construction at the National Children’s Hospital in Dublin. Its first estimate was for around 600 million (or 983 million take your pick) now the projection is circa 1400 million which many think is only a guesstimate. It is unbelievable that such a disparity should arise at an early stage in the construction. The hospital is being built on a controversial site and had a serious lobby to be sited near Connolly Hospital in Blancherstown where access from the M 50 could be more open and space for expansion generous rather than the very constricted area around St. James’s as of now. Anyway in the heel of the reel seeing it is Ireland one can expect that the taxpayer will be lucky if it comes in under 2 million. This of course will have consequences for other Health provision projects being postponed into the horizon or scrapped altogether. It is a hugely serious mess and surely the biggest cost overrun in the history of such infra structure. Another fine mess and all that. Oh yes there is a ‘Report’ coming soon from the firm PWC on all this. It is suggested that it will cost 400, 000 euro…..which I presume is regarded as chicken feed. My projection from my high stool is 2 billion and counting. So if this paragraph resides somewhere accessible for say 6 years or so it will be interesting when I believe that I can say ‘I told you that’.

T.B. lecture on Tuesday February 12th at 8.30 in Strokestown
I got notice of the above from the secretary of Roscommon Historical and Archaeological Society with the lecture in the Percy French Hotel, Strokestown. The talk is titled “The White Plague” – The silent terror of TB” and will be given by Eilish Feeley.
TB, or consumption as it was commonly called, wreaked havoc on the Irish population in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with those in their youth particularly vulnerable. Few families emerged unscathed from the epidemic, and many suffered silently as they tried to cope with the associated social stigma linked to having “a consumptive” in the family. According to the Irish Red Cross, up to 10,000 young Irish adults died of the disease in 1904, with many deaths from TB going unregistered as families attempted to hide the perceived shame of the disease from society. This lecture will focus on the social impact of TB in County Roscommon and the manner in which those responsible for management of the disease dealt with the epidemic. Those who lived through the forties and fifties will be very aware of many of its implications.

I extend my sympathy to the Corrigan and the untimely death of Stephen at a young age. Stephen was a sociable young man and a very good Gaelic and soccer player.
The death also took place some time ago of a lady who I was very fond of. As she was universally held in the highest esteem. I am speaking of Kitty Duignan of Rathallen. May they both rest in peace.

Greetings to a few of the Diaspora
We did not get to issuing Christmas Greetings to the Diaspora from Boyle as we constructing a list. So I say hello now to Darren and Co. in The Middle East; Pat, Peter, John Austin, Padjoe, Marcus, Frankie and Arnold in the U..S. Ciaran, Seamus, Enda, Joseph and Co. in Oz . A special hello to Boyle people in Britain … are really in the frying pan politically. I wish you well. Of course we are close to the fire ourselves.

I’ll be back in two weeks or so.
For now Slán.