The ongoing need for a spirit of meitheal

Fri, Sep 20, 2019

It has been a difficult week in rural Ireland. Of incidents reflecting the reality of rural living. Of rural strife in terms of mulricultural integration. A week in which tensions have been allowed to fester. Locally and globally, listening to the news has not been pleasant.

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Bedrooms remain a shrine to the lost children

Fri, Aug 16, 2019

It's the empty beds that will hurt the most.

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A long year’s journey into fight

Fri, Aug 09, 2019

Above in the stadium, you hear the growl. Of your people. Of their people. 82,000 of them, here to see you, to honour you. You check your socks, your laces. Tight, like your muscles. The final pull on them like the starting cord on a lawnmower.

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Appreciating the architects of our optimism

Fri, Jul 12, 2019

I have always been an optimist. Even in the gravest of circumstances, facing adversity in the extreme, the glass moving into view in my rear view mirror has been half full. A lot of this I attribute to my mother, not because she was a raging optimist or anything, but because she always believed in the capacity of a raffle ticket to keep ya going. Mum, who passed away last October was an avid competition addict. She kept the newsagents in Ballinrobe going with her weekly stash of magazines on myriad subjects, not because of any latest interest in the subject matter, but because the said magazine would have a crossword or a competition that necessitated a bit of research, a stamp, and an envelope; And off it would go in the post.

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Empty rooms the shrine for those who never came home

Fri, Mar 22, 2019

It's the empty beds that will hurt the most.

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Take up rather than give up this coming Lent

Fri, Mar 01, 2019

Back in the dark dreary days of the eighties, when the birds were falling off the trees with the hunger and the smell of rain-sodden hand-me down duffle coats was the overriding scent of the era, we actually looked forward to Lent and the chance to give up something you were probably unlikely to be having anyway.

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Three coats of blue gloss and an understanding

Fri, Feb 15, 2019

I always loved this time of year as a child. All winter long, the three lake boats which we had on Lough Mask would lie as part of the winter furniture — a plaything for my childhood. October to February was their hibernation, a chance for them to drip dry over the dark months, to enjoy life on land. A chance for the floorboards, probably sodden in water all summer, to dry in the shed, alongside the oars. To have a timbered chat with each other about the adventures that they'd had all year, the rocks they'd have run aground, the stories they'd have heard, the secrets shared between anglers and gillies, the dying fish which breathed last on the thin ribs beneath the floorboards.

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Being Nora — west loses one of its great characters

Fri, Jan 11, 2019

It was only about two months ago when I was sitting scribbling in a comfy chair in a corner of Renzo cafe and gallery on Eyre Street, when I looked up and saw her face looking down at me.

Captured in paint on canvas, there she was, unmistakably her. Her memorable colourful clothes, her unforgettable gait with a stance and an attitude known to all. A face hewn from the west of Ireland winds she braved for decades as she moved through the town with the greatest of ease, with a cigarette invariably burning itself to extinction hanging from her lip.

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Forty families a minute make the call

Fri, Nov 23, 2018

Poverty cannot be appreciated until you have lived it. Until you have walked the streets wanting, but not looking like you are wanting. Until you have trundled through the colourful Christmastime vista with an ache in your heart knowing that you cannot have what others have. But it is not envy. It is the feeling of being unnoticed, unwanted, that is the most hurtful and debilitating.

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Greenways will not shut the door on our rail history

Fri, Sep 14, 2018

Every generation is afraid to lose what was gained before. And so it is with the trains. There is a great sentimentality about the fear of losing the rail services.

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Football is so much of how we see ourselves

Fri, Sep 07, 2018

'Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armour yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you' — It is not every week that I reach into Game of Thrones to find what I want to say, but the above line does just that.

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Help me make it through Race Week

Thu, Aug 02, 2018

I’m here so I am, like. I’ve landed. Free as a bird. As free as that Clare fella Colm Galvin swapin’ up all that Galway has to throw at me …coming here thirty year or more, so I am, with me fadder and me fadder’s fadder and me fadder’s fadder’s fadder… though not at the same time like…Sun rises in the capital of culture… ate a clock in the morning like…waking up in a crumpled hape…I’d need Hawkeye to see if I made it home at all last night…smartphone alarm beep beeps into me hand picks up and smashes it again the wall...not so smart now is it…Radio bursts on…I hear them saying de Valera might be back in the Aras, and Limerick back in the All-Ireland so I think I’ve been hungover all the way back to 1975 like a great big langered Rip Van Winkle in reverse…the head on me like a feckin’ explosion in a mattress factory…’tis Race Week…where am I...recessed lights in ceiling shine into me me pyjamas have a hood in them and me in skinny jeans…fell asleep in the clothes again...where am I...not Mrs O'Brien's B & bloody B this year…no an AiryB&B yolk which is basically paying hotel prices for someone else’s scratcher and someone else’s jacks…went to bed looking like Damian Duff woke up looking like shirt buttons and spray deodorant under arms one squirt for each oxter and one for the road with a shot for the lads below…and head for the lift…close buttons, push buttons, and fella in the lift mirror does the same…state of me like…airyB&B and a kitchen with nobody’s food left in it…head for the morning chipper…full Irish with bacon rashers and eggs and a free paper…throw back the lugs and dive in...try to walk sober like, wan foot then the udder, repeat...I'm Racingman, I'm wide out…I’m part of Galway. I’m Racingman, the boyoh, unleashed for the week…I walk down the street like Travolta in Saturday Night Fever 'cept without the can o’ paint…shakin that ass..…now I’ve me Vape on me since I quit the ciggies…menthol and rhubarb custard flavour…the state of it. I suck it in and me face curls up into the look ya get when a bulldog licks a thistle…down the square check out paddys ladbrokes boyles get the odds... and ends...too early to go out to Ballybrit yet...sit on bench and look at the fountain knocked on for the week…Arts Festival hippies got their own festival garden for atin’ hummus and talking through their…whole week I'm here for…sit on steps, legs sprawled…then suck at the vape again…not cool at all…like a small Wavin pipe it is…wink at young wan heading to work down town, get scowl but scowl back at her…then I remember MeTwo or what ya call it, so I stall the ogling’…cramps me style though bigtime. Me the man, Racingman... me the man…loads o’ young lads in Conor McGregor suits…Anthony Ryan mustn’t have a confirmation suit left in his storeroom…Reach into arse pocket of me jeans…find a stump of the ticket from Croker last Saturday and a loyalty card for Applegreen…hand shakes but 'twould by now anyways Wednesday... been a long hard week since Croker and all...and Thurles to come... some fecker murdering a guitar in the Square...where's Lee Harvey Oswald when ya need him…I’m in love with the shape of you he sings at me…smart fecker…get the Racing look cool like…in the know…and the Star...dash into Debbinghams cosmetics section and when the posh wimmen staff aren't looking over, Racingman is lost in a spraycloud of Calvin Kyne, Packie Rabanne, and Ralph Lawrence eau de sweat…lash on the lot of them…the cognac combo….then a splash on ur hand to look like ya know your stuff…spray some on that little card yolk… doubles up as a toothpick…smelling grand...looking good, give the crown jewels a scratch…let me get wan thing straight and all that…ready for the road...ready for the course...hop into taxi...sit in front…legs sprawled…I’m the man…talk the talk…big happy head on me…air stinks of air freshener and stale conversation...he tells me country is fecked...Then he said something about a rising tide lifting boats…knows his stuff this fella…crabbing on about immigrants taking our wimmen, can't get jobs…and he's from Lagos...three ways to, blue,and red routes…an hour later we take a bit of blue and red and he drops me in a cowshit-spattered field near Castlegar church...walk that way he says... the brown route...and I walk...go to ring the boys but smartphone still smarting from batin' I gave it… walk covered in the gate...Text the lads but they get back on WhatsUpp app thingy…haven’t used that since the time I WhatsUpped Mixer the story about Murphy’s father and the nurse up the village and didn’t know I was telling’ the whole hurling club like…They’re at the new champagne place they tell me, the Wilson Philips building with Moate written on the side of it…what’s that about and they tell me ’tis the name of the champagne like…Or maybe they couldn't fit Tyrrellspass on the wall...Guard nods at me I nod back 'howya guard' what does he know... probably has a file on Racingman... Maybe a whistleblower will get it for me…the big happy Templemore head on him and eyes red-out from reading Pulse all night…lads say to tease them about the missing breath tests but I told them I will in me ....whole day looking around to see famous sign of Leo at all at all here. Mustn’t be his scene, this sort of stuff, so it mustn’t…Saw the Lads, roared c’mon ye bollix at them, the boys from home…saw Ted Walsh though…twenty years since he rode her mother... Lads have quare wans' mobile numbers… they want 200 notes for an hour of the bould thing...lads laugh when I ask for group discount and take out me Leap card….an hour I laugh, an hour of drinking time wasted...she says for 400 she'll bate me with a whip ’til I cry and give me a happy ending…told her I can get a batin' for nawthing outside the chipper…and if I want a happy ending, I can watch Frozen…and the lads laugh…Am great for the auld repartee, me Racingman. Me head's in a spin...hops into taxi and shows the driver lad the place where the AiryB&B is…It’s Lagos man again...more stale conversation...he's up from Carlow with all the other taxidrivers…takes me to Newcastle via Athenry…he knows a shortcut. Tells me he loves Trump…drives me around town nine times to make sure before I push in door of AiryB&B and I crash on the couch but then there’s a thump and some fella shouting about getting out of his house and then I sees that I do be in the wrong Airy B&B.…but I love it. I love Race Week...and today's Ladies' Day. I better have a's August.

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