Ceol Luimnigh Night

On Friday night, January 4th the Ceol Luimnigh Group held their usual Christmas traditional entertainment night at St. Ita’s Hospital, Newcastle West for the residents there and the staff members who were on duty.

The group went around to all the wards in the hospital and played some great music from the fiddle, accordion, mouth organ and bodhrán echoing around the wards and corridors. It was all very much appreciated by the residents and staff, some of whom joined in the wonderful singing as well as enjoying the storytelling by Patsy Noonan told in his usual special style. As always the evening’s entertainment was sponsored by the Newcastle West Branch of the Irish Red Cross Society who were represented at the function by Branch Chairman Pat Dalton and Josie O’Keeffe.

Ceol Luimnigh members who attended and performed on the night were: Musicians; Tom O’Donoghue, accordion, John Mullins, fiddle, Martin Enright, accordion, Pat Curtin, mouth organ, Dan Shine, fiddle, Danny Sheils, mouth organ and Bodhrán, Paddy Daley, Bodhrán, Sean O’Gorman, storyteller, Con Fitzgerald, bodhrán. Singers; Pat Sheahan, Con Fitzgerald, Martin Enright, Irene Quaid, Paddy Daly, Pat Brosnan, Patsy Noonan. M.C. Pat Dalton. On behalf of the Red Cross Pat Dalton thanked the Ceol Luimnigh group who performed and the Hospital residents, staff and management for their welcome.

The Current Issues

While the amalgamation of GAA hurling and football teams throughout the country is now becoming accepted because clubs are finding it very difficult to field teams on their own, mainly because of the drain of emigration among the young people, particularly from rural areas where there was never such difficulty within living memory in putting teams together in certain parts of the country where so many of the younger population have given up hopes of finding employment at home. Moreover the young people (people who are leaving) are the best educated and most skilled members of Irish society for generations, that is of course in a general sense to state that they are the best brains that this country has produced in many decades. Indeed of course we know well that many Irish people with different kinds of skills to those of the current young generation emigrated in the past and brought such skills with them to benefit the lands to which they emigrated, but in past times the majority of the emigrants were manual workers who found jobs in building sites, road-making, pipe-laying and many other construction jobs particularly in England and other parts of Britain, but also in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and in more recent times in some European and other countries. But as already stated many of the younger people who are now leaving Ireland are well advanced in technological skills such as are required in the modern world by those who would want to find a well-paid job and advance their careers. But sadly Ireland has very little to offer such highly qualified people that might entice them to stay at home. The same is true about people who have acquired certain other academic or professional qualifications such as teachers, nurses and so forth, very little vacancies for them here at present and even less prospects for the future if the present Government policy of cutting jobs in the public service continues very much longer. The closing down of several post offices and more recently rural Garda Stations is also very discouraging to young people who are bright enough and intelligent enough to see all these factors as the signs of rural decline and very little hope of the areas in which they grew up showing any signs of recovery.

Young, energetic and ambitious people who would like to work at home if the jobs were to be found now feel that their best option is emigration. It was very different a couple of decades ago when young people including members of my own family emigrated by choice for the experience of working abroad and later many returned home when they were able to get jobs here. There were others, again including some of my own family, who decided to settle and bring up their families in another country. That too of course was their choice and had to be fully respected. Even back in what is now often called “the hungry fifties” there were some of us who emigrated because we wanted to experience life in another country, to work in a new and very different job and learn different professional skills, in my own case after leaving jobs here working in the insurance business and as a correspondent for The Kerryman and the Limerick Weekly Echo newspapers from 1949 until 1957 and in all honesty to state without any regrets, apart maybe from a few that most people are bound to experience. It remains my firm belief that most young people who emigrate and work in another country even for a limited period of time will most likely benefit from the experience. It is a different matter however when a government adopts emigration of the brightest and best young people in the land as part of its policy in keeping down unemployment figures because, in my view, that appears to be what is happening at the present time.

Another negative development that is taking place right here under our noses in our own country at the present time is the amalgamation of County Limerick and Limerick City into one local authority. The “big is beautiful” brigade has been at it again without so much as a squeak out of most of us in the country who should be greatly concerned about this move which is virtually nothing less than a sly curtailment of localities and which is unlikely to bring any benefits to either city or county apart from saving the exchequer a comparatively small sum of money at the expense of damaging local democracy.

As anybody with the least spark of common sense would be aware the needs and interests of the city and county are totally apart, so it is difficult to understand how bringing them together under the one authority will be of any benefit to the people they are meant to represent. At a time when there is an urgent need for more local grassroots democracy; not less, it is surely the wrong turn to take, just as so many people these days are regretting our entry and continued membership of the European Union and the dire consequences it has inflicted on our country. It is no great satisfaction for those of us who warned people to vote against it at the time of our entry and ever since that “we told you so”.

Death of Arthur Quinlan

The death, just before Christmas, of renowned journalist Arthur Quinlan at the age of 92 brought back memories of this wonderful person to those of us who had known him. First of all it must be stated that he was a nice, pleasant and kindly man who treated everybody as an equal without any pretence, airs or graces, at least that was my impression of him. But as well as being the super journalist and one of the most respected reporters of his time who worked for several different newspapers and who was also commended and noted for his work with RTE, Arthur was also a man who possessed a strong sense of humour as well as the ability of the common touch which left people of all stations so relaxed and at ease in his company

My own acquaintance with Arthur Quinlan was during the 1970’s when as the local Athea correspondent for the Limerick Weekly Echo at the time that Arthur  Quinlan was Editor of that newspaper. When working in Limerick at that time my first call on Monday mornings would be to hand in my Athea Notes to the Echo office. Going in there wearing my helmet and full motor cycle outfit Arthur Quinlan would greet me with a cheerful “good morning” followed by a good-humoured “Ah here comes the man from outer space”. Arthur gave me a Press Correspondent’s identity card which entitled me to get free admission to sports meetings and other various functions. It was my second period writing for the Limerick Weekly Echo as back in the 1950’s when late Ted Gale appointed me correspondent for Knocknagoshel and surrounding North Kerry areas. Ted Gale was Manager and Editor of the Echo in those days. He later joined the Limerick Leader and he too was a great journalist. His daughter Jan O’Sullivan of the Labour Party is a Junior Minister in the present coalition Government.

But getting back to Arthur Quinlan and his journalistic career, he was a member of honour of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) the highest accolade awarded by the Union.

Arthur Quinlan was known by many of his colleagues in Limerick as “Uncle Arthur” and he once said that he had interviewed many royals including the Duke of Edinburgh, Princess Margaret, King Michael of Romania and his mother Queen Marie, King Peter of Yugoslavia, King Zog of Albania, Emperor Haill Selassia of Ethiopia, Queen Wilhelmina and Queen Juliana of Holland and Prince Rainier and his wife, the former Grace Kelly. Arthur Quinlan also reportedly taught Fidel Castro of Cuba how to make an Irish Coffee and also interviewed Che Guevara, perhaps at the time of his visit to Kilkee by the widely known revolutionary. Arthur Quinlan, who was originally from Dublin, was raised in Clare and began working as a freelance journalist for The Irish Times in 1945. He also worked for RTE in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

He was pre-deceased by his wife Vera, former President of Lahinch Golf Club, who died last April. The couple, who lived at Rocklawn, North Circular Road, Limerick are survived by their son Tom, daughters Ann and Joyce as well as other relatives to whom sympathy is extended.