3rd May, 2001

On Monday evening at about five o’clock I attempted to drive from Donnybrook into Douglas West, but the traffic was moving at a snails pace. When I eventually got to the top of the hill and passed the traffic lights I could see what the traffic hold-up was. There were two men after digging a hole in the footpath, next to the pedestrian crossing at the entrance to the GAA club. A large red truck with a “Caher Gas” sticker on it was parked on the road at the crossing, which meant that only one lane of traffic could get through. A third man was on traffic duty, directing traffic to turn right at Daily’s corner. I had to drive to Turners Cross so I was forced to drive over to the Fingerpost roundabout and then try to get through another bottleneck at the roundabout in Douglas East. Eventually I made it out to Turners Cross. On the way back it was a different matter. The traffic was backed up all along the South Douglas Road, and it was hardly moving.
I rang the Douglas Weekly office and asked Ronnie to ring the Garda station and ask them did they know that the South Douglas Road was backed up to Turners Cross with traffic. The replay was that the Gardai knew nothing about the traffic chaos, but they would send a squad car over to check it out. When I finally reached the Credit Union, the red truck was after being moved and two Gardai were on traffic duty. Surely, if work has to be done on gas mains, or whatever, the council and the Gardai should be notified beforehand. One of the busiest arteries in Cork should not be brought to a standstill on the whim of a contractor.
I mentioned the above episode to a reader. He told me that there was a Garda check-point on the Carrigaline road about the same time as this chaos was taking place in Douglas. To go back to the start of the piece I have written, when I was stopped in traffic at the lights on top of the hill, a squad car passed me driving up the hill in the direction of Donnybrook. Surely they saw the huge traffic build up that was taking place. I assume they drove from the Garda station under the Bow-wow bridge, passed Daily’s. Did they seethe large red lorry causing the traffic chaos? When they stopped and looked right before turning up the hill and passing us as we sat and wondered, is this why people go and live on a mountain?
On Thursday night I called down to St. Columba’s Hall for the launch of Billy O’Callaghan’s book, “Tales of Old Douglas”. The ‘Hall was packed to capacity. Glowing tributes were paid to Billy by everybody who spoke about the book. Minister for Health and Children, Micheal Martin, TD., spoke of his affection for Douglas, and that man’s ability to speak on any subject, without a script, is awesome. When the speakers had finished Micheal mingled with Billy’s family and friends, and had a few words for everybody in the ‘Hall. In my estimation, he’s the perfect, ultimate politician, and no, I’m not a member of the Fianna Fail, or any other, party. I admire his professionalism and I hope he’s the next leader of his party.
Speaking of Fianna Fail, I called over to Douglas Court Shopping Centre on Saturday evening to meet Derek Rusk, the centre manager. We were about to pick a winner for the Benners Hotel weekend competition. There were hundreds of entries, but we had to make sure the draw was done properly. Information receptionist Marion pointed out somebody who was passing with her shopping trolley. Local Fianna Fail councillor Deirdre Forde. Deirdre put her hand into the entry box, mixed them around, and picked out Jack Lynch!!! This Jack Lynch is from Ardfallen, Douglas. When he called to collect his prize he told us that he would be celebrating his birthday this week, so Happy Birthday Jack, enjoy Dingle, compliments of Douglas Court Shopping Centre, Benners Hotel, Dingle, and the Douglas Weekly. PS. say hello to fungi!
The most distressing piece of news last week was the destruction of the memorial garden to the victims of the Omagh bombing. What type of people would commit should an act of desecration? For once, words fail me. I won’t call them sick people, just evil.
And then there’s the opposite of evil. There’s good. We got a lovely letter from Robert Cronin’s grandmother. A few years ago Robert worked for me when I had a chip-shop. But he always spoke of his dream, which was to join the army. Then one day, he got the call, and his chip shop days were over. His proud grandmother sent us a photo of Robert which was taken in the Middle East, where Robert was on peace-keeping duty in the Lebanon with the U.N. She also sent us a paragraph from one of Robert’s letters, which he had sent home to Douglas. He wrote, “There are some beautiful buildings here. The people are picking themselves up after the war, it’s good to see that I’m working for people who helped them to get peace. It makes me proud, and I hold my head up high”, Robert.
Robert, it makes us all proud of what you, and the rest of the Irish army, have done in your peace keeping role. Welcome home, drop into the ‘Weekly office and say hello. I want to shake your hand, and I have a feeling I’m not the only one.
I called down to St. Columba’s Primary School on Monday for the presentation of Pioneer Total Abstinence Certificates to the boys and girls of both schools. Micheal Martin was back in Douglas to present the Certs., and to pay tribute to Commandant John Slye, who has been involved in the above organisation in Douglas for the past 15 years. Many glowing tributes were paid to John and I’m sure everybody will pay tribute to him for the many years of dedication he has given to the young people of Douglas. John has now decided to retire from the association, but I’m sure he’ll be involved in something new in the near future ... it’s the army training, a soldier never stops. Well done John.
Finally, enjoy the long weekend (not another one!!). Don’t drive too fast, belt up, and remember, if you brake suddenly at 40 mph, it takes the car 118 feet before it stops, so keep well back from the car in front of you.

Bye for now,
Michael O’Hanlon

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