25th April, 2002

As I was delivering copies of the Douglas Weekly around Douglas last week a woman stopped me and asked why I was still delivering the 'Weekly's. "Surely," she asked, "You could get some young person to do that sort of work". "I'm not that old," I replied, "that I can't carry a box or two, and besides, what would I do if I wasn't doing that?" That night I rested after a busy day (which Thursday is, being our main delivery day). I thought about what she said. Thursday is a very busy and important day. Important in the sense that I meet people in my travels around Douglas. It's only in meeting people, talking and listening, that I get to hear stories, complaints, jokes, etc. I suppose basically I'm a 'people' person, so no thank to an office, a comfortable chair, and endless supply of Columbian coffee, a box of chocolate eclairs - on second thoughts, anybody fancy a job delivering the Douglas Weekly? Only joking.
The letter we printing last week brought a reaction from two completely different sources. One was a phone call. I wasn't around at the time, the caller, a woman, suggested that Mr. O'Hanlon (when they call me Mr. O'Hanlon I know I'm not on their Christmas list) should take a trip down to Bessboro to view the excellent facilities that are available, creches, etc... It sounded pretty good, and I don't dispute that, and perhaps I will take up the offer to visit sometime. If someone who was an inmate there in a different era will accompany me. Then, in the words of a Joni Mitchell song, I'd see "both sides now".
On Monday a woman walked into the office and asked if she could make contact with the person who wrote the letter about Bessboro in the previous weeks issue. I told her that it was not possible as the writer had asked for her name and address not to be published. However, I informed the woman that if she wished to leave her name and telephone number I would pass it on to the letter writer. I wanted to say to the woman, "You have a sad face", but I didn't, instead I asked her what her interest was in the letter. She replied, "I was seventeen years old, pregnant, and in Bessboro in 1960".
As there was another man working in the office with me I asked the woman would she talk to me in another room, and she did. She told me her story, then I told her that she had a sad face, and I knew why. I asked her if I could interview her, and print her story, but she told me that the time wasn't right. So I'm not going to tell it now. I can't get her out of my mind, so if she reads this would she get in touch with me again - I know some people who might me able to listen and help. God almighty, I get so angry at the lives which have been, and still are, ruined in the name of Christianity. Today a friend of mine told me that one should never write when one is consumed with anger. I disagree, the ink flows when the passion is high, but I'll leave it at that.
The other side of human nature, the good side, was displayed last Friday morning in St. Columba's Hall, when a huge crowd turned up to support a fundraising event to buy a bus for people less fortunate than some of us. The community spirit was fantastic, hundreds of men, women and children filled the hall to give a little something, which eventually turned into a big something. €2000 for a coffee morning must be a record in St. Columba's Hall (it's still the heart and soul of Douglas!) My faith in human kindness has been restored. Well done to all concerned. I could have stayed all day if time allowed.
A reader asked me to enquire whether anybody out there is aware of a book about to be written about the life and times of Joey Kerrigan, and if you haven't heard of Joey Kerrigan, then you have nothing on Rip Van Winkle. Give us a call if you know anything about a planned book on Joey's life.
My wife and I took a trip to Fontainstown at the weekend and on the way we stopped in Carrigaline to check out the shopping centre - I bought two CDs for €20 - Steve Earle's Greatest Hits and Vince Gill, great value! A lovely clean, bright centre with Collins SuperValu in the middle makes it complete. Next stop was one of my favourite stores, the Co-op. I bought Puccini's Greatest Hits there, very soothing when one is stuck in a traffic jam. Then, when we left Carrigaline, we saw what all the controversy was about. The huge mounds of earth piled on the lovely walkway. How anyone is allowed to get away with this is beyond me. Not a word from the elected representatives, does anybody care?
Finally, happy belated birthday wishes to Gerald Golberg. I interviewed Gerald about four years ago and I think we sometimes forget, or take for granted, the enormous political, social and cultural contribution this great man has given to Cork, and I'm sure we all thank him for that.
Congratulations to Bill and Leonard Lynch of O'Brien's Irish Sandwich Bar in Douglas Village Shopping Centre. O'Brien's is one year old this week. The secret of their success is good food and the best staff one could wish for. Bill and Leonard are to be congratulated on making O'Brien's a part of Douglas, with their sponsorship of sports clubs, taking money from me in a poker game, any chance of another game lads? and allowing me to beat Leonard in snooker. Happy birthday O'Brien's!
Good luck to Lisa Kenny, our Douglas Rose, Deirdre O'Mahony, the Carrigaline Rose (daughter of Dan and Anne). Also, good luck to Pauline Doyle in the Over 60s singing competition on Sunday night in the Opera House.
See you Sunday at Whizz Wash in Douglas Village Shopping Centre for a very worthwhile cause - see article - PS. If your picture is not in this week, don't worry, check next week!
Bye for now, Michael O'Hanlon.

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