Global Rossie Day – Postponed to 5th July

Roscommon …or as we sometimes say Ros Com On! Well June 21st is a battle cry to people of Roscommon by birth (or indeed nearby hospital), by ancestry or by affiliation. We want you all to join us in one on-line feast of Roscommon at 2pm Roscommon time for approximately two hours of a celebration of what is a taste of how amazing this County is. will be the kick off if you want to join us on this journey – take a look at what we have, who we have and why you are so lucky to be connected to this great County.

Roscommon Bound… A Global Rossie Strategy was launched last December by Minister Paschal Donoghue whose mother hails from Roscommon. This was only the start of a really enthusiastic, ambitious effort to connect people from Roscommon all over the world. Little did we know in December how important this would become.

Roll forward to March 2020 and Covid 19 puts a stop to everything we consider “normal” – the chance to meet up, the chance to return home for the weekend, the chance to fly home for Summer holidays or indeed the chance to fly to family who have settled elsewhere.

We hear from people all around the world of how they miss the chance to come home and what better way to feel like home than an online show on all Roscommon Bound social media channels of special moments in Roscommon sport, festivals, music and culture. Thrown into the mix will be drive through some of our villages and towns, a stop off for a chat with some local business and local characters before being carried away with some great Roscommon music from Gatehouse, Roscommon People by Fintan Donnelly and many more.

We will hear from some of our Rossies away from home and indeed give people at home a chance to say hello and more to their families away.

Summer wouldn’t normally be Summer without the primrose and blue dreaming of glory(and indeed achieving it!) so we will catch up with some sporting legends and look back on great moments in various sporting moments.

Roscommon Bound linkedin page, set up in November 2019 now has almost 1,000 members from Dubai to Sydney to New York to Galway to Boston and Germany. We share news stories of achievements of our Roscommon people from Athleague to Arigna, Rooskey to Roscommon and Ballaghaderreen to Ballyforan.

We have now also set up Roscommon Bound on Facebook and Instagram and we would love you to share these pages to your friends and family. Feel free to send us on some images, videos or positive Roscommon stories so we can share to the rest of the world by emailing us on or via social media using the #FortheloveofRos

You can watch the Global Rossie Day live stream event @RoscommonBound on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

C’mon the Ros!!!

Minister Paschal Donohoe Launches Roscommon Bound Global Rossie Strategy

A Rossie at Heart… Minister Paschal Donohoe Launches Roscommon Bound – Global Rossie Strategy

Minister Paschal Donohoe was back to his roots in Roscommon on Monday, December 9th to launch “Roscommon Bound, the Global Rossie Strategy” and website. The Minister was also presented with his Roscommon Passport.

“My mother Caitlin grew up in Ballinagare, near Frenchpark in County Roscommon so I was honoured to be asked to launch this strategy which aims to connect people of Roscommon origin around the world” stated Minister Donohoe from the launch in Roscommon County Council offices.

There are an estimated 945,000 people with Roscommon roots around the world. These people include the established diaspora whose parents or grandparents left Roscommon many years ago and more recently people who have left for adventure and to gain new experiences.

“The Strategy is about connecting with this larger Global Rossie Family so that we know what our Global Rossies are achieving and that they are kept up to date with developments here at home” said Eugene Cummins, Chief Executive, Roscommon County Council.

One of the most innovative actions that emerged was to present each secondary school student with a “Roscommon Passport” as they graduate from Secondary School. Students receive their Roscommon passport as they embark on study or work as a reminder to keep the link with their homeplace and to remember to support their home county as they continue through their lives.

“It is about being passionate about your homeplace, about celebrating all that is wonderful about our people and our county. We will mark this with the Global Roscommon Day which will take place on June 21st 2020” concluded Paschal Fitzmaurice, Cathaoirleach of Roscommon County Council.

Business, communities and individuals all have a role to play in promoting their home county and keeping the connection with their people around the world.

Watch our Roscommon Bound launch highlights videos

What makes a true Rossie?

The answer to this could extend to volumes the size of the Book of Kells. How do people show their Roscommon roots?

“How do you keep your Roscommon link alive?”, is a question we put out on social media some time ago, and it was fascinating to see the response. People shared the post far and wide and we received some fabulous images of how people maintain their link to Roscommon, even if they are far from home.

These images are captured in the beautifully produced Roscommon Bound – A Global Rossie Strategy. This coffee table style book includes images from across Roscommon, so no matter where you come from in Roscommon, you will have an image that is no more than 10 miles from your home place or maybe even your actual homeplace.

This coffee table style book will be available to purchase for your loved ones at home and abroad from the following outlets:

  • Molloy’s Bakery, Abbey Street, Roscommon Town
  • Roscommon Town Museum, the Square, Roscommon
  • Benny’s, Castlerea
  • Una Bhán, Boyle
  • Cruachan Ai, Tulsk
  • Derryglad Folk Museum, Curraghaboy

We are always interested in hearing how you keep your Roscommon Connection, make sure to email us your story (at which may end up featured on this site.

Triest Press – Sprinkling the fairy dust to prepare our Global Rossie Strategy

When we set out on this journey to prepare a Roscommon Diaspora Strategy, we felt that we, in Roscommon, wanted to do things a little differently. Firstly, we met with people, not on a weekday in a working environment, but rather over breakfast on the morning of a crucial league match.

We invited people from communities across the county, we invited people who had shown prowess on the field of play, those who had toiled for hours over family trees, those who has studied the history and heritage of our county and those who are known simply as lovers of all things Roscommon.

We also wanted to look at our audience. Who are the “Diaspora”? Do people identify as the diaspora? The response was no. But, people do identify as a Rossie. So the term diaspora was removed and the Global Rossie Family emerged as being more relevant to our people.

We then set out to produce a Strategy – but not in a typical annual report format. We wanted something different. Triest Press were our partners in searching for a format that would include all we had researched, heard and planned, but which would be something that the Global Rossie Family all over the world would want to have a copy of in their house and for their relatives around the world.

Brand Image for the Roscommon Bound Strategy

From here, Roscommon Bound was created. It is a book which clearly honours our past, but which also values our future – our Roscommon students who are depicted on the front cover holding their Roscommon passport. A link that they can bring with them wherever they many travel but which will always remind them of where they have come from and where they are always valued.

Triest Press is a thriving social enterprise, based in Roscommon Town, providing a professional digital print and design service, coupled with meaningful employment for people with intellectual disability. They offer bespoke products with a personal touch; all products are hand finished using traditional methods that our finishing staff are fully trained and skilled in.

Successfully operating for over 30 years, Triest Press has evolved into a unique and vibrant social enterprise that encompasses much more than your traditional business model. They are big on social inclusion and focusing on abilities rather than disabilities.

They up-skill and train their employees in much more than the craft of traditional print finishing, such as; customer service and basic digital skills training etc… They have created a workplace that provides the necessary tools and skills that are transferable within their personal lives and will equip the individual so that they are prepared for the competitive labour market if they wish to move on.

Also, the hand finishing skills learned in print finishing such as, stitching, creasing, collating and binding; help with hand eye coordination which in turn can improve other areas of one’s motor skills.

Triest Press Staff Photo

In 1987, the Initial need for the service was established based on the fact that there was little if any employment opportunities for people with disabilities in Roscommon and there was an expressed need by the people themselves to engage in employment and training to progress their own goals.

According to The Economic and Social Research Institute, fewer than a third of working-age people with disabilities in Ireland are employed. In 2017’s CSO National Household Survey 42% of adults with disabilities had no more than the equivalent of a Junior Certificate (aged 14/15) level of education. The CSO’s National Household Survey found that people with a disability were more likely to live alone and 42% lived in jobless households so were at a high risk of poverty. It also found that people with disabilities were four times less likely to enter the workforce than people without a disability, and more likely to leave it. Isolation, poverty and feelings of discrimination are all possible factors in a person’s disengagement within the labour market.   (Reference:

When faced with preconceived opinions of how a person with ID may perform in the workplace, it can be difficult for many individuals with ID to secure and retain employment in the competitive labour market. In Triest Press, by focusing on traditional hand-finishing skills, they choose their product range with their employee’s abilities in mind.

Their mission is to continue to address the issue of meaningful employment opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities as well as offer a high standard, professional print and design service.

At Triest Press they foster learning, inclusion, creativity, growth and self-confidence.   We hope you will be as impressed by the obvious attention to detail and passion that was put into producing Roscommon Bound.

The Washington Post and the Roscommon connection

The county of Roscommon has always enjoyed strong literary traditions. Whether that is Oliver Goldsmith, Oscar Wilde, whose father was a Rector in Castlerea or Ireland’s first President, Douglas Hyde, the county is rich in literary and journalistic traditions.

Members of the ‘fourth estate’ that have hailed from Roscommon include the likes of Donal Keenan, John Waters and the late Des Rushe. Today, it’s another man, Peter Finn who grew up in Roscommon town, who is currently making a name for himself.

Peter Finn is the Security correspondent with the Washington Post newspaper, one of the most acclaimed newspapers in the world. He grew up in Roscommon having lived for the earlier part of his life in Elphin.

Now living just outside Washington, Peter, a father of four, is one of the paper’s key newsroom figures in a publication celebrated in the recent Academy Award winning film ‘The Post’ starring Mark Ruffalo and Michael Keaton.

Peter grew up in Roscommon town attending Roscommon CBS before studying History and Politics in University College Dublin before travelling to the USA. After ‘cutting his teeth’ in local journalism, Peter developed an unrivalled reputation to now command one of the most important and influential journalist positions in the world today.

“The (Washington) Post has a long and distinguished history in the modern era. It was a fairly mediocre newspaper when it was acquired by Eugene Meyer in 1933. Meyer and his daughter Katherine Graham, and her husband, Phil Graham, built the paper into a powerhouse.

“The standout moments in the paper’s rise were the publications of the Pentagon Papers, the secret history of the Vietnam war, which was recently dramatized in the movie, The Post, followed by the Watergate coverage.

“For the next three decades, the Post stood for tough-minded, accountability journalism. But by 2013, the paper was struggling financially, as was much of the print media, because of losses in print circulation and advertising.

“The paper was bought by Jeff Bezos, the owner of Amazon. Since then, he has invested heavily in new staff and the paper’s digital operations, leading to a return to profitability and 1.5 million digital subscribers.

Peter and his family moved to Roscommon when he was about to turn six in May 1968 and had been living in Elphin. His father, Bill Finn, a Garda sergeant, was transferred to the station in Roscommon.

“My Dad died several years ago in Dublin where he had moved after retirement and my Mam, Pat, died in 1995 — much too young, after a second battle with cancer. Some in town might remember that she had opened a restaurant called “Caprice,” which thrived for a few years on Abbey Street.

“I owe my parents a tremendous amount for fostering a sense of confidence in a very insecure kid. They had adopted me — a fairly radical act in 1962 — and always supported my early and very inchoate desire to explore the world.

“I have two younger brothers, Greg, who now lives in Dublin, and works for Bank of Ireland and Bill, who has the wanderlust like me, and now lives and works as a North America manager for an Irish company in the Kansas City, Missouri-area.

“I did my Leaving Cert in Roscommon in 1979 then took a year off to live in Paris before attending UCD, where I studied History and Politics, earning a B.A. and then an M.A. in politics. From when I was about 14, I worked in the bar at the Abbey Hotel and continued to work summers there in the early part of college.

“My strongest memories of Roscommon are of the friends I still have, especially Jeremy Crean and Ronan Farrell; playing football in the yard at CBS; going to the library every Saturday; trying to get people out of the Abbey after closing time.

“I also remember getting my hair cut by Paddy Joe Burke; girlfriends (I won’t embarrass them!); watching Roscommon play at Hyde Park. There are a thousand memories, including the one that Ronan never lets me forget – buying a pair of Bay City Roller pants in what must have been 1975.

“I wrote my first article for the then Roscommon Champion when Donal Keenan was the editor. It was on the possibility of Vietnamese refugees being resettled in Roscommon and whether the town was prepared.

“Later I wrote a piece for Hot Press on Ian Paisley when I was in UCD – went to the Martyrs Memorial Church to hear him speak after the Anglo-Irish agreement in 1985. But, to be honest, although I was very interested in a career in journalism, I didn’t do much writing until I left for the United States in 1986.

“In fact, I applied and was turned down for the journalism school at what was then the NIHE in Glasnevin. I reapplied and got accepted the following year but by then Brian Farrell, the RTE broadcaster, who was supervising my thesis at UCD, had suggested I apply to Columbia University’s School of Journalism and I was accepted. I decided to go to New York.

“After graduating from Columbia in 1987, I freelanced for a year or more in New York, writing for the Observer News Service in London as well as New York Newsday and the Irish Voice. But it was tough scrap to earn enough every week so I eventually took a job as a suburban correspondent in south New Jersey for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

“I spent a couple of years there covering local government schools, crime and writing features and learned the basics of journalism in a newspaper that was an enterprising and fun place to work. But it wasn’t a staff position and I moved to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Texas), which was edited by an Inquirer alumnus, to cover social issues.

“Texas was and is a wonderful state for news, and I did my first real investigative reporting there. My New England wife still thinks of Texas as a foreign country, but we had a great time there. I met my wife, Nora FitzGerald, who is now an editor and writer for the World Bank, focused on climate change and Africa, at Columbia University. We’ve been married now for 30 years.

“Once I had decided I was staying in the U.S. it was always my ambition to work for The Washington Post. Like many others I was drawn by the romance of the Watergate coverage, Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein and Ben Bradlee.

When I first applied from Texas, I was told to do some more investigative and high-impact work and try again in a year, which I did. In the interim, I had won the AP Managing Editors award for investigative reporting for exposing the infection of patients with Hepatitis C at a health clinic.

“I was hired onto the Metro staff of The Post to cover part of Northern Virginia. I did that for three years and then was assigned overseas, as the Eastern Europe correspondent based in Warsaw. I spent ten years as a foreign correspondent for the paper based in Berlin and Moscow after Warsaw.

“In Berlin I was focused on al-Qaeda and terrorism and I covered the Kosovo, Iraq and Russia-Georgia wars. I reported from nearly 60 different countries and was twice in that period a Pulitzer Prize finalist as part of Post teams for international reporting.

“I returned to Washington in 2008 as a national security correspondent, covering the Pentagon as well as U.S. detention operations at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba” says Peter of his extensive journalistic travels.

Five years ago, in 2013, Peter became the National Security Editor at The Post, overseeing two deputy editors and a team of 18 reporters who cover the U.S. military, the Intelligence Community, the State Department and foreign policy, the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department and FBI, counterterrorism, weapons proliferation, and the Russia investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.

“I’m very proud to have been a part of two Pulitzers since I’ve been editor — for Public Service for the Edward Snowden revelations and for National Reporting for coverage of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections and the subsequent fallout.

As to the future, perhaps the literary world awaits as in 2014, Peter co-authored a book called “The Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA and the Battle Over a Forbidden Book,” which was a finalist for both the National Book Critics Circle Award for non-fiction and the Pushkin Prize in London for best book on Russia.

“I have another book coming out in autumn next year called ‘A Guest of the Reich’, about the first American woman in uniform captured on the Western Front and her experiences as a female POW before her escape from Nazi Germany in March 1945.

“I would like to keep writing books. Not sure if I would go back to reporting at The Post, but I wouldn’t rule it out. For now, I’m very happy in my current position, which is very much at the center of the news.
Reporting for a paper like the Washington Post can have its lighter moments. In 2016, head of the CIA, John Brennan travelled to Roscommon to trace his ancestral roots in his native Kilteevan. Peter, being the ever-vigilant reporter got wind of the visit and managed to acquire a photo of Mr. Brennan visiting the aforementioned Paddy Joe Burke’s Barbers.

“We didn’t publish it but it was fun moment. Aidan Farrell (of Farrell’s Jewelers) sent a picture of John (Brennan) getting his haircut at Paddy Joe’s to his brother Ronan who in turn, sent it to me. I gave it to one of our reporters who sent it to Brennan’s aide with the message: ‘We have people everywhere!”

Despite being ‘a son’ of Roscommon, commitments and family have prevented Peter from returning to Roscommon in recent years, though he plans to visit either in late 2019 or early in 2020. He has however visited Dublin to visit his brother and friends in recent years.

Peter resides just outside Washington in Northern Virginia with his wife Nora. The couple has four children, only one of whom is still at home. The eldest Rachel is 24 years old, twin boys Liam and David are 22 while the youngest, Ria, is 14 and in high school and has ambitions of becoming a ballet dancer!

As to downtime, Peter professes his interests are simple, admitting to being an avid Manchester United fan and a regular watcher of the Premier League: “I like nothing better than when the whole family is home for the holidays and we all have a long dinner together. I still like to travel when I can. And I’m a pretty voracious reader.

“Politics has always been a rough sport in the United States but the partisan rancor seems to have become much more poisonous under President Trump – as it has in different ways in many parts of the world.

“The immediate effect of the recent midterms is divided government, which may or may not affect Trump’s approach to governance as he will have to work with the Democrats, who now control the House of Representatives, if he wants to get things done. The 2018 results are also worrying for Trump for 2020, but nothing, at this point, is predictable.

As for the challenges for the Irish diaspora in Washington and the US in general, Peter feels the Irish community may be affected, like other migrant communities: if people are undocumented then the broad crackdown will affect all communities, but perhaps none so harshly as those working here”, says the Roscommon native.

“For the print media in general, the challenges in today’s world are many, not least from social media and people’s changing news habits. The challenge of 24 hour rolling news is also a fight for the printed word, which Peter concedes are pressing issues.

“The challenge for much of the press is finding an economically viable model. The Post has found it as a national online news organization but the struggle to survive for smaller and regional papers in the U.S. remains intense.

“We are still seeing cutbacks across the country, which has major implications for coverage of local and state news. As to President Trump’s attacks, our best response is to continue to do our jobs and produce factually unassailable journalism.”

Different strokes for different folks – Olivia turns the dial for music hot shots in the ‘Big Apple’

To be in the job one has a passion for, is something we all aspire to, but few can only dream about. But combine that with travel and the opportunity to acquire new knowledge and experience, and it’s an irresistible cocktail.

That’s appears to be the case with young Strokestown lady Olivia Callaghan who is currently living in New York where she works for Steven Van Zandt’s media and music production empire in New York.

To music lovers here, Van Zandt is a well-known member of Bruce Springsteen’s back banking group ‘The E-Street Band’. With his trademark bandana and flowing dark locks, Van Zandt along with the late Clarence Clemons are two of the most recognised members of Springsteen’s band.

A past pupil of Scoil Mhuire Strokestown, Olivia is the daughter of Teresa and the late Gerry Callaghan. Teresa runs the popular ‘Healthy Beings’ health food shop in Strokestown, while her late father Gerry was a popular former Captain of Strokestown Golf Club as well as a former footballer for Tulsk GAA and employee of the Manton group in Westward, Strokestown.

Olivia has one younger sister, twenty-four year old Fiona, who works and lives in Dublin. As well as that, her uncle is Cllr. Liam Callaghan, recently re-elected to Roscommon County Council, while her Uncle Tom, himself no stranger to performing or singing, was also a former member of the local authority.

Twenty-seven year old Olivia graduated from NUI Maynooth with a BA in Music and Irish studies in 2013 before completing an MA in Creative Music Technologies in 2014. After working in Dublin for a time, she left to seek work and adventure in New York in October 2016 where she currently resides.


“I’m currently working in Steven Van Zandt’s media company in Greenwich Village New York. We distribute music through our record label Wicked Cool Records, Little Steven’s Underground Garage syndicate radio show and satellite radio station Underground Garage on Sirius XM which has over one million weekly listeners in the US alone.

“Day-to-day, I produce radio shows for the station. For this specifically I design playlists for my DJ’s, I also programme and schedule music and shows. I also carry out research for each show, record, edit and produce each show.

“I produce shows for five DJ’s including CBS TV presenter and comedian Drew Carey, who presents ‘The Price Is Right’ on daytime TV in the USA. Working for the record label Wicked Cool Records, I work alongside our bands from production through final product.

“I also work on marketing and public relations working alongside our distributors, scheduling shows and tours. Bands I personally work alongside are The Dollyrots, Ryan Hamilton and The Harlequin Ghosts, The Woggles and Jesse Malin.

“I’ve always wanted to be involved in one way or another, but I guess through my college course I got in with a few musicians and really got a feel for the music business in that sense. My Music production course, at NUI Maynooth really sparked my interest.

“I took an internship in Dublin City FM where I produced a weekly music show and worked in studio with various up-and-coming bands from all over Dublin. I dabbled in news reading, presented the breakfast show ‘Good Morning Dublin’ and was then taken on as a researcher on ‘Live Drive’ Dublin’s only dedicated live traffic update service.

“I then took Today FM’s Radio production and podcasting course which threw me right into the world of music radio which I love! While working in Dublin City FM is how I first got to meet Steve Van Zandt
“Steve’s syndicated radio show is played on radio stations all over the world, including Dublin City FM. At the time, Bruce Springsteen was playing in Dublin in July 2016. Dublin City FM threw a listening party cum live broadcast for Steve in Tower Records Dublin where I first met him.

“I subsequently made contact with his Personal Assistant. So coming over to New York I had it in my head that I was getting the job with Steve Van Zandt. I went to US to gain experience in my field and avail of the J-1.

Honestly, I was still quite unsure if I wanted to lean more towards music or radio production, or more towards the music industry with promoters and live shows or record labels”, says Olivia, clearly bitten by the bug.

“My first music job was in music advertising which was super interesting and gave me another perspective on the world of music. But I really wanted to get into production. Luckily after hundreds of emails and resumes being sent in, I landed in a company which lets me explore music, radio and the record business!

“Steve van Zandt is a very cool guy to work for, he’s hilarious and we get along very, very well. He’s an incredibly hard working man with about a million different projects going on at the one time.

“His solo projects include his band ‘Little Steven and Disciples of Soul’ while also having his radio stations ‘Little Stevens Underground Garage’ and ‘Outlaw Country’. He also has a record label Wicked Cool Records”, cites Olivia.

But Van Zandt is better known for his work with Bruce Springsteen and his world renowned ‘E-Street Band’. He also has a rock and roll Forever Foundation and ‘TeachRock’ curriculum and continues to work with countless bands and solo artists.

And if that isn’t enough, Van Zandt is also an accomplished actor, engages in sound tracking and script writing for various movies and TV shows and with his wife Maureen, who runs Renegade Theatres. His fundraising for charities, including the NYPD Policeman’s Ball is also well-known.

“He is a super caring guy and helps out with so many people in so many ways. Steve cares so much about the arts and he’s also hugely passionate about politics, in particular Brexit!” says Olivia, perhaps somewhat tongue in cheek!

Having such close business ties with Van Zandt, has Olivia ever met Springsteen or ‘The Boss’ himself, who continues to enjoy iconic status among his legion of fans here for over 40 years, performing numerous sell-out Irish shows in that time.

“I met Springsteen backstage at Steven’s Soulfire show in Count Basie, New Jersey show back in 2017. We chatted backstage I could see he was sussing out the Irish accent but he never said anything to me about it!

I love New York – it’s definitely a different lifestyle but I’m very happy here for now. I love being active, exploring, discovering new things, going to concerts and shows – there are so many opportunities to do that in the city every day.

“It’s a crazy place, very work orientated and fast paced environment which suits me down to the ground. Winters in New York are brutal though and they will be the killing of me! There’s a huge Irish community over here which makes it feel a little more like home and we all look out for each other over here.

“I was actually at the Roscommon Dinner dance in February, which was just like being at home!” says Olivia before reflecting on her late father Gerry, whose untimely death at a young age in October 2017, was deeply felt in the wider Tulsk and Strokestown communities.

“Dad was one of a kind. He had a huge heart and did everything he could for us. He was the best fun and supported us in everything. He loved to get involved and help us with school and college exams. He geeked out on History and Maths, employment law with Fi, Mum’s Healthy Beings accounts and even tried to get into Music theory!

“We (the family) adored him so so much. The four of us had such brilliant times together and have such good memories. He was a friend to everyone and the way he treated people inspires me every day.

He was so full of life, he loved life so much and I think we keep that with us I guess, to ‘keep living’, without him. In all the pictures of him he’s smiling and so so happy, so that’s the motivation we really need, his ‘happy head’ as we say!

Both my parents have been so supportive of both mine and Fiona’s careers. He may have been a little confused as to what direction I was taking, they always trusted and encouraged us along the way!

“I stayed home for six months after Dad’s passing and I’ve been home three times since coming back last April. I talk to Mum & Fi (Fiona) all day every day, along with my close friends and extended family. I keep up to date with everything at home especially through Twitter.

“I closely follow the music scene at home, through IMRO, Nialler9, Radio Nova and Hot Press.
Anytime there are Irish artists in NYC I attend the shows. I often buy the Roscommon Herald which I pay $7 for the privilege!

“I would love to stay in the US for another while to up skill and gain experience across the board. This experience is second to none and I know how blessed I am to be here, so right now I have no plans to relocate. Home is where the heart is so I do think I’ll definitely return home.
“I would love to explore the music scene in other countries, especially England and Europe. Yoga teacher training is also on my list and would be something I would love to travel with!”, says Olivia.

Noel’s a man for all seasons!

The idea of a guy ‘who’s done good’ is something that tugs at the heartstrings. The self-made man who’s battled adversity and emerged a better man is as old as time itself.

One such man is Noel Sweeney, living proof a man who has battled the odds of life and overcome the challenges he’s faced. A native of Corigeen, Tulsk, Noel emigrated to England in the 1960’s to become a leading business man, not alone among the Irish diaspora but also in the UK.

Not only that, but Noel is a man that hasn’t lost his connections with home. In recent years, Noel has significantly invested in his local community as a means of saying ‘thank-you’ to the people and places who have shaped and formed him as an individual.

The Tulsk native has supported many local and charitable organisations in his home place, among them Tulsk GAA club, Elphin and Strokestown Agricultural Shows and many other community and voluntary led projects.

It is this generosity of spirit and fidelity to the forces that have made him the individual he is that has resulted in Noel receiving a Papal Knighthood, the Order of St. Gregory, from his holiness, Pope Francis.

Noel will be invested in the order on March 3rd at a special ceremony in his local Church in Chasetown, England. The honour is bestowed upon Roman Catholics in recognition of their personal service to the Holy See and to the Roman Catholic Church. The award recognises recipients’ unusual labours, their support of the Holy See and examples they set in their communities.

The award, known as the Order of St Gregory the Great will be conferred upon Noel by the Archbishop of Birmingham, Bernard Longley at a service at St Joseph’s in Burntwood.
The Order of St. Gregory the Great is one of the five Orders of Knighthood of the Holy See.

The title was established on 1 September 1831 by the then Pope Gregory XVI, seven months after his election. Among the previous recipients are the late EU Commissioner and former Attorney General, Peter Sutherland, former Manchester United manager Matt Busby, former Irish politician and Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume and the late comedian, Frank Carson.

In 1974, Noel formed Chasetown Civil Engineering Limited. Its success, he claims, was down to the people it employed, which he adds, “were, and are, the cream of the industry. “ In 1990 the company employed 105 people.

Chasetown has built roads and sewers for most of the housebuilders in the country and has an enviable reputation for service and quality. Another company of his, Cameron Homes Limited was formed 25 years ago and builds some 400 houses per annum.  Today, Noel’s businesses are recognised by the Home Builders Federation (HBF) as a five-star enterprise.

Five years ago, Noel acquired Galliers Homes Limited; a well-respected and long-established house builder-based Shrewsbury.  Today, Cameron Homes Ltd. operates with three regional offices covering the Midlands.

Recently established Keon Homes is a new housing diversion that will be building Social Housing, focusing on building affordable homes in villages for young people who at present can’t afford to get on the housing ladder

All of the Companies operate independently, sharing common values and beliefs.  They form a group of companies under the banner of Tara Developments Limited and employ over a little under 1,000 people with a turnover in excess of £200m per annum.

Born in Corrigan 26th December 1943, Noel is the second of eight children, describing his childhood as “a wonderful upbringing on the farm”, adding: “My Mother and Father were outstanding workers, it was only later in life that I realised that we were largely self-sufficient; cows for milk and beef, using the orchard for fruit and pigs for bacon and ham.

“The greatest memory I have outside my family, is my neighbours.  Without them, life would have been very different.  Even in that not so distant past, our farm and our parents with all eight of the children working away were always looked after.

“In those bygone days, the fair at Elphin or Strokestown, Mass on Sundays or watching St Brendan’s GAA club and playing for them. That’s not forgetting the radio or the carnivals which were the pastimes of the day” recalls Noel with fond recollection.

Noel was educated at the local school in Corraslira and later as a boarder at Summerhill College in Sligo: “Unlike some of the pupils, I now look back and say to myself that the punishments I got, which were more than frequent, were deserved!

“We were taught by twenty-two priests and two teachers the only priest left with us today is Monsg. Peader Lavin. Summerhill did not fail me; I failed Summerhill but still left with my intermediate with two honours and a pass Leaving Certificate.  Hopefully my twelve grand-children will not read this!

“I started work at the age of 19 in Sligo, where I did well and became Manager of a factory in Longford at the age of 26. I was married to Carmel at the age of 21, and am still married today. I came to England in January 1972, arriving at the Stork Hotel in Liverpool.

“I got into a conversation with a Junior Government Minister and a local businessman who organised a meeting for me with a number of meat importers. I had £300 to my name, and backed Sandy Barclay, who was riding for Noel Murless in all seven races.  I was left with nothing by the seventh race, not even two pence to call my friend, so no meeting with the meat importers, or a job!

“I had no money.  My only possession was my wedding ring and a camera.  Next stop, the pawn shop where I gave all my worldly possessions other than my wonderful wife and two children” says Noel, looking back on those days of hardship.

“With the help of the Irish Hotel Manager, I boarded the train at Liverpool Lime Street travelling to Birmingham.  When I arrived, with the equivalent of 68p, I needed to get to Sparkhill but before I got there my fare ran out.

“I walked for what seemed miles.  During the following days, I went for an interview as an Office Manager in an international business and to my amazement, was offered the job. That day (a Friday), on my way back from the interview, I met a friend from Summerhill.

“That friend left after completing his then Inter Cert and was now working in Birmingham on a buildings site.  That weekend, I went out and worked with him earning £47.  I recognised that I was better with the pen than the shovel very quickly.

“Carmel my wife and the two children came to Birmingham in April 1972.  Birmingham was very different to Roscommon.  We stayed in Birmingham for three months before we saw an advertisement in the local free paper for a ‘house for sale’ in Chasetown, Staffordshire.

“This was 14 miles from Birmingham, but in real terms, a world away.  We bought the house and moved in May 1972.  The first houses to be built in Chasetown were 28 houses for the Irishmen to move into when they came down from Scotland to work in the newly opened local coal mines in 1849.

“I still live two miles from the office within the community that I moved to in 1972 and all of my businesses are based close to where I started.  I am connected to many local clubs within the area including being President of Chasetown Football Club.

“I am involved with a wide range of charities and charitable causes.  These include Sense, the English and Irish College in Rome and also the local school needing to improve its facilities.  I take a keen interest in Derby County Football Club and have supported the educational department at their Youth Academy for many years.

“As and when I am able, over the years I have helped many good causes with no desire for headlines.  Simply knowing that I have made a difference and helped someone less fortunate then myself is rewarding enough.

“In Ireland I was an employee. The way we run our businesses is so different to those early days in Ireland.  We have a very loyal work force; our eldest employee has recently retired at the age of 85 years.

“That man was one of 15 people that started with the Company in 1974.  All but two are now retired or deceased; the two joined the Company aged 16.  We have never been to an industrial tribunal.  My Personal Assistant Lynn joined me in 1975. Now in her mid-70’s, she is still looking after everyone and keeping an eye on the back door and looking after the family’s interests.

“My wife of nearly 54 years, Carmel has been the backbone of our family; a Cavan girl.  We had 5 children, four girls and one boy.  The first two, girls were aged seven and four years when we moved to England.  The eldest Charmaine had been a pupil at Newtownforbes Convent.  Oisin, our only son, died ten years ago at the age of 35 – it was a life changing event.

“My wonderful years of drinking and gambling would not have been wonderful but for Carmel and the children.  But I gave up drinking in 1989 and gambling 25 years ago.  Although I still keep racehorses in training and gave up the 80-a-day cigarettes when I had to six years ago for health reasons”, says Noel.

Noel is an active supporter of charities and organisations that have made him and countless Irishmen and women, the people they are today: “top of the list amongst others would be the Peace Park in Castlebar.  Getting the Irish off the streets, the same people that sent the money home in the 50’s and 60’s ‘The Forgotten Irish’ – now times past.

“I inherited the family farm and today it amounts to about 500 acres.  My daughter Blaithin, who from the age of 10 to 17 went racing with me every school holiday, gave up her wonderful career with her husband and two girls to go and take over the farm back in Tulsk.

“Now in their second year, they are doing very well and their granddaughters Meara and Isla love Killina School and its teachers.  Very different to the way our eldest daughter was treated at school by Irish teachers or teachers of Irish grandparents when she first came to England.

“My eldest daughter, Charmaine, is the mother of three boys, all doing very well, returned from Ireland to England early this year.  My second eldest, Aisling, is a school teacher with four children – three boys and one girl called Tully.

“Aisling is into horses just like her mother. Aisling’s husband Euan is a Scotsman (he’s a good chap!) – has just completed the building of a Golf Course for JCB and will stay on as General Manager of the Golf Course and Clubhouse.

“My youngest, Sinead, works part time for an Architectural Company; her eldest of three girls Alannah aged 10 recently received a Queens Award for helping at a riding school on Saturday’s with those who have special needs. Her husband Dan was an estate agent but now is a fully trained plumbing and heating engineer and very successful”, says Noel.

Chasetown is presently getting a site at the National Arboretum Alrewas near Staffordshire ready for a Bronze Horse – representing the thousands of horses who went to the Great War and the 1939-45 conflict.  It’s worth noting that the most popular horse used by the Army in those times was the Irish Draught who could be ridden at speed and also pull a gun carriage.

However for the Irish diaspora in Great Britain and the greater population at large, there is only one story that dominates the news – that of Brexit and the future relationship between the UK and the EU. What implications will Brexit, should it happen, have on the Irish community in Britain and company’s like Noel’s?

“In regard to Brexit we are monitoring customer sentiment and visitor levels very closely.  It is very difficult to assess the Brexit impact, our greatest concern being customer confidence, it appears to me that Great Britain will either crash out of Europe with no deal or remain with a slight possibility that dates will be flexed out and the fiasco which is Brexit may rumble on for a while.

“We can’t rule out a change in Government or change of Prime Minister. But to try and factor any of these scenarios into my forecast is almost impossible.  However, I believe the country is of a size and structure which will be able to respond rapidly to any significant changes.

“We (my companies) have a Plan B and are ready to implement it at short notice.  All our people are remainers or so they tell me. We employ many Roscommon people.  Many of whom go back at weekends.  All of whom are a credit to Roscommon.

“Regarding the Irish and English, it has always been an advantage being Irish and I’ve never felt any jealousy in any English person”, says Noel, looking back on his many years in his adopted home” in England, while remaining true and generous to his Irish roots.

Living the London life for Ballyleague’s Ciaran Horohoe

Few cities have captured the world’s attention quite like London in recent weeks. The recent terrorist atrocity at London Bridge, the fallout from the British General Election and Brexit as well as the horrific fire at Grenfell Tower have all put the capital city firmly in the news.

For a city that has witnessed many changes in the past half century, London is a melting pot of cultures, races and creeds. For those from Roscommon living in the city, London is currently in a state of flux. Few, if any would hazard a guess as to the consequences of all these challenges.

Photo of Ciaran Horohoe (left)

Ciaran Horohoe (left)

For Ballyleague businessman, Ciaran Horohoe, London is his home. A past pupil of Lanesboro Technical College, Ciaran has lived there since 1988 and runs a successful construction business, Horohoe Construction, which employs 200 people.

Established in 1998, Horohoe Construction Ltd.  is enjoying its busiest year to date receiving carpentry and  joinery contracts for many prestigious main contractors and developers such as the Berkeley Group, BAM and MACE , employing 200 people. 

A separate arm of Ciaran’s business is Horohoe Properties Ltd which he set up ten years ago which is involved in the development and refurbishment of commercial and residential properties throughout the city and home counties, occasionally selling but mostly renting out to blue chip tenants.

“We are going through a period of sustained growth and this has meant that we have outgrown our current premises in Wembley so are currently in the process of building a new state of the art Head Office and Workshop in Kings Langley.  We hope to have the project complete and ready to move into by September.

“We already have a substantial amount of contracts on our books that will take us into 2018 so this new space will enable us to expand our office and management teams so we can tender for more projects and have the right staff in place to manage them once won”, says Ciaran.

That said, it hasn’t always been plain sailing for Ciaran and his business, particularly in the teeth of the recent recession: “We were directly affected on a few of our projects where payment never came through, this meant we had to be very thorough in identifying upcoming expenditures and ensure our cash flow projections for the next year were tailored to take into account non-payments.

“When a company can no longer survive and has to shut the door people don’t always realise the knock on affect it has down the line…. Thankfully that looks to be all in the past as the construction industry in London has never been so busy and its looking like the rest of the UK and Ireland is also picking up at a good pace.”

Currently, the fallout of the result of the recent British General Election is being digested across channel causing considerable surprise not alone in Ireland but also for Roscommon people like Ciaran living in Britain. The picture he paints of the fallout however, is not a pretty one:

“The recent election is not good news for Britain and the economy,  I am not sure anymore if there is much difference in the parties and their policies, if they concentrated more on running the country instead of trying to make the each other look bad we would all be much better off.

“This country is not in a good place with regards to stability and if this carries on it will cause us to spiral into recession.  And to think the DUP and Arlene Foster could have a say in the running of Britain is unimaginable!”, claims Ciaran.

Ciaran is less downbeat about the impact of Brexit upon businesses such as his own and the Roscommon diaspora in general. However he feels the uncertainty in the immediate aftermath of the referendum appears to have stabilised somewhat.

“I knew the British public was going to vote out (leave) as they seem obsessed with immigrants – people from Eastern Europe who are here in the UK are taking up the same trades as the Irish did in the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s to date.

“The UK needs these immigrants as by and large they are hardworking individuals who are undertaking a large percentage of the manual jobs in this country and they are paying their taxes.

The Irish in Britain and indeed at home wanted Britain to remain in the EU and I think it is a shame for everybody especially the younger generation that the vote has gone the way it did.

“Following the Brexit vote some of the larger projects  we were tendering were put on hold but things appear to be stabilising thankfully and hopefully they will remain that way for the foreseeable future.”

While the threat of Brexit may not be as great as expected, security fears have risen in London, most notably following the recent London Bridge terrorist attacks. It’s a fear that Ciaran and the rest of the Roscommon community share.

“Security has been stepped up massively but I’m afraid we have not seen the worst of it yet.  I do feel for the Muslim community as having lived through the IRA campaign in London I know how tough it can be.”

Leaving school at 16, Ciaran started his apprenticeship in Fergus Hanley’s joinery shop in Ballyleague and subsequently attended what was then known as Anco (the training organisation which was a forerunner to FAS) in Athlone, on block release.

Three years after leaving school, after seeing many of his friends leave Ireland, curiosity got the better of Ciaran and so he too took the well-worn path of others: “My older sister Maura had just got married and she and her husband were going to London and I decided to go with them.

“My younger sister Sile had just gone a few weeks earlier and my younger brother Noel was to follow when he finished school but just for his school holidays, a sad time for my parents, Johnnie and Maureen looking back now to lose four kids to Immigration within a few weeks”, recalls Ciaran.

Like many who travelled to London, Ciaran’s initial path to employment was a somewhat circuitous one, as he explains – “I bought the (London) Evening Standard (as everybody looking for work did at the time) and the first guy I spoke to said start Monday which I did.

“I got my bag of tools and hit off on the train into central London, I was the only Irish man on but they were good bunch of guys, the money was not the best in town so after a few weeks I got the paper and called up another firm offering better money, unfortunately I was told by the Irish man that they were full at that moment.”

All was not lost for however, as the man informed Ciaran that he was going to a Mick Flavin concert on the Saturday in ‘The Thatch’ on Holloway Road. “Of course instantly I told him Mick was a neighbour of my mothers in Ballinamuck in North Longford and that my cousin played in the band.

“I told him I would meet him there for a drink. I got my cousin in the band to play a request for him and instantly I got put top of the list and I started the following Monday morning with the Byrne Group in the very prestigious development Chelsea Harbour!”

Despite this good fortune, it wasn’t altogether easy for Ciaran arriving in London, despite the strong social bonds between emigrants. “It was not a great time to be Irish in Britain and once you stepped outside the Irish circle it was very a different scene.   Things have changed for the better…our wonderful St Patricks day parade which attracts a quarter of a million people is evidence of that.

“Socially, London was a great place as we had so many great venues such as the Galtymore, The National and The Swan and every weekend and had all the big bands over – sadly almost all the venues the Irish frequented are long gone. It was like home from home.

“London has changed massively since I came here all those years ago, we are no longer the main immigrants doing all the hard work, there are fewer Irish coming to London and the younger Irish are different, they tend to be university educated and want more for the office side of construction rather than the labour element.

“I look at the Romanians and Lithuanians now and they are the new Irish working hard and doing whatever they can to improve their quality of life and to provide for their families back home as we did in our day”, says Ciaran.

Today, the social scene in London for Roscommon people is considerably different and not as vibrant claims Ciaran but feels this may have something to do with less people from the county emigrating to the likes of London.

“I am involved in all things Irish in London and my company sponsor many of the Irish youth football and rugby teams here. We get the Roscommon Herald every week and with that and social media and Irish TV along with chatting the family back home there is not much going on that I do not hear about.

But I suppose social media helps the younger people stay in contact now and they aren’t necessarily interested in going to dinner dances with show bands playing, they will meet in the Irish pubs.  There are very few Irish venues left in London where bands play and you can have a dance.

“I have three wonderful, healthy children, Caitlin, aged 16, Roisin 14 and John 12 and although they love London they also love going back to Roscommon to spend time with family.  My partner, Marian, was brought up in London by Irish parents so by bringing my three up here will mean they will also be submerged in the Irish community much like Marian was.

“My girls have done Irish dancing since they were able to walk and have both travelled extensively taking part in world championships and bringing home medals.  John is a football fanatic playing for soccer and Gaelic teams locally, his dream came true when we met Alex Ferguson at Knock airport and he got a photo with him. “

“Ballyleague is and always will be home. I try to get back there four or five times a year depending on work and the kids school holidays.   My parents, two sisters and a brother are all still in Ballyleague, my youngest sister made it all the way to New York from London and is still there now.

“We always time the summer holidays so the cousins from London, New York and Roscommon can all get together at the same time and it’s something the kids all look forward to every year, and my parents love having all the grandchildren together as well.

I love music and never miss any Irish bands when they are in town; the last gig I saw was The Saw Doctors.  Cars are my other passion and I have a collection of classic cars the most recent purchase being a DeLorean (once produced in Belfast and featured on the hit film ‘Back to the Future’)!

As to the future, Ciaran is hopeful despite all the challenges and issues affecting London. In true emigrant spirit, he has reached out to many emigrants arriving in London, just as those reached out to him upon his arrival in London.

“I have helped many young Irish and indeed other nationalities with work and also to find accommodation upon their arrival here in London, many of who have turned out to be longstanding members of the Horohoe team which can be very rewarding when you give young guys an opportunity and they grab the bull by the horns and make the most of it.

“London can be a great place but it can also be a very lonely place when people fall down on their luck, The phrase the streets are paved with gold could not be further from the truth but like everywhere if you are willing to work you can get on very well in London.”

A life well lived for Anne

The story of Anne McLoone (nee Conry) is typical of the emigrant experience of many Irish people who have made Britain, or in her case, London, their home. A native of Tulsk, Anne has lived in London for the past forty-four years.

A proud Roscommon lady, Anne knows much about the emigrant experience. She has been lucky enough to make a home for herself in London, working in her chosen Nursing profession.

A committed community activist with a natural disposition to lead, Anne has thrown herself into life in her adopted city as a valued member of the Roscommon Association in London while remaining steadfast to her roots in Tulsk and county Roscommon.

Anne’s story is typical of the many emigrant stories of Irish men and women who have travelled to London to make that city their home. It has not been without its challenges – the huge transition of adapting to London life and the loss of her beloved husband Con in recent years has represented huge personal challenges.

Yet true to her dynamic and resilient nature, Anne McLoone remains dedicated to her family, her Nursing career, her support of all things Irish in London as well as her strong bonds of affection for Tulsk.

In her own words, Anne McLoone reveals her story of a life well lived to fellow Tulsk native and neighbour, Darragh Kelly, where she talks about her life, the challenges facing new emigrants to London and the impact of Brexit upon the Irish community…

“I was born in Tulsk the only girl and oldest of four; I have three brothers Michael, John and Joseph. I went to Tulsk National School, after to which I went to the Convent of Mercy in Elphin before transferring to boarding school in Tuam.

My parents, Phonsie and Kitty have remarkable faith. The rosary – with all its trimmings – was recited every night and still is! We had to help out at home from an early age, completing chores within the house and helping out on the farm. We never went away on a family holiday – our highlight of the year was our annual outing to Salthill for a day at the sea!

Anne McCloone PhotoLooking back, my parents worked very hard, my father Phonsie came to work in London for a few years in the 1960’s. We would always look forward to him coming back home, as he’d arrive at the house with bags of new clothes for us – always from Marks and Spencer.

I remember my mother milking the cows and bringing the creamery cans up on a wheelbarrow to the top of the road to our neighbours, the Costello’s, whilst I was left minding my little brothers.

We always had a car, and would go to lots of football matches. I remember one particular game in Ballinasloe when Galway defeated Roscommon– my mother, a proud Galway woman, had the Galway flag out the window, but as soon as we crossed back into Roscommon, my father made sure the flag was brought in!

In the summers, I would stay with my grandfather in Ahascragh and as I got older I would work in my aunt’s shop and pub – Creaton’s in Loughglynn. I loved this, especially when the carnival was on, which was always a great occasion.

Our house in Tulsk was known as the rambling house, where the neighbours would gather to tell stories and play cards – usually 25, and they’d give analysis on the latest club and county football games.

Tulsk always had great community spirit, my father would direct and produce the plays at the Macra Hall, where I would have a small part – quite often we would have a few artistic differences, resulting in a few heated debates!

I came to London in March 1973 to commence my general nurse training at King’s College Hospital. This was a daunting step for a young country girl. My parents were not in favour of me coming to England, but the late Dr. Lyster in Strokestown convinced them I was very lucky to be accepted to a world renowned Hospital.

Upon arrival in London, I was met by the late Kathleen Owens, also from Tulsk, who escorted me to the hospital and helped me get my bearings. From walking around London it soon became clear I was a long way away from Tulsk. It was fast paced, everyone was in hurry and not one familiar face to stop and have a chat.

At the weekends many other Irish who made the big trip across the sea, could be found in the Harp nightclub in New Cross – now known as the Venue. Many friendships and relationships were started here. It was here where I met my husband Con, from Rosbeg, in Donegal. We married in October 1977 in Tulsk Church.

Following my nursing training at King’s Cross, I moved the Farnborough Hospital in Kent, where I trained to be a midwife. After two years, I transferred to the world renowned Guy’s Hospital to commence my intensive care training.

Following this, in 1986 I was given the opportunity to work with Professor Yacoub, a world renowned heart transplant surgeon in Saudi Arabia where a team of us set up an intensive care unit in Jeddah. This was a wonderful experience and really opened my eyes to a very different culture.

Between my nursing training and experiences in Saudi Arabia, I have two children – Daniel and Alana. I returned to work in the intensive care unit at King’s Cross before having my third child, Tara.

My husband Con and I always made sure the children maintained a strong relationship with home. Con and the children travelled home every Christmas, while I worked on the Hospital unit before joining them on St Stephen’s Day. The family would spend Christmas in Tulsk and New Years’ in Donegal.

The children to this day have a strong bond with Ireland and Tulsk, my daughter Alana moved to Ireland in 2011 and currently works as a music teacher in Athenry while living in Athlone.

Both Daniel and Tara have stayed in London, Daniel works as the first team video and performance analyst for Millwall football club (who recently caused a sensation, defeating Premier League champions Leicester City to advance to the last eight of the FA Cup). Tara has joined me at King’s Cross, working as a Physiotherapist.

Con worked in the building trade in many areas around London. He was a great man completing jobs for everyone, no matter how big or small, however any small job within our own home would always take a little longer!

Sadly Con became ill and was diagnosed with a brain tumour in September 2013 passing away a mere eleven weeks after his diagnosis in December of that year. His passing left a great void not only within our family, but also within our community of friends in London, Tulsk and Donegal.

Currently I work as matron for the outreach critical care team and deteriorating patients at King’s College Hospital. This is a varied role which includes clinical and management responsibilities. I thrive on the busy environment within a large London hospital and being able to help make a difference to so many peoples’ lives.

I have been involved in the Roscommon Association London for the past 38 years. Not only does the association provide a social outlet, it also provides an opportunity to raise money for many worthy causes both in London and Ireland.

In the early years the association helped many people make the transition from life in Roscommon to London, however as the years have gone by, times have changed and greater social media dependency has helped to connect people.

I have been secretary of Dulwich Harps Underage Gaelic football club for the past twenty years. In the summer of 2000 the club set up a partnership with St. Paul’s Academy in Abbeywood, a school which holds a strong connection with Roscommon, as Principal Pat Winston’s family hail from Castlerea.

Harps have had many highlights over the years but games in Tulsk against are always a personal favourite. Tulsk people have always provided us with a generous welcome and a wonderful sporting experience on our tours of Ireland.

In relation to the vexed issue of Brexit, Irish citizens are not considered foreign in Britain. The British and Irish have travelled freely between each other’s shores for so long; it is hard to imagine things any other way. Irish Nurses play a key role and make a great contribution to the running of the National Health Service (NHS). There will always be a special relationship between Britain and Ireland and I don’t see that changing.

As Dr. Johnson used to say ‘when you’re tired of London, you’re tired of life’. London is a city that never sleeps and I am truly grateful for the amazing opportunities the city has offered both my family and myself. I have met many great people here from all walks of life and all corners of the world.

London today is expensive with high rents. Networking is increasingly important for the young Irish community; Enterprise Ireland have structures in place to ease the transition for Irish people coming to London.

Transition from places such as Roscommon can be a difficult experience, you need to be prepared and have a supportive employer to help you set up your bank account, phone account and find suitable accommodation.

It’s important for young people intending to move to know that there are many professional networks which the Irish diaspora can tap into – the Irish International Business Network (IIBN) and the London Irish Business Society (LIBS) are two such examples. These networks try to find the right balance between social activities and professional events focused on career progression.

Tulsk and Ireland will always have a home in my heart, however I do not see myself retiring to Ireland permanently, it’s more likely I will continue to make regular visits as will my family. I don’t see that changing in the future!”

Amazing places to visit

Whether you want to relax and unwind or enjoy a day out with the family, Roscommon has it all. From walking trails, historic houses, floating inflatable islands and heritage sites, there’s something for everyone.

1. Bay Sports

Hodson Bay is home to Bay Sports, a fun-filled water park on Lough Ree with Europe’s largest floating water park featuring jungle towers, trampolines, slides, and obstacle courses. There’s also Stand Up Paddling (SUP) Boards, pedal boats, and even a BBQ / picnic area for you to relax and help create the perfect day out for ALL the family (even your dog!) Find out more at


2. Strokestown Park House

There’s always something to do at Strokestown Park! A range of cultural events for all ages and interests take place throughout the season including garden, craft, seasonal and family events, evening concerts and seminars.

The House is built on the site of the 16th century castle, home of The O Conor Roe Gaelic Chieftains. It features a Georgian Palladian Mansion with its original furnishings and fabrics, the National Famine Museum & Archive and Historic Gardens & Woodlands. Take a walk in the gardens, look out for the fairies, take a tour of the house, relax in the coffee shop and bring home a momento from the grift shop. Find out more at

3. Roscommon Castle

Roscommon Castle is a 13th-century Norman castle situated in walking distance of Roscommon town. After being won and lost by siege multiple times over the course of four centuries, it was burned down one final time in 1690. It is a ruin today, but still stands and is perfect for exploring, with lots and nooks and crannys. If you would like more information, or a guided tour, pop into Roscommon Tourist Office where they will be happy to help.

4. Loughnaneane Park

Loughnaneane Park is a beautiful 14 acre green space in the middle of Roscommon town. The Park includes a crannog known locally as the Hill o’ Bones, a wildflower meadow, bird walk, lake feature, mounds, children’s playground, outdoor gym and car park.

5. Arigna Mining

The Arigna Mining Experience is a great day out for both young and old, providing a unique insight into what coal mining life was like. All tours of the mine are guided by ex-miners, who give visitors an insight into a typical miners working day.

Find out more at

6. Rathcroghan

Rathcroghan Visitor Centre has interpretive rooms, where you can see how the Iron Age and Medieval Irish dressed, what they ate, where they lived, and what they believed in. You can go on a tour of the unique monuments from the mysterious ritual centre of Rathcroghan Mound, to the infamous Oweynagat, (Uaimh na gCat – the Cave of the Cats) entrance to the Irish Otherworld. There’s also a café and gift shop on site. Find out more at

7. Lough Key Forest & Activity Park

This is a one stop shop for all the family! Based just outside Boyle in Co. Roscommon it is set in the grounds of the old King-Harman Estate on the shores of Lough Key. There’s so much to see and do including, walking and cycling trails, segways, Zipit high wire forest adventure park, Boda Borg, a challenging Swedish Adventure House for adults and children alike and so much more.

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8. Derryglad Museum

Derryglad Folk Museum houses a unique and fascinating collection of over 6000 items telling the history, heritage and folk culture. There’s everything from cereal boxes, to sewing machines to horse-drawn machinery restored to original working order. The collection also deals with farm and folk life in Ireland from the 18th century to the recent past. It’s like walking back in time! Find out more

9. Elphin Windmill

The Elphin Windmill is a fully restored, working, 18th century windmill, the oldest type in the country . The mill was originally used for grinding corn and other grains and now houses a visitor centre where the workings of the windmill are interpreted and demonstrated. Also on site is an agricultural museum housing a threshing machine, a winnower and other machinery associated with the harvesting of grain. Definitely worth a visit! Find out more

10. Douglas Hyde Centre

Portahard Church and Interpretative Centre Church of Ireland was restored in 1988 by Roscommon County Council and an Interpretative Centre telling the life-story of Dr. Douglas Hyde (1860-1949) was installed. Dr. Hyde’s contribution to modern Ireland is highlighted in the exhibition by the use of informative charts, maps and photographs. Through audio-visual material you can capture the spirit of his dream and celebrate the achievements of one life dedicated to one vision.

Also on display is the original letter nominating him as first President of Ireland, signed by members of the two main political parties in Dáil Éireann – Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael – along with many other items of historical interest.

The grounds of the building include Garden an Chraoibhín. The trees and shrubs in the Garden have been selected with reference to old Irish folklore, each plant illustrates part of an ancient “Calendar Alphabet System”.

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For further information on things to do in Roscommon, see