Apparently, there are now more legally held handguns in this country than ever before and last week in this newspaper, Deputy John Deasy expressed alarm at the growing trend. The rapid liberalisation of the possession of handguns in this country was extremely worrying, he said.

There are 50 handgun licences in the Waterford/Kilkenny Garda Division and, according to official figures, there are more licensed handguns in Wexford than in any other garda division in the country. The town’s Garda station has issued 108 handgun licences to people in the local area and that figure is added to by the issuing of 33 handgun licences in Enniscorthy, 29 in Gorey and 21 in New Ross. Four years ago, only one such licence was issued in Wexford town.

In fact, the increase in handguns does seem to be a national trend because, for example, there are 75 people in the relatively small town of Athlone legally entitled to own and use handguns. A total of 65 handgun licences have been issued in Longford/Westmeath, 63 in Laois/Offaly and 34 in Roscommon/East Galway. God only knows how many there are in the Dublin, Cork and Limerick urban areas.

It should be stressed that the vast majority of licensed gun owners are extremely careful, sensible people who take the responsibility of owning a gun seriously and many use them for target-shooting only. But, personally speaking, I don’t like guns and I’ve never owned one. Basically, they are killing machines, weapons of destruction and I’ve always been nervous around them.

Taking the time to live

The following tale was kindly sent to me by a regular reader. It’s sentimental and thought provoking but colleagues in the office I showed it to liked it so I hope you do too.

A man opened his wife’s dressing-table drawer and picked up an expensive looking package tied with golden string. He unwrapped the box and stared down at exquisite silk underwear. She had bought it the first time they went to New York but she never put it on as she was saving it for a special occasion. “Well”, he said to himself, “I guess this is about as special as it’s going to get.”

He then placed the gift box on the bed next to the other clothing he was taking to the funeral home where his wife’s body had just been taken from the hospital. He later sent the following message to his grown-up children.

“Never save something for a special occasion. Every day in your life is a special occasion. Read more and clean less. Try and sit down of an evening without worrying about anything. Spend more time with your families and less at work.

“Understand that life should be lived and not survived. Don’t hoard rubbish. Take your Waterford Crystal glasses out of the display cabinet and use them every day. Wear your best clothes whenever practicable.

“Don’t save your favourite perfume and after-shave for special occasions, use it every day. Try and eliminate the words ‘someday’ and ‘one day’ from your vocabulary because if it’s worth seeing, listening to or doing, then do it now.

“I don’t know what your mother would have done if she had known she wouldn’t be here today. I think she might have called you all and her closest friends. She would have made peace over past quarrels. Definitely, she would have gone out for a slap-up Chinese meal at her favourite restaurant.

“Each day, each hour, each minute is special. Live for today, for tomorrow is promised to no-one”

Age-friendly Ireland?

There was a big brouhaha recently (and rightly so) when the government announced its intention to take away the automatic right to a medical card for all people over 70. Well the old aged pensioners will be interested to learn that County Louth has become the first age-friendly county in Ireland. A government-backed project is underway in which Louth will act as a leader in how to best ensure that our older people remain active and integrated in their communities. The aim is to make Louth a centre of excellence for improving the well-being and quality of life of older people and increasing their participation in social, economic and cultural life.

Over 150 representatives from a wide range of government departments, local authorities, public bodies and voluntary groups attended the launch last week of the project by Justice Minister Dermot Ahern in the Fairways Hotel. Minister Ahern said the knowledge and expertise built up during the exercise would, in time, be shared countrywide.

It was also announced at the launch that County Louth had been chosen to take part in a global study on older people under guidelines laid down by the World Health Organisation. Very interesting.

A Christmas No 1
for Joe Dolan?

Fans of Joe Dolan will be pleased to learn that a previously unheard of recording by the Mullingar man of ‘Oh Holy Night’ has been unearthed. Joe’s nephew and recording engineer Adrian Dolan was sorting through material for a new EMI box-set collection when he came across the recording of the classic Christmas hymn which he had almost forgotten about.

The Mullingar Cathedral Choir and an orchestral arrangement have been added to Joe’s vocal and, according to those who have heard the finished recording, the end result is very special with a unique spiritual feel and is a definite contender for the Christmas No 1 in this country.

Elvis was a Carlow man

And still on the subject of singers, new research published last week claims that Elvis Presley was a true Carlow man whose direct roots were in Hacketstown. It had been thought that the Presleys were originally from Scotland but Carlow historian, Michael Purcell, in tandem with colleagues in the United States, has traced Elvis’ family tree back to a William Presley who, together with his brother Andrew, left Hacketstown for New Orleans in 1775 when they came out at the wrong end of a land dispute. The researchers have followed William’s family from New Orleans to Carolina and on to Tennessee and can show that William Presley was Elvis’ great-great-great-great-grandfather. And to think, Elvis never recorded ‘Follow Me Up To Carlow’!

An angry golfer

Last Wednesday afternoon was a cold but beautiful day in Ferrybank and quite a few golfers were out and about on the fairways at Waterford Golf Club. A well known city personality was lining up a shot at the first hole when the secretary turned on the outside public address system and called out: “Mr Murphy (not his real name), will you please move off the women’s tee and return to the men’s tee.”

Mr Murphy paid no attention to the announcement and was about to strike his ball when the secretary’s voice came over the public address system again, this time a little less polite. “Mr Murphy, will you please move back to the men’s tee.”

Even though a sizeable crowd of spectators had gathered, Mr Murphy gave no indication that he was going to comply with the secretary’s instruction and once again prepared to address his ball. But before he could swing his club, another message came over the sound system. “Mr Murphy, for the last time, I must insist that you return immediately to the men’s tee.”

Very slowly and deliberately, Mr Murphy, his face dark with annoyance, put his club back into his bag and turned to face the secretary and the crowd. He glared at them for a moment or two and then cupped his hands around his mouth so his words would be better heard at the clubhouse. “Would you all please go away and mind your own bloody business . . . and allow me to take my second shot.”