I spent several enthralling hours last weekend watching a wonderful DVD that has been put together by the Friends of William Vincent Wallace Society. This is not a commercial DVD available to buy but rather a labour of love painstakingly put together by people who love all things Waterford.

The DVD contains snatches of film and video from a wide-ranging number of Waterford events dating from 1948 right up to the present time. There is sport, music, news, tourism, arts, in fact a wonderful collection that will give unbridled pleasure to Waterford people everywhere. There are thirty items in all and I would honestly say there are people at home and abroad who would give their right arms to get their hands on such a valuable and historic item. This really is a collectors’ item of the highest order.

As I said at the outset, this is not a DVD compiled for commercial reasons because there may be copyright implications so, therefore, it cannot be sold or even given away in any numbers. But, I am told that the Friends of William Vincent Wallace Society will make some copies available on a first-come, first-served basis. They can’t ask for payment but a €25 donation to the Society to cover basic costs would not go astray. Make contact with the Wallace Society by calling 051-870310, 087-0649884 or email johndwalsh@eircom.net

One of the powers behind the Presidential throne



The inspiring and emotive inaugural speech, delivered by President Barack Obama last week, will be framed and hung up in countless family rooms across America. But not too many people know that it was actually crafted by a 27-year-old speechwriter called Jon Favreau who is the youngest person ever to have become a chief speechwriter in the White House.

Apart from his youth, Mr Favreau is also quite unorthodox in the way he writes. Fuelled by strong coffee and Red Bull, he likes to compose on his laptop in crowded burger joints or coffee houses and, if the muse doesn’t land on his shoulders, he moves somewhere else.

President Obama and Mr Favreau first met in 2004 when the future President had just been elected to the Senate and needed a speechwriter. They talked for 30 minutes before they agreed that they worked well together and the team was formed. According to Mr Favreau, President Obama is actually the better writer of the two and he often makes all the final adjustments to speeches. He has direct access to the President at all times and his next big task will be to persuade the various layers of security personnel that he is a very senior White House staffer and not a nerdy young geek found wandering about the place.

Incidentally, the longest ever presidential inaugural speech was delivered by William Henry Harrison in 1841. It comprised 8,000 words and lasted three hours! President Harrison refused to wear a coat while making his speech and died from pneumonia a month later. The shortest inaugural address was made by George Washington at the start of his second term and it comprised just 135 words. 

Even tougher debt collectors



Debt collectors have always had a rather tough image but quite a few people in the South East area are opening their doors to an even tougher prospect in recent weeks because the notorious Dublin criminal, Martin ‘The Viper’ Foley, is now collecting debts in the region on behalf of local business people.

It should be stressed that Mr. Foley’s company, Viper Recovery and Repossession Services Ltd., is a legitimate, registered operation with offices in Crumlin, Dublin. Apparently, a number of businesses facing mounting bad debts ruthlessly decided to avail of Mr. Foley’s service that has proved to be very successful in collecting outstanding sums of money.

According to sources, Mr. Foley and his colleagues have been calling on individuals often demanding payment up front and, in many cases, getting the cash immediately. “You wouldn’t turn him down if he came calling”, said one business person.

A Garda source has confirmed that they know about Mr. Foley’s company operating a debt collection and recovery service on behalf of businesses in certain parts of the South East region. Over the years, the Dublin man has gained considerable notoriety in the criminal underworld and has survived a succession of assassination attempts despite being targeted and shot on five separate occasions.

A foxy Banshee



A correspondent writes to reassure readers who tend to believe in the supernatural not to be concerned or frightened if they think they have heard the Banshee wailing on recent nights.

Apparently, some people of a nervous disposition may have been frightened by nocturnal screams piercing through the high winds of recent nights but my correspondent reassures them that it is nothing more sinister than foxes engaging in a mating ritual. This is their mating season and male foxes are prowling the woods and fields searching for females by emitting a series of short, sharp barks. If a nearby vixen is in a receptive frame of mind she will respond with a series of blood-curdling screams that carry far and wide on the wind.

He goes on to mention a lot of fascinating things we may not have known about foxes such as the fact that they are all born with blue eyes which later turn amber. But, he says, the important thing to remember is that there is no need to fasten the windows, stoke up the fire or stay up on-guard all night in fear of receiving a visit from the Banshee. A better understanding of the natural world has done much to dispel a lot of the supernatural nonsense that pertained in bygone days, he says firmly.

Let’s hope he’s right but I saw the Banshee in ‘Darby O’Gill and the Little People’ and it would be best not to take any chances!

An angel and the good statues



For decades, two statues, one male and one female, faced each other in a city park until one day an angel came down from heaven. “You’ve been such exemplary statues that I’m going to give you a special gift”, announced the angel. “I’m going to bring you both to life for thirty minutes and during that time you can do anything you want”. Then, with a clap of his hands, the angel brought the statues to life.

The two approached each other a bit shyly but soon went into the nearby bushes and not long after came the sound of giggling, laughter and shaking of branches. Fifteen minutes later, the two statues emerged from the bushes, wide grins on their faces.

“You still have fifteen more minutes”, said the angel, winking at them knowingly. Grinning even more widely the female statue turned to the male statue and said, “Great, let’s do it again. Only this time you hold the pigeon down and I’ll do the business on its head.”