I have always maintained that the word ‘expedient’ is the most dangerous in the English language because, if it is ‘expedient’, people can turn any situation to suit themselves. Not too long ago, I suspect that there wouldn’t have been a huge fondness for her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in the wild and fiercely republican Kingdom of Kerry. But all has changed because business bosses in Killarney have come to the conclusion that their best chance of saving the tourism sector in the area is to somehow convince Queen Elizabeth to visit the town.

The British market is now seen by industry sources as the key to recovery in Killarney’s crashed tourism trade and a visit by Queen Elizabeth is believed to be the only sure-fire way of seriously improving the situation. An official invitation is being prepared that will invite the Queen to retrace the footsteps of her ancestor Queen Victoria who visited Killarney 150 years ago.

A spokesperson for the Kerry Branch of the Irish Hotels Federation, Michael Rosney, said a visit from Queen Elizabeth would be akin to all the tourism industry’s Christmases coming together as it would generate positive publicity in Britain that a marketing campaign of €30m couldn’t buy.

Kilkenny’s cool dude Mayor

Speaking of matters official, it seems that the Fianna Fail members of Kilkenny City Council are unhappy at the dress code of their Mayor, Councillor Malcolm Noonan, who is a member of the Green Party. Apparently, Mayor Noonan has upset some of his more conservative colleagues by wearing jeans and sneakers at some official functions. It is understood that the matter will be raised at a Council sub-committee in the near future when it is hoped to introduce a dress code for future First Citizens of the Marble City.

It’s a good job none of the objecting councilors were active in US politics during the reign of President Jimmy Carter who believed people should be casual and comfortable at work. Visitors to the White House were often surprised to see the President and his senior staff rushing about the place wearing jeans and sneakers!

Goodbye to Judge Neilan

The outspoken Judge John Neilan and his battles with the high and mighty have often featured in this column but, sadly, this item will probably be the last about his exploits because he retired last week.

Despite the fact that he could be testy and a bit of a curmudgeon, it was obvious that he was held in affection as well as respect by all who frequented his court and he was seen by ordinary members of the public as ‘a champion of the underdog’.

In the past, he crossed swords with many high-level individuals and organisations and, of course, he had a long-running and well publicised spat with Michael McDowell when he was Minister for Justice. Outspoken to the end, Judge Neilan was cheered to the rafters last week when he threatened to issue bench warrants for the arrests of any bankers who intimidated people struggling with debt problems.

The bells ring out

The bells of The Friary Church in Wexford are once again ringing out over the town after an absence of twenty years and local people are delighted. The once familiar sound is now heard again every day at midday, at 6pm and before all Masses. The driving force behind the project to restore the bell was Chicago-born Brother Donald Thielson who is also the chief bell-ringer. The painstaking work on the three-ton bell was carried out by the local firm of Richard Browne Builders. Brother Donald was accepting numerous congratulations this week and quipped that it had been tough going for a while but everything was alright when he got into the swing of things!

Bouncy balls

Perusing figures released by the Department of Justice last week, it was interesting to note that managements at the Portlaoise and Midlands prisons spent €2,500 on balls for inmates last year. The list includes footballs, tennis-balls, hand-balls, basket-balls, table-tennis balls and squash-balls. What on earth are the prisoners doing with so many bouncy balls? Perhaps it’s because when balls are ‘canted’ over the prison walls, the prisoners can’t run outside and fetch them back!

What a way to go!

A well-known and highly respected consultant cardiologist died unexpectedly and was accorded a very elaborate send-off by the hospital (not WRH) where he worked for many years. In order to accommodate the expected large attendance, the much-loved consultant was laid out in a nearby community hall and, when mourners arrived for the removal, they saw that a huge floral tribute in the shape of a heart had been positioned behind the casket.

After the prayers were completed, a choir sang ‘I Will Return to Thee, O Lord’ and everybody gasped in surprise when an opening suddenly appeared in the heart of flowers through which the coffin entered before the ‘heart’ closed again.

It was a very dramatic moment and many people, some of them former patients who had been restored to health by the consultant, burst into spontaneous applause. But the spell was broken by the sound of loud sobbing and people turned around to see a consultant colleague of the deceased in floods of tears. But, even as mourners rushed to comfort him, the senior medic fell to his knees and his tears turned to hysterical, manic laughter.

“My dear, dear friend, how can we console you”, said the parish priest officiating at the removal. Though his breast was still heaving and his tears were still flowing, the consultant became much calmer.

“I’m sorry for causing such a fuss, Father”, he said, “it’s just that I got a terrible premonition of what’s going to happen at my own funeral. You see, I’m a gynecologist.”

It took a moment or two for the penny to drop and then the parish priest’s eyes opened wide and he fainted.