Even though my own ability to read and write Irish is poor, I have always been a supporter of the language and its propagation and I regret not having done something about my own shortcomings in that regard. I often thought about attending adult classes but there was always some pressing matter that demanded attention instead.

However, I was delighted when TG4 was set up and that it continues to thrive.

Some people might question the expenditure involved but, believe me, it is only a drop in the ocean in the grand order of things and, if our backs really were up against the financial wall, there are plenty of other ways the government could save money.

That said, I have always considered unconstitutional the fact that some local authorities brought in planning laws that prohibit people building or purchasing homes in Gaeltacht areas if they don’t have a reasonable command of the Irish language. I understand fully the sentiment behind such laws but, surely, a person is no less Irish or no less worthy just because they don’t speak the language.

In fact, the ‘Irish only’ planning conditions have come in for strong criticism from EU Commissioner Charlie McCreevy who told the government in a letter that the conditions were not only disproportionate but also discriminatory. Mr. McCreevy said he had received complaints that the rules were contrary to EU regulations on freedom of establishment and freedom of capital movement. As a result, he was inviting a response before considering a possible legal challenge.

However, the government replied that its policy was to protect the linguistic and cultural heritage of Gaeltacht areas and such preservation was a fundamental

EU principle. It now remains to be seen if the EU Commission will take the matter to the European Courts.

Don’t mind him, he’s only an a-zombie!

A friend of mine happened to be driving through Ferbane, County Offaly, recently and came across rehearsal scenes in the town’s main street that will be beamed across the world this weekend as part of an unusual Guinness World Record attempt.

As part of the RTE People in Need Telethon, about one-hundred zombies will re-enact scenes from Michael Jackson’s award winning Thriller video. Dubbed ‘Thrill the World’, Ferbane agreed to join with other towns in an attempt to break the record for the largest simultaneous dance performance to a single piece of music.

At present, the record is held by 197,569 students who danced the Hokey-Cokey in 681 locations across Canada in 2002. Now Ferbane, in conjunction with 82 other groups in cities and towns in 15 countries, has laid claim to a new record by dancing to Thriller. Local people have been asked to play the role of zombies and join in the fun but I think that is a fairly risky scenario. Did they not consider that there could be difficulties for the gardai on the night if trouble erupts. For instance, how will they know the real a-zombies from the fake a-zombies?

Back in the studio, reeling in the years!

This week has been an unusual one for me because, for the first time in over 30 years, I have a new recording on sale. It’s a self-penned single entitled ‘From Deise’s Shore’. Details first and then an explanation. The CD at €2.99 is available only from Sinnott’s Music Store, Michael Street, Waterford, or as a 99c download from the independent Irish music website Downloadmusic.ie

For readers who don’t know my background, I grew up in Waterford and played in groups and showbands during the halcyon days of the 1960s and 1970s. Like many of my peers I also wrote a lot of songs and, at the time, had a couple of minor successes. As a singer I had better luck and had two Top Twenty hits in 1974, the biggest of which was a song called ‘Goodbye My Love Goodbye’ that stayed in the Irish charts for three months.

But, of course, everything has its day and the wonderful showband dancing scene died, the ballrooms closed and most of us were happy and fortunate enough to be able to return to the day jobs. Although I played on the cabaret scene for some time I had been away from live music for many years. But, recently, I have been writing again, purely for the fun and pleasure of it, and a number of songs have emerged as a result. Because one of them, ‘From Deise’s Shore’, is a song about Waterford, of which there are not too many, I was persuaded to return to the recording studio and the end result is the new single.

Please note that it is my ‘new’ single as opposed to my ‘latest’ offering as I don’t want to frighten people too much. Much to the dismay of my family, I have now reverted to type and refer to everybody as ‘Howaya Head’ or ‘Hey Man’ and my old white suits, long-collared, polka-dot shirts and high-heel boots fit me a treat. The chicks in the office are very supportive and I can hear them laughing like drains when I pass by so I guess they’re impressed. I’ve even acquired a vintage Ford Capri to complete the look! I mean, hey man, a pop star has gotta have the right set of wheels under him. I still have the old problem of finding a photographer who can make me look pleasant as opposed to contrary

(Eoin Murphy of the Munster Express has long given up the ghost) but we’re working on that.

If the single takes off, I have promised to make personal appearances in aid of charity at Sachs Nightclub, The Showboat, Catch 22 in The Tower, Katie Reilly’s Kitchen, The Blackwater Tavern, Kickham’s in Carrick and Shalloe’s in Tramore.

I don’t want to do too much travelling but we are considering Minnie’s in Dungarvan, The Bush Inn in Ballylaneen, Corcoran’s in Kill and my old stomping ground, The Fishermen’s Hall in Dunmore East.