A lot of people will tell you that ‘an 80s feeling’ has returned to the country as dole queues lengthen and young people reach for their passports.

But, while a ‘feeling’ of the 80s might pertain, things are very different this time around. The bottom line is that there are very few places for people to go seeking employment because the recession is a global one.

Recruitment companies specialising in placing applicants in overseas jobs say, not only are young graduates among their customers but a growing number of entire families are now seeking new starts outside of Ireland. Despite negative reports, the United States and Australia are still very popular with Canada coming up on the inside.

The tide of emigration is having an effect on many sporting clubs as many young people are going abroad to work and to further their studies. However, because things are not good in Australia and other places that normally attract the Irish, many of them are expected to return. One club secretary said it was noticeable that most had not transferred from their home clubs to new clubs abroad which was another strong suggestion that they would be back.

Some travel agencies report dealing with considerable one-way bookings to Australia, often for groups of up to 20 friends. But they also report that many parents are coming in and paying for early flights home for their children who, despite their best efforts, have been unable to find work.

Your attention, please, for Amhran na bhFiann



Apparently there was panic among GAA officials in O’Moore Park, Portlaoise, on Easter Sunday when the home county hosted Monaghan in the senior football league.

Some irate locals even went so far as to suggest that the founding fathers of the GAA must have been turning in their graves on Easter Sunday because the National Anthem was not played in O’Moore Park before the big game. In the 125th year of the GAA and on the 93rd anniversary of the Easter Rising, Amhran na bhFiann was played with pride up and down the country but not in O’Moore Park, they lamented.

The County PRO, Paschal McEvoy, explained that the National Anthem had been played at the All Ireland colleges and vocational schools finals on the Saturday but, ten minutes before Sunday’s big game, the CD was found to be missing. They couldn’t get a replacement or find anybody to sing the anthem so the end result was an embarrassing silence that nobody could ever recall happening before.

If he would consider taking a little advice from this column, Paschal could do a lot worse than getting in touch with the Wexford County Secretary, Margaret Doyle. Margaret is a fine singer and, I’m sure, would be willing to train in a Portlaoise performer. I remember on one particular occasion in Belfield Park, Enniscorthy, she sang the National Anthem to thunderous applause to a packed house before a game with Limerick.

And the lads in Laois could also consider contacting Fr. Jackie Power of the Augustians in New Ross. During my many visits to the ground, Fr Jackie wouldn’t dream of letting a CD inside the press-box as long as he was blessed with a good, strong voice and many of the players used to say they were genuinely inspired by his rousing renditions.

Gardai seeking retired/
would-be hurler



Incidentally, gardai in Wexford are searching for a ‘Cat’ burglar who made off with a Kilkenny jersey from hurling legend Ned Buggy’s sports Shop in the town. Apparently, it would have been much easier for the thief to steal one of the many Wexford shirts that took pride of place in the shop but the person in question had eyes for the Kilkenny shirt only. Security television shows the culprit to be a small, bald man who walked with the aid of a crutch. A Garda spokesperson said they were working on the assumption that the man was not a current player of the game!

Felled by a blogger



Talking about County Wexford, our shrinking world, from a telecommunications point of view, was highlighted last week as a result of a major British political scandal that saw one of Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s top advisers resigning in disgrace.

Popular web blogger, ‘Guido Fawkes’, whose real name is Paul Staines, somehow obtained a number of emails sent by the top government aide to a former Labour spin-doctor in which plans were discussed to set up a website that would publish unsubstantiated stories and smears against the Conservative Party leader, David Cameron, and other top Tories.

And where is Paul Staines, the political enfant terrible of the moment, to be found? He lives in the little Wexford village of Duncormick with his wife and two children.

Are certain popular
sports flags racist?



And returning to a sporting theme, management at Dundalk FC is ‘angered and disgusted’ following a complaint by a match official that one of the flags flown at the recent game against Sligo Rovers was racist. Club Secretary, Kevin Holland, said the flag in question had been used by the fans for years. It was black, white and red, like the Dundalk colours, but it was a composite of the Irish, Basque and Palestinian flags. The situation was, he said, similar to Cork GAA fans sporting red and white Japanese and US flags.

Mr. Holland pointed out that, at the same game, Sligo fans had a flag with the Che Guevara motif on it and if those types of flags were banned in this country, as they were in England, it would sanitise vibrant displays by fans and kill the soul of the game. A spokesperson for the FAI said they had not received an official complaint about the incident.

‘Carry On’ no more



Love them or loath them, there can be few people in Ireland and Britain who have not, at one time or other, seen a ‘Carry On’ film. The creator and producers of more than thirty ‘Carry On’ films was Peter Rogers who was working on yet another addition to his collection, ‘Carry On London’, when he died last week at the age of 95. He made his first film, ‘Carry On Sergeant’ in 1957 and everybody told him there would no market or success for such ribald, risqué, seaside-postcard humour. They were all wrong.

Mind you, he was a tough operator. He shot all his films as quickly and as cheaply as he could and all the cast, even the big-name stars, were on small fixed fees. They didn’t like it but the films made them famous and they then made their money in other ways.

Incidentally, the veteran country singer, Hank Locklin, also died last week. His two biggest hits were ‘Please Help Me I’m Falling’ and ‘Send Me The Pillow That You Dream On’ but he wrote a succession of other successful songs and he was one of the main stars of the famous ‘Grand Ole Opry Show’ in Nashville for over 47 years. When U2 appeared on the BBC2 television documentary, ‘Bringing It All Back Home’, they performed one of Hank’s songs, ‘My Wild Irish Rose’.

Third time lucky?



A man was digging in his garden when his shovel hit a hard object buried in the earth and, to his surprise, it turned out to be a very old looking bottle sealed with a cork. The man wrenched the cork free and, to his astonishment, there was a cloud of smoke and a clap of thunder. Standing before him was a genie.

“As a reward for freeing me, I shall grant you three wishes”, said the genie. “But”, he added, “you should understand that, whatever you wish for, your most hated enemy shall receive twice over.”

The man’s most hated enemy happened to be his next-door neighbour but, in his excitement, he ignored that fact. He looked at his rather shabby, weather beaten bungalow and declared: “I would like to live in a ten-story luxury mansion, please.”

The genie clapped his hands and suddenly the man’s house was transformed into the most beautiful home he had ever laid eyes on. Then he heard a cry of astonishment from next door and looked over to see his neighbour standing in the doorway of his new twenty-story mansion.

Carrying on regardless, he then said to the genie: “I want fifty of the most beautiful women imaginable and they must all be mad about me and adhere to my every wish and whim.” “Certainly”, said the genie and, in a puff of smoke, his wish was granted. “Dammit”, he cursed, when he looked over the fence and saw his neighbour preening himself before his own harem of 100 women, all more attractive than his women.

“What is your third and final wish and please be careful with this”, said the genie. This time the man thought long and hard, ignoring the jeers of his neighbour. Then it came to him and there was an evil grin on his face when he said: “For my last wish, Mr Genie, I want to lose a testicle.”