Regular readers would have rightly guessed that I was in Cork last week for the Requiem Mass and funeral of Brendan O’Brien of The Dixies. Brendan got a great send-off and there were many tears and smiles on a bitter-sweet day when we said goodbye to a friend but on which we also renewed acquaintances with many former colleagues with whom contact had faded or been lost over the years.

It had been a long time since I attended a Cork city funeral and I had forgotten about the fur coats! St. Patrick’s Church in the Lower Glanmire Road was packed to overflowing and among the attendance was a sizeable contingent of mature ladies all of whom were attired in splendid fur coats.

You would rarely see a fur coat at a funeral in Waterford these days but the ladies in Cork wouldn’t dream of turning up at such an important occasion in anything less than their finery. It was quaint, it was strangely reassuring and I bet Brendan would have been pleased!

Me Mammy, the Rose!

So, after 49 years of a strict embargo, the Rose of Tralee pageant has changed its rules and single mothers are now permitted to enter the competition. According to the rules, the Rose of Tralee must still be lovely and fair with ‘a truth in her eyes ever dawning’ but, from now on, single mothers will be permitted to enter. Mind you, young married or divorced women are still barred. A spokesperson for the Festival said the Rose of Tralee was a celebration of modern, Irish womanhood and, as such, a decision had been taken to reflect changes in present day society. Anthony O’Gara, the Festival’s managing director, said the change in entry criteria had been an easy decision to take and he believed it would ensure that the competition stayed relevant in modern Ireland.

There were regular rows over the years about the rule, some of which were famously aired in this newspaper, but it has now gone and it is understood that a number of young, single mothers have already applied to take part in regional finals.

Personally, I’ve always had my doubts about the contest but, there again, many of the young women who take part are far smarter than me so, if they have no problem with participating, why should I be bothered. And, despite all the allegations of being sexist, the festival still draws one of the biggest television audiences of the year.

‘A cat should be able to hold six pints’

Still in The Kingdom, Judge James O’Connor came down hard last week on an old excuse used by many defendants over the years.

“It was the drink that made me do it”, is the refrain that has been repeated like a mantra in every courthouse in the country for years. This particular case was heard in Dingle District Court where a 19-year-old man pleaded guilty to an assault outside a night-club.

The court heard that the victim of the assault was asked for a cigarette light by the defendant and when he refused he was assaulted suffering damage to his teeth in the brawl that ensued.

“How many drinks did you have”, asked Judge O’Connor, and the defendant replied that he had consumed six or seven pints and had been fairly drunk when the incident occurred. But the Judge wasn’t the least bit impressed pointing out that a cat would be able to handle that amount of drink and if the defendant was so affected then it would be better for him never to cross the threshold of a pub.

Should the gardai chase pensioners down boreens and get free burgers?

Members of the Garda Siochana come in for mention in the media last week, one good, one not so good. At a meeting of North Tipperary County Council, a charge was made by Councillor John Hogan who said gardai were chasing bachelors down boreens in their squad cars late at night to see if they had been drinking. He also accused gardai of picking on other easy targets that resulted in fines and penalty points but did nothing to reduce road deaths. As an example, Councillor Hogan cited the case of a woman from his area who was stopped on her way to a local shop to get milk and, when she didn’t have her driving licence, she was fined and given two penalty points.

Councillor Jim Casey said a ‘discretionary mechanism’ should be applied by gardai while Councillor John Hanafin said, in the old days, gardai lived in the area they policed and knew the lie of the land and the local community and it was a pity that had all but disappeared because it was a much better system.

Several more councilors spoke on the subject claiming many gardai were frustrated because of poor resources and because hardened criminals were being set free too early.

That was the not so good news but, without doubt, the gardai have a champion in journalist Mairead Wilmot of The Carlow Nationalaist newspaper. Mairead created a bit of a stir when she pointed out that, for the most part, the gardai were doing a great job and she was not impressed that a local woman rang the Joe Duffy Show on RTE1 last week to complain that a uniformed garda had received a free burger and a bag of chips in Supermacs.

For the record, she points out that the garda in question actually proffered a €20 note to pay for his take away but the money was refused and he was told his order was ‘on the house’.

It was the least that Supermacs could do, said Mairead, who reveals that, as far as she was concerned, she would have insisted on the garda receiving more than a miserable burger and chips. She would have thrown in a savoury taco as well. Mairead admits to have been in takeaways at 3.30 in the morning and the places smacked of aggression and you would need to adopt a Ninja fighting position to protect not only your territory but your food as well.

“If a fight starts, which it often does, the only people who can bring calm to an already volatile situation are the Gardai. It could be said that is what they are paid to do but what young man or woman signs up to face 20 or so drunk, bloodied, unreasonable and aggressive fools every weekend, two or more of which will most likely vomit in the back of the patrol car on the way to the station.” The writer says she would not be in favour of gardai receiving free produce from every outlet but she would definitely make an exception as far as late-night takeaways are concerned. There are many who would agree with her.

A rogue shot followed by a good deed

Two lady members of Waterford Golf Club were enjoying a round last weekend when, on the 12th., one of their tee-shots sliced badly and the culprit watched in horror as the ball sped, waist-high, towards a male foursome putting on a nearby green. One of the men turned around at the right, wrong moment and was stuck by the ball that was travelling at some speed.

The man yelped in pain and, clasping his hands together at his groin, fell on the ground where he writhed in agony. The two women golfers rushed over immediately and apologised profusely. “Please, you must allow me to help, I am a consultant physical therapist”, said the woman who had struck the rogue shot. “No, no, it’s all right, there’s nothing you can do”, said the injured man through gritted teeth still clasping his hands together at his groin.”

“I am so, so sorry”, said the distressed woman but, then, she suddenly shook herself into action and the health professional in her took over. “Listen”, she said in a firm voice, “there is no need for you to be in such pain when I can do something about it.” She carefully and tenderly pulled the man’s hands apart and he cried out in pain again as she did so. She then loosened his trousers and, after blowing on her hands to warm them, she very carefully and gently placed them on his groin area.

A small crowd had gathered at this stage and the injured man turned his face away in embarrassment but, as she rubbed and massaged, he relaxed visibly and, within a very short time, his cries of pain were replaced by a low moan. “Now, do you feel any better”, she asked after a few minutes, still concerned and upset about her stray shot. “I do, thanks very much, I feel much better”, said the man, “but I still think my thumb is broken.”