This column has always been slow to blow its own trumpet but when Barack Obama was elected president of the United States, I did modestly point out that I had been writing about him for years before most people in this country had even heard of him

And so, this week, I respectfully offer our readers a new Irish-American name as a possible future president. The politician is 47-year-old Martin O’Malley who is the current Governor of the State of Maryland. Regarded as very handsome and very similar in looks to President John F Kennedy, political pundits have marked him down as a likely presidential candidate in 2016 for the Democratic Party.

A musician, he is a big fan of The Saw Doctors and it is that connection that reignited his connections to Ireland. Before he entered politics in his native Baltimore, Governor O’Malley, who has relatives in the Cong and Maam Valley areas of County Mayo, was singer/guitarist with a Celtic-Rock band and that’s when he got to know the Saw Doctors.

Since then, he has visited the Docs in Tuam and they have dined at the Governor’s Mansion on many occasions. Whenever The Saw Doctors tour in the US, Governor O’Malley always turns up at a couple of their gigs and joins them on stage for several numbers. When the audience is Irish or Irish-American, his speciality number is ‘The Green and Red of Mayo’.

Big money for run-down seaside chalets

We are continually being told by estate agents that, despite the recession, there is still money about for the right properties and that belief was underlined last week by the sale of three seaside chalets down the road in Wexford’s Curracloe beach.

Apparently, there was massive interest in three, boarded-up holiday chalets, close to the beach. A delighted auctioneer, John Radford, said he could have sold another six if only he could have gotten his hands on them. The small chalets are in a block of three and the two end properties fetched in excess of €165,000 each while the middle one went for €155,000. Mr Radford pointed out that they were purchased by three separate families from Dublin, Meath and Wexford. The sparse, flat-roofed dwellings were built in the 1970s and are in an area where it is difficult to obtain planning permission.

Satan’s witches still doing harm

Last week, I mentioned the difference of opinion between Mystic Moira from Bennettsbridge and Kilkenny priest, Fr Joe Delaney, now of Mount Carmel and formerly parish priest in Callan. Well, since then, there has been a fresh round of opinions between the pair with Fr Delaney responding to comments made by Mystic Moira.

To recap, Mystic Moira is a well know psychic and medium who lives in Bennettsbridge and she has predicted that Kilkenny will definitely win their ‘five in a row’ All Irelands by accounting for Tipperary. She knows because the spirits have told her, she explained. Everybody in Kilkenny was delighted with her prediction until Fr Delaney offered the opinion that psychics performed the devil’s work.

Mystic Moira was not pleased and accused Fr Delaney of indulging in the age-old mistake of not understanding that psychics were merely gifted people who had ‘developed and fine-tuned their psychic ability and healing powers from the forces of light for the benefit of ordinary people’.

She also reminded the priest that a psychic woman named Petronella had been burned alive in Kilkenny’s High Street in the 13th century while the local bishop and clergy looked on.  “Countless other women were tortured before meeting the same fate across Europe at the height of the persecution by the Church of female psychics”, she declared.

However, Fr Delaney has responded by reminding Mystic Moira that the Bible condemns mediums and fortune tellers declaring that people will be ‘defiled’ by them. He also refers to the Catholic Catechism where consultation with mediums is referred to ‘as recourse to Satan or demons’.

Fr Delaney said nobody could condone the way witches were cruelly burned at the stake but the truth of the matter is that they were feared because people knew the harm that witches did and still do. The source of their power lay in the demonic and Satan was a master deceiver, he said. Finally, Fr Delaney said he hoped that Brian Coady had something more solid to bolster his quest for the ‘five in a row’ other than Mystic Moira’s prediction. Actually, I’m pretty sure he has.

A leopard is no match for a Ballybricken dog

A Ballybricken man had always wanted to go on safari to Africa and, earlier this summer, he decided if he didn’t go this year he probably never would so he went down to Harvey Travel in Gladstone Street and booked his flights. His only dilemma was that he didn’t want to leave Butch, his little dog and faithful companion, behind. So, Ian Manto in Harvey Travel made some enquiries and managed to smooth out all the problems and Tommy was told he could take Butch with him on safari.

They arrived in Africa and visited several countries where they had a great time and Butch really enjoyed barking at all the strange animals. One evening, just before dinner, Butch was off chasing butterflies when he ventured too far into the bush and got lost.

Being a Ballybricken dog, Butch was no slouch and when he noticed a leopard eying him up for dinner, he immediately hit upon a survival plan. He saw a pile of old bones on the ground and immediately sat down with his back to the leopard and began to gnaw on the bones. Then, just when the leopard was about to pounce, he turned around and said: “Wow, this is some country, here comes another delicious leopard for me to eat.” A look of terror came over the leopard’s face and he halted his attack in mid stride and bolted for cover.

But Butch wasn’t out of the jungle yet because a monkey sitting in a nearby tree coped what had gone on and went and told the leopard he had been duped. The leopard was raging and said to the monkey: “Get up on my back and I’ll show you what’s going to happen to that smart-ass dog.”

Butch was still trying to figure out which way was home when he spotted the leopard charging in his direction and when he saw the monkey on his back he knew the game was up. But a true Ballybricken dog wasn’t going to be bested by a stupid leopard so he worked himself up into a big ball of anger and when the leopard and monkey came within earshot they could hear him snarling and barking. “What kept you so long, you stupid monkey”, he growled, “I asked you half an hour ago to fetch me another juicy leopard. Answer me, you mangy monkey, what kept you?” The leopard, as they say, is still running.