Colm Keane is an award-winning author and broadcaster. I first knew him as an RTE producer and, over the years, I grew to admire him greatly on both a professional and personal level. For some years now, Colm has concentrated on his writing and, to date, has published eighteen books including two No 1 best sellers and eight Top 10 entrants.

His latest book, just published by Capel Island and already at No 1 in the paperback charts in this country, is entitled ‘Going Home’ and I honestly think it is going to be one of the most talked about Irish books for some time. Quite simply, ‘Going Home’ contains the most comprehensive insights ever compiled in this country into what might happen to us when we die.

A graduate of Trinity College Dublin and Georgetown University Washington, Colm was also a recipient of a Glaxo Fellowship for European Science Writers. He took all his qualifications, all his investigative experience and a healthy dose of scepticism before embarking on several years of research into near-death experiences, out of body travel and death-bed visions. He travelled to every corner of Ireland to interview people at length about their experiences and to speak to their families. His riveting findings are combined with the latest scientific research and the end result really is a fascinating read.

Speaking to Colm last week, he told me he had embarked on the project with a clear and open mind and was astounded at what he learned from people, many of whom only agreed to speak to him if he guaranteed anonymity. Many were people who held responsible and influential positions in society but they were fearful of being ridiculed as crackpots and oddballs if they told their stories openly.

Said Colm: “The interviewees in my book are solid, level-headed and sound. The people concerned described, in their own words, their honest acquaintance with death. If the testimony in this book is to be believed, and I consider it both credible and reliable, then what awaits us after death stretches well beyond that moment when our vital bodily functions finally cease to work.”

Bruce Springsteen’s great, great granny

There is great excitement in Westmeath where it has been discovered that Bruce Springsteen’s great, great grandmother was a local woman. Ann Garrity was born in the Westmeath village of Rathowen and she later lived in Mullingar (I wonder did she know Joe Dolan’s folks) before emigrating to America during the famine years. She set up home in Leopold Street, New Jersey, where her great, great grandson, Bruce Springsteen, was born 70 years later.

Now Westmeath County Council and Mullingar Town Council are to issue a joint invitation to the ‘Boss’ asking him to accept a civic reception and to possibly play a concert in Mullingar’s Market Square.

And still on the subject of music, an album recorded in Ireland by the late Michael Jackson will soon be released worldwide.

The singer/songwriter recorded an album of new songs at the Grouse Lodge Studios in Rosemount three years ago. Most of the work was completed but the singer had intended to return to south Westmeath to apply the finishing touches after the London dates for which he was rehearsing prior to his death.

The studio owner, Paddy Dunning, is on record as saying the songs he heard had been fantastic and amazing. They were pitch perfect, he said, and the singer had been really happy with the outcome. During the time Michael Jackson spent in Ireland, and at Grouse Lodge Studios, he was very busy writing and collaborating with other musicians. He was exploring new styles and directions and, at one stage, he flew in Rodney Jerkins who was, perhaps, best known as Jennifer Lopez’s producer. Mr. Dunning said, as far as he knew, the album was still unnamed but he expected it to be a chart-topper all over the world.

Doves of peace and healing

Michael Ryan is a man who lives down the road in County Wexford and he and his family were devastated six years ago when his son died in tragic circumstances. Michael now spends a lot of time visiting cemeteries, mainly in Wexford and Carlow, with baskets of white doves/pigeons. He invites people visiting or tending graves to release a dove from their family plot in memory of their loved ones and, according to Michael, it means so much to people who take great comfort from the gesture.

The doves/pigeons are homing birds that fly back to their coops in Michael’s back garden in Bunclody so they are waiting for him when he gets home and ready for their next outing. Michael has permission from the suicide charity, Console, to accept donations on its behalf which he does when he travels with the doves to cemeteries. However, if anybody wants to call to his home and collect a bird for release, there is no charge. He can be contacted at

A shocking situation altogether

I’m not sure I approve of the course of action taken by a namesake of mine in Ennis but I can well understand his motivation.

John O’Connor, the proprietor of Custy’s Traditional Music Shop in the town, is fed up to the teeth at coming to work every Monday morning and discovering the door to his premises soiled and reeking of urine and vomit. He has been trading in the town’s Cooke’s Lane for almost four years and has done everything he can to stop the vandalism to his premises such as installing extra lighting.

He says the culprits are mainly people who come out of pubs to smoke and chat and can’t be bothered to go back inside to use the toilets. Instead, they relieved themselves against his front door.

Now, Mr. O’Connor has installed an electrical system to his door and wall that he says will give a sharp shock to anybody to urinates against his premises. He has put up a notice warning people about the situation and has also installed a camera system and says he will send incriminating photographs to the gardai as well as posting them on YouTube. I wish him well.

The same difference

A man was walking down O’Connell Street in Dublin one night last week when,

suddenly, a mugger stuck a gun into his ribs and said. “Give me all your money.”

The man stayed calm and replied: “You are making a big mistake. Do you not realise that I am an important member of government?”

The robber took a closer look at the Minister and said: “Wow, of course you are, I didn’t recognise you. OK, give me all my money instead!”

Same rivalry, different battle

Two elderly motorists, a man from Waterford city and a man from South Kilkenny, decided to take their first spin across the new bridge last weekend. They didn’t know each other and set off from their respective sides of the Suir. Unfortunately, they both became confused with the new road system and drove into each other at about ten miles per hour. There was very little damage done and it was six of one and half a dozen of the other as far as blame was concerned.

“My poor man”, said the Kilkenny man to the Waterford motorist, “you look very shaken.” “I am, I am”, replied the Waterford man, his head still reeling even though the accident was relatively minor.

“Don’t you worry, I’ll soon have you right as rain”, said the Kilkenny man and he fetched a flask of brandy he had in the glove compartment of his car. “For emergencies only”, he smiled as he offered the flask to the grateful Waterford man.

After about fifteen minutes and several more generous swallows of brandy the Waterford motorist began to feel himself again. “Thank you very much, you are very kind”, he said to his new friend, “are you not going to have a little snifter yourself?”

“Ah no, I won’t”, said the Kilkenny motorist, just the hint of a smile playing on his lips, “I think I’ll wait until after the gardai arrive.”