6th April, 2000

Last week was a hectic week. Kay Black had her annual night at the G.A.A Club and everybody seemed to have had a great night. On Tuesday night the Dunnes Stores Staff organised a monster quiz in the Rochestown Park Hotel in aid of People In Need. The Grange swimmers raised, wait for it, 23,000 from their Christmas Day Swim in Myrtleville, every penny went to the Children's Leukaemia Ward in the Mercy Hospital(Sorry lads I couldn't make the presentation) On Friday night Ken Murphy had his 21st Birthday Party in St Columba's Hall, and later on the same night the Chernobyl Children's Aid Project had a social in the G.A.A Club. Well done to everybody who in this age of the Celtic Tiger still take and make time to think of others less fortunate than we are. The words Sense of Community come to mind.
Saturday night was a really special night for Douglas West resident, Frank Downey who was joined by his relatives and friends to celebrate his 70th Birthday. They came from near and far to pay tribute to a lovely man. I only got to know Frank during the past year. About six months ago I published an old photograph of the St Patrick's Mill Workers (Circa 1930) I asked if anybody knew any of them. Two days later I got a letter from Frank naming almost everybody in the photo. I printed the names the following week, and every second person who I spoke to said to me “I know who you got those names from, it was Frank Downey”. After that I got to know Frank and I was stunned by his amazing memory of the names, dates and places connected with Douglas. The friends and relatives who turned up on the night were his work mates from the Mill, relatives from Ireland, England, and Wales, friends from New York. Frank's brother Noel entertained everybody with his fine singing voice backed by musician Frank Fitzgerald. Denis Murphy (how is the article coming along Denis?) spoke eloquently about the old days of the Mill and how the great sailing ships of the 1700's sailed the four corners of the world with sails made in Douglas. He paid tribute to people named Stout, Desmond, and Downey who were, he said, “The Real Douglas Mills”. Finally he said when the mill closed down the Murphy's didn't adopt Frank Downey, Frank adopted the Murphy's! A funny story happened on the night. Denis Murphy surprised Frank by arranging a black limousine to collect Frank at his home. When the driver called and rang the bell Frank answered, looked at the car and said “I can't go to a removal, I'm having a Birthday party.” Well done as usual to the staff of Rochestown Park Hotel and everybody who made it to such a wonderful night.
The saddest headline of the week was “Most homeless were once Industrial Schoolchildren” the facts are, 80% of all homeless people over forty years of age were once in industrial schools, think about it, 64,000 men and women were brutalised in 59 industrial schools. Children were taken from their Mothers (Unmarried), and locked up to be brutalised and abused, used as slave labour, and then thrown on the streets to fend for themselves. So the next time I see a “Wino” on the street I'll wonder what made him or her what they are today.
Rupert Murdoch, the owner of Sky T.V grows and grows with his media empire. Soon he will move outside this world with his satellite dishes, pointed to the heavens. On our deathbeds we will get a call from a Multi Channel Agent, who will say, “Last chance to get to heaven, only 11.99 if you book now. After midnight it's 14.99. Book now to avoid disappointment, failure to do so could confine you to Purgatory with only one channel TG4!” Beam me up Scotty.
The old subject of litter continues to make the news. So many of our readers who I meet on my rounds of Douglas and beyond are forever complaining about our streets. The filth and litter, which is dropped on them everyday. I heard Tourism Minister Jim McDaid talk about the subject of litter recently. Jim made a lot of sense when he suggested that towns and villages should have their own Litter Wardens sometimes doubling as Traffic Wardens. Did I not suggest the very same thing last year? Another reader from Grange told me he saw a huge increase in litter when school children and teenagers were leaving school. One of this week's letters suggests that Douglas should have its own Urban District Council, did I not suggest that last year? Three years ago Douglas did not have a locally based Councillor, now it has two, Deirdre Forde and Peter Kelly. Maybe it's time we controlled a part of our destiny and decide which way we want our area to develop and grow. It is up to us all to make sure Douglas is a good, safe and clean place to live. The choice is yours. Finally Get Well Soon to Tony O’Flynn of Douglas Rugby Club and St Columba's Hall. I, like all your friends hope to see you back in the hall soon.

Bye for now,
Michael O'Hanlon.

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