On St Patrick's Day 1957 I was at the Railway Cup final in Croke Park when I had a most unusual experience.
Railway Cup finals, at that time, were second only in popularity to the All-Ireland finals. In '57, the football final was contested by Munster and Connaught. As a Dub living west of the River Shannon and accompanied by a Roscommon friend Tommy Hannon, we travelled to support the Connaught team. A diversion to leave a third party to Dublin Airport meant that we arrived some two minutes after kick-off.
We struggled through the crowd to get a good position on the terraces under the Cusack Stand.
With Munster defending the canal goal and both teams at full stretch, the play switched from end to end. No doubt at that time, we knew the names of every player on the pitch, but now I only recall three names. On the Connaught team, the great Gerry O'Malley of Roscommon formed an impassable barrier in goal. Up front, Galway's "terrible twins" held sway. Seán Purcell, deadly accurate with the placed ball, dominated the 40-yard area. Meanwhile, "the-will-of-the wisp" Frankie Stockwell terrorised the Munster full-back line - to my memory he scored at least two points from open play which crossed the bar at a point exactly equidistant from the goalposts.
The half-time whistle went and we relaxed for the first time. Then I looked across the pitch and saw that the old Hogan and Long stands had been demolished and, instead of cheering fans, all I saw was an empty building site. It seemed impossible that, for some 28 minutes, I had failed to notice what faced me 50 yards away. I pointed it out to Tom, who had also not noticed it. Did anyone else have the same experience?
The football was so entertaining, so engrossing, that we were oblivious to the massive building site on the other side of the pitch. Could that happen in any other sport? What an example of the sheer entertainment value of Gaelic Games.
For the record, Connaught won.
Ireland's crooked way
This is a country that does not want to solve any of its problems. It actually does everything it can to perpetuate its misery and hopelessness. Irish politicians have just one philosophy - make a virtue out of all necessity.
The country is teeming with litigation and criminal trials because of poor or non-existent regulation. This is a country where you are likely to find trouble around every corner in a cloak-and-dagger society that poisons and darkens the spirit.
If one contrasts the spirit of French people with their healthy complexions, compared with the long drawn faces of Irish people, then one can see that our way of life is seriously flawed.
This country is full of adversarial people who cut each others' throats. Our inert and supine government believes that no intervention is the best intervention until the bottom falls out of something.
Then, of course, it is much too late and the damage has been done. It will then be talked to death, with absolutely nothing being done.
Ireland as country has been a disaster, it has crippled its people through a ultra-conservative system design to maintain the status quo, no matter what the urgency.
Its cheeky and brazen attitude has cost it dearly and brought about an unproductive and soulless stasis. Problems are not solved in this country, they are created to allow lawyers and politicians to play hero and get rich in the process.
It is my belief that the problem is that people are losing faith in a chronically-dysfunctional country where suicide is an epidemic. Ireland's biggest difficulty in my opinion, is that it only knows the crooked way - that is the root of our collective misery and why this country will always be inferior.
Shanbally, Co Cork
A trillion reasons to be thankful
I note that the ECB are printing up to a trillion euro in a system known as quantitative easing. So how big is a trillion? Pretty big. It would take you 32,000 years to count up to a trillion.
Should have started counting yesterday.
Kingswood, Dublin 24
No sporting chance
A nicely-judged letter from Fred Molloy on March 6 - 'Government should take inspiration from our sports heroes'. Sadly, politics is rather like the rugby, you can only elect/play what is in front of you.
Clarecastle, Co Clare
What will survive of us is love
Elle Maher (Letters, March 10, 'Putting our children first') appears to think that the sexuality of your parents matter.
As someone who, like most of us, know that our parents never had and never will have sex, and that I was definitely found under a cabbage patch which is probably why I don't like cabbage, I disagree.
Children need love and care, whether this is a biological parent, a step-parent, foster parents, a gay parent - it doesn't matter to them.
What matters is that the parents are good parents who do their best against great odds and childhood tantrums to raise a child who knows it is loved and goes out into the world secure in that knowledge.
Parents are asexual to the children, and long may this last!
Wolli Creek, Sydney, Australia
Minister has work to do
Perhaps Minister for Children Dr James O'Reilly should consider taking the labels off spirits, beers, wine, cheese, bacon, etc at the same time as removing labels from cigarettes.
Patrickswell, Co Limerick
The sum of all knowledge
Reading Billy Keane's account of problems with maths in his school days prompts one to suggest that no doubt five out of 10 of us had similar difficulty.
Happy times, of course, for the other six.
Beaumont, Dublin 9
Back to the bad old days
Have you heard the one about the politician, the banker and the developer?
It sounds like a joke but, unfortunately, it isn't. Our finance minister has crawled back into bed with the deadly duo of 'bankers and developers' and has the gall - before entering the closed doors meeting of like-minded individuals - to lecture us on not scapegoating these poor much maligned and misunderstood fellows. What wayward plans and promises is he making with them that we are not party to?
Such astonishing arrogance. Mr Noonan may be a internationally-renowned finance minister, but he really has no clue about how offensive his words are to the common populace, many of whom have had their lives ruined by the combined ineptitude of politicians, bankers and developers. I, like many others, wait patiently for the general election to make my voice heard.
Address with Editor