In a Word . . .

. . . Roscommon. Patsy McGarry

 

A friend in younger days would begin his party piece with; “I’m a deprived child from a disadvantaged area.” Like me, he is from Roscommon, Cinderalla county of the West.

As you know - the world has been talking of little else recently - Sunday is Global Rossie Day. It is an opportunity for a grateful population to pay homage to our lesser spotted county.

We have not rushed into this. Rossies are a demure lot and like it that way. True, we are somewhat overshadowed by four flamboyant sisters, their striking skirts bordered by the Wild Atlantic Way and dipping into one of the world’s great oceans. Even slender Leitrim has a toe in there too.

But Roscommon is also defined by water. Amen to that. We are protected from a heathen east by the Shannon, with the river Suck to the West.

Between both is such pastoral country as would inspire a Wordsworth to further poetry, a Beethoven to another symphony. More recently actor Chris O’Dowd waxed lyrical on Twitter about the journey from Elphin to his native Boyle. Undiscovered country in our undiscovered county.

On Sunday, in an act of wanton generosity on Global Rossie Day, we feel driven to alert a distressed world to the balm that is our county. It is also an opportunity to meet real Rossies, an increasingly rare species.

In Kerry last month they celebrated success in breeding endangered Hen Harrier hawks. There is no such scheme to preserve real Roscommon people, those of us born at the county’s only maternity ward, St Anne’s in the county hospital.

It closed over 35 years ago.

My late county councillor father vigorously opposed that closure, as “it would mean no more Roscommon people.” To no avail. The tragedy has come to pass that none of his grandchildren was born in the county. Woe is us!

We real Rossies are disappearing but, while in it, we celebrate. It is what we do. Tomorow we take part in a worldwide feast of Roscommon from 2pm (Roscommon time) at roscommonbound.ie.

And we will honour 5,000 of our more illustrious dead with the launch of Mike Lennon’s magnum opus A Dictionary of Roscommon Biography. This magnificent work took him 20 years to complete.

Meanwhile it remains “Up Ros!”

Roscommon, from Ros Comáin, meaning ‘the wood of (St) Coman’

inaword@irishtimes.com

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