Monday, April 27, 2020

By Kevin Egan

You’ve learned all about the Curried Boy, the Tooth Fairy’s older sister Denby, and how elephants helped introduce rugby to Creggs. Now it’s time to go west, and learn all about the untold magical stories that helped shape that part of our county, as we look at part three of our Alternative Tour Guide to Roscommon.

Ballinlough: Everybody knows about the tree that grows up through the stand at Michael Glaveys GAA club, but how many people know how it got there? It’s a moral to underage coaches everywhere – don’t underestimate the Mammies on the sideline. One U-12 coach was barking instructions at his players. They’d had a poor season and he was hoping they’d turn over a new leaf. He asked them to branch out all across the field, and criticised those who were rooted to the spot. He didn’t twig that a mother of one of the players was getting very upset, and once she heard him call the players “Blooming eejits” she came up with a magic spell to turn him into a tree there and then.

Castlerea: So named because of a castle in the area owned by famous singer Chris Rea, the song “Road to Hell” came about after he was stuck at Frenchpark junction for over ten minutes one day. He also wrote “The Blue Café” about Benny’s Deli before it got repainted, and “Driving Home for Christmas” about his trip on the N60 one December morning.

In fact the people of Castlerea got very tired of him writing songs about them, and that’s why Castlerea St. Kevin’s wear purple – because they know he won’t be able to come up with a word to rhyme with purple.

Frenchpark: Local GAA ground “Nash Park” is named after Dennis the Menace’s dog Gnasher, who visited the area before he became famous. After he made it big in the world of cartoon animals, he spoke of the area as a good luck charm, and there have been plenty of famous visitors since. Some also retired into the area, including Asterix, Obelix and Pepe le Peu. In fact, such was the influx of characters from that part of the world that the name Frenchpark was born.

Hurling in Gnash Park in Frenchpark. Picture: Bernie O’Farrell

Fairymount: You might guess that this area took its name from a local fairy fort, but you’d be wrong. In actual fact that when the EU agricultural intervention scheme was in full flow, there wasn’t just a butter and a beef mountain, there was also a massive stock of washing up liquid, which was stored around Tibohine. Originally the plan was to build a reservoir, but too many local frogs mistook the substance for algae on water, and they perished in grim but bubbly circumstances. Consequently it was decided to bottle the liquid and store it in a big pile, hence Fairy Mountain, or Fairymount, as it soon became known.

Ballymoe: When rap artist The Notorious B.I.G. started to break through on the US music scene, he quickly began to accumulate wealth. Unfortunately, like a lot of people from similar backgrounds, he was surrounded by people who tried to get a cut of his fortune, and consequently put his faith in an investment specialist firm from Ballymoe, Coyne’s. This group proved very successful, but their strategies were deeply unethical, making money off tobacco, oil and betting companies. A deeply conflicted Biggie then wrote the song “Moe Money, Moe Problems” to give vent to his angst.

The Notorious B.I.G, visiting the Ballymoe Investment Guru (BIG).

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