Longford Leader columnist, Mattie Fox
On Thursday night last, Declan Nerney appeared in Ballinalee, for a special performance.
It was the ultimate signal of the generosity showing that Longford people can muster given Declan was prepared to give his free night up, to support Seán Connolly’s OsKaRs, and also His Grace Gerard Brady, no mean attraction himself.
The night is over now, so this is merely to say thank you, to Declan.
Sean Connolly’s owe a most sincere thank you to him, for willingly giving of his talent by entertaining the crowd on the night.
He arrived quietly, easing his way through the massive crowd, understated and without fuss. It was impossible for him to make his way towards the stage without being greeted warmly by dozens of fans, neighbours, friends, and locals who came out in their hundreds.
Declan is one of the leading lights in the show band scene, and has become one of the top acts who has thrilled hundreds of thousands across Ireland, the UK, and many other territories.
A humble man without any affectation, it was really good of him to be present in Ballinalee, on a Thursday night.
The few hundred who attended all had a great time, and the feedback was quite amazing.
The OsKaRs has opened many eyes around the area, and indeed further afield. We often read about how far Longford has slipped in the scheme of counties in Ireland.
Sadly, all are correct.
Yet, the people of Longford have been flocking to Ballinalee for the past few months supporting events, quizzes, auctions, and other fundraising events.
One cannot but be amazed.
It demonstrates without question, that rural folk have to be given a reason to get up off their easy chairs and they’ll flock to well deserving events in droves.
Rural Ireland is being neglected, yes, there’s no doubt about that.
But it’s a bit like running the OsKaRs, no point in talking about what we cannot afford, we need to start doing something about it, and when we do the generosity - and independence - of people shows by coming out in their hundreds to support a cause.
As long as rural Ireland is asked to support a meaningful pursuit that’s well presented and is seen to deserve support rural Ireland can be counted upon.
Declan Nerney is also a rural man from the plains of Drumlish, and proud of it. It was a genuine indication of how people from Rural Ireland are prepared to row in and support something that isn’t benefiting their own area, yet has a close meaning between the parishes. They often say that Gaelic footballers will kill each other until an outsider steps in to help one side or another.
Then they promptly all stop fighting and look at the outsider in amazement.
That’s the sort of spirit that makes rural Ireland a different country from those in the cities. Literally, a different country.
This is nothing to do with denigrating the cities, and it’s not racist, and it’s not criticising anyone, it’s just a matter of cold hard fact.
Where would rural Ireland be, without itself?!