Updated: 03/07/17 : 06:44:42
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Cabinet should park bus and walk to 'The Well'

By Eugene McGloin
Political Editor

SUNDAY TEATIME offered a choice between a match and Mass.

The 6pm kick off meant you could have seen John Russell score Sligo Rovers winning goal, get his first yellow card and still be early for Mass at 6.30pm, two miles away.

Yes, that sort of Sunday, but for two months past we knew the annual St Annes Parish get together at Tobernalt Holy Well was set in stone for this date this year.

'Weather permitting' is always the proviso. Untypically Irish and even more untypically Holy Well memories for many, the weather 'held' last night, Sunday.

Best Anywhere

It was perfect walking weather, those few super miles out from Sligo town.

Everybody in town has probably done it at some stage; the scenery on a dry day is up there with the best anywhere in the world.

Only at Wards Hill are you ever aware there is an ''up,'' as you hear older models -- cars AND people -- (noisily) switch gears.

Tuesday nights people go to ''The Well.'' They see the same scenery. They find serenity. They may pray. They may say nothing.

Ten Men

Maybe when Sligo Rovers were down to ten men last night -- in a game with ten yellow cards -- the Extra Man was mumbling prayers at ''The Well'' to halt The Hoops.

Anyway, final weekend every July, Sligo gathers for Garland Sunday ceremonies at this special place.

Our own parish (mini) pilgrimage is in its second decade, established by now Parish Priest Emeritus Fr Dominick Gilhooly.

A classmate all those decades ago of Albert Reynolds at Summerhill College he was there, again, last night.

To pay homage, again, to all those who risked life and limb to walk along paths untrodden to this (largely) unchanged place in the woods out in the mountain.

In Penal Times people and priests were executed by the soldiers of Henry The Eighth and his successors when caught coming to this particular place in Sligo.

July 1st every year marks the anniversary of the hanging, disembowelling and dismembering of (Saint) Oliver Plunkett. His 'crime' was much the same.

The failure of the Spanish Armada invasion -- some of which foundered off Streedagh in north Sligo -- stirred Penal ostracism against Catholics in both Ireland and England.

Against that background it is very difficult to listen to Education Minister Richard Bruton talk negatively about those baptised a Catholic. Only one religion singled out.

Build Classrooms

But Bruton knows full well -- or OUGHT to know -- that the core issue he faces is a shortage of school places.

Bruton needs to build more classrooms in the places that need them. The State needs to fund him. 

That simpler solution has nothing in common with what would, in effect, be a sectarian head count by this State.

The narrative related by Minister Richard Bruton 100% ignores the core issue: He needs to build more class rooms!

Next time the Cabinet comes to Sligo maybe they should park their buses at Sligo Racecourse and walk across the mountain to ''The Well.''

Then they might better understand why their crude Cabinet head count of Catholics (only) sounds so ugly.

A bit like poor Basil in Fawlty Towers, Bruton seems to think Catholics should get blamed, blamed, blamed.

Bruton needs to do the sums, seek the finance this summer and build, build, build those extra classrooms.