Ger Walsh Column 02/10/17 : the chronicle.ie

Ger Walsh Column 02/10/17

| October 2, 2017

Frank Sinnott a special kind of genius

There are characters in every town———although they are getting scarcer by the day. Frank Sinnott was once such character, known not only to everyone who lived in Wexford town but by many  visitors as well.

A constant presence on the Main Street for years he would roar a greeting at anyone he knew as he sipped coffee at the corner of Rowe Street. And the fact was that he knew almost everyone and people of all walks of life and from far and near knew him too.

As a writer, newspaper publisher and later advertising salesman he travelled a sort of parallel road to me over the years.

In the 1980s he published The Boker newspaper which had an appeal and reputation which bore little relationship to the scale of the publication. The appeal was based on Frank’s genius. A genius which enabled him to write about local characters in a most entertaining way.

He didn’t just write close to the bone but cut right through it. It wasn’t always that pleasant I suppose when you were the subject of one of his pieces but even then you had to admire his wonderful way with words.

People used to say to me ‘Isn’t it a wonder he is not sued’. But then again Frank’s office was the telephone kiosk outside the Wexford Garda Station and that was owned by Telecom Eireann so there was little point in taking a libel action.

Outside his publishing and writing he brought some of the biggest names in snooker for exhibition matches. When I agreed to provide part  sponsorship for the event he was very pleasantly surprised and also very grateful.

Frank knew how to treat sponsors. They were all VIPs and treated to a drinks reception. However, while at other events where there might be a shake of the hand and a quiet thanks for the support Frank did things a little different.

With all the sponsors gathered at a reception before the event began, Frank roared to the waiter: Look after these guys, they’re paying for everything’.

Despite the gruff exterior he was a caring guy in many respects and he had a brutal honesty which you had to appreciate. It was brought home to me in forceful fashion a few years ago when I was in the grip of serious illness.

While undergoing treatment I met Frank outside Rowe Street Church and his greeting was typically direct: I heard you were sick and now I know you are’

But after that somewhat conversation stopping intro he enquired into the nature of the treatment etc. And then as we were about to part he placed a hand on my shoulder and came out with this blockbuster. Looking directly into my eyes he said ‘Ger do you think you have any chance of surviving’

I won’t print my response. But interestingly, many months later, as I began a full recovery I related the story to one of my medical consultants. Although a little taken aback at first that anyone would say such a think he then summed up Frank perfectly: Do you know he was probably the only person who was really honest with you during all that time’.

That was Frank, gruff, loud, annoying at times, but honest, talented and in his own way thoughtful and kind.

I will miss my chats with him on Thursday nights in John’s Gate Street as he took a smoke break across the road from Mary’s Bar. There he would provide his latest analysis of the local media situation an analysis which changed dramatically from week to week. Then he would ask for my view and I knew that whatever I said would become part of the analysis to be presented to the next media type he met. It would not be a straight re-telling but a version  coloured by Frank’s own views and agenda, but all would be attributed back to me.

He was one of a kind and will be missed by a great many people for a great many different reasons.   

 

Starting to dig street on day schools re-opened made no sense

Infrastructural improvements are essential and the disruption which this necessary work causes just has to be tolerated for the greater good. Nowhere is that more valid than in the case of the broadband cables that are currently being put in place by Virgin Media in a number of urban centres in the county.

Everyone is aware that there will be traffic delays, there will be dust and disruption, maybe even on the odd occasion it will be difficult gaining access to your own home, but at the end of it all there will be access to very high speed quality broadband.

It’s the type of infrastructure that people in rural areas would give their right arm for. Therefore, people are reluctant to be critical of the works.

However, just because these works are all about delivering important infrastructure should not mean that the authorities should give those involved in it a total free hand and throw all common sense out the window.

For example, the work in Wexford town moved to more central locations at the start of September. So it was that they began digging up John’s Road and Davitt Road on the very day that pupils started to return to the Mercy School in John’s Road and St. Iberius School in Davitt Road.

Many people have asked if this day was chosen specifically to cause maximum disruption as vulnerable new pupils made their first steps toward ‘big school’

I’m sure it wasn’t but it made little sense and demonstrated a lack of planning which is really unforgivable.

 

Calling all nurses!

I see Wexford General Hospital are looking for nursing staff. I know this because they have a couple of very large boards advertising the fact in the hospital grounds. I wonder if  those signs will be effective. It just strikes me that it is unlikely that people stopped at the traffic lights on the Newtown Road will suddenly say ‘Oh they are looking for nurses, I must apply’

However, it probably does show that there is a real staffing crisis in the health service when they have to go to these type of lengths to try to attract staff.

 

Ryanair’s woes

Ryanair scored a real own goal with their mess up of the holidays which forced them to cancel hundreds of flights. When I heard the story first (or read it Online actually) I thought it was Fake News. It seemed unbelievable that a company that prides itself in its efficiency could make such a mess of things.

And in typical Ryanair fashion the initial difficulties were compounded by not meeting the problem head on with a detailed explanation.

Eventually Michael O’Leary came out with his hands up and those who have always been critics of Ryanair had a field day with the shambles making front page news across Europe.

RTE’s Industrial Relations Correspondent, Ingrid Miley, a target for O’Leary criticism earlier this year, must have enjoyed reporting on his discomfort.

I suppose it is a tribute to O’Leary’s strength of character and his position within the company that he has survived this. In almost any other organisation the boss would be gone if they presided over such a shambles.

However, the cancellations may cause some long term problems for Ryanair because people’s confidence will have been dented and getting adequate compensation may not be as easy as Mr O’Leary suggested.

 

Time to call ‘bus shelter man’ Anthony for advice

They have been looking for a bus shelter in Wexford town———for the stop outside the hospital——for some time, years in fact.

The old Wexford Corporation tried to get one, then Paddy Kavanagh waded in last year on behalf of those battling the elements while waiting for a bus on the Newtown Road.

This week Sinn Fein councillor Anthony Kelly joined the campaign and another motion is going to Bus Eireann.

Perhaps they should call on the services of one Anthony Donohoe, the Gorey councillor who has managed to deliver not one but two shelters in recent times. It wasn’t easy,  Anthony had to raise the matter at every meeting of Gorey Municipal District for more than two years but eventually he got his shelters.

Maybe he could advise his colleagues in Wexford on how to succeed where so many have failed.

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