Frank Fieghan TD

An admirer and a fan of the El Sido blog, Hand Solo, made the following comment about the blog on

“Ah the fascinating (and rarely seen) Roscommon mating method. Blunder in, defend some sarcastic auld bilge, then sit back and wait for laydeez. I love watching you at work Sido, you’re a ray of sunshine in these dark Summer days. Thanks buddy.”

Well thank you Hand – it’s nice to be nice. And it’s nice to get a bit of positive feedback every once in a while. So much for the so called Internet Hate Machine.

Franks election bash with generous free entertainment

Franks election bash with generous free entertainment

Though sadly the most positive criticism I can offer the subject of this post,  Fine Gael Deputy Frank Feighan, is resign!  At least that way you can start to regain some sense of self worth and human decency.

Maybe I should explain, under Ireland’s Proportional Representation  System Roscommon and South Leitrim is represented by three politicians.  Luke Flanagan  an Independent who likes to represent the views of his constituents.  A quaintly old fashioned notion in Kenny’s Ireland .

Denis Naughton an Independent, who was forced to resign the Fine Gael party whip, on principle, when his leader Edna Goldilocks Kenny was caught telling lies to his constituents and also the nation about the closure of the A & E Department in Roscommon Hospital , along with his mendacious side kick, the Minister for Health James Reilly.

And Frank Feighan who presumably thinks the right thing to do was to is just take home his fat pay cheque and hang on in, presumably till the next election when he gets to cash in his fat pension. In fairness to Frank hanging around waiting to be made redundant is an experience that a lot of Irish people have had to live with in recent times. What’s not to like? Alas though, this story of casual fealty doesn’t end up with Frank taking a back seat for the next three years.

Recently, Frank has decided, or been told, that he needs to bull shit the abused electorate of Roscommon even further. Presumably , Fine Gael fear that he will be replaced with a maverick Independent  at the next election rather than a Fianna Fail candidate (their best reasonable outcome)Though don’t rule out some attempts at gerrymandering, as the government makes sweeping reforms to the Houses of the Oireachtas (using “state of the art”brushes) . And in truth going from a constituency where you hold 2/3 of the seats – to one that is a “No Go” area for the Prime Minister in the space of a week , could be regarded as politically naff. Frank started the fight back by explaining the government’s position by way of a patronising letter in the local Free Sheet.

The Government position on the A & E is a rather strange construction – Readers may need to read this twice to understand the twisted logic of the argument.  The government does not pay any money for staff to be put in place, therefore if you go for treatment at Roscommon  Hospital A & E there is a severe risk that you will not get treated. Therefore it is necessary and in the public interest to close the A & E Department.  Did you follow that? I thought not.  Frank does though. Some would say his argument would have appeal to the “Brain Dead” – though I’m not in a position to offer a medical opinion.  Neither is anyone at Roscommon A & E.

A Graphical explanation of government policy

A Graphical explanation of government policy

Not satisfied that he was getting the government position across Frank posted some glossy 4 pages of crap through Sido’s door yesterday –

Frank says- “The decision to make changes to services at Roscommon County Hospital has been a difficult one, causing upset and anger among many people. But we cannot get away from the fact that management and consultants – the people at the coalface in Roscommon Hospital – were increasingly worried about patient care.  The decision to close Roscommon’s A & E was very regrettable but patient safety could not be compromised in any way.”

When life deals you lemons – It behooves one to research the  limited market for lemon juice.

To further patronise the electorate the government pretended that a new Med Evac helicopter that it had purchased for the army was to evacuate patients to a distant hospital facility. Sadly the helicopter “had a hard landing” after a couple of weeks. And not a lot has been heard of it since. Though  Frank has a picture of it on the back of his glossy sheet. I read from the news that the service will now be operating from Dublin because the helicopter was too noisy for Athlone.

Over weight Health Minister James Reilly with Minister Alan Shatter. Yes they couldn't even be bothered to paint over the green military paint

Over weight Health Minister James Reilly with Minister Alan Shatter. Yes they couldn’t even be bothered to paint over the green military paint.

I could go on about the glossy. The last sentence says that the government is proposing “New laws modernising our bankruptcy and personal insolvency regime offering heavily indebted people a way back to productivity” – Something that will be useful to Health Minister James Reilly who had a judgement  made against him recently in the matter of 1.9 million euros owed to the Bank of Ireland.

And because I wouldn’t want it said that Sido is in the habit of backdoor sniping using the anonymity of the internet.  I’m going to e-mail Frank this article with a link to the blog to give him the opportunity to address my criticism. That strikes me as a lot nicer than questioning Frank’s motives for defending the indefensible – The sort of small minded crap that I have no time for.

Edit at 17:37 12th July 2012

I’m posting this link to a Post by Chompsky on the site concerning Health Minister James Reilly and the possibilities that one of his business partners Anne Devitt  has been involved in some corrupt activities –


Champers with Sido

Or is it cider? You decide

Or is it cider? You decide

Summers in Ireland are fairly predictable affairs. They usually start unexpectedly in early May, with a blast of unseasonal heat that gives the media something to get crow about.   The scantily clad weather wenches of RTÉ , regale us with stories about how it is hotter in Belmullet  than on the Costa del Sol. Ever more dubious statistics and facts are sought out –by people who are clearly overpaid and have nothing better to do. Experts claim the last time it was this warm was in Death Valley Gultch in June 1959 and so forth.

If this period lasts longer than two weeks then environmentalists, the self appointed seers of this scientific age, who have been hiding throughout the bitter winter gales pop up, to sternly remind us of a new Hell starting with demise of the polar bear. Gagging on cattle farts before drowning  in a salty sea of sin, sweat and tears, in the oil field formerly known as the North Pole or somewhere.

This period can last as long as the start of June when the weather reverts to normal. And media types start rooting around for stories about the last time flood waters were this high.  February 1962 or when Noah and his mates last went by –  that sort of thing.  And that is pretty much it.

As June gradually floats into July – I like to put some work into the Orchard. The magnificent Sido Orchards are on a South facing aisle in Aldi, Roscommon. Next to the Sido Vineyard.  I don’t intend to ponce on like yer French types about terroir and stuff like that.  So let’s look at bulk White Wine (sparkling or still ) and bulk Cider – both very easy recipes.

The magnificent Sido Orchard

The magnificent Sido Orchard

Aldi White Grape Juice declares a sugar content of 151 gm/litre  though my hydrometer puts the sugar content at around 185 gm/litre.  If 185 gm/litre were all converted to alcohol this would give a content of around 9.4 % ABV

Aldi Apple Juice declares a sugar content of 104 gm per litre though my hydrometer puts the sugar content at around 120 gm/litre. If 120 gm/litre were all converted to alcohol this would give a content of  around  5.8 % ABV

And the discrepancy – (insert your own conspiracy theory here ) I suppose that we can assume that most people drinking fruit juice will be health conscious and worried about the calorie count – this might explain the discrepancy.  Also bear in mind Coca Cola claim around 116 gm/litre. Hopefully by the time you have processed the juice, you will have stripped away any health claims that can be made for it. It won’t be a part of your “Five a Day” plan. Whatever, take my readings as being the correct ones  (to play it safe).

You might want to leave the alcohol content at that or you may fancy a bit more of a workout for your liver. To do this you add sugar . I use an American ¼ cup of sugar to the litre this is between 40 or 50 grams of sugar per measure. Alternatively, you could dissolve a 1Kg bag of sugar and put it in with a 21 litre brew this would increase the alcohol content of the Cider to around 8% ABV and the Wine to 11 % ABV.  My recipe allows for a casual approach to measuring – though never be tempted to overdo the sugar – As you will just end up with a nasty mess!

Youngs 5 Gallon Vessel

Use Champagne yeast for both products – I know this sounds a bit weird for the Cider. And I have been accused by an American blogger of “feminizing” my Cider. What utter shite these colonial types talk. I have tried a “Cider yeast” and the taste was not as good. It was also the case that when I opened the finished bottle the Cider yeast rose into the bottle – making for a slightly cloudy drink.

Champagne yeast is very hardy and very forgiving. It also gives a reliable secondary fermentation, for a fizz, should you require it. It is also easier to pour your beverage without the yeast at the bottom of the bottle clouding up the drink.  I will be giving links to suppliers at the end of the post.  I start mine in a 2 litre starter bottle about 2 days before I put the bulk mix on and then pitch this mix in. This is because I don’t want to use all of the powdered yeast. I might typically use 20% of the pack. I also add a level teaspoon of Youngs Yeast nutrient per 5 litres of brew, mixing this in with the bulk bucket (if I can remember) .

Hygiene  – use Aldi’s spray on Antibacterial surface cleaner this is a cheap product that does not leave an after taste. Make sure to rinse it off as any detergent left in the brew will tend to dull any head on a sparkling product.

It might take about 2 to three weeks to fully ferment your mix – champagne yeast will go by itself in summer and needs a warm room in winter . If it tastes sweet then  give it longer.

5 litre water bottles

5 litre water bottles

I mature my brew in gallon water containers to help clear it. Should you wish your product to taste like it has been stored in an oak barrel (and who doesn’t nowadays) then throw in a bit of oak sawdust at this stage. Be careful though, as “over oaking” can be regarded as being vulgar.  If you are leaving your brew still at this stage some would recommend the addition of as preservative. I don’t . Just make sure your brew is well sealed to prevent  oxidation.

You will also need a siphon with a lump of plastic on the end so that you don’t suck any yeast that has settled on the bottom of the container onto the next stage.

To get a fizzy product – Add one level teaspoon per pint bottle to the finished product. And store in a warm place for about ten days before moving to somewhere cooler. Don’t overdo the sugar as the drink will fizz all over the place when you open it and you will be left with only half the product in the bottle and the other half over you.  If you do end up with a product that is to fizzy then make sure to chill it well in the fridge before serving, this will help keep the carbon dioxide dissolved in the drink.

You will need from a supplier

A fermentation bucket. (5 gallons/25 litres) with a lid with a hole in it.

A hollow rubber bung.

A fermentation lock.

Dried Champagne Yeast

A syphon

Youngs Yeast Nutrient.

You might also consider

 Oak sawdust (for that brewed in the barrel flavour) For some reason this is outrageously expensive!

A preservative (should you want one) if you are making a still product.

You will also need.

5 litre water bottles – handy for settling your product.

Bottles either glass or plastic

A surface cleaner.

I have also used both these suppliers.