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Country Living

A case for taking some of the bumps from the ‘Green Road’

Francis Farragher

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In search of the 'middle ground'.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

The dust has settled on the election campaign . . . well sort of . . . and now all of the different parties and interest groups are battling it out to have their say in the direction of our country in the months and years to come. We’d all love to be able to look forward to a greener, fairer and happier era, but the great reality of life is that there has never been a path without its bumps and twists.

American writer, publisher and philosopher of the late 19th and early 20th century, Elbert Hubbard probably summed it all up with his famous quote of: “Don’t take life too seriously: you’ll never get out of it alive.”

There are days on the farm when a walk by the river bank or by stone walls that are partly papered with whitethorns and briars just gives a feeling that at times, there is a close alignment between nature and those of who have some every-day link with the land.

In most ways, despite our tendency to whinge about the wind and rain, we are blessed with a climate here in Ireland that means we’re always destined to have the greenest of green isles, despite all the harbingers of doom, who tell us that we’re doing little right when it comes to the future of our planet.

There I was, watching a pre-election TV debate a couple of weeks back when a Dublin woman who admitted she knew nothing about farming said that maybe we should ‘cut back’ on the national herd – her view being essentially based on what she had heard someone else say.

In those debates nowadays, the trend is for such contributors to have a 13-year-old offspring perched beside them, primed to provide a little Greta Thunberg style lecture to us heathens who won’t genuflect on the spot at such outpourings.

Now, I won’t go into any diatribe about the right way to bring up children, because never since the beginning of mankind has there been any ‘guaranteed guide’ on that topic, but I do hold onto to a small old-fashioned belief, that children and teenagers, should as a general rule, not have to be catapulted prematurely into the world of adulthood, and especially so by their parents.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Country Living

Unloved February brings its many shoots of hope

Francis Farragher

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One of the many signs of the change in season.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

It was only last week that a colleague of mine asked me if it was correct to refer to February’s first day as the beginning of Spring, reminding me of one the great little whimsical debates that has raged on down through the years.

All our meteorological friends will point to the first day of March as the start of Spring based on the empirical data of December, January and February, being the three coldest months in the Northern Hemisphere.

However, if we go back to our Celtic calendar and roots, the first day of Spring or Earrach is always February 1st, or St. Brigid’s Day, as many of us remember it as, in an era when saints seemed to be a lot more important than they are nowadays.

We were taught from our first days at school – ‘low infants’ was our official classification – that the crows would start building their nests on the first morning of February, as if our feathered friends had a calendar penned up on the nearest tree.

There are also of course the stargazers who base their seasons of change on the arrival of our solstices and equinoxes. For them, Spring begins with the equinox of March 21 (approximately); Summer starts on the day of the solstice (June 21); Autumn rolls in with the September 21 equinox; while Winter starts with the December 21 solstice.

Given that our Winter gone by (or at least most of it, again depending on which calendar you give allegiance to) has largely been a fairly benign one temperature wise, it was no great surprise to see a little spurt of growth on the lawns. Well, maybe not a spurt, but still a noticeable seam of greenness.

While the evidence on temperatures of our learned friends in the Met. Office is incontrovertible, I’m always inclined to go with the traditional view that Spring begins on February’s first day, when at last the first little signs are beginning to emerge that light is beginning to bite back at the season of darkness that has enveloped us for the past two to three months.

Like Paddy Kavanagh’s unloved dandelions on the headlands, February has often tended to be an unappreciated time of year, but it does provide many shoots of hope in terms of brighter days lying ahead.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Country Living

Grey Army still packs quite a powerful pension punch

Francis Farragher

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A lampooning cartoon image from 1924, highlighting the contrast between the salaries of Oireachtas members at the time and the Old Age Pension cut of one shilling that had just been introduced by then Minister for Finance, Ernest Blythe.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

I’m not sure whether he ever really said it or not, but American comic and actor, W.C. Fields, who made a name for himself in the first half of the 20th century, is credited with the line of: “Never work with animals or children,” a remark normally associated with the world of film and show business.

Over the past couple of weeks as the political atmosphere started to heat up as we prepare for D-day on February 8, I was trying to conjure up a similar saying that might apply for all our friends who are seeking to serve us in high office over the coming few years.

The best I could come up with was: “Never mess with grey heads or water” as a previously hidden avalanche of fury descended on our political establishment when one of the parties with a good nose for scenting gaps in the market proposed the return of the pension age to 65.

Given that this is an apolitical column, no party can be mentioned by name but the one whose nickname rhymes with dinners, saw the niche in the market, and now all the rest of the them, have again realised that you don’t mess around with the grey brigade, or even those of us who are more follicly challenged.

If there’s one thing about the ‘Grey Army’, they are probably far more likely to vote than the younger cohort of the population whose contact with the outside world seems to be getting increasingly concentrated on their social media interchanges.

There are many of us who have been lucky enough to have worked all our lives but over recent years I’ve noticed a seething resentment at the notion of having to ‘sign on’ for so-called Jobseekers Benefit in that Limbo period between 65 and the current pension qualifying age of 66, which is set to be pushed out to 67 in 2021.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app

The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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Country Living

One reason why there won’t be any more house revamps

Francis Farragher

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Country Living with Francis Farragher

I’m probably pretty useless at many things and one of them is looking at television for anything longer than a 25-minute window. The News, matches here and there, the odd horse race, the visit of the Queen to Ireland and Peppa Pig – all for varying reasons – are some of the things that I might watch, but I just find TV kind of hard going.

There might be accusations that ‘the lure of the village’ also invariably wins out in any contest I have with TV watching but here and there I concede to sitting down and viewing a programme of interest.

Anyway, over a couple of nights last week, I conceded, under a bit of friendly family pressure, to watching a so-called ‘programme of interest’ as architect Dermot Bannon proceeded to do a makeover on the new house that he bought in Drumcondra.

I really can’t make head nor tail of the man, but I have to concede that after starting to watch the programme there was just no getting off the chair.

For starters the money aspect floored me. Dermot bought a ‘semi’ in Drumcondra for €800,000 and was then ready to ‘flake’ another €350,000 (far, far more in the end) into it, to transform this understated residence into a magnificence.

I’m not sure watching such TV events how much of it is staged to make for good television but I’m also not so sure at the end of the programme whether I would ever be tempted to hire Dermot as my architect, if I ever did win the lotto.

It just seemed to be one disaster after the next. There was the garden that he didn’t bother clearing out until the house was almost finished . . . the skylight and air purifier were erected on the roof right beside where the stove flue would emerge . . . and on top of all that he built a ghastly and expensive wall in the middle of the backgarden.

Earlier, he had opted for running the downpipes to take the roof rainwater to be fitted internally – obviously for aesthetic purposes – but I could just see the day coming when these pipes would block and walls would have to be torn apart to clear them.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app

The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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