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Country Living

A pastor who will have a lot to answer for by Sunday evening

Francis Farragher

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A day when most Irish people go 'just a little bit mad'.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

Not that much by way of hard historical facts is known about him, but for all that, St. Patrick does have a lot to answer for in a term of a green wave that sends ripples around the globe on March 17 each year.  My earliest memories of Lá Fhéile Pádraig were in the days leading up to the 17th of scouting expeditions in the fields near a stony cregg bounding our land, that had a reputation for producing decent pockets of clover.

Shamrock patches through the fledgling Spring grass were always greeted with little shrieks of excitement as clumps were disentangled from the earth to be penned onto our lapels on St. Patrick’s Morning for the obligatory visit to the local church and the sermon that invariably mapped out the life and times of our most famous cleric.

Excuse the pun, but we all took it as a gospel: the detailed account of his capture by a band of Irish pirates from his home somewhere in the North-West of England, which is now known as Cumbria.

Of course, the ultimate irony of all this is that our veneration of the person we regard as the very epitome of Irish culture and Christianity was actually a West Brit (well ok a North-West Brit) but we’re now more open-minded about these kinds of things, and we just can’t be racist about Patrick’s origins.

According to some historical accounts, the name that Patrick used for himself back in the 5th century was Patricius and what a string of variations that has given rise to down through the centuries: Patrick, Pádraig, Padraic, Paraic, Pat, Patch, Pateen, Pádraigeen and the sometimes not so complimentary use of Paddy or ‘The Paddies’, although I’ve always felt that Paddy somehow had a kind of pleasant ring to it.

Even a little cursory stoking of the historical coals around the 5th and 6th centuries doesn’t provide many clear flames of information. One of the theories that has done the rounds was that there were in fact two St. Patricks, but one of them – a holy man by the name of Palladius – seems to have been largely written out of the script, but he too had a curious tale to tell.

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.

Country Living

Seeking trinkets of solace as our season of change arrives

Francis Farragher

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Country Living with Francis Farragher

One of the strange things about looking up opinions on the autumn season is how popular it seems to be with most scribes, and particularly those with a love of nature and the great outdoors.

There are times though that I’m not entirely enchanted with the lure of autumnal charm and particularly so on a grey and wet Tuesday morning when the penny drops that the decision to wear a short-sleeved shirt and no gansey was not such a good one.

With the change in the GAA season, the All-Ireland hurling final is already chalked into the record books while the football decider will also be done and dusted by September 1. Even the Galway Races seem to be slipping into the distant memory section of the brain.

Then, there’s the big return to school that seems to be eating a bit more than usual into the latter days of August while the ads will now be appearing about the night-classes in our educational establishments that could help us to while away the growing hours of darkness.

Even in the local hostelry where the cares of the world can be temporarily parked, ne’er a night passes in the second half of August when there isn’t a moan over a pint of black stuff about how quickly the evenings are ‘closing in’.

Sometimes, I can extract just a little solace from taking a glance at John Keats’ Ode to Autumn and his romantic descripting of the season of transition from Summer to Winter: “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, Close bosom friend of the maturing sun; Conspiring with him how to load and bless, With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run.”

Poor old Mr. Keats, one of the great English Romantic poets of the early 1800s, didn’t manage to experience any great multitudes of Autumns, dying at the age of 25 from TB or ‘consumption’, but he was undoubtedly madly in love with our third season of the year.

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

A tale of lords, ladies, a big house and ultimately poverty

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There was a time back the years, when I made regular enough trips to Dublin (apart from matches that is) to explore some of the treats of our capital city. Okay, there are the traffic woes and it’s not exactly the cheapest place in the world to spend a few days but it does offer some variety of exploration options.

Out of the blue, a couple of weeks back, what we’d call in our game ‘a little freebie’ came my way involving a two-day, one-night trip to Dublin, where the world of furiously belting at a keyboard to meet deadlines or ‘topping’ thistles that had passed their flowering date, could be left aside.

The Westin Hotel in the heart of Dublin City – an absolute treat to stay in if a tad on ‘the dear side’ for a country lad – opened up this little window of opportunity for me and along the way, unearthed one of the hidden treasures of our capital city.

Our Saturday morning visit to a house with the humble title of 14 Henrietta Street, showed little sign on the outside of what was to come over the course of the following 90 minutes, as our little group took a step back in time, to a story that began back in 1748.

The first occupants of 14 Henrietta Street were the Right Honourable Richard Lord Viscount Molesworth and his wife Mary Jenny Usher, who lived there in the very lap of luxury with specific areas for ‘masters, mistresses, servants and children’ . . . but only for the Winter months.

Every April the whole house packed up – lock, stock and barrel – and moved out to their country residence for the Summer months where they enjoyed all of the outdoor activities that gave pleasure to the nobility such as shooting, hunting, fishing, horse-riding and partying.

Read the full Country Living column in this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Country Living

Slipping into the weird but not so wonderful world of nothingness

Francis Farragher

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Country Living with Francis Farragher

Being a child of the 1960s, visits to the dentist were few and far between . . . well in fact quite non-existent. I can remember one dental inspection at primary school when a visiting dentist did something like a three-minute inspection of our choppers, giving them an occasional tap with an appropriate type of a light instrument. Some of my classmates, in their innocence, came back out from the inspection believing that a tooth had been pulled.

My mother, although quite an enlightened woman in many ways, had a theory about what she regarded as the ‘over-brushing’ of teeth. She believed that excessive use of the toothbrush would lead to a loss of enamel on the teeth so the whole practice of brushing tended to be quite irregular.

In the long run of course, this strategy had its consequences, and although my teeth escaped the dentist’s chair through my teenage years, the next decade was quite a different kettle of fish, when all the years of neglect came back to haunt me.

It led to my first ‘confrontation’ with a no-nonsense dentist in the town of Tuam whose efforts to insert a long needle under a decaying molar, resulted in an involuntary action on my behalf to catch his hand and immediately remove it from the vicinity of my mouth.

After a little toing and froing, and a stern warning from the dentist that ‘we had to get one thing straight’ – namely that he was the boss of this operation – I eventually succumbed but all didn’t end well. Over a day later, I discovered that a fragment of the tooth that should have been extracted still remained in place, leading to a rather painful self-extraction process. Alas the trauma of that visit ensured that another extended lull period developed in terms of any visits to the dentist’s chair.

Since then, I had the good fortune to meet the most professional and considerate of dentists in Woodquay, whose only fault was his tendency to hold quite erudite one-way conversations with me about everything from politics to philosophy, to which my only reply could be the odd ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ given the compromised position of my verbal outlet.

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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