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A season far removed from more innocent days of yore

Francis Farragher

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Advent author, Patrick Kavanagh, along with fellow-scribe, Anthony Cronin, in a scene from Dublin in the 1950s. Picture courtesy of the Irish Times.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

There was a time . . . alas many moons ago . . . when our primary school days would always be marked out by the holiday periods, and almost inevitably too by a visit from the local Parish Priest who would do a quick check on our knowledge of Christian Doctrine.

Thankfully, I have no unpleasant memories of those visits with the PP from Corofin, a man of kindly disposition and ailing years, always tending to ask the same questions, especially in the run-up to Easter and Christmas.

Often his pre-Christmas visit to the school would happen around the end of November, probably to coincide with the run-up to the season of Advent, an ‘event’ that we’d have been well tutored on by our Franciscan teachers, keen to ensure that our religious knowledge was at the tip of our tongues.

So, when the inevitable question would be asked by the PP in the dying embers of November about what was so special about this time of year, we’d all have our stock answers ready about Advent, and it’s time of preparedness for the arrival of the baby Jesus, about a month later.

We’d all have the same rhymes to blurt out and we’d be bursting a gut to ‘get there first’ with the replies, and in the process pick up some kudos from the teacher about how well spoken and smart we were about the arrival of Advent.

A little tale I heard last week prompted this line of thought when a teacher asked his class about what was the big event that was coming up around the end of November, one that would be a forerunner to the Christmas festival.

In my era, the standard answer would have been flooded with images of Advent and Christmas but in 2019, the reply was quite a different one. Kids being kids, the answer that they piped up, to a child, was: “The Toy Show”, and I suppose at least there was honesty and spontaneity there.

Our little lectures about Advent, despite being wrapped in a cloak of solemnity, still couldn’t disguise our anticipation that this season gave notice of Christmas not being that far away . . . with all its trappings of feasting, presents, Santa Claus and of course holidays from school.

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

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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Country Living

A flu holocaust that rocked the world and is still with us

Francis Farragher

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Country Living with Francis Farragher

Maybe it’s the same every Winter, but it seems over recent weeks that almost everyone I’ve met and worked with have been laid low with a dose of either the flu or a heavy cold.

I’m always loathe to say that I’ve avoided the scourge in case that I’m tempting fate but over recent years the precautionary flu jab has been pencilled into the October diary.

In younger years there was always the temptation to be gung ho about such things as flu injections but it does seem to make the most perfect sense to get a little jab in the shoulder, that takes about the best part of two seconds to administer, in return for avoiding a week or more of abject misery.

Some of my colleagues seem to have taken several weeks to shake off the virus that seems to have been especially vicious this year and that already has claimed the lives of up to 22 people, according to the latest HSE data.

Flu, or to use its proper title influenza, is a viral infection that initially attacks your lungs and upper airways, but being a virus, it is bullet-proof against antibiotics, so there is little choice but to rest and take in plenty of fluids during its peak strike period.

It is highly contagious and one of the reasons why it may spread more rapidly during the Winter is that during the colder season, people do tend to be closer proximity to one another. During this time of year, we will tend to breathe in a lot of other people’s breath and air droplets that carry the flu virus.

Have you ever noticed walking down a city street close to someone who is smoking and how at times you realise that you are getting the scent of cigarette smoke in your nostrils.

The scent of the smoke tells us that but this indicates that every day, unpalatable as it may be, we do tend to breathe in a lot of other people’s recycled air.

Put a lot of people together in places like schools, pubs, buses, restaurants, sporting events and even family get-togethers and the conditions are pretty much perfect for spreading the flu virus. Recycled air in aeroplanes is a cesspit for the virus.

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

Adieu, adieu to last year as we look ahead to 2020

Francis Farragher

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Oh, the Summertime is coming . . . saving the turf in Connemara.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

Well, the seasonal festivities have been well left behind at this stage, and maybe without seeming to be too vinegary, it could be a case of good riddance. Anyway, it’s time for the second half of the whimsical, alphabetical guide to the nuances, moans and highlights that may lie ahead for us in 2020.

N is for the New Year resolutions that you’ve made so piously through the latter days of December while being racked by the guilt of eating and drinking your way through the holiday period. The resolutions should at least survive until now – if they can be sustained into the first week of February, then they actually could become a habit.

O is for all the official red-tape that’s trying to turn us all into subjects of a nanny state. Like not smoking in your own car; like not being to buy a bottle of wine at 11.30 on New Year’s Day; and like being told we shouldn’t burn turf or coal in our own stoves.

P is for all of us who like pottering about in our gardens, farmyards or fields, often without a great purpose as to what we’re about. It’s just that sense of freedom about being in the great outdoors where a little bit of isolation and space can be therapeutic for mind and body.

Q is for all the questions you should have at the tip of your tongue when the date for the Spring General Election is called. The queries could vary from hospital waiting lists to homelessness to the day when we’ll be stopped from putting diesel and petrol into our cars. So have your list ready.

R is for the rain that we all moan about from one end of the year to the next . . . the rain that gives us our lovely green isle with lush fields of natural grass that puts in such a good position to produce the finest of food with a minimal carbon footprint. Yes, we can get too much of it . . . but without it, we’re nothing.

S is for Springtime, which in my little head, will always start on the first day of February as the Franciscan Brothers taught us so fervently at Annagh Hill National School back in the 1960s. We expected every crow to start work on their new nests that day. February though can be a lovely month of seasonal change.

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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