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A time when it’s good to be just a little bit disappointed

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For the birds: Rachel blew in and blew out without too much fuss. PHOTO: JOE O'SHAUGHNESSY.

Country Life with Francis Farragher

Maybe it’s an indication of some serious psychological dysfunction but I’ve always found an excitement in spectacular weather displays. Of course at the end of the day there’s always great relief that no great damage or injury has been caused to anyone, but a great storm, a spectacular display of lightning, or a green countryside that once every decade turns into a polar landscape, are great shows of nature.

Many years ago, I remember making a return trip from Headford Court with an old solicitor in Tuam long gone to his eternal reward, a man by the name of Jim Hession, who told me that night-time thunderstorms were one of the great fascinations of his life.

It was different times then and the journey from Headford to Tuam ended up taking a couple of hours as were both hit by a bad dose of ‘the thirst’ but the conversation about weather did draw me back to childhood days, when during thunderstorms, we would all sit in the kitchen, and break into occasional bursts of Hail Marys in an effort to preserve our bodies, whatever about our souls.

Our father always warned us to keep our legs away from the floor and up on the timber cross lat that helped solidify the front two legs of the chair – his thinking being that this would insulate us in the event of a lightning strike.

Thankfully the chair insulation strategy was never put to the test but such memories probably do capture that mix of fear and tension – but exhilaration too – when nature decides to put on a show.

All this is by way of trying to explain that I felt just a little ‘disappointed’ when last week Rachel didn’t live up to her expectations of being a full blown Atlantic storm. She huffed and she puffed a bit all right, but in the end, this was just an intense Atlantic depression that blew in the usual mix of wind and rain plus the odd violent gust or two.

A lot of people last weekend asked me about the wisdom of schools being closed down all over the country because of what was just in the end a ‘run-of-the-mill’ Atlantic depression, but over recent years, the Met. Office has tended to err on the side of caution when a storm is on the way.

It’s a bit a like a Government warning of a hairshirt Budget, making everyone grimace with fear, only then to unveil a far tamer version, allowing the masses to breathe a huge sigh of relief. In terms of weather forecasting, there’s nothing too much untoward with predicting the worst (just a little annoyance), but there can be an awful lot wrong in forecasting the best, if it doesn’t turn out that way.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Mini pause proves there are no easy routes to recovery

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Melbourne...continuous lockdown for most of the past two years.

World of Politics with Harry McGee

You think we have it bad this week – what with the delay in a full reopening?  You could be living in Melbourne. The city with a population of five million has been under almost continuous lockdown for most of the past two years.

Since March 2020, there have been 262 days of lockdown in Melbourne, across six periods where people’s movements were incredibly restricted. That included curfews between 9pm and 5am.

Australia and New Zealand were two of only a handful of countries in the world which pursued elimination, rather than containment, strategies with the virus, or Zero Covid as it was called.

For a long time, it seemed like the correct strategy, the one setting the standard. Both countries clamped down hard with very restrictive lockdowns and effectively closed their borders.

They threw all their resources into testing, contact tracing and even testing the wastewater. Those who were identified as cases and close contacts were isolated. The countries also introduced mandatory hotel quarantine.

And it was very effective; when the Alpha (Essex) strain hit Ireland and other countries in December and January, both countries were fully open and enjoying unrestricted access to stadiums, hotels, restaurants, schools. Anytime, there was the hint of an outbreak strict local and regional lockdowns were imposed, some for several weeks, some for longer.

Sure, there were long and severe lockdowns. But there was also a lot of freedom, over 450 days without restrictions.

The strategy only worked if you cut off the country completely from all other countries in the world. New Zealand, for example, did that because it did not have sufficient capacity to deal with the kind of crisis China and Italy had faced, when people died because they could not be intubated, or there were not enough ventilators to go around.

There were downsides. The cost, for one, was exceptionally high. It meant a huge diminution in people’s personal rights. Limited availability in mandatory quarantine hotels meant a lot of New Zealanders and Australians living abroad were prevented from returning home.

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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Connacht Tribune

Sporting rivalry doesn’t have to mean segregated supporters

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

Three sporting teams whose boundaries come up to the back door of each other’s patch were all in action at the one venue – two of them against each other – at the weekend.

If it was the Premiership, it wouldn’t – and couldn’t – have happened because there would be carnage either inside or outside the ground . . .or both.

But this was Pearse Stadium and the county senior football championship, an afternoon’s entertainment that might not have been on Sky Sports’ radar, but which was no less crucial for those with a vested interest all the same.

First up, Oughterard were up against their nearest neighbours Killannin for a semi-final place, while the other leg of this local stool saw reigning champions Moycullen successfully put their crown on the line against Tuam Stars.

It goes without saying that the crowd was in the high hundreds or low thousands; this wasn’t Old Trafford or Anfield with 60,000 or 70,000 fans congregating from all corners of the globe, never mind the country.

So it wasn’t Celtic and Rangers or City against United; it was neighbours and families and friends intermingled all in one place, albeit wearing different colours.

And even allowing for the intensity of local rivalries, the ties that bind are infinitely stronger than the boundaries that divide.

Half the Killannin team went to school in Oughterard. The Monaghans, who line out for Oughterard, are sons of Terence who was steeped in Moycullen football before moving parish.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

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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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway 2020 defenders’ mortifying muscle memory 

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Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

It’s amazing how quickly people try to re-write history. If Galway 2020 happened, say, 20 years ago, you could maybe blame fading memory to make allowances for the maroon-tinted glasses of those who defend it to the hilt.

But Galway’s term as European Capital of Culture concluded not 20 weeks ago, and the ‘see no evil, hear no evil’ brigade are out in force with propaganda that would make Donald Trump blush.

The defenders of Galway 2020 usually fall into two categories. There are people who work or worked for the organisation directly or indirectly and/or who contributed to winning the prestigious designation. And there are those who are deluded. Some fall into both categories – deluded and with a vested interest in Galway 2020’s reputation.

It matters not that the latest criticism of the ill-fated – and extremely expensive – project was contained in an official Government report, compiled by an office with impeccable credibility, the Comptroller and Auditor General.

Be it bar-stool commentary or analysis of the CA&G, the reaction to criticism is always the same. The defenders metaphorically stick index fingers in both ears, close their eyes and chant: “Yada, yada, yada, blah, blah, blah”. This would be fine if it wasn’t the taxpayer who’s had to pick up the tab.

It’s like the defenders of Galway 2020 have an inbuilt muscle memory. They’ve spent so long defending Galway 2020 that, no matter what the new charge is, their memory system automatically kicks in.

And while the muscle memory that instinctively compels them to defend is, through repetitive use, as sharp as ever, their actual memories are mortifyingly short. Or maybe they’ve selective memory. Or both.

The few – and they’re getting fewer – who defend Galway 2020 often spout the narrative that but for the Covid-19 pandemic it would’ve been brilliant.

And to a casual observer, someone who never heard of Galway 2020 and its litany of problems from day one, maybe that explanation seems plausible. But the argument does not hold water.

The C&AG last week highlighted how Galway 2020 had planned to raise €6.8 million from the private sector. This figure was used in the bid book to persuade judges to give Galway the designation.

In the end, it managed to raise just €400,000 in cash, plus €500,000 in “in-kind” support.

Defenders’ muscle memory kicked in and they said, “Ah, but the pandemic, how could you raise money during Covid?”.

This deliberately ignores Galway 2020’s own bid book, which promised to raise €4 million from the private sector pre-Covid in 2017, 2018 and 2019. It didn’t materialise, which shows the projected income from businesses was overinflated, or the private sector had reservations about supporting this project long before Covid.

This is just one implied criticism in the C&AG report, which doesn’t even mention the non-appointment of a Business Engagement Director, whose job – if the appointment had proceeded – would’ve been to tap the private sector for money.

Maybe the defenders should read the C&AG report. It might help to de-programme their mortifying muscle memory.

(Photo: The scene at South Park at the same time as the Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture opening ceremony).

This is a shortened preview version of Bradley Bytes. To read more, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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