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Country Living

A time when we were the ones waiting for the cash from abroad

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Irish immigrants arriving on Ellis Island in the early 1900s for a new life in the United States. Photo: Courtesy Irish Times and Library of Congress.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

Through all the hullabaloo of recent weeks about the amount of money that being sent out of Ireland to the home countries of so-called ‘foreign nationals’ working here, I just thought to myself that some of us have very short memories.

We’ve had a troubled history here in Ireland from colonisations to wars and famines but despite a number of recessions and the infamous collapse of the Celtic Tiger back around 2018, we are in general a wealthy country.

That is not to say that we don’t have our ongoing problems, the most pressing of which is probably the homelessness issue, but the vast majority of our people are now highly educated; they are working in decent jobs; and they all have a reasonable chance of getting onto the housing ladder, even if that latter aspiration can be difficult near the bigger urban centres.

There was always a great tradition . . . nay, probably more of a necessity . . . back the generations of money and goods coming back from countries where often the main breadwinner had to move to foreign soils to earn the money that kept his family above the breadline.

The Great Famine or Gorta Mór, that peaked from about 1845 to 1851, is estimated to have claimed the lives of about one million people but it also set in train one of the great movements of people from a small country to different places around the world.

Somewhere in the region of two million people are estimated to have left Ireland during The Famine, the vast majority of them travelling across the Atlantic for new lives in the United States and Canada.

There was work there and consequently money, a significant amount of which had to be sent home, to keep the family they left behind in some kind of a position to maintain even a half-dignified lifestyle.

During a little trawl through some very informative data available from the Mayo County Library, historians estimated that during the latter half of the 19th century, the Irish in America sent $260 million back to Ireland, which one Dennis Clarke described as ‘the greatest transatlantic philanthropy of the nineteenth century’.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Country Living

Trying to find the time to slow down that clock

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Country Living with Francis Farragher

AS one gets older the realisation dawns that time – and not material wealth – is our greatest asset but boy does that clock fairly freewheel around with each passing year.

Anytime a conversation switches around to the question of: “How long is such-and-such a person dead,” the guesstimate answers usually need to be doubled. Looking back on time makes us all realise how fast it is flying by.

I always contend that winning the lotto – as exciting and all as that would be – would not make any of us one second younger and in all probability would not add on one day to our eventual date with destiny.  In fact it might even know a few years off if we lost the rag and went mad with the lucre.

My late father used to have a favourite saying about wealth and money namely that while it wouldn’t necessarily bring you happiness in this world it would ‘help you to enjoy your misery’.

Even a couple of Sundays back while sitting in the Hogan Stand and witnessing Galway’s gallant attempt to win the All-Ireland title, it was kind of hard to credit that 21-years had passed since we were last in a senior final and 24-years since we ended a 32-year famine with the victory over Kildare in 1998.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Country Living

It nearly always comes down ‘to splitting the difference’

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Fruit of the land.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

THERE used to be a great habit at fair days one time of throwing a spit on the palm of your hand and saying: ‘We’ll split the difference’, when it came to the asking price and the offer for a pen of lambs. The asking price might be £10 each for a pen of lambs; the offer could be £8; and the difference would be split with an agree price of £9.

Over the past few weeks, I had a gut feeling that this great debate the country was having on reductions in agricultural emissions would always come down to splitting the difference or if it hadn’t the three Government parties would be heading into a General Election and could it have been a case of lambs to the slaughter with ‘The Shinners’ waiting in the wings to mop up all the dissenting votes.

It has though been quite an upsetting time for many country people brought up on the land and instilled with a sense of decency as to how they treated the landscape; the crops they grew on it; and the animals that they reared. There were times, I thought, we don’t really have a green isle at all with all the talk of reducing emissions and cattle numbers across the country.

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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Country Living

Not people you can bank on when push comes to shove

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Country Living with Francis Farragher

I’m not sure whether it was a good sign or not but there was a time, when I’d know the local bank managers by their first names. In the great scheme of things, most of the ‘business deals’ struck would be about loans for cars or farm investment while of course the big one was the mortgage.

Whether we were naive or not at the time, there was a kind of trust between banks and ordinary customers that was always nurtured by that face-to-face contact element. It was reassuring to know a name or a face for a bit of advice or maybe to get a few bob to get you out of some financial hole that you had dug for yourself.

There was a time too back in the 1970s when the average Irish Mammy could envisage no better job for a son or a daughter than to ‘get the start’ in the bank. It was the ultimate position of respectability, even if most of the days might be spent – to borrow a phrase from WB Yeats – ‘fumbling in a greasy till’.

I remember thumbing a lift to Athlone to sit an exam for the Bank of Ireland but whether it was my dodgy maths or my even dodgier appearance, I never heard another word about it. My career in respectable banking never managed to leave the starting blocks.

On a Richter scale of life’s regrets, it doesn’t even get a zero rating, although here and there, I’d be reminded of some of the junkets that lads I went to school with got from their bank employers. And then there were the years when we’d never be poor again with loans – the bigger the better – being handed out for all kinds of property deals.

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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