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Country Living

A time when we’re learning to appreciate the simpler things

Francis Farragher

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Pacific War 1941 to 1945. A reminder of how awful life could be.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

If our current pandemic has brought one thing to the forefront of our minds, it is that of our own mortality. Of course, there’s no point in dwelling too much on that great certainty of life – in the end, there’s only going to be one winner – but at least we’re all being reminded that the gift of life really does trump everything else.

Like most other humans I know, I make a reasonable effort to live something approaching a healthy way of life . . .  not too much food, not too much ‘rubbish’, keeping an eye on ‘the quantity’ when it comes to the ‘ould drink’, and trying to squeeze in a bit of physical exercise every day.

And yet, if we’re to believe all the health food PR that’s being thrown at us day-after-day, it’s as if doing everything perfectly will bring us the gift of everlasting life, which I’m afraid it won’t. We are finite creatures and if we look after ourselves – and get lucky – then we may be blessed with a lifespan that could stretch for eight decades or so.

It’s only when we face into crisis periods like we’re experiencing now, that we realise that ordinary, normal lives are quite the thing to strive for. There really is a great solace in being able to do – and enjoy – the simple things of life like waking up in the morning, going to work, enjoying your meals, and embarking on an evening walk, cycle or jog.

Normal routines have taken a bit of a battering since the arrival of St Patrick’s Day with not a pint being pulled in a pub across the land. If someone had said to you six months ago that we’d have such a day in Ireland, the old psychiatric examination might be called for.

Anyway, maybe at times it’s good to break some of the old routines and instead of having the evening option of a couple of pints of plain, I’ve been lured into various little distractions such as watching a number of TV series that I couldn’t be bothered with, when there were other things to be at.

Thursday nights since late March have been preoccupied with watching two war series that I’d heard a lot about but never had the patience to watch, and beside I thought my own little curiosities about history had taught me everything I wanted to know about World War II . . . but, but not so, after now completing 20 episodes between Band of Brothers and Pacific.

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.

 

 

Country Living

Being part of the herd still trumps merits of isolation

Francis Farragher

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Country Living with Francis Farragher

Okay, so I’m not a frontline worker or even close to having ‘a proper job’ but newspapers crept under the umbrella of workplace locations where it was legal to be able to operate from the normal place of employment.  If I had a euro for every time someone said to me: “Sure, you’re sound, you can work from home,” then I’d have enough of cash put away to enjoy a weekend in the sun at places like Roundstone, Bundoran or Killarney.

So, technology and such things as Zoom, have given us the methodology to be able to sit down at some quiet corner of the house where all alone, we can poke away at a keyboard, far removed from the world of real human contact.

There’s even learned studies to show us that by working from home — where this is practical — can lead to a more efficient and productive out from the human unit, where the drudgery of the daily commute is eliminated and office distractions are minimised.

Some employees of modern social media goblins like Twitter will have no choice but to work from home so little nooks and crannies will have to be found for all the service points to find a home such as broadband, hard-drives and maybe even the odd printer.

I’ve been told that this is such an obvious ‘no-brainer’ that I should jump at the opportunity of clicking away from home with the same enthusiasm as a cat pouncing on a mouse who has lost his way. By working from home, there’s no need for the big personal tidy-up each morning or in putting on a shirt and pants that looks vaguely respectable . .  you can potter about the house in your slippers (don’t have any) or your wellies or even in your bare feet if the house is warm and the carpet is new.

Well over five million Americans are now estimated to be working from the so-called comfort of their own homes supposedly saving money every day by not having to buy lunches or coffees or to fork out loads of dollars on gasoline to fuel their previous daily commutes.

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

The strangest of summers takes another curious twist

Francis Farragher

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The late James Last’s Jagerlatein . . . the anthem of an Irish Summer.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

It’s stranger that things seem to be getting this year. There I was on a June Wednesday evening last week having a bit of grub after work when the TV was flicked on and amidst great contrived excitement the first English Premier League match for months was unveiled on Sky.

The feeling was more than a little unusual, something akin to listening to White Christmas or Frosty the Snowman on Midsummer’s Day, but for want of something better to do while the food was being consumed, an eye was thrown on the TV.

The rival combatants were Aston Villa and Sheffield United but for the best part of an hour this was the match where nothing happened . . . well apart that is from the Villa keeper carrying the ball over his own line only for Hawkeye to miss out on the goal because the post and a couple of bodies got in the way.

Playing in front of an empty stadium is probably not easy but on one of the channels, there was the option of adding in sound effects which were plyed with great gusto if the ball came even remotely close to either six-yard box. Here and there though, the producer didn’t get it right, with a massive ‘roar’ from the crowd as the ball trickled harmlessly wide.

I’ve nothing against soccer and for many years soldiered valiantly for my local club St. Bernard’s United but I do have lingering memories of how long – and at times how dreadfully boring – a bad game could be, a cause not helped by playing in goal and especially if your team was on top.

Those damn matches used to seem to go on forever. There was always a half-hour in getting ready when invariably a bootlace would break or a glove would be missing . . . each half always lasted 50 minutes with added-on time . . . while the interval breaks, especially on a cold winter’s day seemed to go for about 10 minutes too long.

But that was us. Junior journeymen in the great world of soccer and no one really expected us to be a Gordon Banks, a Bobby Charlton, a George Best or a Johan Cruyff. We pedalled our wares, did our best, and enjoyed a few scoops after the match.

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 time when many of us just miss saying that last goodbye

Francis Farragher

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Country Living with Francis Farragher

Maybe it’s an age thing, but for want of a better expression, I’m more into funerals than weddings.

We mightn’t do everything right in Ireland but in terms of giving a send-off to our loved ones, I think we tick a lot of the boxes.

Only in the last couple of months has this really hit home to me when the great Irish funeral tradition also fell victim to the coronavirus.

Friends and neighbours who I had known back the years just slipped away from us almost silently and without a hand being shook or a graveyard visited.

Once or twice, I’ve attended funerals in places like England where I always thought there was a coldness and lack of feeling about the final goodbye that was just . . . well pretty bleak.

There is of course no way of dressing up the Grim Reaper in bright clothes but yet there is something consoling for family and friends when a loved one gets a tender and loving send-off.

We all have to stop for death and even if we don’t, as Emily Dickinson put it, he will ‘kindly stop for you’.

Back the years, at the death beds of elderly relatives, I’ve been one of the group that recited Hail Mary after Hail Mary, and it’s a little prayer – even in my less than fertile spiritual periods – that does bring its own solace.

Maybe it goes back to that infant and early childhood link we all had with our mothers but there always seems to be just a little feeling of warmth and consolation in the second half of the prayer: “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death, Amen.”

There’s a sincerity of spirit and solidarity at Irish funerals with a poignant oscillation between joy and utter sadness as the event runs its course.

The playing of a favourite song at the church or graveyard can ignite an explosion of memories, and while the human finality of the occasion can never be overcome, the droplets of consolation from the fountains of friendship most of us can draw from, can be a help.

Over recent weeks – and indeed months now – there have been funerals of neighbours and friends that I (like everyone else) have missed because of the health restrictions.

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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