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Country Living

A weekly peep into wacky and wonderful world of country life

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In the mid-1970s, JOE O’SHAUGHNESSY was a schoolboy with a camera who had an eye for the unusual shots. He took this picture outside McDonagh’s Thatch Bar in Oranmore of a gentleman taking a break from the rigours of life, with the Connacht Tribune poster on the window and also note the weekly Woman’s Choice magazine on the other side. In those days, ‘print was king’.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

It’s most unusual these days in the newspaper game to get anything in the post. Everything pops in on the email  . . . we’re all hopping in and out of Google every few minutes . . . and of course if the mobile is more than a metre away from our person, it’s as if we’re standing naked in a crowded church.

Anyway, last week, a handwritten envelope arrived from the current editor of the Tuam Herald, David Burke, who I soldiered with for a number of years back in the 1980s, which included a copy of an old column I had written for The Herald, back in January of 1984.

The column was called Country Scene and was written under the pen name of Pierce Ploughman, a king of play of words (I think) on a famous late 14th century poem called Piers Plowman and written by a William Langland, dealing with the quest for the true Christian life.

At the time one of the reasons for the pen name was that it would allow me to write a bit more anonymously about some of the characters I’d meet on the highways and byways of country life, but of course after the first column or two, my cover was blown.

One of the jolts we all get from looking back at things from the past is of course that realisation that time seems to have slipped so quickly – almost as in the blink of an eye.

The column David Burke sent to me, and written over 37-years ago, actually jogged a little memory tributary in my brain. I could remember writing it and I could remember the local character it was based on too, thankfully still alive, hale and hearty.

His name in the column was Malachy and like Pierce Ploughman of course it wasn’t his real one and his novelty in his trait of never being quite able to make up his mind about anything. One of Malachy’s dilemmas was summed up in this extract from the Country Scene column of January 7, 1984:

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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Country Living

A time when everything was just a black-and-white issue

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Duel in the sky between Kerry forwards and Galway backs during the 1965 All-Ireland football final.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

There are probably few people outside of Galway who will give the Connacht champions a reasonable chance of winning next Sunday’s All-Ireland showdown with Kerry in Croke Park, but in days of childhood innocence, I remember a time when those roles would have been completely reversed.

Those were the days of black-and-white televisions – and very few of them – back in the early to mid-1960s when Galway were poised to enter their most glorious period in the history of Gaelic football, reaching four successive All-Irelands and winning the last three of them.

It was the John ‘Tull’ Dunne era of Gaelic football in the county when the Ballinasloe man practically did everything from organising trips to Dublin for teams to managing them on the sideline, while it was rumoured at one point that Galway had 15 selectors. Apocryphal or not, I don’t really know.

In terms of media revolutions, what happened in the early 1960s with the opening of RTE television in December 1961, was on a similar scale to the arrival of the mobile phone. As young lads with barely our backsides down on the cold timber of primary school seats, word quickly spread that those matches could be seen on television.

All very well, one might say, but in the more Spartan times of 1963, the slight issue arose over access to the black-and-white TV screens, for they were truly few and far between. It was a bit like the meeting of the mice when one bright spark floated the idea of putting a bell around the cat’s neck to warn of his imminent arrival, only for elder feline to pose the question: “And, which mouse will perform this task?”

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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