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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.

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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

Steering clear of the fear factor in troubled times

Francis Farragher

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During these troubled days a happy memory and an image that will never leave the mindset of a certain generation . . . Dana winning the 1970 Eurovision Song Contest 50 years ago in Amsterdam, March, 1970, singing 'All Kinds of Everything'.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

It is probably something of an understatement to say that these are very strange times indeed and the other day as I walked down Shop Street in Galway city around 3pm, workmen diligently attended to their duties in their ongoing upgrade works . . . with barely an onlooker in sight.

The greatly reduced pedestrian channel at a normally very busy time of the day should have meant bodies brushing up against each other, but apart from myself and a well-wrapped-up elderly lady, there was no one else about.

At times, you feel like pinching yourself and saying: is this really happening? – but alas it is and seems likely to stay with us for the coming couple of months at least, so it’s a case of making the best of it and adjusting to a change of habits.

For those of us who like a ‘pint of plain’ there does tend to be a gap in the normal evening/night schedule but, weather permitting, the previously unattractive prospect of a walk or cycle in the evening does tend to pass a chunk of time, as well as warming the body up.

Like most of the rest of the population, I’ve never before washed my hands as often, and as thoroughly, but after leaving a bathroom the handwash can seem something of a pointless exercise when a potentially germ laden door handle has to be negotiated.

Strange little idiosyncrasies also seem to be slipping into my lifestyle like holding my breath for at least 20 seconds when passing a stranger on the street and looking anxiously around a room to identify the source of a sneeze, a nose blow or a cough.

It’s like living in the land of eternal suspicion, not knowing where the enemy might be lurking – could it be your friend, a family member, a person down the road or that shopper leaning in close to you as a tin of beans is secured from a supermarket shelf.

We, of course, all have to keep going, be careful and sensible, and listen to realistic, well-sourced advice but I now find myself imposing a measure of self-censorship in terms of the coronavirus news that I allow my mind to absorb.

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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Country Living

Dreaming of the ‘white ones’even during very black times

Francis Farragher

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A strange fixation with stocking up on toilet rolls!

Country Living with Francis Farragher

It has been a very strange few weeks for most of us and it’s quite natural to feel more than a tad uneasy when disease threatens and once again, we realise that the little thread keeping body and soul together is indeed very fragile.

Last Thursday evening as I popped into Dunnes Stores on the Headford to do a regular weekly shopping – it’s convenient and on the road home – there was a sense of not being in a comfort zone any more with crowded aisles and just a sense of impatience as trolleys edged into each other here and there.

It was as if the Beast from the East, the week before Christmas and a looming supermarket strike had all come together with staff frantically to replenish the shelves with stock. One employee summed it up quite succinctly: “We have plenty of stock but we just can’t get in on to the shelves fast enough.”

Strange shopping idiosyncrasies have also emerged over the past couple of weeks, the most notable of which has been a semi-psychotic desired to fill all empty portholes in dwellings with toilet rolls. I could do a bit of research into some deep-rooted psychological reason for this but there’s probably better ways to spend my time.

Having grown up in an era in rural Ireland where toilet paper wasn’t an issue simply because toilets were few and far between, it really does seem mind-boggling this infatuation with storing up hundreds of rolls of the white stuff. Some supermarket trolleys had enough toilet rolls to ensure ‘clean bottoms’ well into the 2020s!

One of our childhood rhymes of national school cast ridicule on people who ushered into the toilet paper era and went as follows: “When Adam was a boy, Before paper was invented, He wiped his ‘ass’ with a bit of grass, And walked away contented.”

That of course is one of the lighter asides to what’s going on in Ireland and across the world at present but mankind is no stranger to the spectre of plagues and diseases threatening whole swathes of our population.

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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Country Living

History repeats itself over 100 years down the road

Francis Farragher

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Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province in central China,has a population of 11 million people and like many other cities in that country is renowned for its street foodmakets where animals live and dead are traded. Most experts agree that this is where the coronavirus made the move from animals to humans.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

History does tend to repeat itself and especially so it seems in the case of health issues. In the middle of January, I penned a piece about probably the greatest pandemic ever to hit the world, namely the rather inaccurately entitled Spanish Flu that raged from 1918 to 1920.

There’s a large cohort of the population that’s still just a generation away from that health catastrophe that took its name from the fact that word got out about the virus when the Spanish royal family took ill with the flu.

However, most historians seem to agree that the 1918 flu was rampant in the battlefields of Europe during the first half of that year and may have been a major contributory factor in the ending of the Great War in November.

A century ago, information was a lot slower in being disseminated and the warring states across Europe and the world weren’t exactly too keen either on letting word get out about the great silent killer in the trenches.

Still, word spread mainly through the newspapers, word-of-mouth and letter-writing that this unknown killer was spreading through the world’s population, and like the coronavirus virus of today, there was a sense of helplessness about what could be done about it.

In many ways, there was a lot of similarities between the advice given out 100 years ago and today’s guidelines. Irish people read in their newspapers back in 1918/’19 about keeping away from crowded assemblies; engaging in good hygiene practices; not spitting in public; avoiding contact with people who had the flu; and staying away from wakes.

Now 100 years on, we’re beginning to hear the same advice about funeral gatherings and probably the dropping of the traditional Irish gesture of sympathy, namely the handshake.

According to research carried out by one Dr. Ida Milne, a researcher and authority on the Spanish Flu in Ireland, there was also an element of quackery in terms of some of the recommended treatments such as opium, quinine, large amounts of whiskey and brandy, as well as a number of poisons including calomel and strychnine, the latter a well known rat poison of some years back.

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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