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Brighter days on way but watch out for groundhog

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One of the world's most famous 'weather forecasting' animals, groundhog Punxsutawney Phil, is feted after a traditional February 2nd appearance some years back in the Pennsylvanian town.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

Poor old February might have a slightly unfashionable ring to it, apart of course from Valentine’s Day when we’re all supposed to be miraculously transformed into creatures of romance, but to me it’s a most uplifting time of the year when the first shoots of growth start to appear and light at last starts to gain a foothold in the enemy territory of darkness.

Whether next Sunday, February 1 is the first day of Spring or not is a matter of some debate, but from our early schooldays, we were always taught that the sight of the rooks starting to build their nests during the second month of the year, was a true indication that the season of growth and rebirth had arrived at our doorsteps again.

The meteorologists however don’t concur and consider February to be our final month of the winter season but the earlier sunrises and the stretch in the evenings, especially if the weather is benign, are good enough indicators to me that brighter times are on the way.

Candlemas Day, February 2, was one of the great traditional church landmarks and still retains a niche on the calendar of many Catholics when the candles are blessed, while the following day, the feast of St. Blaise, many of the faithful also make the trek to the place of worship for the blessing of the throats.

The Candlemas feast has its origins in the very root of modern Christianity, marking the date when the baby Jesus was presented at the Temple after his mother had undergone the traditional 40 days of purification following the birth of a child. It also marks the last day of Christmas from a Christian point of view although mention of ‘the C word’ in the latter days of January is akin to thinking back to childhood summer holidays.

Only over-ripening fruit in mid-summer seems to have a shorter shelf life than Christmas has in the passing days of January. As with most traditions and customs, the weather always seems to get intertwined with them, and over the centuries, the February 2 date, has been established as a day that will ‘tell the tale’ of what’s in store for us for the rest of the year.

If we were to put our faith in custom, lore and old mythologies, a wet and wintry day on Monday next would be very good news for the coming Spring season. There’s a myriad of old rhymes about the importance of the Candlemas weather but all with same theme.

“If Candlemas Day is bright and clear, There’ll be two winters in the year” or “For as the sun shines on Candlemas Day, So far will the snow swirl until May; For as the snow blows on Candlemas Day, So far will the sun shine before May,” sum up the stock placed on the weather conditions of February 2.

The date does have a significance in terms of ‘the change in the year’ in that it falls almost exactly half-way between the Winter Solstice of December 21 and the Spring Equinox of March 21, but in the United States, everyone knows the date as Groundhog Day.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

CITY TRIBUNE

There is no vaccine for Hitler hyperbole!

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Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

Galway County Councillor Noel Thomas lashed out at journalist Sinéad Ryan, when he claimed on Twitter that “Hitler would have loved you, Sinéad”.

The Fianna Fáil elected representative then deleted the tweet, which was “written in anger” and apologised “to anyone who may have been offended” by it.

But not before Ryan had taken a screenshot and re-tweeted it to her 22,000+ followers. She also reported the offending tweet to the social media giant and complained to FF HQ.

Noel Thomas didn’t back down, though. In another tweet, he said: “Just to let you know Sinéad I have also reported your tweet to Twitter. It is dangerous and very unhelpful to society to be making comments like you did.”

What was it that made the usually mild-mannered Moycullener see red, and spout Hitler hyperbole during a fit of rage? An opinion about Covid-19 vaccinations, of course!

Ryan said that after October 22, unvaccinated people, “shouldn’t be permitted into restaurants, pubs or indoor venues. If they won’t protect themselves, the rest of us must do it by dissociation”.

Whether the leader of the Third Reich would have approved of this sentiment is unclear. But Thomas’s party leader, Micheál Martin, clearly does – it’s now Government policy to continue with vaccination certificates for indoor hospitality for the foreseeable future.

(Photo: Cllr Noel Thomas took to Twitter to tell journalist Sinéad Ryan that Hitler would have loved her. It was after her comments that unvaccinated people shouldn’t be allowed into public spaces indoors).

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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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.

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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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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