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Charting role of plough in history of rural Galway

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A tradition that lives on: Over 51 years ago, Thomas Reilly, Claregalway, a former county champion, ploughing his section of the field at the Co. Galway Ploughing Championships at Claregalway, on March 16, 1967.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

It’s over half a century since I saw the first scrape being turned by a single plough in a field of soil. By today’s standards, the field was little more than a large garden but it regularly produced outstanding crops of potatoes. There should have been two horses pulling the plough but this was soil with no thick skin of knotted grass to cut through, and my father was in charge of just a single horse, but a magnificently strong animal he was.

We used to call him a full black even he did have a white streak that ran from the bottom of his ears to his nose, and while his strength was never in question, his temperament certainly was, and he normally had to be ‘led’ by a neighbour with a strong arm to keep him in check.

There always seemed to be gulls around to feast on the worms and grubs that were roused from their soil portholes but there was something magical about that resonance between humans, horse and nature. As the years passed, the horse was confined to the more manageable tasks for a single animal, namely that of opening and closing drills, scuffling, moulding the potatoes, and of course the work of the Summer and harvest periods such as bringing in the hay and oats.

Loads of those memories came flooding back last week as I glanced through Tom Fahey’s book, A History of Ploughing in County Galway, that was launched earlier this month at the Arches in Claregalway, at an event that I attended. Like a lot of other people, I was quite stunned at the turnout for the book launch with over 200 people in attendance, so the lure of the plough and the land is still quite strong through the homesteads, fields and boreens of Galway.

This week in the village of Screggan just outside Tullamore, nearly 300,000 people will visit an event that is now regarded as the biggest outdoor gathering in Europe, but as Tom Fahey recounts in his book, it all started from very humble beginnings back in the early 1930s when the then Taoiseach, Éamon de Valera, visited the championships in 1933.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Country Living

From pagan to Christian and all brought about by a young ‘Brit’

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Country Living with Francis Farragher

The wheel of time continues to spin at a frantic pace with St. Patrick’s Day coming hot on the heels of our Christmas festival as we prepare to celebrate the life and times of our patron saint.

Lá Fhéile Pádraig is of course celebrated in many countries across the globe reflecting the grimmer economic times of Ireland through the 1800s and early part of the 20th century when thousands had to take the emigrant boat or plane to better themselves.

The story of St. Patrick is of course well documented both in history and legend – like most things of Irish hue, the life and times of our patron saint weren’t simple.

Patrick wasn’t Irish, being born into a wealthy enough English family, and as well as that, he’s not even a ‘proper saint’ of the Catholic Church, the latter ‘anomaly’ arising, due to the times he lived in, when there wasn’t a proper canonisation process in place.

Those little matters aside, Patrick continues to hold a special place in our hearts, even if the timing of his feast day can often coincide with spells of dodgy early spring weather while it also occurs before the clocks change into their summertime hours.

For all that, it was still a very welcome break for those of us, who back the years, didn’t have the same grá for school as the pupils of 2023.

We all received the usual history lesson about the life and times of Patrick in the run-up to March 17, as we were reminded of how he transformed our pagan ways into more Christian rituals. And it would be nice to think that we never looked back after that!

There were too the customary searches for shamrock whether it be in fields at the back of the school or on the family farm while the more affluent (everything being relative) pupils tended to wear green badges with harps attached on the big day.

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

A time in our lives that none of us will ever forget

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Some very sad times during Covid.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

It is kind of strange how major events of this world act as memory markers for us. From an Irish context, there’s the Great Famine of the 1840s, the 1916 Rising, the World Wars, and of late the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

And of course there’s the ‘big one’ – that time in our lives when the word Covid entered our vocabulary and we found ourselves freewheeling into a world of restrictions that just a few weeks before their introduction would have been unimaginable.

There are also little incidental chats about when something happened or how long such-a-one has been dead which ends with the inevitable question: “Was it before or after the Covid?”

It’s easy too of course with the benefit of hindsight to look back at the raft of restrictions which were piled on top of us ordinary ‘God fearing’ people, such as not being able to travel more than three miles from our homes and having to have paperwork in your car to present at Garda checkpoints on the way to and from work.

We all hated the concept of the €9 meal if you wanted to have a pint in the local or the hassle of having to put on your face mask every time you move from your desk at work . . . but there were a lot worse things going on too.

I remember chatting to friends in the earlier and more draconian phases of the Covid restrictions who had been unable to visit parents in nursing homes as their loved ones entered the final days of their lives.

This was all brought into focus over the past week or so by a former member of NPHET (remember that, the National Public Health Emergency Team), Professor Martin Cormican at the University of Galway.

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 fruitless search for a cure to the common ailment of WAMK

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Country Living with Francis Farragher

It’s a forlorn wish by now after a half-century of fruitless effort to try and stop losing all those simple things that help to see us through our days like keys, phones, glasses, remote controls, sun glasses, passports and wallets.  One of the few consolations I take from this little malaise is that in the end, I never really lose anything on a permanent basis . . . but I just can’t find things when I want them most.

There are those acquaintance of mine who might say that it’s connected to that grim (but still very welcome) birthday statistic that we’re reminded of once a year, with the receipt of ridiculous presents, cards and good wishes, but at least I have a very reliable alibi on that line of inquiry. Since my days in the short trousers, school bags, messages from the local shop, shoes, books, farming implements that I had handled and even bicycles, seemed to disappear into thin air after I had even the briefest of liaisons with them.

The affliction is of course exacerbated by what I would describe as multiple-option storage locations whether they be jackets, trousers, mechanically propelled vehicles of various ages and dimensions, outdoor sheds and even extra rooms that have been added on to my living space. The threats really do come from everywhere.

A few years back when listening to one of those really serious programmes that you tend to hear on Radio 1, there was a sense of tension between my ears when one of those mind gurus who knew everything about skull interiors, was asked about the reasons for the WAMK (Where Are My Keys) ailment. Sometimes, WAMK (careful with the spelling) contains an F (hint: insert before K). This condition is also known as DASASOK (Did Anyone See a Set of Keys).

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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