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Charting role of plough in history of rural Galway

Francis Farragher

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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

Each new day isn’t always same as the one before

Francis Farragher

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This image from Wikipedia, c. 1000AD, with two circular diagrams showing the days of the week and their division into 24 one hour periods. The hours were sub-divided into punctas (quarter hours), minuta (tenths of an hour) and momentas (40th parts of an hour).

Country Living with Francis Farragher

THERE have been so many cascades of collateral damage without our traumas over the past year that it’s hard to know where to start but I must admit to having taken a dislike to the way that one day seems to run into another.  If you’re lucky enough to have some kind of workplace to your life, I suppose it’s a help, but I always had a liking for those set piece events that seemed to define the week.

They might have been simple enough things like the local lotto on a Monday night; the match on a Sunday; Mass on a Saturday evening followed by a king of happy ‘penance’ in the local watering hole for an hour or two; and maybe a trip to the local swimming pool on a mid-week evening to clock up 20 or 30 lengths.

Now, apart from the natural distraction of what we call work, one day seems to be much the same as the next, with nothing in particular to look forward to over the weekends only the old reliables of the walk and cycle and maybe a bit of catching up with some of the regular farming chores.

Some time back, I can recall reading an article I think in The Guardian, which rated the days of the week in terms of a risk rating based loosely on insurance claims, accidents, and the general moods of people as they went through their usual weekly cycle.

Slightly unexpectedly, Friday came up with the highest danger rating – a straight 10 out of 10 – kind of strange, I thought, given that most of us tend to be winding down to some extent as the weekend approaches.

In terms of overall safety, Sunday topped the poll by a wide margin, not surprising I suppose given that large swathes of the population take it as their lazy day, sleeping on a bit, not driving too much, and generally minding their own business.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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

More than students need to learn for Leaving Cert 2021

Francis Farragher

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A time for support . . . not walkouts!

Country Living with Francis Farragher

Many moons ago when efforts were being made to teach me the rudiments of Maths, Irish and English along with various other disciplines, a common enough term in usage was ‘the teacher’s pet’.

In different times, it often applied to the son or daughter of the local doctor, councillor or maybe even a big shopkeeper. Us ordinary mortals would notice in those times that such classroom specimens would avoid, almost without fail, the tougher censures of the múinteoir which included the leather, stick or sometimes just the bare knuckles.

It didn’t happen all the time or with every teacher but those were very different times in Irish education and there weren’t many of us who actually looked forward to going to school, whether that it be at primary or secondary level.

A revolution occurred, maybe a quiet and seamless one, but a revolution nonetheless, that changed the whole texture of Irish education. Somewhere, along the way, kids started to like going to school, and it was wonderful.

In terms of a teaching career, I came close enough to going down that path of life myself bravely armed with a BA and the prized H. Dip. (Higher Diploma in Education) back in the early 1980s, but the old tributaries of life took me in a different direction.

To this day, I really doubt if I would have had the patience for an occupation, which does require more than its fair share of positive human attributes like compassion, empathy, engagement and that critical quality of being able to impart knowledge in a reasonably light-handed fashion.

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

All written in the stars for us if only we could figure it out

Francis Farragher

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Written in the stars: astrology is a world – and a business – that’s difficult to predict.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

What does come over us all at times? There, I was last week, checking out some background to a story when up flashed a message on the screen that read: “Check out your own horoscope for the next year?” Of course, it should have been ignored but human nature being what it is and with personal curiosity never quite being satisfied, I clicked in to view all hopes, aspirations, good and bad points, before merrily going on my way with this useless cache of waffle being pored over for a time and then dispensed with it . . . well, until the next one flashes up before me on the screen.

Now, I know that all quiz boffins would be able to roll out the star signs for each segment of the year off the tip of their tongues, but apart from knowing my own (Gemini), and maybe that of a couple of family members, I’d be under pressure to pin down on the calendar a Capricorn, an Aries or a Scorpio. But yet it’s a curiosity that tends not to go away.

Most star sign guides will give you about six positives to extrapolate from your relationship with the constellations but only about half as many negatives, so the leaning on this one is to err on the sign of good news for the reader, or in some cases the subscriber, where astrology can be turned into a little money-spinner.

Some of the richest hacks (a slang name for newspaper writers) in UK journalism back the years were not the most thorough and revealing of investigative reporters, but instead were astrologers who developed cult followings among large swathes of the population. Some of the UK tabloid owners nearly ‘broke the bank’ to sign over popular astrologers from rival papers. Now, who could have predicted that when the first papers started to roll off the presses.

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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