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Conchita and firenados made for an unusual weather week

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Firenado

Country Living with Francis Farragher

We do love to moan about the weather and we always convince ourselves that we have a good case. It’s either too wet, too cold, too frosty, too windy or too foggy but my old friend, the late Frank Gaffney (an absolute treasure of weather information and data) used often remind me that really here in Ireland we ‘didn’t even know’ what extremes of weather were. And how right he was.

Over the course of May, which in general terms has been a pretty cool, dull and wettish month, we were inclined to feel a bit sorry for ourselves but really we had only very minor troubles as compared to the calamitous rainfall that descended on the Balkans or Yugoslavia as we used to call it in the days of communism.

During the course of three days in mid-May, they received as much rainfall in this region as they would normally get in three months, as an area of low pressure got locked over the Balkans, essentially being ring-fenced in by blocking areas of high pressure.

Here in Ireland we all love to hear of what are known as ‘blocking highs’, essentially huge blobs of stable dry air than can lodge over an area for days and sometimes weeks at a time. If we get one of those centred over us during July and August, it delivers the treat of a summer heatwave, but at times they can result in an area of low pressure ‘staying put’ over a land mass.

In our case, the usual example of this would be an area of high pressure with its fringe lying along the western coast of the UK and preventing the natural movement of low pressure systems from west to east. If the low pressure cannot go anywhere, then it drops its load in the one place. In the case of the Balkans weather disaster, the low was also being constantly refuelled with rain filled swirls from the Mediterranean, so it really was a case of  all the elements being in place for the perfect storm.

Sometimes though out of incredible adversity good can come, and apparently there were various examples of support and camaraderie between Balkan states that 20 years previously had been trying to wipe each other out in a savage war. However, as the Tayto ad goes, ‘there’s always one’ and according to the Guardian newspaper last week, the Serbian Orthodox Church decided not to miss the opportunity of the flood disaster to launch an unholy attack on the lesbian and gay communities.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

When it’s all said and done there was no show like the Joe show!

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Joe Canning with the Liam McCarthy Cup and his nephew Jack Canning holding the Irish Press Cup after Galway completed the senior and minor All-Ireland double at Croke Park in September of 2017. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

WITH Galway supporters still coming to terms with Joe Canning’s retirement from inter-county hurling last week, we wonder will it lead to an explosion of interest in Portumna’s county championship campaigns over the coming years?

That scenario would be partially the legacy of Covid-19, bearing in mind that for the past 18 months the Galway hurlers have been playing, for the most part, behind closed doors. Sure, there might have been a couple of thousand fans witnessing the team’s recent championship exit to Waterford in Thurles, but basically Canning and the Tribesmen have been operating in front of empty stands.

It meant supporters were denied the opportunity of watching a sporting legend in the flesh as his inter-county career reached a conclusion– a player who was already established as a hurling immortal through his extraordinary deeds since bursting on the scene at elite level in 2008.

Canning is arguably the highest profile player in the game over the past 20 years. Henry Shefflin won a lot more with Kilkenny, notably a staggering 10 All-Ireland senior medals, but there was probably greater fascination in his sharpshooting counterpart from Galway who will be 33 in October.

Long before he almost beat Cork single-handedly in an All-Ireland qualifier in Thurles in 2008, we knew something special had emerged from the townland of Gortanumera. He had already won two All-Ireland minor medals and that Autumn would collect his third senior championship with Portumna.

Read the full column in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Let ordinary mortals underline how extraordinary Olympians are

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A Different View with Dave O’Connell

A wit suggested on Twitter that – in order for the rest of us to realise how difficult Olympic Games disciplines are, and how talented the elite athletes who contest them are too – you’d need to tee it up by asking an ordinary, unfit, uncoordinated member of the public to give it a go first.

Take gymnastics as an example; these ultra-flexible competitors who fling themselves from two parallel bars or form a crucifix on the rings eight or ten feet off the ground, or who vault into the clouds, or spin ten different ways through the air from a standing start and land like a stone on soft sand.

And yet, experts that we become after an hour or two watching the telly, we wince when they get it just the smallest bit wrong – ‘marks gone there; not a solid landing that time’ kind of thing.

The reality is that, if we were doing it, we’d be lucky to just hang onto the rings for ten seconds without ripping our arms from their sockets, never mind extending them to make rock-solid right angles with our bodies.

Even the floor routine would be a hundred steps too far, unless it becomes a thing to embrace a little bit of dad-dancing and maybe breaking into a helicopter spin, just as a final nod to our disco days.

How about taking a shot at dressage – or as comedian Laura Lexx put it in her Twitter suggestion, getting on a horse and trying to make her dance like a sexy crab on ants?

Or the pole vault, where you give someone a massive length of Wavin pipe and persuade them to use that to try and jump over a bar that’s roughly the height of the roof on their own house.

White-water rafting – where the best you could hope for was not to drown, followed by not getting knocked-out by those gates you’re supposed to sally through as though you’re ambling over a stile on a relaxing country walk.

Instead, we tut and sigh when they glance off these gates as though they’d failed to reverse-park a small car into two adjoining parking spots.

Read the full column in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

O’Malley left a lasting mark on Ireland’s political stage

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Bridie O’Flaherty with Des O'Malley and Bobby Molloy at the Progressive Democrats launch in Leisureland.

World of Politics with Harry McGee

Desmond O’Malley was not a typical politician. He was never a glad-handler; not a fan of canvassing or indulging in small talk or being all things to all people.

He smoked like a trooper until he had to give up. He could be abrupt with people, to the point of rudeness.

When his successor Mary Harney was a Minister in the Coalition that banned smoking in pubs and other indoor areas, he told her straight out: “I never thought you would become a member of a Taliban government.”

But he was a remarkable politician. They talk of the best hurlers and footballers who never won All Irelands; O’Malley was certainly among those select few politicians who could have been – and perhaps should have been – Taoiseach.

He entered politics as a young man, succeeding his enigmatic uncle, Donagh O’Malley as a TD for Limerick East at the age of 29. And from the outset, he was a favourite of Taoiseach Jack Lynch and was made government chief whip in 1969.

Inevitably, when the arms trial erupted, he sided with Lynch and against Charles Haughey and Niall Blaney. Even in the weeks before his death, he vehemently contested claims that Lynch must have known of the arms plot long before the date set out by him in his public statements.

As Minister for Justice from 1970 to 1973, he established the Special Criminal Court, giving him a strong reputation as a politician who was adamantly opposed to the Provisional IRA and all it stood for.

Within Fianna Fáil, O’Malley was intimately associated with the Lynch and George Colley wing of the party. He himself was deeply involved in the three unsuccessful heaves and campaigns against Haughey that took place during the tumultuous years between 1979 and 1985.

But Haughey had the whip hand in the party in those days, no matter how flagrant the abuse or how big the scandal.

Read Harry’s full column in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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