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A Different View

Confessions of a motorist raging against the lights

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Road rage can overtake even the mildest-mannered male

There’s someone I would know well who is relatively mild-mannered – until they sit behind the wheel of a car and turn into an obnoxious git.

Our friend, in fairness, isn’t up there with Jeremy Clarkson – either behind the wheel or if he was looking for a late steak for his hotel dinner – but there’s a testosterone trigger that rears its head as soon as he lands in the driver’s seat of an ordinary family car.

It mortifies the rest of the family and in truth doesn’t make him feel all that great either – but there’s a Pavlovian gene deep inside that forces itself to the surface like a form of Tourette’s every time someone does something on the road that annoys him.

He takes these misdemeanours personally as though the Road Safety Authority has appointed him as a sort of undercover watchdog on the rules of the road.

Slow drivers, mummies in their urban tractor who pull up in the middle of the road to drop off their little darlings for school; people who don’t anticipate the green light at junctions; kind motorists who let a succession of other road users out from side roads ahead of them – they’ve all wondered who the lunatic is that’s having a mild fit behind them.

Our friend has even made hand gestures at people he knows – obviously he didn’t know that when he gesticulated and then he has to try and make it seem like a fist was actually a sort of a friendly wave.

There is no logic to any of this, and in the cold light of day he himself hate road rage drivers as much as the next man – but in fairness he’s equally not the first or last man to be transformed into a nut job as soon as they sit into the driver seat.

It doesn’t happen every day, and he does let others out ahead of him because he also depends on fellow drivers to extend him that courtesy in turn or he’d never get out of his side street.

He makes a point of letting people cross the road in front of him and he’s always watching out for children jig-acting on the footpath for fear they’d lose their balance and tumble onto the road.

But if others try to edge out ahead of him or stop for no reason in the middle of the road or spend more than five seconds responding to the traffic lights going to green, a red mist can descend in seconds.

In defence of my acquaintance, I should point out that this form of bad behaviour doesn’t involve breaking the rules of the road – indeed it is partly down to his self-appointed role as a guardian of those rules, a sort of younger version of Gay Byrne, in the first place.

He sees someone on a mobile phone and signals wildly to them that they are breaking the law; it’s not his job of course because he’s not a member of the Garda Siochana, but then the sight of a middle-aged man waving wildly can often have an even greater effect on a phone user than the boys in blue at a checkpoint.

If our driver has the right of way at a junction and someone else tries to sneak out, they will get a blast of the horn and a dagger look – a response that gives our friend some degree of misguided satisfaction that lasts for all of ten seconds at most.

He isn’t aggressive in real life but all that changes when the driver’s door closes – now he’s the king of the road and any challenge to his title will be treated with the sort of response with which Robert Mugabe used to crush domestic uprisings against him.

Our man is not alone in his role as a monitor of the motorway because he too has been on the receiving end of clenched fist or elevated digits from drivers in other cars for what they perceive as motoring mistakes on his part.

He has never got out of the car to engage with other drivers – which may be down to two reasons, the first one being that this sort of thing can quickly escalate into an incident which ends up in the District Court. The second reason is that fundamentally – and for all of the bravado behind the safety of a driver’s door – he would admit that he’s a coward at heart who would no more fight a fellow driver than he’d attempt to wrestle a lion in his lair.

In his further defence, he doesn’t get involved in speed races because that is wrong and dangerous….and anyway he doesn’t own a particularly fast car.

Perhaps back in the days of our relative youth, life was one long road rally – but safety concerns (and speed cameras) have taken that need for speed out of his arsenal.

And rightly so. It couldn’t be said that he’s a dangerous driver and he knows deep down that he shouldn’t be an aggressive one either – but there must be a Neanderthal gene still embedded deep within that rises to the surface as soon as the engine ticks over. T

hey do say that acknowledging the problem is the first step to solving it but our pal has long known that bad behaviour has no place on our roads and still this driver aggression manifests itself.

I can only try and convince him of the error of his way – and I’ll be sure to see him the next time I look into the mirror.

Connacht Tribune

Sense of belonging that brings it all back home

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

It was a chat with a ‘Galwegian in exile’ that brought it all home to me; although now domiciled in the capital for more years than he’d lived in the west, he was delighted to bring his Dublin-born daughter to the All-Ireland Football Final wearing her maroon jersey.

To be honest, she’d probably have gone to Croke Park dressed as Elsa from Frozen because it was just a day out – but Daddy couldn’t have been prouder if his eleven-year-old came on for Damien Comer with five minutes to go.

The sense of place is understandable when it comes to ourselves as born-and-bred Galwegians, because while you can change where you live as often as you like, even if you wanted to, you can never change where you’re from.

But trying to impose your own geographical heritage on the next generation is alternatively seen as understandable and a little selfish at the same time.

It’s a topic for discussion in our own house on occasion because while the two lads grew up in Galway, they were in fact born in Dublin – and if they want to pull my chain, all they have to do is remind of that fact.

My reply is a tired and stock one, to the effect that although Jesus was born in a stable, nobody ever suggested that made him a horse.

The more serious point is that you are shaped by your formative years rather than the maternity hospital of your arrival – and those years were spent in Galway.

Galway is their point of reference for sport and music and school friends and nights out and pubs and college – and almost everything else that really matters.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Gaeltacht days – and a rite of passage to remember forever

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

A scholarship to Irish College wasn’t so much a backhanded compliment as an inverted acknowledgement of your grasp of the language – in other words you got one because you were bordering on useless, or to put it more diplomatically you’d benefit more than the rest from a couple of weeks of immersion in your native tongue.

Only it then transpired that the experience of three weeks in the Gaeltacht taught you that going there had a small bit to do with learning Irish for sure – but a whole lot to do with growing up, or at least beginning that blossoming process.

And you would do all this in an atmosphere as alien to your small teenage self as free elections are to the people of Russia; céilís, cispheil, comhra agus craic – as well as an Irish language version of the Streets of London written and taught to us by Art Ó Dufaigh that still lives in the memory bank, even longer than Ralph McTell’s original.

The truth, when you get there, is the realisation that three weeks in the Gaeltacht is a little like a week at the Galway Races or the Rose of Tralee; just as the horses or the Roses are ostensibly the reason for going, they’re really just the hook to get you there.

And so it is that you go to the Gaeltacht to learn the language but you come home having learned so much more.

My Gaeltacht summer was at the tail end of the seventies with three weeks in Beal a’ Dangan and céilís in Nestor’s Hall, brought there in a bus by a young man called Máirtín Tom Sheáinín who would go on to enjoy a stellar career as a broadcaster – particularly presenting Comhrá – but was back then a knacky driver with a dream, traversing windy roads in pitch darkness.

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

Hawkeye’s blind spot gives hope to humans everywhere

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

Galway will have both eyes firmly fixed on Kerry this Sunday, but they’ll be keeping tabs as well on a device called after a bird or a character from M*A*S*H after it threatened to do more damage to them than Derry managed in their All-Ireland semi-final.

The realisation that Hawkeye was only human after all might have met with an angrier reaction if Shane Walsh’s point wasn’t restored during the half-time break.

It couldn’t save the Hawkmeister from a hammering of course – social media was created with just this type of fury in mind – but really there was a whole different way of looking at this.

Because Hawkeye’s fallibility was at least a consolation goal for the human race in the one-sided battle against artificial intelligence.

In other words, we know our days are numbers, thanks to technology that ironically was invented by humans to help humans in the first place.

But nothing, not even new technology, is perfect – and Hawkeye, who hadn’t enjoyed such a high profile since they stopped making M*A*S*H, can now become the poster bird for that.

For those who have no interest in Gaelic Games, Hawkeye perhaps requires some explanation. It’s the technology attached to the goalposts that indicates whether the ball is inside or outside them – and is thus a point or a wide ball….or a Tá or Níl as a nod to the language.

For those who don’t remember M*A*S*H, the sit-com about a Mobile American Surgical Hospital (hence the name), Hawkeye Pierce was the doctor played by Alan Alda.

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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