Date Published: 12-May-2011
In writing recently about the heyday of the cinema, when visits to ‘the pictures’ were often twice or three times a week, one of my abiding memories is of the huge proportion of the audience who smoked and the all-pervasive air of tobacco smoke.
Of course it was in the days long before it became an offence to smoke in an enclosed public space . . . but I very distinctly recall the fact that when they turned on the projectors at the back of the cinema, you could see the wreaths of cigarette smoke drifting through the rays of light.
Certainly, by the time we were 12, the vast majority of us younger cinemagoers were quite the experts on the various cigarette brands, their taste and how well they were packed, and we had our favourites among the brands. Certain shops sold them at 2d (old pence) each.
The changes which have come about in smoking habits – though I still see what look like disproportionate numbers of young girls and young women smoking – are certainly to be welcomed, but, when we were 10 and upwards, it was regarded as almost part of the ‘rite of passage’ to teenage years, that you smoked. By the way, I have long since given them up.
Perhaps our parents of the time deluded themselves that strictures about not smoking were being followed . . . but, by then, many of us were very firmly hooked on the weed, and my particular taste was for Sweet Afton.
Maybe part of the reason for that was that one of my older brothers smoked the brand, so it’s possible I developed the taste for them because I could filch the odd one from a pack in his pocket.
I found that they might have been slightly milder than Gold Flake, and they were certainly milder than the John Players Navy Cut favoured by my father. The occasional one of those was enough to make your head swim when you first inhaled, but at Christmas when they lay around the house in presentation boxes of fifties and hundreds, the Players were also hard to resist.
Occasionally, other unusual sources of supply came into play. There was a tradition in this country of the ‘parcel from America’, in which relations sent clothes. But they also sent a rarity known as chewing gum, and packs and packs of Chesterfield, Marlboro, Pall Mall and other loosely packed but very welcome cigarettes.
We budding connoisseurs tended to ‘look down our noses’ at the Woodbine . . . quite a bit cheaper than other brands, though my father swore by them during the ‘war years’. Personally, I always found the Woodbine was just too loosely packed and you spent too much time trying to get rid of the bitter pieces of tobacco off the tip of your tongue.
Of course, there were other much more exotic brands which we encountered. Don’t ask me how we managed to get hold of the occasional Churchman – now there was a cigarette! It was thicker than any other brands I had encountered, was packed as firmly as a pencil, and one puff could make your toenails curl.
All of this meant that, when we went to the cinema, within minutes of the film starting, we all lit-up and puffed away madly. John Wayne would be battling his way through the dugouts and foxholes of Iwo Jima, and we sat rapt and puffed.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.
Appeal for information following Portumna crash
Date Published: 08-May-2013
Gardai are appealing for witnesses following a single vehicle crash at the Portumna bridge this morning.
The road from Nenagh to Loughrea reopened shortly after 11 this morning following the completion of a technical exam.
Four men were travelling in a van when they hit the Portumna bridge around 6:30 this morning.
Gardaí, ambulance and two units of Portumna fire services rushed to the scene, and one of the men was taken to Portiuncula hospital in Ballinasloe.
He is being treated for head injuries, which have been described by Gardaí as serious.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Portumna Garda station on 09-097-42060
President Higgins among GMIT’s first ever honorary fellowships
Date Published: 10-May-2013
GMIT is to honour seven outstanding individuals including President Michael D Higgins with Honorary Fellowships at a special ceremony later this month.
It’s the first time in the 40 year history of the Institute the Governing Body of GMIT has decided to award honorary fellowships.
The GMIT Honorary Fellowships will be conferred at the g Hotel in the city this day two weeks Friday 24 May at 2.30pm in front of 200 invited guests.
Galway commuters hold their breath as LRC intervenes in bus strike
Date Published: 13-May-2013
Galway commuters are holding their breath as there has been a potential breakthrough in the Bus Eireann dispute, as both sides have agreed to talks at the Labour Relations Commission.
The LRC intervened this afternoon, on day two of strike action that has seen 95 per cent of bus services disrupted across the country.
The LRC’s Director of Conciliation Services, Kevin Foley, says the National Bus and Rail Union and the company have agreed to meet for mediated talks at 8 this evening.