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Eyeballing a real giant from fields of Ireland

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One of the great sights of the countryside . . . a crop of potatoes coming into full flower.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

All of us can enjoy, or endure, bachelor days around the house with only the disobedient dog in the vicinity to provide anything by way of company, but such occasions can also present their problems in the shape of a bare table with no pleasant waft coming from the oven.

Anyway there I was last week with both myself and the dog in need of such nourishment when I eyeballed a giant rooster potato in a bag, whose size would have done justice to any self respecting turnip.

The oversized rooster, I surmised, should at least give me a decent portion of chips but it did a lot more than that with ample portions for both myself and canine, and at that moment the penny dropped as to what a wonderful and nutritious food source, our humble spuds are.

The potato is of course ingrained in our genes, going back to the time of the catastrophe of the Great Famine in the 1840s when the arrival of a blight epidemic led to over a million Irish people dying of starvation with about twice as many more emigrating, mainly to America, in one of the great population displacements of the 19th century.

It really is only in more recent times that the true nutritional value of the potato has been appreciated, packed with vitamins and minerals such as vitamins C and B6, thiamine, niacin, folacin, phosphorous and magnesium.

The spud is a truly spectacular reservoir of all things good in food, even if we are tempted at times to coat it with the finest of Irish butter and a pinch of salt too.

Those of us that had fathers born around the early 1900s, are but a couple of generations away, from that awful period of Irish history, so it is little wonder that we do tend to sit up and take notice when we hear of famine striking far-off lands and dip into our pockets. Many of us had grandparents that had early memories of the end of the famine times.

Somewhat ironically in those years of the mid-19th century in Ireland the ‘hungry months’ coincided with the summer time, when the previous year’s supply of potatoes had ran out, and the new crop was just at the growing stage.

June, July and August were often referred to as ‘the meal months’ when the farm families had to buy meal from the merchants or the despised ‘Gombeen Men’, who often operated a credit system with a penal interest regime.

Now while some of us view October as a slightly sullen month, heralding the arrival of Winter, in those times the tenth month of the year was a time of full bellies when the spuds were dug, feasted on and pitted for the months ahead.

The staple diet of the time was potatoes and some buttermilk too, the latter apparently filling the one deficiency in the potato diet, name the lack of vitamin A. So the spud, supplemented with milk or buttermilk, and some bread when meal was available, kept an entire family fed, and quite nutritiously too.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

CITY TRIBUNE

There is no vaccine for Hitler hyperbole!

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Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

Galway County Councillor Noel Thomas lashed out at journalist Sinéad Ryan, when he claimed on Twitter that “Hitler would have loved you, Sinéad”.

The Fianna Fáil elected representative then deleted the tweet, which was “written in anger” and apologised “to anyone who may have been offended” by it.

But not before Ryan had taken a screenshot and re-tweeted it to her 22,000+ followers. She also reported the offending tweet to the social media giant and complained to FF HQ.

Noel Thomas didn’t back down, though. In another tweet, he said: “Just to let you know Sinéad I have also reported your tweet to Twitter. It is dangerous and very unhelpful to society to be making comments like you did.”

What was it that made the usually mild-mannered Moycullener see red, and spout Hitler hyperbole during a fit of rage? An opinion about Covid-19 vaccinations, of course!

Ryan said that after October 22, unvaccinated people, “shouldn’t be permitted into restaurants, pubs or indoor venues. If they won’t protect themselves, the rest of us must do it by dissociation”.

Whether the leader of the Third Reich would have approved of this sentiment is unclear. But Thomas’s party leader, Micheál Martin, clearly does – it’s now Government policy to continue with vaccination certificates for indoor hospitality for the foreseeable future.

(Photo: Cllr Noel Thomas took to Twitter to tell journalist Sinéad Ryan that Hitler would have loved her. It was after her comments that unvaccinated people shouldn’t be allowed into public spaces indoors).

This is a shortened preview version of Bradley Bytes. To read more, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Mini pause proves there are no easy routes to recovery

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Melbourne...continuous lockdown for most of the past two years.

World of Politics with Harry McGee

You think we have it bad this week – what with the delay in a full reopening?  You could be living in Melbourne. The city with a population of five million has been under almost continuous lockdown for most of the past two years.

Since March 2020, there have been 262 days of lockdown in Melbourne, across six periods where people’s movements were incredibly restricted. That included curfews between 9pm and 5am.

Australia and New Zealand were two of only a handful of countries in the world which pursued elimination, rather than containment, strategies with the virus, or Zero Covid as it was called.

For a long time, it seemed like the correct strategy, the one setting the standard. Both countries clamped down hard with very restrictive lockdowns and effectively closed their borders.

They threw all their resources into testing, contact tracing and even testing the wastewater. Those who were identified as cases and close contacts were isolated. The countries also introduced mandatory hotel quarantine.

And it was very effective; when the Alpha (Essex) strain hit Ireland and other countries in December and January, both countries were fully open and enjoying unrestricted access to stadiums, hotels, restaurants, schools. Anytime, there was the hint of an outbreak strict local and regional lockdowns were imposed, some for several weeks, some for longer.

Sure, there were long and severe lockdowns. But there was also a lot of freedom, over 450 days without restrictions.

The strategy only worked if you cut off the country completely from all other countries in the world. New Zealand, for example, did that because it did not have sufficient capacity to deal with the kind of crisis China and Italy had faced, when people died because they could not be intubated, or there were not enough ventilators to go around.

There were downsides. The cost, for one, was exceptionally high. It meant a huge diminution in people’s personal rights. Limited availability in mandatory quarantine hotels meant a lot of New Zealanders and Australians living abroad were prevented from returning home.

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

Sporting rivalry doesn’t have to mean segregated supporters

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

Three sporting teams whose boundaries come up to the back door of each other’s patch were all in action at the one venue – two of them against each other – at the weekend.

If it was the Premiership, it wouldn’t – and couldn’t – have happened because there would be carnage either inside or outside the ground . . .or both.

But this was Pearse Stadium and the county senior football championship, an afternoon’s entertainment that might not have been on Sky Sports’ radar, but which was no less crucial for those with a vested interest all the same.

First up, Oughterard were up against their nearest neighbours Killannin for a semi-final place, while the other leg of this local stool saw reigning champions Moycullen successfully put their crown on the line against Tuam Stars.

It goes without saying that the crowd was in the high hundreds or low thousands; this wasn’t Old Trafford or Anfield with 60,000 or 70,000 fans congregating from all corners of the globe, never mind the country.

So it wasn’t Celtic and Rangers or City against United; it was neighbours and families and friends intermingled all in one place, albeit wearing different colours.

And even allowing for the intensity of local rivalries, the ties that bind are infinitely stronger than the boundaries that divide.

Half the Killannin team went to school in Oughterard. The Monaghans, who line out for Oughterard, are sons of Terence who was steeped in Moycullen football before moving parish.

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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