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Country Living

Fighting a losing battle against midges and hot tar

John McIntyre

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Country Living with Francis Farragher

Maybe it’s a sign that I’m gradually turning into a grumpy old man but one evening last week at around 9pm as I completed footing a line of turf in Abbey bog, I wiped the sweat of my brow and said to myself: “I wish to God that this heat would ease off.”

Now, I know full well that’s a complaint that won’t elicit even a morsel of sympathy for me after all the dank and dreary Summers that we’ve endured over the years, but heat like we had last week, I’m just not able for.

Earlier that evening as I drove on my usual backroads home from work, the tar was bubbling up on the road near Peggy’s of Aughclogeen close to Corrandulla, bringing back memories of walking home from school on similar type days back in the 1960s.

Hot tar bubbles on the road would be pricked and then gathered up, just as we did with marla in the school classroom, and with the passing of years, we all conned ourselves into believing that this happened every Summer.

Our temperatures may on average have increased over the past 30 to 40 years, but all the records point to Irish Summers invariably presenting us with a mixed bag of weather. That’s probably why we’re always inclined to remember fondly the odd good one we get.

The Summer of 1975 – most of which I spent inside in the then Digital building in Ballybrit – had a prolonged dry spell. Indeed, I recall a Friday evening, probably in late July or early August, when the rains returned as a group of us exited the building, in a state of semi-shock at seeing the arrival of those water droplets falling from the sky.

Things got even better the following year, 1976, in one of our really cracking Summers, that brought us a period of high pressure from June through to August and in the process also gave us the highest temperature of the 20th century: 32.5° Celsius, in Boora, Offaly, on June 29 of that year.

That Summer, does only seem like yesterday, and sometimes I have to pinch myself and say: “Could that really be 42 years ago?” but alas it could, and often, maybe our fond and nostalgic memories of good weather in our childhood is really a yearning for those days of youth that we will never experience again.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Country Living

It’s taken a while to purge the ghosts of our past life

Francis Farragher

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1960s Ireland: Far different times at school than today. Photo courtesy of Irish Times.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

A few years back, I was overwhelmed by a huge wave of enthusiasm to go on things like Twitter and Facebook. There was a novelty about it but one day the penny dropped that maybe there were other and better things to be doing with my life. An issue also arose when I thought I was sending a ‘message’ on my mobile only to discover a few minutes later that I has sent it to ‘half-the-country’ via Twitter.

Still technology and social media is the way of the world that we live in at present and it is extremely useful to stay in touch and find out at the click of a keyboard or the touch of a phone some key piece of information. ‘Ould hacks’ in the trade like myself, are trained to double check things from a couple of sources, and that’s a great help, in never believing the first piece of scary news that you see on social media.

Any journalist worth his salt will try and reliably establish if something stands up or not, and key question always to be asked about something or someone can be summed up in one very short sentence: “Is this true.” So, whether we’re journalists in local papers, local radios, RTE, the Irish Times or Independent News and Media, that basic tenet of our profession – to establish the truth – must always be the guiding principle. Something akin to doctors and the Hippocratic Oath.

There are various little free offers of news from reputable sources that can be accessed by a daily email such as WebMD which will tell you every way you can try and avoid the common cold as well as keeping your muscles limbered up, or the New York Times newspaper, who will email you a daily briefing of world news at 6am every morning, not that I’m at my desk at the unearthly time of the morning.

The daily snapshot of news from the New York Times would make you wonder about what kind of country America is, not that we should be too surprised after four years of one D. Trump and all his antics. And he’s not finished yet!

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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

Seeking out little solaces from gloom of November

Francis Farragher

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Advent is on the way in what has turned out to be a full year of penance!

Country Living with Francis Farragher

NOVEMBER is probably one of those months that’s akin to Patrick Kavanagh’s famous line on dandelions ‘growing on headlands, showing their unloved hearts to everyone’.  I’ve yet to meet someone who told me that November was their favourite month of the year, but like the dandelions, it won’t go away and despite the efforts of rugby people to give in an autumn status in terms of titling their international games, for me it will always be that time of darkest Winter.

Mind you, it’s not so bad once you accept your lot with the month. The sunrises, whenever we’re lucky enough to see them under clearer skies, have now slunk back to after 8 o’clock, while each evening the sun’s indecent haste to retreat often ushers in darkness shortly after 4pm.

Our current predicament hasn’t been helped by what’s going around us and by the greyness of the weather, so overall it is a bit of a battle to ease the gloom of November. However, in the midst of all those dark clouds, for those of us who are fortunate enough to have shelter from the elements and who can sit in front of a glowing turf fire, the month does have its little consolations.

Gone are the long evenings when the ‘to do list’ of outdoor chores stretched all the way up to double digits; and now at least there’s the consolation of not feeling one ounce of guilt at getting comfy on an armchair, opening a bottle of Peroni, and listening to the Atlantic tempests belting against the windows.

For those of us lucky (or unlucky) enough to have an interest in sport, there are some real television treats like the hurling and football championships (admittedly not much of a consolation last weekend if you’re of maroon extraction); the Masters’ golf from Augusta; and the rather less-attractive sight of our Irish soccer team getting a mauling from the ‘Auld Enemy’ at Wembley.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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

Picking out 10 ‘kinda good things’ from our misfortunes

Francis Farragher

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I’VE tried and it’s not been easy – to come up with ten ‘good things’ (the term is used very loosely) – about our current coronavirus predicament.  We are being avalanched with a barrage of rules, regulations, lectures and dire predictions for our future welfare, but in the midst of all the debris, here is my Top 10, of ‘kinda good things’ that I’ve managed to scratch out of Pandemic 2020.

  1. Time seems to have slowed down: Maybe it’s the combination of the long evenings; the gates being padlocked on the local watering holes; the swimming pools and gyms being closed, but now there seems to be a three-hour period between 7pm and 10pm, when the night goes on forever. (Oops, careful, a possible slip into negativity). Okay, so November has arrived and the year is nearly out, but now during every long night, I believe that time has slowed down.
  2. I have also slowed down: There is of course the physical aspect of all this brought about by too many birthdays, dodgy knees and an occasionally creaking back, but it just seems pointless to be rushing around anymore. We have no holidays to look forward to; no meals to enjoy out; no couple of pints in the local; not even a mass on Saturday evening; and no weekends away. So, time to take it steady, ease off on the car accelerator too, and get more miles to the gallon out of the ‘old diesel’.
  3. Not riches, but less overdraft problems: I’m not sure what it says about our overall economic future – that’s a matter for greater minds than mine – but I do notice on a month by month basis, there’s less fret in case the overdraft limit is breached. The reasons are quite obvious – fewer and fewer places to spend my filthy lucre. It’s as close I’ve come to saving in this lifetime but I fear that the trend will only be for the duration of the pandemic.
  4. An effort being made to read a bit more: Admittedly so far, it’s been confined to books like ‘Getting Things Done’, ‘The 12 Rules of Life’, ‘Mindfulness’, a faith adventure with Ellen Coyne, and a good stab at a selection of newspapers, but at long last the time seems to be there to sit down and do a little word exploration while at the same trying to break the bedtime habit of scanning through the mobile for all the latest news. Print is best! (I might even get a bonus for that).

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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