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Forget your French or Italian – we Irish have the gift of the gab

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 11-Nov-2009

The Irish accent – thanks largely it seems to the singular efforts of Colin Farrell – has just been declared the sexiest in the world, coming top in a poll of 5,000 women worldwide. The Italians came second, Scots third, and former perennial favourite, the French only managed fourth, just ahead of the Australians. The top ten was completed by the English, Swedish, Spanish, Welsh and Americans.

A spokesman for OnePoll.com, which carried out the international survey, blamed French president Nicolas Sarkozy for the French accent’s fall from grace, which is a lot to pin on one man – and clearly they didn’t survey Carla Bruni.

But Sarkozy can paddle his own canoe, because this is our moment – we’ve gone from a stage-Irish image of rolling drunks to the proud possessors of the sexiest accent on the planet.

Even better news for those still looking for love is that the study also found three-fifths of women admitted they have been seduced by someone purely because of their accent, while two-fifths said they would much rather sleep with a man who had a nice accent, compared to a harsh one.

So if we stick to the phone and the dark, we should be fine.That said, we need a little more information to determine just which Irish accent makes these people do weak at the knees.

Colin Farrell is a given, but was it the swearing Colin from In Bruges or the American Colin as Sonny Crocket from Maimi Vice?

And who else turns the ladies on? Might they have a soft spot for the soft ‘th’s of de real Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, with his dis, dat and does? Could it be the authoritative tones of Dr Ian Paisley in full flow on the fact that there will be no surrender? Or is it the fruity tones of Graham Norton or Brian Dowling they had in mind?

Is Jackie Healy Rea the voice that turns the ladies to putty? Could it be that the world wide web is tuning in to hear the animated tones of Micheal O Muircheartaigh? Or do they think we’re all like Terry Wogan.

Maybe of course it’s the dulect female tones of, say, Nell McCafferty they’re thinking of – but let’s cling to the fig leaf that it’s the male accent they’re dreaming of.

Then again maybe they believe the Irish accent is that deployed by Tom Cruise in Far and Away or John Wayne in the Quiet Man.

It’s not that we have a problem with the Hollywood version of an Irish accent; it’s just that we’d like to know which persona to adopt so that we make the most use of our new-found sexy status.

Some years ago, BBC Radio Scotland ran a most unscientific survey on accents and which one the Scottish ladies liked the best. The final two in this survey were Scottish and Lions rugby legend, Gavin Hastings, an Italian chef living in Scotland…..and me.

The Gary Robertson Show – then the mid-morning equivalent of Gerry Ryan meets Pat Kenny – had trawled their contacts book for an Irish journalist and having failed to come up with anyone better, I agreed to go on for the laugh, nursing a hell of a hangover and a voice that sounded like Stephen Hawkin.

Obviously if this was television, the former Scottish full-back would have been home and hosed, and the Italian chef – unless he was a double of the Phantom of the Opera – would have almost certainly come second.

As it turned out however, our Italian friend was the first to be eliminated by the female callers – and in a straight showdown between myself and the legend that is Gavin Hastings….I won.

Perhaps it was that they didn’t think Gavin sounded a lot different to any other well-educated Edinburgh Alaistair or Graeme, but nothing could take from either my surprise or delight.

And fortunately I think Gavin got over it too.

Presidential belt-tighteningmeans Christmas is cancelled

Finally a true reflection of our woeful economic plight – President McAleese announced last week that she won’t be posting any Christmas cards this year.

Oh, she’ll be emailing away to her little heart’s content, alright, but it’s not the same as getting a card from the Aras with Mary McAleese’s signature stamped on it to show you that she’s thinking of you in a special way over the festive season.

Never mind that she didn’t have time to put your name on it or any message of goodwill – the mere fact that she thought enough of you to have her press office stamp her signature onto a blank card was enough to sustain us all through the darkest of winters.

It always struck me as the most idiotic thing – to send someone a Christmas card without putting their name on it. That’s not directed at Mrs McAleese who is understandably far too busy for such minutiae, but at PR and marketing companies or state agencies who waste their money on sending cards that they don’t sign to people who never read them or put them on the mantelpiece.

Personally it wouldn’t bother me if I never received another Christmas card although they do serve a useful purpose if you buy them from a charity like Croí. But if you do go to the bother and expense of sending one to somebody, the least you might do is personalise it.Corporate Christmas cards should be confined to the annals of Celtic Tiger history – just like Range Rovers and second homes – because they are nothing more than an irritant for both the sender and the recipient.

So maybe President McAleese is right after all – she’s saving the state a few bob but she’s also saving herself a whole lot of bother. And we can always print out her email and sellotape it to the notice board anyway.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Judy Murphy

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A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.

 

For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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