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Going just a little bit mad to celebrate Midsummer’s Day

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A bonfire weekend is in store.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

The more we try to apply the brakes on the passing of time, the more frenzied and fast-moving its passage seems to be. It really does seem like yesterday when we were in the middle of snowstorm Emma and while dreary Winter and Spring of 2017/2018 did have a slow feel to it, Mid-Summer’s Day seems to have crept up on us with the speed and stealth of a prowling cheetah on the lookout for food.

Our recent spell of good weather has also seemed to quicken the pace of time as those of us out the country with a bit a land to bother, rushed and race to get first cuts of hay or silage, as if a dry day would never appear again. Many of those on the silage trail have worked the dawn ‘til dusk shifts during the peak of the Summer days and this time of year that all adds up to a 17-hour shift, probably not to be recommended in the context of health and safety.

The peak of Mid-Summer in my neck-of-the-woods was St. John’s Day, the feast of St. John the Baptist, on June 24, when one of the traditional Abbeyknockmoy fairs would take place, inevitably involving a sheep run to the village with the best of the Spring lambs put on display for the visiting jobbers to throw their eyes over before making a bid that was always too low and that was always rejected. Eventually though if the market was anyways middling, a sale would be completed, a couple of drinks would follow in the local hostelry (minerals for the young ones like myself), and the main task of the day would have finished by dinnertime.

The sheep gathering always followed on from a late night on the 23rd when the traditional bonfires were lit after efforts were made to get our hands on throw-away tyres from the local garage. Environmental concerns of any sort quite simply weren’t on the agenda and there was nothing to beat tyres in terms of spiralling yellow-blue flames and plumes of black shooting up into the atmosphere.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Country Living

Long gone are the days of penance and sacrifice

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Country Living with Francis Farragher

THE year 2022 seems to be freewheeling along at an alarmingly fast rate with our good Summer and long sunny days now just a distant memory as we tread through the gloomier and danker days of November. Already the talk is of Santa Claus, Christmas parties and shopping expeditions, while the opening of the seasonal outdoor market in Eyre Square on this Friday is ushering gently – but quite quickly also – into the season of goodwill.

There was a time when November tended to be the Winter equivalent of the Lenten period in late Spring, with various people giving up little vices in preparation for the season of Advent which clicks in on the last Sunday of the month.

It was also a month when some of us would invariably make the ‘huge effort’ to ‘give up the drink’ but as the years pass, one of the commitments I make to myself, is that I’m too long in the tooth to be making  sacrifices that are just a step too far.

I’m making an effort at present to read a Dermot Whelan book, ‘Mind Full’ – quite an enjoyable and insightful read – where he devotes a chapter to the impact that the ‘Demon Drink’ can have on our lives.

One of the conclusions he came up with was that giving up drink for a period of one month was quite a fruitless exercise – even self-defeating – as when the penitent returned to the pint, as on Easter Sunday after Lent or December 1 in the wake of the November drought, larger than ever amounts would be consumed. (For the record, his recommendation for a meaningful break from ‘the pint’ would be a period of one-year – now that would be a real tester).

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Country Living

Changing times in that trawl for a perfect mate

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Jon Kenny and Norma Sheahan in a scene from The Matchmaker: Only the means and methods of meeting have changed since the 1960s.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

There’s an old country saying of: “When God made them, he matched them,” and often one not used in a complimentary tone back the years when I’d hear my father or mother, or the neighbours, dissecting the travails of a couple not renowned for their tolerance or understanding of each other’s way.

Tales would emerge of how couples had been matched up,– sometimes with bad light and the cover of darkness being used to camouflage the more obvious physical defects of one of the parties – but even if the pairing was made in the shade, honour would prevent it from being undone, when the next viewing occurred during the reality of daylight.

A couple of weeks back, I took one of those far too infrequent visits to the Town Hall Theatre in the city of Galway (accompanied) to take one of those steps back in time to watch one of the late John B. Keane’s classic compositions, The Matchmaker.

Maybe, not a production to everyone’s liking on the basis of slightly coarse language and a cluster of sexual innuendos, but you’d want to be in a seriously bad humour, not to burst into fits of laughter at the antics of Jon Kenny and Norma Sheahan.

It was a tonic for both body and soul, although at an early stage of the performance four or five people took to the exit doors, two of them having to climb over the backs of their seats, to escape from the devilish and irreverent prose of the Listowel playwright.

While there is of course the funny side to the whole business of matchmaking, that mirth could also conceal a deep-rooted loneliness felt by many people in rural Ireland, often bachelor farmers of reasonable means and appearance, who had a longing to spend the rest of their days with a companion (in those days always a female) to stoke the fire, share the household duties and maybe enjoy ‘a bit of fun’ as well.

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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Country Living

A look back at the troubled life and times of Jim Crow

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A US theatre entrance in the middle of the 20th century with a separate entrance for coloured people.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

It’s funny at times how one little suggestion or mention of something unusual can trigger off a whole cycle of curiosity and wonder. The other morning as I listened to Lyric FM, I heard Marty Whelan referring to Black History Month and wondered what the hell it was all about.

His mention was, as might be expected, in a musical context as the station celebrated the achievements of black musicians, singers and composers, who tended to be under-represented in times gone by.

It also brought back thoughts of days back in 1984 when a group of Dunnes’ Stores workers went out on strike in a bid to prevent the sale of South African produce on the supermarket shelves of that retailer, in what seemed a small protest again apartheid in that country.

This was at a time when Ireland was a pretty conservative repository of Church and State but the action – which eventually proved to be successful – brought it home to us all, that was going on in South Africa, well, was quite simply, wrong and unjust.

One of the strongest opponents of the strike action at that time was the then Minister for Industry and Commerce – a Mr. John Bruton – who wasn’t at all impressed by the actions of his Cabinet colleague, Ruairí Quinn, in support of the protest.

Mr. Bruton’s famous quote from the Cabinet records of that time, in a letter of outline to the Government was: “I am afraid all my instincts tell me that the Government should not become involved in any activity which is designed to restrict imports from South Africa.”

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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