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A Different View

Great pubs are born that way – they can’t be made

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School children from Woodford, Co. Galway pictured with Cathaoirleach of Galway County Council Cllr. Mary Hode at the certificates presentation night of the “Mythical Maze“ summer reading challenge for 2013” organised by Galway county council library. Also in the picture Cllr. Michael Maher and librarian Eleanor Farrell. Picture: Hany Marzouk.

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

Every so often you read a survey of the best pubs in Ireland. And invariably, they’re based on quality of food, seating, ambience, friendliness, lighting and so on….few of which have anything at all to do with what actually makes a good pub great.

The best pubs almost discourage you from going in; they’re dark and dingy, and the closest you’ll get to a food menu will be a choice between peanuts and crisps.

There won’t be shelves stuffed with rare and expensive whiskeys any more than you’d get fridges full of a cross-section of world beers; they won’t be taps from micro-breweries either, just a selection of the old favourites all looking the worse for wear.

The tables will be chipped and, if they’re of the relevant vintage, covered in cigarette burns. The seats will be wobbly and rarely matching; the toilets will live in the memory because of the lingering smell on your clothes.

But the best pubs don’t require their own architect – their popularity won’t be down to aesthetics or a choice of 200 beers….it’s a stool at a counter, a well-poured pint and, more often than not, a barman who can mind his own business.

That well-known Dublin publican Charlie Chawke stirred up a hornet’s nest last week when he insisted that his frontline bar staff had to be Irish.

He tried to justify this on the basis that only Irish people knew Irish culture and that the foundation of this famous ‘Cead Mile Failte’ you get in Irish pubs.

Quite honestly, if a barman ever wished me ‘Cead Mile Failte’ as I sat on a bar stool, I’d be out of there before he had a chance to implore the powers that be that the road would rise with me on the rest of my journey.

Mr Chawke – a man who paid €22 million for a pub in Dublin at the height of the boom – obviously knows his business, but given that almost one-fifth of those who call Ireland home now were born in another country, he might be cutting off the potential to expand his customer base.

And even if you are Irish, you’re unlikely to insist that your friendly host for the evening is also from this Island of Saints and Scholars.

It’s great for those who want to discuss the All-Ireland or the rugby with the barman but most people go to pubs to get away from that. Most people also come in with their own friends, rather than borrowing one from the other side of the bar counter.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Fall in home ownership leaves renters with uncertain future

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

Life used to be simple, if predictable; you went to school, got a job – or first did a degree to get a job – bought a house, had a family, paid off the mortgage over 20 years, and accumulated a small nest egg to allow for a fairly comfortable retirement.

Now you’re likely to be paying off your mortgage into those golden years – and that’s if you’re one of the lucky ones. Because you might also be one those who never quite managed to buy, still paying exorbitant rent on a fraction of your former income.

And yet when you read about the rental crisis, it’s just about the here and now – when the real nuclear explosion won’t blow until Generation Rent become pensioners.

But they manage it in other countries, you say – and they do. Because they have rents that are fixed for a lifetime (in some cases even beyond that, so that a family can stay in their home for another generation) and they can’t be evicted just because there’s more to be made as an Airbnb.

Simple economics show that, if your rent is a couple of grand a month and your pension is a fifth or a quarter of your former salary, you won’t be able to keep up the monthly payments.

And then what happens?

Will pensioner tenants be turfed out, forced to live on the streets – or to huddle down in the spare room of their children’s rented accommodation?

If people buy homes now – if they can afford to – it’s already likely to be ten or more years later than their parents did.

And given the more transitory nature of employment these days, they may also move home more than once – unlike the vast majority of their parents, who bought their home after they got married and stayed there for the rest of their lives.

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.

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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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Connacht Tribune

Things we used to do – and habits we never had before

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

One of the realities of getting older is that there are things we used to be able to do that we can’t do now – and things we do now that we never used to do before.

We used to know phone numbers by heart; we used to be able to do basic addition, subtraction, division and multiplication in our heads; we used to tell the time by looking at the big hand and the little hand on a clock.

And if we had a watch it told us the time or if it was very posh, it also told us the date – although very often only if you remembered to push it forward when the month didn’t have 31 days in it.

Now your watch will tell you how many steps you’ve taken in the last 24 hours, what your heart rate is and if there are any emails in your in-box.

We had records or CDs or cassette tapes to store our favourite music; sometimes we still do, but the notion that we could have every song ever recorded on a telephone that wasn’t even plugged into the wall would have been too much to even contemplate.

We went to call boxes to ring home, if we could find one with a phone that wasn’t pulled off its axis – and we kept a supply of two-pence pieces because you needed a pair of them to make the call.

We used to be able to play on a quieter road, even if we had to stop the game and move aside for the occasional car; we used to write letters and wait a week for a reply.

Lego came in a big packet with just a random collection of different sized plastic bricks – and from that you made a house or a car.

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

Flying to the moon – because billionaires go the extra mile

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

There was a story told of a rich Irish businessman who found a way to demonstrate the size of his wealth – and it may be apocryphal, and therefore defamatory, so we won’t mention the billionaire by name.

Suffice to say that said billionaire was generous to a fault when it came to entertaining his friends, always treating them to the finest of food and the best wine – only he restricted his guess to the second-best bottles of wine.

Because he, and he alone, had the dearest one. And he would encourage the wine waiter to make no secret of that fact.

So even if the rest of the table were enjoying a €5,000 bottle of something from before World War II, our friend would top that with one of the ones fashioned out of water by Jesus at the wedding feast in Cana.

It was just to demonstrate that, even in the world of the mega-rich, there was still a line between the haves and those who have even more of it.

Two other wealthy Irishmen, Tony O’Reilly and Denis O’Brien – neither of whom was involved in the wine story – once met to try and sort out their differences over Independent Newspapers.

But according to Matt Cooper’s brilliant biography of O’Reilly, it didn’t get off to the best of starts – because Denis accused Tony of deliberately offering him a chair that was lower down than his host’s . . . therefore putting him at a disadvantage from the get-go.

In the end, chairs of equal height were found so that these titans of industry could look each other in the eye.

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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