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A Different View

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

Dave O'Connell

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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

Mighty oaks put us in our place with their majesty

Dave O'Connell

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

Michel Barnier became one of the most recognisable faces on the European political stage as he thrashed out a deal on Brexit – but the good news for him through all of those interminable negotiations is that he had one weekly habit to keep him sane.

Because every weekend that he can, he drives from Brussels to his family house deep in the French countryside – and while he is there, he makes a pilgrimage to a four century old enormous oak tree.

The EU’s Chief Negotiator on Brexit is a very private man, but his passion for trees shows – and this isn’t meant to be funny – how anchored are his roots. Because while the tree in itself is a thing of beauty, he sees it more as a symbol of life.

“When you are in front of a tree in a forest, you measure time. The roots are strong and these are trees that have seen generations pass by,” he says.

The other attraction of trees is obvious – a chance to escape the spotlight for a man who might otherwise live in its perpetual glare, after 50 years in politics.

“I think a lot when I’m in a forest. I need to see trees. Old trees have always inspired me,” he says.

“When you are in politics, you have to love people first. You can’t do politics if you don’t love people, but you must also have moments of perspective, of historical distance. From this point of view, trees are a symbol for me.”

And of all trees, none quite signifies a real presence like the mighty oak – majestic when it’s mature, it brings home to you every time that you’re just passing through and it will be here long after you’re gone.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Our politicians have feet of clay – just like the rest of us

Dave O'Connell

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Dave O'Connell
Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

The electorate want gods above them and are disappointed to find humans who turn out to be just as fallible as themselves.’

That’s a line from a bestselling ‘tell-all’ book called Diary of an MP’s Wife written by – as the cover suggests – an MP’s wife, called Sasha Swire.

Up to the publication of her book, few outside of her gilded cage had heard of Sasha. The daughter of a Government Minister, she went on to marry Hugo Swire MP, who ended up as a Junior Minister in Northern Ireland.

The book got a lot of coverage because Sasha isn’t a woman blessed with the gene for introspection – and thus her revelation that her former pal, and former Prime Minister, David Cameron, once told her he longed to drag her into the bushes attracted considerable coverage.

Nobody is spared the wrath of Sasha’s tongue and that sort of indiscretion tends to make headlines – and indeed sell the books – but our opinionated diarist actually has far more strings to her bow.

It was her observation on the standards the electorate demand from our politicians that struck a chord – because it’s the same here as across the water.

We demand standards from others that we’d do well to impose on ourselves; we leave no room for failure without condemnation; no margin for error; no room for second chances.

And on one level, we’re entitled to demand higher standards from those who receive our tax money – but if we keep insisting they remain purer than driven snow, we’ll eventually be left with no one at all.

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

Inventor of the cassette tape opened up our music world

Dave O'Connell

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

What surprised me most in reading that the inventor of the cassette tape died this month wasn’t his passing; it was the fact that he was still alive.

Because Lou Ottens, rest his soul, had seen one of the world’s greatest inventions come, revolutionise the audio world, and then quietly go, as newer technology roared past like a jet engine.

Indeed, he fully contributed to its demise – because Lou didn’t just come up with the cassette; he was also part of the engineering team at Dutch-based Philips technology company that came up with the compact disc.

And yet – for those of a certain vintage – the cassette tape, even more than the CD, will forever hold a piece of our hearts.

Those days spent trying to tape the Top 20 off 2FM – Comin’atcha! as it was back then – while trying to press record and play simultaneously on the split-second between the time Larry Gogan stopped talking and the singer started singing.

It rarely worked, because poor old Larry overshot the runway more often than a drunken pilot coming into land on a windy airstrip.

Long before the world had heard of illegal downloading or Spotify or Apple Music, we were all at it – taping the hits, making our personalised mixtapes on a C30, C60. . .or occasionally on a C120 for two whole hours of our own musical taste.

The problem with the C120s was that the tape tended to snag or stick – and given the hours that went into recording two hours of music, you were often better to work with the C60 which gave you enough music without the risk of unravelling.

I saw a pic on some social media platform recently of a cassette tape and a pencil, with a line underneath saying that you had to be of a certain age to understand the correlation between the two.

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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