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Hair on your head today Ð in your ears tomorrow



Date Published: 06-Jun-2012

Did you ever wonder just how old our eyebrows were when they decided it was time to shed their perfectly groomed past and grow out like a wild briar at a ninety degree angle to our heads?

Was it the realisation that the hair on the top of our heads was disappearing faster than the icecap – and that the only chance it had of survival was to make a run for it in a new direction? Or did word reach the brows that the ears were suddenly in the game, growing hair like a roadside bush?

You know the sands of time are weighted against you when the barber takes as much care trimming your ears, nose and eyebrows as he does with the area that once was commonly known as your fringe.

And yet so many men refuse to see baldness as the next step along the road – they comb from the back to the front or (a la Bobby Charlton) from way down one side over the top to the other.

That’s all very fine until the wind catches you and you have a sort of poor man’s take on Phil Oakey, the guy from the Human League who deliberately grew his barnet long on one side and short on the other. It isn’t quite as cutting edge when it looks like loose straw in a storm.

Once upon a time, you were told by the teacher to get your hair out of your eyes – now it’s your out-of-control eyebrows that are interfering with what’s left of your ever-fading vision.

You could trim them yourself, of course, but then again you could end up looking like Alan Hanson who appears to have had his tattooed on so that he looks permanently amazed at the smallest of things on Match of the Day.

The problem is that – even if you wanted to take control of your ear, nose and eyebrow hair into your own hands – those trimming devices so commonplace in chemists are about as effective as a spoon.

There’s a bigger danger of tearing the skin from your ears from these trimmers than there is of actually clearing out the gathering fluff. It’s like cutting a high lawn with a stick.

Some Turkish barbers have a way of burning out the ear hair without singeing your ears – although they’d be well advised to tell you what they’re doing before the start because the first time it happened to me, I though the guy had lost the plot and was trying to set fire to my head to save him wasting time on a haircut.

Polite barbers will gently ask you if you’d like to have your eyebrows tended to after the three minutes it took to cut your hair – and you make some joke about it being the only growth area you have left.

Then when they offer to show you the end result of the haircut, you politely decline because you know that the only thing you’ll see in the mirror is your bald spot growing ever more barren around the back.

I’ve found that the biggest problem with increasing baldness is the sun in summer – not that we have much to worry about here on that front – but now when we’re protecting ourselves against carcinogenic rays, we have to put a big blob on the top of the crown. And that invariably leaves you looking like some crack-shot seagull had dumped a huge one right on the top of your head.

More confident men embrace their baldness by shaving off the bits that are left – and indeed many of them look better than ever without a fringe – but most of us agree with Samson; a man without his hair is in danger of losing his strength.

And yet, there are few more ridiculous sights that a bald man with a pony tail – it’s like a shedding dog with some form of mange, and this extension at the back only draws further attention to the absence of any new growth at the front.

But still we don’t want to see the tide go out for good and so we camouflage the crisis, coming up with imaginative ways of trying to hold back time – and really we’d be better off just going out and investing in a big hat.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



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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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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



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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