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A Different View

Hearth is still the heart of the home

Dave O'Connell

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Sinead Irvine from Furbo won €28,000 on last Saturday's National Lottery Winning Streak game show on RTE. Pictured here at the presentation of the winning cheques were from left: Marty Whelan, Winning Streak game show co-host; Sinead Irvine the winning player, Eddie Banville, Head of Marketing, The National Lottery, who made the presentation and Sinead Kennedy, Winning Streak game show co-host.

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

It never ceases to amaze and infuriate when the first thing would-be landlords do when they buy one of those Homes Under the Hammer is to take out the fireplace and chimney breast to make more room in the living room.

For what?

What is a living room without a fire, or a wood burning stove or at the very least an artificial one that pretends to burn fake coals without having a mess to clean up afterwards?

Is there a more perfect sight of a cold winter’s day than a blazing fire to greet you on your return from metaphorically hunting and shooting for your kin?

Never in a million years will the sight of a radiator – even one glowing with heat to something like the Saharan desert – fill you with the same joyful heart.

And yet there are so many modern homes without a hearth or a heart – just a series of square boxes, painted magnolia, with radiators and laminate floors so that you can feel equally at home – or not – in rooms the world over.

The good news for those who retain a roaring fire at the heart of the home is that scientists have now discovered that it’s not just the heart they gladden … they can also help keep blood pressure low.

Christopher Lynn is a biological anthropologist at the University of Alabama, and his study found that it didn’t even have to be a real fire to have this positive effect – even a video of a fire is better than nothing at all.

He asked 226 adults to watch a video of an open fire with sound, and without, and also compared to a blank screen.

They were then tested for blood pressure, their susceptibility to hypnotism and how social they were as a result.

The study in the journal of Evolutionary Psychology found that ‘fire with sound consistently produces reductions in … blood pressure, and reductions grow stronger with … exposure’.

In other words, the flickering flames, the crackle and roar of burning logs – and perhaps if the study was carried out here, the smell of the turf – all possess a hypnotic calming effect.

But you didn’t need Dr Lynn to work that one out.

We’re generally happier in front of an open fire, more sociable, conversational and more interested in those around us.

Even if we’re on our own, what is better than a big fire, a good book and a reading light, a little music – perhaps even a little tincture – to bring your blood pressure right down to a point where all appears well with the world again?

Even without the book, those flickering flames, the shadows and lights, the pictures that appear in the red hot intensity of the fireplace … it’s enough to move you to a higher and happier plane.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

 

Connacht Tribune

How will we acclimatise as we ease out of Covid?

Dave O'Connell

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

Back in the world before Covid, a mention of Corona either brought to mind a beer or a rock band – but, as we ease our way out of dire straits (another rock band, as luck would have it), we might require a different kind of acclimatisation.

Because what will the evening be like when no more deaths are flashed up as a statistic on the Six-One News?

Who will the world turn to if we have no more Fergal or George or Zara giving out the daily update in a funereal tone?

What will happen to all the people who used to go to the Department of Health press conference at tea-time in the same way the rest of us once headed for the pub?

Like Pavlov’s Dog, we’ve come to expect an evening illness update, taking consolation in it being two less than yesterday or taking fright if it’s two more.

Nobody told us who these poor people were, unless the local paper carried a tribute a week later – for the number crunchers and bean counters and prophets of doom, they were today’s statistics, to be flashed up for a few seconds every night.

And we took these figures as we got them, never questioning if a person died from Covid or with Covid; if they were described as having ‘underlying conditions’, we seemed to accept that as a very broad church.

We listened intently as Fergal or George or Zara told us what the mean age was, breathing a small sigh of relief if it remained a good distance into the future from our own age now.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Home ownership should be a prerogative – not a pipedream

Dave O'Connell

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

Half of our 18 to 34-year-olds fear they won’t be able to buy a home in next ten years, according to a new survey. That’s not the shock – it’s the fact that half of them think they actually will.

Because the truth is that owning your own home hasn’t been as much of a pipedream since the days of feudal landlords; indeed many of them will find it a job and a half to even come up with the rent.

And that’s a sign of just how critical our housing crisis has become in the space of a single generation.

We thought that things were bad in the eighties when unemployment levels were way ahead of our pre-Covid figures; when the boat and the plane were the best 0or maybe only – chance for many to secure a job far from home.

But for those who were working, owning a home wasn’t a farfetched concept at all, because there were plenty of starter homes being built and the cost of them still bore some relation to your income.

There was a time before that, when the bank had a simple equation to decide the size of the mortgage they’d give you. It was two and a half times the combined salary for those buying the house – in other words, yours alone if you were a sole purchaser, or double that if it was yourself and your partner.

On top of that, there was no point turning up in the first place unless you had a ten per cent deposit – so it was a straight-forward calculation to find out what you could afford. And house prices, for the most part, kept within that equation.

Of course there were always homes you coveted and couldn’t afford, but you could still buy a roof over your head for a price that only took 20 years to pay back.

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

Giving it all away can bring you the greatest wealth of all

Dave O'Connell

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

It must be the nicest thing that anyone could say about a friend on their passing, and the novelist Jilly Cooper wrote it about the former Sunday Times editor Harold Evans on his death last year.

“Harry died on Thursday at 5am (UK time), his heart perhaps only failing because he gave so much of it away.”

Because when all is said and done, your list of achievements – academic, sporting or stellar career – should pale into insignificance beside the way you treated your family, friends and colleagues.

We too often judge a person’s success or failure by the jobs they’ve held, the money they’ve made, the titles they hold – when the truth is none of that should determine your achievements as a person.

Even billionaires can grow to realise that eventually; just look at Bill and Melinda Gates – although recent events might make this a different picture in the future.

The former Apple golden couple have given close to $50 billion to charitable causes, including the eponymously named Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, since 1994.

In 2019 alone, the couple donated $589 million to charity, making them the seventh most philanthropic people that year. Whether they now give separately or collectively might be the question – but it seems most unlikely that they won’t give at all.

They’re alone in this world of billionaire philanthropists either; Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and one of the richest people in the world, has pledged $100m in prize money for technology that would best capture planet-heating carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

And Jeff Bezos, the Amazon founder who tops the global rich list, has vowed to give out $10bn to worthy climate initiatives.

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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