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History repeats itself over 100 years down the road

Francis Farragher

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Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province in central China,has a population of 11 million people and like many other cities in that country is renowned for its street foodmakets where animals live and dead are traded. Most experts agree that this is where the coronavirus made the move from animals to humans.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

History does tend to repeat itself and especially so it seems in the case of health issues. In the middle of January, I penned a piece about probably the greatest pandemic ever to hit the world, namely the rather inaccurately entitled Spanish Flu that raged from 1918 to 1920.

There’s a large cohort of the population that’s still just a generation away from that health catastrophe that took its name from the fact that word got out about the virus when the Spanish royal family took ill with the flu.

However, most historians seem to agree that the 1918 flu was rampant in the battlefields of Europe during the first half of that year and may have been a major contributory factor in the ending of the Great War in November.

A century ago, information was a lot slower in being disseminated and the warring states across Europe and the world weren’t exactly too keen either on letting word get out about the great silent killer in the trenches.

Still, word spread mainly through the newspapers, word-of-mouth and letter-writing that this unknown killer was spreading through the world’s population, and like the coronavirus virus of today, there was a sense of helplessness about what could be done about it.

In many ways, there was a lot of similarities between the advice given out 100 years ago and today’s guidelines. Irish people read in their newspapers back in 1918/’19 about keeping away from crowded assemblies; engaging in good hygiene practices; not spitting in public; avoiding contact with people who had the flu; and staying away from wakes.

Now 100 years on, we’re beginning to hear the same advice about funeral gatherings and probably the dropping of the traditional Irish gesture of sympathy, namely the handshake.

According to research carried out by one Dr. Ida Milne, a researcher and authority on the Spanish Flu in Ireland, there was also an element of quackery in terms of some of the recommended treatments such as opium, quinine, large amounts of whiskey and brandy, as well as a number of poisons including calomel and strychnine, the latter a well known rat poison of some years back.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Country Living

Thirst and turf were always the closest of soulmates

Francis Farragher

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The bog: a curious mixture of romance and backache.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

IN the greater scale of things, it’s certainly not a first-world problem, but the other evening, within an hour or so of a most fabulous sunset imaginable as I made my way home from an evening in the bog, there was just a little but forlorn longing to have one, or maybe even two, of my favourite beverages in the local watering hole.

The bog is a real love-hate affair with most people. I know sisters in one family, one of whom who swears that she could spend the rest of her days amidst the wild heathers as long as the sun shone, while her sibling has nothing but abject horror for the place.

I find myself somewhere in the middle of this divergence, half-enjoying short stints among the rows of turf but only if there’s a bit of company about to give me some little sprigs of hope of a ‘plot completion’.

There are friends of mine unbothered by things like deadlines who would gladly while away long hours day-after-day footing and re-footing (pronounced ‘rayfooting) the turf, but I’m inclined to go with the option of keeping handling time to a minimum.

Back in years like 2019, which seems to be a number from a different universe given what we’ve been through with the virus, we’d at least have the pleasure of a little boast to our imbibing friends in the local about how many yards we had ‘gone through’ in an evening, but now the journey home is a lot more lonesome.

True, there can be ‘the can or two’ to be consumed from the home fridge, but somehow or other, it really isn’t the same as the bit of banter, jibing or boasting that fuel the exchanges in the local hostelry.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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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Country Living

Ah feck it – so what’s the harm in an odd curse here and there

Francis Farragher

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Ancient Romans: First off the mark with this cursing business.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

I’m not really a television person and especially so when the daylight hours begin to stretch. There is, though, the occasional and often random dip into something that catches my eye or ear and last week, Ardal O’Hanlon’s ‘Holy F***’ programme ‘killed an hour’ before the arrival of The Sandman.

It kind of took me back to a time at national school, maybe at the fourth or fifth class stage, when we all thought we were ‘getting to be big lads’, making our way in the world at around the age of ten or eleven.

For most of us, cursing or any kind of liaison with bad language was very much off-limits both at school and at home, but being an entrepreneurial bunch, we used to organise ourselves into little groups far away from the prying eyes of teachers and pestering parents.

These were quite simply cursing sessions, where we’d all use the F word, the C word and a variety of B words to get our points across to each other. Of course, we weren’t really ‘making points’ – or much sense either – but these little championship matches of swear words seemed to give us great satisfaction.

I remember another occasion many moons ago when a brother of mine used the C word within earshot of ‘the ould ones’ at home, and for an hour or two, I thought he’d committed a crime on a par with an unlawful killing or the robbery of a travelling shop.

The short C word I never heard used again in a domestic setting, apart from our own little primary school gang in a secure corner of the playground (well a field at the time), when it would be exchanged with great enthusiasm, knowing full well that it would be supressed again until our next clandestine get-together.

Is there really anything such as bad language? Probably not, as most of the words that we consider to fall into this category of speech can all be found in the bowels of the Collins or Oxford dictionaries. They are just words, and as long as they’re not used in an abusive manner, they tend to form part of many people’s daily conversations.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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

Benjy’s passing breaks a link with far more innocent times

Francis Farragher

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Moira Deady (Mary Riordan), Tom Hickey (son Benjy) and Biddy White Lennon (Maggie, wife of Benjy) at a Riordans' reunion in 2009. All three are now deceased.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

For those of us of a certain generation the news earlier this month wasn’t of actor Tom Hickey having passed away, rather it was ‘that Benjy was dead’.

A most accomplished thespian he was acclaimed on all of the theatrical platforms – television, stage and film – but for those of us who grew up in the 1960s and 1970s, Tom Hickey would always be the young, ambitious and sometimes amorous farmer from the village of Leestown in The Riordans.

It all started out in the era of black-and-white television in the mid-1960s, that’s if your house was lucky enough to have an old Philips, Bush or Pye set in the corner of the kitchen, whether it be bought or rented. (Remember the jingle – ‘oldies only’: “RTV have the sets and the service, so rent from RTV.”

If not, of course, there was always the option of the visit to a house down the road, where people of a friendly disposition, didn’t mind, regular weekly gatherings of young and old to watch a match or their favourite programme on ‘the box’.

Benjy Riordan’s travails ranged from trying to establish some kind of influence in the running of the family farm which was firmly under the control of his father Tom, aka John Cowley, to seducing his long-time romantic interest, namely Maggie Nael, played by Biddy White Lennon.

It goes without saying that it was a very different Ireland back then with Benjy’s often clumsy moves at ‘stealing a kiss’ from Maggie likely to be the subject of an outcry from Church, State or even local councillors.

I remember one particular episode – if memory serves me right, it involved a ‘bit of kissing’ between Benjy and Maggie in the bushes – where the incident took up a major chunk of time at a meeting of Tuam Town Commissioners.

This was still an era of so-called high morals when even the remotest hint of any sexual advances towards a female of the species from a bubbly male on Irish TV was quite certain to spark off an outcry from the usual suspects.

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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