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History repeats itself over 100 years down the road

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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

Trying to find the time to slow down that clock

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Country Living with Francis Farragher

AS one gets older the realisation dawns that time – and not material wealth – is our greatest asset but boy does that clock fairly freewheel around with each passing year.

Anytime a conversation switches around to the question of: “How long is such-and-such a person dead,” the guesstimate answers usually need to be doubled. Looking back on time makes us all realise how fast it is flying by.

I always contend that winning the lotto – as exciting and all as that would be – would not make any of us one second younger and in all probability would not add on one day to our eventual date with destiny.  In fact it might even know a few years off if we lost the rag and went mad with the lucre.

My late father used to have a favourite saying about wealth and money namely that while it wouldn’t necessarily bring you happiness in this world it would ‘help you to enjoy your misery’.

Even a couple of Sundays back while sitting in the Hogan Stand and witnessing Galway’s gallant attempt to win the All-Ireland title, it was kind of hard to credit that 21-years had passed since we were last in a senior final and 24-years since we ended a 32-year famine with the victory over Kildare in 1998.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Country Living

It nearly always comes down ‘to splitting the difference’

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Fruit of the land.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

THERE used to be a great habit at fair days one time of throwing a spit on the palm of your hand and saying: ‘We’ll split the difference’, when it came to the asking price and the offer for a pen of lambs. The asking price might be £10 each for a pen of lambs; the offer could be £8; and the difference would be split with an agree price of £9.

Over the past few weeks, I had a gut feeling that this great debate the country was having on reductions in agricultural emissions would always come down to splitting the difference or if it hadn’t the three Government parties would be heading into a General Election and could it have been a case of lambs to the slaughter with ‘The Shinners’ waiting in the wings to mop up all the dissenting votes.

It has though been quite an upsetting time for many country people brought up on the land and instilled with a sense of decency as to how they treated the landscape; the crops they grew on it; and the animals that they reared. There were times, I thought, we don’t really have a green isle at all with all the talk of reducing emissions and cattle numbers across the country.

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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Country Living

Not people you can bank on when push comes to shove

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Country Living with Francis Farragher

I’m not sure whether it was a good sign or not but there was a time, when I’d know the local bank managers by their first names. In the great scheme of things, most of the ‘business deals’ struck would be about loans for cars or farm investment while of course the big one was the mortgage.

Whether we were naive or not at the time, there was a kind of trust between banks and ordinary customers that was always nurtured by that face-to-face contact element. It was reassuring to know a name or a face for a bit of advice or maybe to get a few bob to get you out of some financial hole that you had dug for yourself.

There was a time too back in the 1970s when the average Irish Mammy could envisage no better job for a son or a daughter than to ‘get the start’ in the bank. It was the ultimate position of respectability, even if most of the days might be spent – to borrow a phrase from WB Yeats – ‘fumbling in a greasy till’.

I remember thumbing a lift to Athlone to sit an exam for the Bank of Ireland but whether it was my dodgy maths or my even dodgier appearance, I never heard another word about it. My career in respectable banking never managed to leave the starting blocks.

On a Richter scale of life’s regrets, it doesn’t even get a zero rating, although here and there, I’d be reminded of some of the junkets that lads I went to school with got from their bank employers. And then there were the years when we’d never be poor again with loans – the bigger the better – being handed out for all kinds of property deals.

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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