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A Different View

Ireland’s mixed messages when it comes to Old Britannia

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There could be no clearer illustration of our ambivalence towards our nearest neighbours than the General Election of 1997 and the contrasting attitudes of the good people of Donegal.

Back in a time when Sky was something we all could see for free – because it was behind the clouds immediately over our heads – Thomas Gildea was a campaigner for the legalisation of ‘deflectors’, large masts which retransmitted English TV channels into rural areas.
Back at the end of the nineties, these deflectors were being dismantled because the now-legalised cable and MMDS operators wanted to stamp out cheap or free alternatives.
So Thomas took a stand and went up for election on a single issue – free English TV for the masses – and the 58 year old farmer swept into the Dail as a new Deputy for Donegal South West.

Up the road in Donegal North-East however – where the quite conceivably enjoyed an half-hour of Coronation Street the same as the next man – the latest member of the Blaney dynasty, Harry Blaney, was following in the footsteps of his late father Neil and bidding for Dail success all of his own.

Blaney senior had come up with the Independent Fianna Fail title, because the more familiar model wasn’t going far enough when it came to the issue of getting the British troops out of the six counties.

Harry Blaney – who himself passed away this week – shared his father’s nationalist believes and he too made it into the 28th Dail.
Which brings us to the point of the story – the voters of Donegal saw nothing ironic about one half of the county voting for a ‘Brits out’ candidate while the other voted for one who wanted – admittedly through the medium of television only – Brits in.

It’s an ambivalence that many others on this island also share – when it comes to football teams, three-quarters of the country pledge their allegiance to an English team; we follow their soaps, their music, their celebrities and most of all their television.

We proclaim, for the most part, to have no time for their Royal family and yet, for example, the sale of newspapers shot up when Princess Diana died; indeed she sold many papers before her death as well.

Now you wouldn’t have found many perched on high stools discussing the merits of Diana’s fashion sense over a pint, but there was a touch of the guilty pleasure about keeping an eye on her from a distance.

And all of this came back to mind when they cremated Maggie Thatcher recently – thankfully we didn’t have live RTE coverage even if there was a touch of the tugged forelock about the coverage on the news – because while there was little divide on our attitude to her, we still all knew more about her than we did about our own.

Nobody does pageantry better than the British, mainly because – in the upper echelons of their society – they are still deluded enough to see themselves as a world power.

And they rolled out the red carpet for Maggie, as though she was their first directly elected queen, instead of someone who was reviled by half of her own country and all of ours.

They cleared the streets of objectors and other traffic, and turned central London into a no-go zone, a safe place for doddering Prime Ministers from across the globe to get together for one last hurrah.

Enda Kenny played this one cleverly by not ignoring the event, but by doing the next best thing – sending Ruairi Quinn who might as easily have been mistaken for one of the Chinese mourners instead of our token gesture to the woman who still has Charlie Haughey’s tea-pot.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Grandparents may well be the greatest gift of all

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

My mother-in-law is the greatest grandmother on earth, although she’s the only one who doesn’t know it. Not because she’s modest – although she always was – but because she has dementia and struggles to know her own family, never mind their children.

Yet she was there, every step of the way – not just for our two, but for every single one of her 19 grandchildren; minding them, nurturing, entertaining, caring for them, for well over three decades from oldest to youngest.

Kay wasn’t alone for the most of that journey, because Tom in turn was the best grandfather – doing all of those things too, and also instilling a love of simple things into another generation . . . birds, flowers, cats, songs about townlands.

He also embraced things unfamiliar to his world – Thomas the Tank Engine, the Teletubbies, even PlayStation although that remained largely a mystery, as did the fact that anyone would watch soccer when there was a chance to enjoy hurling.

“You’ve been watching this for hours and there isn’t even one score. If this was hurling, you’d have seen 50 of them,” he’d tell the Liverpool fans, enthralled by another scoreless classic.

The beauty of it was that the Kay and Tom got to meet, enjoy and educate every single one of those 17 grandchildren, and there will be no more – because even science can’t produce surprises like that at this stage.

They also got to know a few of their great-grandchildren, although dementia for one of them, followed too quickly by death for the other, didn’t really allow them to pass on the great gifts they had already imbued in their grandchildren.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

No great rush to mend the error of your ways!

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

It was St Augustine who famously petitioned in prayer: ‘God, make me good – but just not yet’. It’s a sentiment that one Sister Mary Joseph took to whole new levels, because after spending her first 61 years as a high-living heiress, she spent the last three decades as a cloistered nun.

And she closed one chapter to open another one back in 1989 with a party for 800 of her closest friends at the Hilton Hotel in San Francisco – so many guests that the hostess carried a helium balloon all night, with the words “Here I Am” so that people could find her amid the throng.

The next day the former Ann Russell Miller flew to Chicago and joined the Sisters of Our Lady of Mount Carmel as a novitiate, spending the rest of her life as Sister Mary Joseph of the Trinity.

Or as one of her 28 grandchildren put it: “It was like The Great Gatsby turned into The Sound of Music.”

Her recent obituary in the Times painted quite the colourful picture of a lover of the high life turned Holy Roller.

“She smoked, drank champagne, played cards, spent five hours a day on the telephone and, as an expert scuba diver and enthusiastic skier, travelled around the world.

“She had a season ticket to the opera, was a high-society patron of many charitable causes and drove her sports car at such reckless speeds that, according to her son Mark, ‘people got out of her car with a sore foot from slamming on an imaginary brake’.”

Because if ever a life could be described as a tale of two-thirds of high living and one-third of contemplation, this was it; the mother of ten who enjoyed the casual company of celebrity friends like Nancy Reagan and Bob Hope opted for an order which allowed her one visitor a month – and even then no touching given the two rows of iron bars between them.

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

Online games will always give way to world of pure imagination

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

When we were young and Wimbledon came on the telly for two weeks, we’d all rush out to hit a tennis ball off the wall and imagine for an hour that we were Jimmy Connors or Bjorn Borg.

On the odd occasion when we saw live football on TV – the World Cup, the FA Cup Final, or Jimmy Magee covering another false dawn for Ireland at Dalymount Park – we took to the footpath and pretended we were Johnny Giles or Georgie Best.

Jumpers for goalposts, games that went on for hours, fly-goalkeepers, next goal wins – a world of entertainment for the price of a plastic football.

Now when it’s half-time in Sky Sports’ fifth live match of the weekend, the kids still want to play their own version when it’s over. Except they do it on the PlayStation so they never have to leave the comfort of the couch.

Even if we re-enacted the World Cup indoors back in the day, we did it with Subbuteo – so we still got more action and exercise than today’s kids, even if it was just a flick of the fingers.

But in the absence of video games, we did all this with nothing more than our vivid imaginations on a field of dreams that was otherwise a concrete car park or a patch of grass.

We pretended we were Mick O’Connell or maybe Mikey Sheehy (but never Brian Mullins or Jimmy Keaveney) as we fielded balls majestically out of the clouds – even if reality would suggest we hardly left the ground.

It was a world of our imagination where we supplied our own running commentary; these days, FIFA 21 does it for you.

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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