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A Different View

Liverpool – it’s about so much more than football and the Beatles!

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A Different View with Dave O’Connell

Football fans need no introduction to the delights of Liverpool – after all, it’s home to two of the Premiership’s most famous clubs and their arch enemies are half an hour down the motorway in Manchester – but there’s so much more to this part of the north west of England.

If the city is synonymous with football, it’s just as indelibly linked to the Beatles – and there are bus, taxi or walking tours as well as at least three separate museum experiences all dedicated to the life and times of the Fab Four.

So that’s sports and music fans catered for, but suggesting that is the extent of Liverpool’s attractions does the city a serious disservice.

This was the European Capital of Culture in 2008 – an honour Galway is now seeking to grow its own reputation – and that year saw 15 million visitors fly in to share the experience.

The past decade has seen capital investments of over £5 billion pour into the city – but despite the massive regeneration, the planners also managed to retain the best of the old at its heart.

Those who remember Liverpool from the sixties and seventies will recall a drab city, so downtrodden that Margaret Thatcher gave serious consideration to allowing it to run into the ground.

But this renaissance has been nothing short of spectacular – the balance between residential and entertainment around the Albert Dock moves seamlessly through the new commercial heart of Liverpool One (one of the biggest shopping areas in the UK) and on into the old heart of Liverpool, with its nightlife around Mathew Street, home to the world famous Cavern Club.

Culture vultures have the Tate Liverpool on Albert Dock, the new £72m Liverpool Museum that focuses on the history of the city through sport, music, its port and how the Irish, like the Welsh, played their part in the development of this friendliest of places.

Those who know it just for its football are missing most of the point – and the regeneration of Liverpool has seen a plethora of attractions spring up all over the city.

There are a variety of ethnic restaurants, for example, that stretch from Cuban to Catalonian – indeed Lunya, the UK’s only Catalan deli and restaurant is owned by Peter Kinsella, a man whose enthusiasm and passion would probably convince vegetarians to eat succulent pork!

The Indigo Hotel houses a Marco Pierre White Steakhouse and Grill; the Hard Days Night Hotel has the emphasis on all things Beatles – but there are eateries to suit all budgets and tastes.

Suffice to say that you’d have no problem filling a week’s holiday with all there is to see in Liverpool – and most of it is accessible on foot.

But if you want to stretch your scope just a little, Cheshire – and the Roman city of Chester – are half an hour up the road. And if it’s history you’re after, Chester has it in spades, tracing 2,000 years from its foundation as a Roman fortress to its present role as a thriving centre of commerce and home to 120,000 citizens.

Much of the city centre was rebuilt in the 19th century and its tradition shop fronts are still prevalent today; that’s because the last half century has seen a huge emphasis and preservation and restoration to recreate an era that you simply won’t find anywhere else.

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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