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Lure of the sun is not without its drawbacks

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Country Living with Francis Farragher

We’d all like a bit of nature to return to our summer weather and maybe at last there are signs that a little bit of heat is on the way.

Many years ago, nay even decades, I remember a particularly cantankerous geography teacher at Tuam CBS with a trusted reputation for increasing the elasticity of our cheeks, trying to elicit from his class, the reason why people went on summer holidays to Spain.

To many of us, it seem an entirely ridiculous subject of discussion as the nearest we’d ever come to a summer holiday would be a week in the bog, although in a good year, a trip to the Races might feature on the ‘end of July’ schedule.

Anyway, his question of the day to the class on one particularly bright May morning, was why families went on holidays to countries like Spain and Portugal.

Depending on the luck of the draw there was always one unfortunate class member who would be brought up beside the múinteoir’s desk, to act as the guinea pig.

When the question was put to him as to explaining the lure of the Mediterranean for that tiny minority of Irish families who took foreign holidays in the early 1970s, the lad replied nervously: “Well it must be the heat sir, People like the heat sir.”

The final sir had barely departed from his quivering lips than one of his plucs had been stretched by the short tempered múinteoir who then bellowed across the room: “It’s not the heat, you jackass, that brings people to Spain – it’s the sunshine.”

The wicked old geezer was probably right of course and just to get the message across with added impact he delivered a quick clatter to the jaw of the guinea pig, who was sent scurrying back to his desk with a red jaw and all the self esteem of an elderly spider.

Even more so than the rest of us, he certainly will never forget the difference between heat and sunshine, and that little tale of times past came whizzing into my head last week as we all complained about our disappointing May temperatures as we donned jackets and coats on our trips outdoors.

On one of those rather harsh May evenings last week, one of the items on the evening news focused on the rising death toll in the Indian heatwave – close on 1,400 people – as temperatures shot up to a rather incredible 47° to 48° Celsius.

Heat, like everything else in extremes, is not something to be savoured. Sunstroke or severe dehydration can, within a matter of hours, lead to severe debilitation and death, and, is the case with most afflictions in this world, it’s always the most vulnerable that’ll take the brunt of the suffering.

Outdoor workers such as labourers or farmers, beggars on the street, the elderly and the infirm, will be the first ‘to go’ when the heat wave strikes.

Even in so called advanced countries like France, thousands of people died in the great heat wave of the summer of 2003 when temperatures touched 40   Celsius. Too much heat is a far greater killer than storms, floods or great freeze-ups.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

 

CITY TRIBUNE

Galway 2020 defenders’ mortifying muscle memory 

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Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

It’s amazing how quickly people try to re-write history. If Galway 2020 happened, say, 20 years ago, you could maybe blame fading memory to make allowances for the maroon-tinted glasses of those who defend it to the hilt.

But Galway’s term as European Capital of Culture concluded not 20 weeks ago, and the ‘see no evil, hear no evil’ brigade are out in force with propaganda that would make Donald Trump blush.

The defenders of Galway 2020 usually fall into two categories. There are people who work or worked for the organisation directly or indirectly and/or who contributed to winning the prestigious designation. And there are those who are deluded. Some fall into both categories – deluded and with a vested interest in Galway 2020’s reputation.

It matters not that the latest criticism of the ill-fated – and extremely expensive – project was contained in an official Government report, compiled by an office with impeccable credibility, the Comptroller and Auditor General.

Be it bar-stool commentary or analysis of the CA&G, the reaction to criticism is always the same. The defenders metaphorically stick index fingers in both ears, close their eyes and chant: “Yada, yada, yada, blah, blah, blah”. This would be fine if it wasn’t the taxpayer who’s had to pick up the tab.

It’s like the defenders of Galway 2020 have an inbuilt muscle memory. They’ve spent so long defending Galway 2020 that, no matter what the new charge is, their memory system automatically kicks in.

And while the muscle memory that instinctively compels them to defend is, through repetitive use, as sharp as ever, their actual memories are mortifyingly short. Or maybe they’ve selective memory. Or both.

The few – and they’re getting fewer – who defend Galway 2020 often spout the narrative that but for the Covid-19 pandemic it would’ve been brilliant.

And to a casual observer, someone who never heard of Galway 2020 and its litany of problems from day one, maybe that explanation seems plausible. But the argument does not hold water.

The C&AG last week highlighted how Galway 2020 had planned to raise €6.8 million from the private sector. This figure was used in the bid book to persuade judges to give Galway the designation.

In the end, it managed to raise just €400,000 in cash, plus €500,000 in “in-kind” support.

Defenders’ muscle memory kicked in and they said, “Ah, but the pandemic, how could you raise money during Covid?”.

This deliberately ignores Galway 2020’s own bid book, which promised to raise €4 million from the private sector pre-Covid in 2017, 2018 and 2019. It didn’t materialise, which shows the projected income from businesses was overinflated, or the private sector had reservations about supporting this project long before Covid.

This is just one implied criticism in the C&AG report, which doesn’t even mention the non-appointment of a Business Engagement Director, whose job – if the appointment had proceeded – would’ve been to tap the private sector for money.

Maybe the defenders should read the C&AG report. It might help to de-programme their mortifying muscle memory.

(Photo: The scene at South Park at the same time as the Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture opening ceremony).

This is a shortened preview version of Bradley Bytes. To read more, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Homework only goes to prove parents haven’t all the answers

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

Anyone fortunate enough to be a parent will always remember the moment when their child transitioned from unqualified hero worship to thinking that ma and da, if not quite clowns, at least possessed feet of clay.

And that moment often coincided with the time you could no longer make head nor tail of their homework.

You were grand with addition and subtraction, even multiplication and basic division – but when theorems or algebra or physics or foreign languages came into the equation, suddenly your infallible status took a nosedive straight into the nearest bin.

The consolation is that we are not alone – because most parents admit they’ve forgotten even the basics from their schooldays, leaving them cruelly exposed when the teenagers come looking for help.

A recent UK survey asked 1,500 parents aged over 30 what they had forgotten from their schooldays.

Top of the list was algebra – forgotten by half of them – followed by trigonometry and Pythagoras’s Theorem. About a third of respondents could no longer remember how to do long division – or name ten or more elements from the periodic table.

A quarter didn’t know the difference between an isosceles and a scalene triangle, and almost a fifth had forgotten how to use a protractor. Most of those probably thought a compass was for pricking the back of the student sitting in front of you.

Other classroom classics now lost in the sands of time included a failure to recognise cloud formations, identifying an oxbow lake, remembering quotes from Shakespeare, or explaining the difference between volts and amps.

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

Budget throws up history of drama on Dáil’s longest day

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The longest day...Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe.

World of Politics with Harry McGee – harrymcgee@gmail.com

It’s the biggest set-piece of the year in Irish politics, the one day of the political calendar when the Dáil chamber is full to the brim. And no matter how much the body politic is bludgeoned, Budget Day remains special.

There are some years in which the budgets are pass-remarkable but, then again, there are some years in which the budgets are just bloody remarkable.

In modern times none can really touch the drama of Charlie McCreevy’s announcement of decentralisation in December 2003. If it were to be done today, people would nod all round and say that’s a sensible enough proposal. But back then the notion of tens of thousands of public servants making an exodus from Dublin to the provinces was unfathomable and unthinkable.

The 2007 Budget was something else to behold. It was the middle of the Celtic Tiger and there were concerns that the economy was overheating to a point that the boiler was about to explode – even if nobody fully realised it at the time. More critically there was an election to be won.

At the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis before the election Bertie Ahern read out a shopping list of giveaways, harking back to the infamous Fianna Fáil manifesto of 30 years beforehand.

Ahern had been before the Planning Tribunal to explain political contributions and hand-outs he himself had got from his friends. The feelgood budget helped divert some of the heat away – and ultimately, it was enough to win the party a historic third term in government.

By the following spring, Ahern was gone and by that summer everything had ‘come to a shuddering halt’, to employ the phrase of the late Brian Lenihan Junior. Giveaway budgets tend to come back and bite you in the nether regions.

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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