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Make sure your bed is comfortable before you lie in it



Date Published: {J}

It may have escaped your notice, but March has been designated as National Bed Month in Britain – presumably by the people who make and sell beds.

But ‘research’ carried out by Ikea has discovered that Britons spend more time choosing what to eat for their lunch than what kind of mattress they will spend the best years of their life sleeping on.

Frankly that surprised me too, because while I clearly spend some time considering what tasty morsels can sate my lunchtime hunger, I too place a huge importance on sleep.

Back in the day when I bought my first house and was the proud recipient of the £2,000 first time house buyer’s grant – the only money I had for furniture – I had to prioritise by domestic appliances.

I had to have a cooker and a fridge, a cheap table and chair and a wardrobe – but the one thing I didn’t want to scrimp on was a mattress.

When I told the furniture store man all of this – and emphasised the point by joking that some of my happiest times were spent in bed (meaning asleep, to be honest), he replied mockingly: “Modest, aren’t we.”

It’s not just about mattresses, of course – you first of all have to have a bed. And while you would sleep anywhere in your youth – the floor, a shelf, a car, under a tree or on one particularly shameful occasion, in the old handball alley at UCG – there comes a time in life when nothing less than home comforts is enough.

There was a recent occasion – New Year’s Eve as it turns out – when a major gathering of in-laws was muted. The problem was that, while the host is a most generous man who always appears to have done a deal with a local brewery so that supplies never run out, the sleeping arrangements involved either a blow-up mattress or a collection of cushions from the settee.

Blow-up mattresses work if you’re a small child or a six stone jockey – and I’m neither – and cushions tend to part like the Red Sea minutes after you manage to arrange them. Thus New Year’s Eve was spent home alone, but happy in my own bed.

Because the truth is that I cannot function without sleep and having endured lumpy mattresses in dodgy cheap hotels to appreciate the value of a good one.

And yet we spend so little time picking the place where everything happens – Ikea’s survey discovered that nearly three quarters (72 per cent) take under ten minutes and 37 per cent take less than five minutes to choose the mattress they are likely to sleep on for the next eight years.

According to the research, that’s the same amount of time people take choosing their lunch each day.

Is it any wonder then that 70 per cent of Brits don’t believe they are getting enough sleep – and that 52 per cent think a bad mattress could be to blame? Although one-third of the women blame their partner’s hogging of the duvet for disturbed sleep. Yeah, right.

The main reason behind these hasty purchases appears be the great British reserve, which research shows, is alive and well as nearly a third (31 per cent) of those surveyed admitted to feeling shy and embarrassed when testing a mattress.

A further 26 per cent admitted that they would be too embarrassed to even lie down on a mattress in-store before purchasing it.

And that’s commendable, because there are few worse sights in life than, when you go into a home store, to find a giggling couple rolling around on a mattress that might actually have been yours if they hadn’t ruining it with their public cavorting.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.


For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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Archive News

Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup



Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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