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A Different View

Nostalgia will always sell – particularly for those with a sweet tooth

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A Different View with Dave O’Connell

There’s an Irish guy about to make his fortune exporting Tayto to Australia at a time that Walker’s are looking to increase their share of the Irish market by having Gary Lineker front a campaign to come up with bizarre new flavours.

Proof, yet again, that we only really miss those goods that are quintessentially Irish when either they’re gone or we’re gone.

Eamon Eastwood isn’t stopping at Tayto either – TK red lemonade, Club orange, Barry’s tea and Batchelor’s beans are all on their way to over 600 stores Down Under, ensuring more than a little taste of home for our brightest and best on the other side of the world.

The only surprise is that this has only been done on a limited scale in the past, because we Irish have been exporting the weirdest things from home for as long as we’ve had air and sea travel.

There’s been many the highly trained drugs sniffing dog who has gone off his head at an airport carousel … only to discover that the drugs consignment just arriving in from Shannon was in fact a couple of pounds of Denny’s sausages wrapped up in tee-shirts.

There has never been an emigrant or middle-aged holidaymaker who left without a couple of boxes of Barry’s – as though Cork, as opposed to Ceylon, was the tea-growing capital of the world.

The Rebels, of course, have taken this sense of ownership to a higher level, with their own stouts – Murphy’s and Beamish – their own tea and their own newspaper, de Paper.

They swear by tripe and drisheen, two food products designed to turn the eater’s own innards by feeding him the stomach of a dead cow, pig or sheep.

They also love to wash that down with an oul’ can of Tanora, that sickly sweet tack that makes Coke seem like a health drink.

The manufacturers tried it on the rest of the world but only in Cork did it gain traction – although there were rumours that it was highly prized in border counties where they laundered it and resold it as dodgy diesel.

Elsewhere, there’s a Dublin dish called coddle which is essentially a stew with boiled sausages, but it looks like something that you fished out of the Liffey in a bucket.

And let’s not forget Waterford’s efforts to patent its blaa, as though the rest of us never had ready access to a thousand different varieties of potato dishes.

But we’re now talking about a whole new food tradition – the one that makes our ex-pats homesick for Tayto, a product that looked to have had its day but which now has its own theme park up in Ashbourne.

Not that the animals would appear too thrilled about life in the Tayto kingdom – inspectors from the National Parks and Wildlife Service recently found evidence of “inappropriate breeding” and “overweight” racoons, leading to a ban on the facility from adding animals to its zoo for the second year in a row.

Things, it must be said, are much better for the meerkats who had problems during a previous inspection – although they might need to watch out in case the current Walker’s campaign votes them in as the basis of a new flavour.

But whatever about the animals or the park itself, it’s the original product first dreamed up by Joe ‘Spud’ Murphy back in the 1950s – and like a taste of home, it only takes a glimpse of the famous red packet to make us all nostalgic for another time.

We remember them like Sherberts or penny bars, Curlywurlys or Highland Toffee, Wagon Wheels, gobstoppers, Blackjacks or Love Hearts – not necessarily because we love them but because they bring us back to the world of our youth.

Because they are part of what we are.

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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