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Country Living

Ode to an old friend that we may not see again for a time

Francis Farragher

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Country Living with Francis Farragher

On the greater scale of things, my particular difficulty won’t rate too highly in the list of current woes that we’re all enduring, but a night last week as I scurried off to bed shortly before 10pm, I came to the inescapable conclusion that I miss my local pubs.

While not everyone might agree, I don’t think I’m in the category of drinkers who needs to be carted off for a drying out course and since Paddy’s Day passed off so dryly, there’s been many’s the day and night that not a drop has crossed my lips.

Here and there on the home front if there’s a film being watched on TV or a burger being cooked outside (there’s a fancy name for that sort of thing which I refuse to use), I am partial to a bottle of Tiger, Moretti or my favourite Italian tipple, Peroni. But alas, it’s just not the same as the pint out of the barrel accompanied by an exchange of some gentle jibes about the good life that we’re all living.

They might be a dying breed but I do think that there’s something special about old country pubs. The two that I’m familiar with, also combine their trade with undertaking businesses, so I take some smite of morbid conolation from fact that they’ll look after me both in life in death, although each of those experiences, will leave me – and those left behind – with a lot less shillings in our pockets.

A few weeks back, I heard a story about a couple of old codgers who for the last 30 years had never stopped ‘picking’ at each other in the local pub. Neutrals would often remark that: “They’re at it again.” However, it has since emerged that since the lockdown started, both have independently admitted to missing each other. They just can’t wait for the ‘sparring’ to start again.

There’s something too about the game of cards in the pub whether it be a ‘six’ or a ‘nine’ in ‘25’ or a game of Spot that often seemed to endure for the night with ‘the pot’ sometimes gradually edging up to €30 or €40 as the witching hour approached. Not big money . . . no big gambles . . . but fought for as if our very lives depended on it.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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.

 

Country Living

The Leaving Cert has passed but ‘The Dream’ still lingers on

Francis Farragher

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Country Living with Francis Farragher

YOU want to have a heart of stone not to have sympathy for the Leaving Cert class of 2020, the vast majority of them preparing diligently over the past year or so for the so-called ‘biggest exam of their lives’.

In February, everything seemed to be going to plan with the work schedules for the final big run-in to the exams that always seemed to coincide with a spell of good weather, just to compound that feeling of being imprisoned by broad daylight.

Then there was talk of postponement with a new date in July scheduled for the start of the tests and now over recent days the almost inevitable cancellation of the formal exams seems was confirmed. It had reached the point where this year’s Leaving Cert class had to be given some kind of certainty, if only for the sake of their mental health.

From speaking to colleagues who sat the Leaving Cert back in the mid-1970s, I don’t believe that I’m in any way unique, when I confess to getting the occasional flashback of sitting in that isolated desk of an old gym at Tuam CBS, lurking in a world of nervous frenzy, semi-nausea and I suppose real fear as the superintendent placed the exam paper on my desk.

My cause probably wasn’t helped by a distinctly selective approach to study concentration where, in English for example, certain poets would either be ruled in or out of the exam preparation time.

Would it be Keats or Shelley? Kavanagh or Yeats? Milton or Pope? One thing was always pretty much of a certainty in those days, and I’m guessing it’s the same today, is that William Shakespeare would always be confronting you in some shape or form, whether it be Hamlet, Macbeth or Coriolanus or one of his sonnets.

In the seconds after that English paper was left down on your desk, there was always the frantic search for your favourite poet . . . happiness being defined as seeing the name in front of you from whose verses you could pretty much quote ad lib.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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Country Living

May had little pitfalls but also many saving graces

Francis Farragher

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A sign of the Summer: Blue skies and thousands of yards of turf cut at Cloonascragh Bog near Tuam last week now ready for turning or footing. Photo: Johnny Ryan Photography.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

WHILE we all have to be sensible and careful these days, we shouldn’t forget either to enjoy the arrival of the Summer season which based on my early school tutoring always began on May 1.

The meteorological nerds may not agree, citing the warmer average temperatures of June, July and August as being our real Summer months, but May is a wonderful month in terms of ever longer days and a sun of rising height in the sky.

For those of us of a certain generation, who have one of those landmark days in the month of May (okay I’ll concede to call it a birthday), we were always reminded as children how lucky we were to be born in the month of devotion to the Blessed Virgin.

That however wasn’t to be without its complications for any male child growing up in the 1960s when the discovery was made that there was a third Christian name added onto John Francis . . . yes, you’ve guessed it Mary.

On top of all that the news was also broken to me after about seven Summers on this planet that my mother had expected me to be of a different gender and that instead of being a Francis, she had instead anticipated a Frances. Oh, God a gender crisis at six or seven years of age . . . but it passed.

As I may have recalled before, one of my little consolations back in the 1960s, was in seeing the name of a Galway three-in-row star – I’m also certain it was the late Enda Colleran – who had the name Mary attached to his name.

Back then, the practice was to have the names of all those who had graduated from UCG (now NUIG) published in the local papers with their full Christian names attached. So, there was just a little consolation to be gleaned from the fact that one of my great childhood heroes had no problem with having Mary attached to his name.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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Country Living

Lessons of history are there to be learned from

Francis Farragher

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Probably the deadliest parade ever staged. Saturday, September 28, 1918, and an estimated 200,000 people gather on the streets of Philadelphia, USA, for a World War I military parade. Within a week, 45,000 people there had the Spanish Flu – inside another six weeks, 12,000 Philadelphians were dead. Source: Washington Post.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

Sometimes, it can be rather startling, to look back over a piece that you’ve written, even just a few short months ago, when our world was a completely different place. Back on January 17, during a week when everyone I met seemed to be coughing and spluttering with some kind of cold or cough, it was just taken as the norm. “Get over it and get on with,” was the guiding philosophy with the help of a few Lemsips or Paracetamol tablets.

Now, just over three months later if someone in your company, or even yourself, has more than two sneezes in a row, there’s a sense of being watched, with the question silently being asked inside the caverns of the mind: “Has he/she got the corona?” I grew up in a house where my father recalled quite vividly tales of how the infamous Spanish Flu (incongruously named because it didn’t start there) of 1918 – it actually lingered on in places through 1919 and 1920 – spread fear through households not only in Ireland but across the world.

Although over a century separates the Spanish Flu and the coronavirus, there are still a lot of similarities in what was going on. Back in 1918 there was no flu vaccine . . . there was no effective treatment for it . . . people were advised to stay away from public gatherings and to avoid close contact with other people . . . no spitting and no attending wakes  . . . with the best potential ‘cure’ being good nursing, hot drinks and nutritious meals.

For want of a better expression, there was also ‘other stuff’ going on too in terms of madcap cures and recommendations from non-medical people (and even some ‘reliable’ medical sources too). Researcher, Dr. Ida Milne, an authority on the impact of the Spanish Flu in Ireland, has outlined a number of those.

Among the antidotes tried out were quinine (a fever treating drug), opium, significant quantities of brandy and whiskey (an old Irish cure for everything but tending to be very temporary!), calomel (to open the bowels), and the injection of strychnine (up until relatively a particularly deadly type of rat poison).

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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