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A Different View

Remembering innocent days of the Pope’s visit

Dave O'Connell

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A Different View with Dave O’Connell

There is an exhibition of photographs in Galway Cathedral at the minute that captures some of the colour and sense of occasion that surrounded the Pope’s visit to Galway 35 years ago this September.

But, evocative as they are, they cannot be expected to replicate that air of excitement and wonder as we made our way in the dawning light to the Racecourse from all corners of the country.

This was the young people’s event on the John Paul tour – tens of thousands of them descending on a field, when, outside of sport, the only other big open air event we’d ever had was Lisdoonvarna.

So they travelled like a colony of ants, armed with sleeping bags and the occasional tent – a

It was my Inter Cert year in St Mary’s College and a few of us were volunteered for an inter-school choir. What was even better was that some of us – and I’m particularly thinking of Frankie Lee – could even sing.

If truth be told, at the early stages the real attraction in this was getting out of study to go to choir practice and meeting other work-dodgers from other schools.

There would be a few microphones scattered among the choir on the day; part of Fr Michael McLoughlin’s job was to make sure that us crows weren’t too close to them.

But the excitement was building as we learned our songs – Totus Tuus, He’s Got the Whole World in his Hands – and realised that this really was something special.

Being young fellas, another plus was that, unlike the other 280,000 who would be traipsing through town and out to Ballybrit on foot, we were getting a bus. Because we were part of the supporting cast – and we were on the altar.

Our uniform was a sort of hybrid altar boy meets traffic warden – white shirt and chocolate brown trousers, with an unopened plastic mac in case the rains came down.

Actually when they did and we put on the macs, we realised they are coated in talcum powder to stops them from sticking together. The downside of that is that our brown pants now had a covering of snow.

But that didn’t matter once the big red bird descended and John Paul came up the finishing strait in his Popemobile to the sort of applause that a Galway Plate winner could only dream of.

“Young people of Ireland, I love you,” he told us – words that Joe Connolly adapted when Galway’s hurlers broke their All-Ireland hoodoo just one year later.

Those were the days of our innocence, days we will never forget – and how fitting that the Cathedral is reliving them with this exhibition in anticipation of Pope Francis declaring John Paul II a saint of the Catholic Church this Sunday, at a canonisation ceremony in Rome.

In celebration of the canonisation of John Paul II, Bishop Martin Drennan will also give a Mass of Thanksgiving and there will be a live screening of the ceremonies at Ballybrit Racecourse on Sunday at 11am.

It won’t be as big as 1979, but it might just evoke the odd small memory from our past.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Grandparents are the glue that became unstuck during Covid

Dave O'Connell

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

IT goes without saying that lockdown has been hard for everyone – with the possible exception of hermits – but few have felt it more than grandparents, confined to barracks and deprived of those hugs from the grandchildren.

Looking at them through windows may only have made it worse, because little kids don’t understand why nana and granddad won’t come out; they don’t realise they want to, more than anything in the whole world.

This pandemic has given us plenty of time to reflect; a chance to remember what is truly important and what we should cherish instead of taking for granted.

And arguably, grandparents should be on top of that list.

You’ll have heard it said that being a grandparent is like you’ve been given a second chance; an opportunity to spend time in retirement with the next generation that work deprived you of when it came to your own.

There’s also a notion espoused by some of those grandparents that you love them more than your own kids, because this time, when you’re finished playing with them, you can give them back.

I never knew any of my four grandparents, because they were all dead before I was born. My own sons never knew my parents because they too had long departed before the next generation arrived.

But thankfully they did grow up with two grandparents as an integral part of their lives – and not just minding them, which they did with a commitment for which we will be ever grateful.

The measure of success in this department is that your children see your parents as just a part of the family; there’s an easy familiarity every time they meet, just like picking up the pieces without a second thought.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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

Home is still full of memories even when it’s an empty nest

Dave O'Connell

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Dave O'Connell
Dave O'Connell

We’ve all heard the phrase – and perhaps dread the concept; the empty nest, after the fledglings take flight and you’re left rattling around in a quiet house with just memories of those days of pandemonium and noise.

The social policy-makers would tell you that this is the time to downsize; save yourself the steps of the stairs and the cleaning, and cut down on the heating bills to enjoy your autumn days in accommodation more appropriate to your reduced needs.

And from a purely economic perspective, there’s merit in that. You have a house that’s now too big for you, and others can’t find a home of any size, let alone one sufficient for a full family – but that’s only one side of the argument.

The other is that your house is your home, and not because of its size – it’s because of its location, and your familiarity with its every nook and cranny. It’s also where those fly-away chicks still see as home, even if they’re now no more than occasional visitors.

As you grow older, familiarity is more important than ever; without the beautiful distraction of children, you grow even more dependent on neighbours and your community and the facilities you know on your old doorstep.

You know how long it takes to get to the shops or to the pub; you know you to give a spare key to in case you’re out when a delivery is due – or later on, if there’s a fear you might have a fall.

Your lifetime’s treasures – except for the children – are in your home; the sort of stuff others might see as clutter, but to you they are memories of holidays or graduations or births or marriages…those glory days that marked the chapters of your family life.

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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Connacht Tribune

Authors’ pot luck – or insight into predicting a terrible future

Dave O'Connell

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

It’s eerie how some people can appear to have an ability to see into the future; forecasting an event or a phenomenon, years – sometimes even centuries – before it comes to pass.

Much was made this year of a number of books and movies that anticipated what we now know as the Coronavirus pandemic; predictions that even led to renewed interest in publications like Daniel Defoe’s Journal of the Plague Year that goes back to 1722.

Edgar Allan Poe described a fictional epidemic at the centre of his short story, the Masque of the Red Death.

“No pestilence had ever been so fatal, or so hideous. Blood was its avatar and its seal—the redness and the horror of blood. There were sharp pains and sudden dizziness and then profuse bleeding at the pores, with dissolution.”

More recently, Albert Camus’ the Plague explored the human toll of epidemics back in 1947 – and of course, the end of the world has been the subject of more movies than almost anything else.

But that’s not really suggesting they have some incredible insight into the future; Dystopian plots or backdrops are almost standard fare, and the spread of some toxin or virus is the easiest vehicle for writer’s to plot.

That doesn’t mean the reader or viewer isn’t stopped in their tracks when they come across a piece or a film that appears to have predicted the future.

One such slim volume that fulfils that brief is really just a long essay, entitled Here is New York.

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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