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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

Selfie-wrist and phone-thumb are the price you pay for technology

Dave O'Connell

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

You know that, when Kim Kardashian has given up something that kept her firmly in the public eye, it must be really, really bad for you – although if you don’t know who Kim Kardashian is, congratulations on living what is already a full and fulfilling life.

Kim, a member of one of America’s most needy families – craving, not food, but infinite public attention.

And one of her primary methods of seeking attention was to take pictures of herself, doing anything and everything . . . from hooking up with her celebrity (and equally needy) friends to capturing her near-naked image in the bathroom mirror.

But no more.

Because Kim has caught a terrible disease – it’s called selfie-wrist, and it’s a result of taking too many photos of yourself with your phone, thereby damaging the tendons in your wrist.

Selfie sickness is a different condition altogether because that’s an illness of the mind; it’s an addiction caused by an affliction which goes way beyond the old notion that it’s a good thing to love yourself – in this case it’s better defined as self-obsession.

But selfie-wrist is a first cousin of carpal-tunnel syndrome, which is nothing to joke about by any stretch.

Only selfie-wrist is self-inflicted, because you wouldn’t have it if you didn’t feel the need to turn your camera phone on yourself every waking minute of your life.

Kim is not the only sufferer either, because one consultant plastic surgeon based on Harley Street has been dealing with an increasing number of sufferers, which has left some of them requiring surgery.

Dr Raj Ragoowansi told the London Times recently that this is caused by repeated inward flexing of the wrist to capture a perfect selfie.

“The wrist holding the camera phone is in a flexed position: that is the most unfavourable position,” he explained.

“The carpal tunnel is an unforgiving space in the wrist — if you keep on taking selfies, the blood supply of the nerve in it will be compromised, causing pain and numbness.”

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Words in the one language can get lost in translation

Dave O'Connell

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

You’d be fairly deluded to see the upside of stormy weather – but if any joy could be drawn from the recent Storm Ciara, it was in the efforts of our English friends to pronounce it.

Even a handful of staff at the BBC – an organisation with its own Pronunciation Unit – got it hopelessly wrong as often as it got it right. So instead of Keera, it was Key-ara, just one small step from Ki-Ora as though an orange squash had engulfed the land.

You’d wonder if that was the devilment at play when the storm was originally named, following a poll hosted by Met Éireann on Twitter – coming up with something that would at least give us a laugh in the midst of a blackout?

Adding fuel to that particular fire was that the Chair of the European Storm Naming Group is none other than Evelyn Cusack, Head of Forecasting at Met Éireann and a woman blessed with a wicked sense of humour.

That’s not to say that Evelyn doesn’t take her job extremely seriously, because she does – and the colour-coded weather warnings are indicative of that.

But she also has a good sense of perspective – so ensuring there’s a strong Irish dimension to this shared naming process between ourselves, the UK and the Netherlands would be right up her street.

In fairness to any devilment in Evelyn, there’s an even greater danger with these things if you leave it to the general public – as evidenced by names suggested by the public (and rejected by the UK Met Office) including Vader, Voldemort, Baldrick and Noddy.

Indeed, according to the London Times, among the other suggestions turned down was that one of the storms could be called Inateacup.

So instead, we get to name a few, the Brits get to name and good few and the Dutch throw in their tuppence worth as well.

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

Alone, all alone in a world packed with internet friends

Dave O'Connell

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

Women have more friends than men; they spend more time cultivating friendships and work harder to keep them. Men move in smaller circles – and sometimes no circle at all.

That’s according to a recent UK study that found that one-fifth of men questioned had no close friends at all with the corresponding figure for women not far off half that percentage.

And yet Facebook would tell us we’ve more friends than any generation since Adam ate the apple (an actual apple, not the tablet named after said fruit on which you store all your electronic ‘friends’).

The definition of friendship would suggest it’s very hard to claim you are one with a person you’ve never met – and yet Facebook does just that, offering you unlimited acquaintances, none of whom you’d recognise if you bumped into them on the street.

So, does this suggest that social media friends are replacing actual people?

Or in a world where we can reach out to people on the other side of the planet at the touch of a thumb, are we actually becoming more insular and self-centred than ever before?

There was a time when your friends were people who lived near you or you went to school with; your social circle didn’t extend too far beyond the radius of the area you could walk to.

And maybe it’s rose-tinted hindsight, but very few people seemed all that lonely as a result.

Now we have unlimited potential for an infinite number of friends – and yet this UK poll by YouGov found that 18 per cent of men did not have a single close friend and 32 per cent admitted they had no one they counted as a best friend.

And while women fared better, even then twelve per cent said they did not have close friends and 24 per cent lacked a best friend.

The online survey found that men were less likely to say they felt lonely; 44 per cent were lonely sometimes, often or all of the time, compared with 50 per cent of women.

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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