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A Different View

Remembering innocent days of the Pope’s visit

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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 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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