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A Different View

Room to roam – but not necessarily to improve

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Brian O'Donnell and Sinead Rooney

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

Despite the fact that we grew up in what qualified by any standards as a fairly small house, we had two rooms in our home that we rarely went into.

We had a sitting room that might have failed to Descriptions Act because we rarely got to sit in it – and we had a rubbish room, which was perfectly named as it just stored all the stuff we no longer wanted or needed.

In the meantime, we crowded into the kitchen where there were two armchairs – not for children – and a kitchen table.

The actual kitchen was the size of two telephone boxes side by side, into which was packed a sink, shelving and cooker. The fridge didn’t fit so it stood in the hallway under the stairs.

So we – two adults and three children – effectively occupied one half of the available space in the downstairs of our family home. Because we needed one room for rubbish and the other in case anyone important should come to call.

The notion of a parlour is an age-old Irish tradition – and one, quite frankly, that makes absolutely no sense.

Why would you close off the best room in your house, elevating – or in reality, relegating – it to special occasions?

We effectively had a kitchen/diner before that became the buzz phrase for auctioneers everywhere – only ours was more henhouse than farmhouse because you couldn’t swing a cat in it.

We weren’t unique, but you wonder now where we all fitted – particularly in the summer time when relations descended on us as thought we lived in a small hotel.

Then the three bedrooms took on the appearance of a sardine can with various children topping and tailing to make sure there wasn’t an inch of space going spare in the bed.

When one turned, everyone turned – and you only hoped that the one on the outside hit the wall instead of the floor in this nocturnal equivalent of the Mexican wave.

It wasn’t just that we never felt deprived by all of this – because we weren’t – but I was passing our old house last week and I wondered what possessed my parents to further reduce out footprint in this compact semi-dee by closing off half of the downstairs to everyone but the very important or, in the case of the rubbish room, the not important at all.

Of course part of the reason it wasn’t a problem was that we were outdoors more often than inside.

We couldn’t sit around watching television all day, for two reasons – we weren’t allowed, but even if we were, RTE didn’t start until the evening, so you’d have been looking at the test card until your eyes went square.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Let ordinary mortals underline how extraordinary Olympians are

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A Different View with Dave O’Connell

A wit suggested on Twitter that – in order for the rest of us to realise how difficult Olympic Games disciplines are, and how talented the elite athletes who contest them are too – you’d need to tee it up by asking an ordinary, unfit, uncoordinated member of the public to give it a go first.

Take gymnastics as an example; these ultra-flexible competitors who fling themselves from two parallel bars or form a crucifix on the rings eight or ten feet off the ground, or who vault into the clouds, or spin ten different ways through the air from a standing start and land like a stone on soft sand.

And yet, experts that we become after an hour or two watching the telly, we wince when they get it just the smallest bit wrong – ‘marks gone there; not a solid landing that time’ kind of thing.

The reality is that, if we were doing it, we’d be lucky to just hang onto the rings for ten seconds without ripping our arms from their sockets, never mind extending them to make rock-solid right angles with our bodies.

Even the floor routine would be a hundred steps too far, unless it becomes a thing to embrace a little bit of dad-dancing and maybe breaking into a helicopter spin, just as a final nod to our disco days.

How about taking a shot at dressage – or as comedian Laura Lexx put it in her Twitter suggestion, getting on a horse and trying to make her dance like a sexy crab on ants?

Or the pole vault, where you give someone a massive length of Wavin pipe and persuade them to use that to try and jump over a bar that’s roughly the height of the roof on their own house.

White-water rafting – where the best you could hope for was not to drown, followed by not getting knocked-out by those gates you’re supposed to sally through as though you’re ambling over a stile on a relaxing country walk.

Instead, we tut and sigh when they glance off these gates as though they’d failed to reverse-park a small car into two adjoining parking spots.

Read the full column in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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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.

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

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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