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A Different View

Sharm has charm and sun – and camels for all shapes

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Sun and tranquility....Sharm El Sheikh overlooking the Red Sea.

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

As pursuits for generously proportioned Irishmen with something bordering on a phobia about the sun go, riding a bony camel in 45 degree heat across the Sinai desert probably takes some beating.

But when in Rome and all that – or in this case Egypt – and thankfully in the absence of the local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, I found myself astride this unfortunate beast like a larger version of Laurence of Arabia about to conquer the Gulf of Aqaba.

There must be dozens of reasons why Egypt would be the wrong holiday destination for me – I’m not mad about heat and I never sunbathe for a start – but most of all, why would you holiday in one of the world’s hotspots, both climatically and politically?

And yet I enjoyed it more than words can say; we felt supremely safe from the moment we arrived – to the point that you never even thought about it – and we’re finally reached an age where we have enough cop-on to realise that only mad dogs and sun worshipping English men go out in the midday sun.

Egypt makes headlines for many reasons just now – and some of them are the wrong ones – but the coastal resort of Sharm El Sheikh is, in every sense, an oasis.

The country itself is vast but 90 million Egyptians live on just six per cent of the land; there are three million Bedouins and 27 tribes in a country steeped in culture and history – although it must be said that Sharm would not be top of your list for history…this is a sun holiday destination.

Clinging to the south east coast of the Sinai peninsula, a land mass that is otherwise a desert, it was developed entirely to cater for the tourist, and particularly those with an interest in diving – or at least in snorkelling to experience the multitude of multi-coloured fish that live in the coral beds which provide this region’s biggest attraction.

If you love guaranteed sunshine and you’re at your best in temperatures of around 40 degrees, this is the place for you.

But even if, like me, you don’t, then rest assured that Sharm could only be more air conditioned if they erected giant wind machines on the streets – and even in the absence of those cold windmills, the evenings still are balmingly comfortable with all of the shops, pubs and nightclubs you could ever need doing a roaring trade into the small hours of the morning.

We stayed at the Ghazala Gardens Hotel – a resort with enough to keep you fully occupied even if you never exited its grand front doors.

The food was varied with seven restaurants on site offering European dishes or specialist eateries with Italian pizza or Mexican fajitas, a variety of fish dishes and all of the fresh, crisp salad your little heart could desire.

The rooms were spacious, luxurious and fully air-conditioned; the staff were ultra-friendly and yet reserved – and with the all inclusive package that most tourists opted for, you could eat and drink as much as you wanted without worrying about the incurring cost.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

One person’s useless tat is another’s stuff of dreams

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

The world is divided into two kinds of people; those who like to live in a world of clean, white lines and minimal clutter – and those of us who just love accumulating stuff.

Stuff covers a multitude, which – depending on your perspective – might be alternatively defined as either the souvenirs or detritus of your life.

Books, match programmes, concert ticket stubs, seashells, Dinky cars, beer mats…it’s all stuff that one person wants to treasure and the other, invariably, wants to throw straight out in the bin.

And it’s at the core of a fair percentage of domestic differences too – ‘it’s my stuff’; ‘don’t move my stuff’; ‘your stuff is taking over the house’ – because, for every hoarder, there’s an aspiring Marie Kondo who wants to take minimalism to new heights.

Attics are invariably full of stuff that hasn’t seen the light of day in years; old cardboard boxes of childhood toys, suitcases packed with dusty photo albums, boxes of video cassettes for which there is no longer a VCR; clothes that you didn’t want but also didn’t want to throw out – and it’s only a matter of time before they’re back in fashion and you’ll have shed the three stone it would take to close the zipper.

Overall, it’s the kind of stuff that you hoped you’d get back to and wallow in nostalgia, years after you consigned it to the darkest recesses of the eaves.

Those who abhor clutter have a different approach, working on the basis that – if you have stuff stored in a box and you don’t open that box for three years – you don’t need that stuff anymore.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Sense of belonging that brings it all back home

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

It was a chat with a ‘Galwegian in exile’ that brought it all home to me; although now domiciled in the capital for more years than he’d lived in the west, he was delighted to bring his Dublin-born daughter to the All-Ireland Football Final wearing her maroon jersey.

To be honest, she’d probably have gone to Croke Park dressed as Elsa from Frozen because it was just a day out – but Daddy couldn’t have been prouder if his eleven-year-old came on for Damien Comer with five minutes to go.

The sense of place is understandable when it comes to ourselves as born-and-bred Galwegians, because while you can change where you live as often as you like, even if you wanted to, you can never change where you’re from.

But trying to impose your own geographical heritage on the next generation is alternatively seen as understandable and a little selfish at the same time.

It’s a topic for discussion in our own house on occasion because while the two lads grew up in Galway, they were in fact born in Dublin – and if they want to pull my chain, all they have to do is remind of that fact.

My reply is a tired and stock one, to the effect that although Jesus was born in a stable, nobody ever suggested that made him a horse.

The more serious point is that you are shaped by your formative years rather than the maternity hospital of your arrival – and those years were spent in Galway.

Galway is their point of reference for sport and music and school friends and nights out and pubs and college – and almost everything else that really matters.

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

Gaeltacht days – and a rite of passage to remember forever

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

A scholarship to Irish College wasn’t so much a backhanded compliment as an inverted acknowledgement of your grasp of the language – in other words you got one because you were bordering on useless, or to put it more diplomatically you’d benefit more than the rest from a couple of weeks of immersion in your native tongue.

Only it then transpired that the experience of three weeks in the Gaeltacht taught you that going there had a small bit to do with learning Irish for sure – but a whole lot to do with growing up, or at least beginning that blossoming process.

And you would do all this in an atmosphere as alien to your small teenage self as free elections are to the people of Russia; céilís, cispheil, comhra agus craic – as well as an Irish language version of the Streets of London written and taught to us by Art Ó Dufaigh that still lives in the memory bank, even longer than Ralph McTell’s original.

The truth, when you get there, is the realisation that three weeks in the Gaeltacht is a little like a week at the Galway Races or the Rose of Tralee; just as the horses or the Roses are ostensibly the reason for going, they’re really just the hook to get you there.

And so it is that you go to the Gaeltacht to learn the language but you come home having learned so much more.

My Gaeltacht summer was at the tail end of the seventies with three weeks in Beal a’ Dangan and céilís in Nestor’s Hall, brought there in a bus by a young man called Máirtín Tom Sheáinín who would go on to enjoy a stellar career as a broadcaster – particularly presenting Comhrá – but was back then a knacky driver with a dream, traversing windy roads in pitch darkness.

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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