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Being slagged in public is the greatest honour !

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I’ve been lucky enough to live in many English speaking countries, yet the friendships I’ve forged while living in Ireland are matched only by those struck in the heat of my London youth.

Whether from Australia, America, my native England or adopted Ireland, all my friends are capable of slagging. They have to be. What’s the use of investing all that time and trust in someone if you can’t make them laugh by tearing them to pieces?

Nobody personifies the Irish art of slagging better than my excellent friend The Body. Hanging his humour on the Continental Divide between absurdity and wisdom, there’s a dryness to his wit that’s akin to having emery paper dragged across your private bits. His slaggings hurt, make you think, then laugh self-deprecatingly and on the way they teach you something about yourself.

To slag is to attack with affection, and it only really works when reciprocated. In my experience, English and Irish people enjoy and rely on slagging more than any from other nations. At risk of churning the stomachs of the Shinner-inclined amongst you, I think it’s part of our collective culture.

Our differences are mostly the result of our histories, because the humans standing in Irish and English fields and cities are not so very different: aggressive; witty; warriors who have survived invasion, we need to know we can bluster and barrage our way through friendships, free from fear of offending.

Indeed, as an Englishman living in the West of Ireland, I’ve been the victim of fairly hysterical and frequently historical Irish slagging for over two decades now, and when it has been delivered well, I’ve enjoyed it.

Slagging without humour quickly becomes abuse, but thankfully most of the time, it makes me laugh, so I take it on the chin.

In return, apart from occasionally pointing out in this colyoom one or two minor Irish idiosyncrasies that upset or amuse me, I’ve enjoyed gentle slagging pleasure by referring to ‘Double Vision’ as ‘this colyoom’.

In October 1992 I was two months off the boat, writing in this noble rag about my efforts to make sense of my new home. Ireland was so incredibly similar to England, yet enigmatically and vitally different.

People were coming up to me in the street saying they had enjoyed my colyoom.

“My what?”

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

When it’s all said and done there was no show like the Joe show!

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Joe Canning with the Liam McCarthy Cup and his nephew Jack Canning holding the Irish Press Cup after Galway completed the senior and minor All-Ireland double at Croke Park in September of 2017. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

WITH Galway supporters still coming to terms with Joe Canning’s retirement from inter-county hurling last week, we wonder will it lead to an explosion of interest in Portumna’s county championship campaigns over the coming years?

That scenario would be partially the legacy of Covid-19, bearing in mind that for the past 18 months the Galway hurlers have been playing, for the most part, behind closed doors. Sure, there might have been a couple of thousand fans witnessing the team’s recent championship exit to Waterford in Thurles, but basically Canning and the Tribesmen have been operating in front of empty stands.

It meant supporters were denied the opportunity of watching a sporting legend in the flesh as his inter-county career reached a conclusion– a player who was already established as a hurling immortal through his extraordinary deeds since bursting on the scene at elite level in 2008.

Canning is arguably the highest profile player in the game over the past 20 years. Henry Shefflin won a lot more with Kilkenny, notably a staggering 10 All-Ireland senior medals, but there was probably greater fascination in his sharpshooting counterpart from Galway who will be 33 in October.

Long before he almost beat Cork single-handedly in an All-Ireland qualifier in Thurles in 2008, we knew something special had emerged from the townland of Gortanumera. He had already won two All-Ireland minor medals and that Autumn would collect his third senior championship with Portumna.

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

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

O’Malley left a lasting mark on Ireland’s political stage

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Bridie O’Flaherty with Des O'Malley and Bobby Molloy at the Progressive Democrats launch in Leisureland.

World of Politics with Harry McGee

Desmond O’Malley was not a typical politician. He was never a glad-handler; not a fan of canvassing or indulging in small talk or being all things to all people.

He smoked like a trooper until he had to give up. He could be abrupt with people, to the point of rudeness.

When his successor Mary Harney was a Minister in the Coalition that banned smoking in pubs and other indoor areas, he told her straight out: “I never thought you would become a member of a Taliban government.”

But he was a remarkable politician. They talk of the best hurlers and footballers who never won All Irelands; O’Malley was certainly among those select few politicians who could have been – and perhaps should have been – Taoiseach.

He entered politics as a young man, succeeding his enigmatic uncle, Donagh O’Malley as a TD for Limerick East at the age of 29. And from the outset, he was a favourite of Taoiseach Jack Lynch and was made government chief whip in 1969.

Inevitably, when the arms trial erupted, he sided with Lynch and against Charles Haughey and Niall Blaney. Even in the weeks before his death, he vehemently contested claims that Lynch must have known of the arms plot long before the date set out by him in his public statements.

As Minister for Justice from 1970 to 1973, he established the Special Criminal Court, giving him a strong reputation as a politician who was adamantly opposed to the Provisional IRA and all it stood for.

Within Fianna Fáil, O’Malley was intimately associated with the Lynch and George Colley wing of the party. He himself was deeply involved in the three unsuccessful heaves and campaigns against Haughey that took place during the tumultuous years between 1979 and 1985.

But Haughey had the whip hand in the party in those days, no matter how flagrant the abuse or how big the scandal.

Read Harry’s 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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