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Sombre lesson of the Somme still lives on

Francis Farragher

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Battle of the Somme, July 1, 1916 to November 18, 1916: 141 days of the greatest slaughter that the world has ever known on the fields of Southern Belgium and Northern France.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

The older we get the more we tend to reflect back on our younger days and I remember through the 1960s many references being made at the kitchen table to elderly men still living in the area who had served in the first world war.

They were spoken of almost in hushed tones, as if they had done something wrong or as if there was some terrible blob on their character, but it’s only with the passing of time, that the realisation dawned of what those unfortunate souls went through.

History was really at its cruellest when thousands of young Irish men, many of them just boys, enrolled in the British Army, feeling that it was their patriotic duty to do so and take on a German army that had pillaged its way through Belgium and France, committing some terrible atrocities along the way.

To enlist was considered to be the loyal, manly and even the patriotic thing to do, but through the course of the Great War, the course of Irish history was to change inexorably, with the 1916 Rising and the reigniting of the Irish nationalist cause.

But for a moment, put yourself in the shoes of the young Galway soldier lucky enough to have survived battles like Gallipoli and The Somme, returning home on the run-up to Christmas 1918, shortly after the war had ended.

These soldiers had survived hell on earth and even those who had escaped life maiming injuries were still traumatised. We were told as children that these ex-soldiers were ‘shell-shocked’ and ‘were never right since’ [the war], but if that wasn’t bad enough, they came home as outcasts and as local representatives of British imperialism.

Talk about all your misfortunes landing down on top of you, but those unfortunate survivors then had to try and return to some normality as the Irish War of Independence swung into action, and the campaign began in earnest to at last break away from the clasp of Britannia.

One of those ex-soldiers in my neck of the woods at Ballyglunin, who was given the nickname of ‘Mulligan’, ended up homeless and living out the rest of this days with only the dripping stones of the ‘dry eye’ of a bridge on the River Abbert for shelter.

He had a pension from the war, and drank most of it, with the balance being spent on a few loaves of bread to give him sustenance, and my father on returning from the local on a weekend night, would relay some tale told by ‘Mulligan’ about surviving machine gun fire and exploding shells.

CITY TRIBUNE

Culture Minister avoided Galway for 2020 re-launch

Dara Bradley

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Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

It wasn’t just the public who was confused about Galway 2020’s messaging last year, its main funder, Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht Sport and Media, had reservations, too.

On August 11, Sarah McDonagh, then PR manager with Galway 2020, emailed Department officials a copy of the announcement of the European Capital of Culture’s ‘re-imagined programme’, that was due to be unveiled two days later.

It was sent in advance to be vetted by the GIS, Government Information Services, which controls and syncs the messaging of Government.

Department official Sinéad O’Hara replied “with some suggestions”.

She pointed to two paragraphs in the proposed press statement, “which seems to infer in some cases that there can be a choice to attend events in person or online.”

“This will need to be cleared up,” said Sinéad, who kindly offered her help.

Sarah wasn’t so sure, though. “We gave a lot of consideration to the wording around this section, for the reasons you’ve identified,” she wrote in reply.

“We believe that we’ve made the necessary distinction. For example, we’ve stated that audiences will be able to experience ‘elements of the programme online’ and include ‘both live and digital components’, so we haven’t stated anywhere that a project can be experienced in its entirety online and in person.”

So that’s okay then! Nonetheless, Sarah invited Sinéad to “identify where you have specific concerns and we can review”.

The “minor” changes relayed by Sinéad, were subsequently accepted by GIS and Galway 2020.

Meanwhile, Sarah McDonagh, in her original email, had said that Galway 2020, “would be delighted if you could support the announcement across your social (media) channels”.

Sinéad confirmed the Department would support the launch on its social media.

“We are not yet clear if the Minister will directly tweet as she is officially on leave. However, we have enquired about a tweet welcoming the programme announcement and will hopefully hear back,” she added.

Glancing back at Minister Catherine Martin’s tweets from last August, there’s no sign she composed one to welcome the programme announcement.

Minister Martin did find time to tweet “well done” to a local soccer club in Dundrum, which she was visiting on August 13. It had organised, “fantastic summer camps for boys and girls from the community and beyond!”

Soon after, Minister Martin, a Green Party TD, headed off on her holidays – but not to the European Capital of Culture!

The family staycation was apparently supposed to take place in Galway, but the plan changed, according to internal emails released under Freedom of Information (FOI).

Christine Sisk of Culture Ireland emailed an official in Minister Martin’s Department, Conor Falvey, to confirm that she would keep them in the loop regarding media interest in the Galway 2020 re-launch.

“Are there still plans for her (the Minister) to go to Galway?” Christine asked.

“I don’t think so. I think she may be in Clare over the weekend and in Kerry next week,” he replied.
For more Bradley Bytes, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Inconsistent Covid restrictions just driving people up the walls

John McIntyre

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Galway WFC's Lynsey McKey in action against Paula Doran of Bohemians during Saturday's National League tie at Eamonn Deacy Park. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

OUR patience with Ireland’s ongoing battle against Covid-19 is running out. We are tired of the constant negative narrative, the scaremongering and regular qualification of any good news. The Government and NPHET continue to kill the morale of their own people with inconsistent coronavirus restrictions.

We can be in the middle of one wave of the virus and the prophets of doom are already warning about the next one. Caution has been taken to extremes and it’s only driving a large proportion of the population up the walls, especially those involved with sport. Some of the restrictions are now doing more harm than good.

The danger of sticking your head above the parapet is that you are immediately accused of not respecting or ignoring a public health emergency; that you are in some way complicit in keeping the virus on these shores longer than necessary; that you are indifferent to the suffering of thousands of families who have lost loved ones due to Covid-19.

I get that, but I am none of the above. I belong to a large cohort of people who are applying logic and common sense to what is going on. For instance, there is no earthly good reason why golf courses and tennis courts have to remain out of bounds until near the end of the month, or why team sport – at all levels – played outdoors isn’t also back up and running, at least in terms of training.

We are constantly told that being outdoors reduces the risk of virus transmissions significantly; that it is a much safer environment compared to indoor settings. Yet, the Government and NPHET are not helping us practice what they preach. There are thousands of young sports people all over the country who are being driven close to insanity; cooked up with little to do.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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

Mighty oaks put us in our place with their majesty

Dave O'Connell

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

Michel Barnier became one of the most recognisable faces on the European political stage as he thrashed out a deal on Brexit – but the good news for him through all of those interminable negotiations is that he had one weekly habit to keep him sane.

Because every weekend that he can, he drives from Brussels to his family house deep in the French countryside – and while he is there, he makes a pilgrimage to a four century old enormous oak tree.

The EU’s Chief Negotiator on Brexit is a very private man, but his passion for trees shows – and this isn’t meant to be funny – how anchored are his roots. Because while the tree in itself is a thing of beauty, he sees it more as a symbol of life.

“When you are in front of a tree in a forest, you measure time. The roots are strong and these are trees that have seen generations pass by,” he says.

The other attraction of trees is obvious – a chance to escape the spotlight for a man who might otherwise live in its perpetual glare, after 50 years in politics.

“I think a lot when I’m in a forest. I need to see trees. Old trees have always inspired me,” he says.

“When you are in politics, you have to love people first. You can’t do politics if you don’t love people, but you must also have moments of perspective, of historical distance. From this point of view, trees are a symbol for me.”

And of all trees, none quite signifies a real presence like the mighty oak – majestic when it’s mature, it brings home to you every time that you’re just passing through and it will be here long after you’re gone.

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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