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Country Living

Still torn between Patrick’s faith and bawdy bashes of the Celts

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Country Living with Francis Farragher

I seem to be hit with some quare afflictions when it comes to drink. Most of the time, it seems to be a longing to get my hands on the stuff but there are days in the year, when I have a strong inclination not to go near the demon.

These days include the big ‘set-pieces’ like St. Stephen’s Day, Hurdle Day at the Galway Races, the evening of the traditional builders’ ‘break-up’ for the Summer Holidays and of course the biggest one of the whole lot, namely St. Patrick’s Day.

Our national feast day seems to have come around with something of an indecent haste as it is only like yesterday that we were preparing for ‘the Christmas’, but alas the more mileage that mounts on the clock, the quicker the pace of time seems to be.

Now next Saturday, St. Patrick’s Day will get ticked off the calendar, and at least for this year, it has the advantage of being a weekend date that won’t involve any serious disruption of the work schedule, apart that is from an extra Bank Holiday Monday this year, and that in itself is a nice little sweetener after a tough Spring.

So, why is there this inclination to stay away from the counter area on a day when the most sensible of men (and women too), seem to throw caution to the wind and chance a few ‘extra ones’ in honour of the man credited with bringing Christianity to our shores.

From a historical context there is nothing to suggest that Patrick or Patricius (Latin version of the name) had any interest whatsoever in the local Irish liquors or wines: he probably had little time for such excesses given that we all had to be ‘saved’ following our previously heathen and pagan ways.

But now, a March 17 cannot pass it seems without the shamrock being drowned – often before the dinner – an early morning experience that can have a serious impact on the imbiber by the time the evening Angelus bell sounds.

I’ve been in establishments down through the years where by early afternoon All-Irelands and county finals have been won at the counter; where the country’s economic woes have been cured in the space of three or four sentences; where ballad singers of Ronnie Drew notions emerge from the corners of bars; and where some family ‘stain’ of generations past is brought up in a less than complimentary manner.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Country Living

A welcome for humble February as we bid adieu to darker days

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February: A hint of spring being in the air.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

On one of the dying mornings of January as I listened to Marty Whelan on Lyric FM while stuck in the now inevitable morning traffic jam heading into the Coolagh Roundabout on the east side of Galway city, he said that there always seemed to be around 10 weeks in our first month    of the year.

And even though I regularly bemoan how quickly time is passing, January is a month that I have no great grá for, and that’s probably in common with a lot of other humans in the northern hemisphere – always good to see the back of it.

It’s a month that never seems to brighten up and especially so in the mornings with our sunrises almost doggedly refusing to surrender to the inevitable stretch in the days even if the evenings are a bit more receptive to the reawakening sun.

Maybe it’s just coincidence or morbidity but most families I know of seem to have lost loved back through the years in January with The Grim Reaper having the habit of making regular calls during the first 31 days of the year.

February though is a far friendlier creature as our sunrises pull back well before the 8am mark while, by the end of the month, the sunsets have the manners to wait for the Angelus bells to be rung before going to slumberland.

Our second month can of course deliver its harsh spells of weather but if we’re lucky enough to have the weather gods smiling upon us with a sense of benignity then it can help to give us the feeling that the worst of the season of darkness is over.

While our meteorologists will assign the first day of spring as March 1 – based on empirical temperature data for November, December and January – as innocent fledglings of the 1960s, we were always assured by the Franciscans that St. Brigid’s Day marked the end of the winter season.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Country Living

Trying to get it correct all of the time is a waste of energy

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Six-of-one and a half-dozen of the other.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

Political correctness was never a term I was familiar with as a kid, and maybe just as well, thinking back on some of the stuff we used to come out with.

We learned nursery rhymes where the ‘N word’ featured through 10 verses in a row without even having the remotest clue this was offensive in any way.

Travellers for examples during the 1960s were referred to with the other T word which at the time, to the best of my childhood memory, did not have any derogatory connotation.

They were regular callers to our house when around the area and never left emptyhanded due to the good nature of my late mother.

Euan McColl, that great singer/songwriter of the liberal left even used the old T word in his tribute song to the life and ways of Travellers contained the line:

‘All you freeborn men of the travelling people,

Every tinker, rolling stone and gypsy rover,”

With the passing of time of course, we’ve all had to clean up our vocabularies and with good reason too. Frequently, words used to describe people of a certain colour, religion, way of life or sexual orientation were used in the context of prejudice and hatred which just had to change.

I’ve often said in social discourse over a pint of plain that Ireland is a far nicer country to live in now that it was when I was a child of the 1960s.

This was still the era of corporal punishment in schools – and worse too in cases as has been well documented – while woe betide any single young woman who got pregnant, or any family who had a member with a mental health issue or one of sexual orientation differing from the norm.

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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Country Living

Tricks, trials and traps of nurturing our memories

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Country Living with Francis Farragher

Memory is a strange old business and sometimes quite an uncomfortable investigative process with the passing of years. We all tend to get a bit worried when a name of someone reasonably familiar to us, just simply won’t come into our heads.

One of the little consolations I nurture, more in hope than in empirical logic, is that even when I was a ‘garsún’ attending national school, I had the habit of leaving things behind me for no good reason.

Even a decade or so after that, forgetting to get the Sweet Afton cigarettes for my mother after a few pints in the local – which in those days doubled up as a grocery outlet and public house – drew a fair measure of maternal wrath upon my young shoulders.

Then there’s the recurring daily problem of trying to figure out what some of the least used keys are for, on a ridiculously overcrowded keyring, while all the time vowing to eliminate at least 25% of the out-of-date ‘door openers’ from the collection.

A few years back, I remember some guy on the radio who knew about all things related to memory and good mental agility, saying that there wasn’t really a serious problem in trying to regularly sort out key IDs. However, he did point out – rather chillingly – that if you looked at your bunch of keys and wondered what they were for, then you were in trouble.

As we get older and want to forget issues about our own finitude (a fancy word for ‘the end’) the annoying search for mobile phones, car keys, wallets, glasses, scarves, caps and even jackets sends little worries through our dwindling brain reserves that things aren’t really getting any better.

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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