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How tables were turned on cultural snobbery

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Joe Steve Ó Neachtain who opened the Oireachtas in 1974, with Máire Denvir, Donncha Ó hEallaithe and Brian Ó Cuív; all are members of this year’s committee. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Lifestyle –  Judy Murphy talks to the people behind the 1974 feat of bringing the Oireachtas to Connemara

”It was the first traffic jam we ever had in Connemara,” says actor, author and activist Joe Steve Ó Neachtain as he recalls the historic moment in September 1974 when the country’s biggest Irish-language cultural festival, Oireachtas na Gaeilge, came to the Gaeltacht for the first time.

Oireachtas na Gaeilge was founded in Dublin in the 1890s, as part of the Celtic Revival, which also saw the establishment of the Abbey Theatre. It promoted the Irish language via music, singing and drama competitions. After declining in the early years of the Free State it was re-established in 1939.

Ironically, while it was all about celebrating and promoting culture through Irish, the Oireachtas had not once been held in the Gaeltacht until 1974, says Joe Steve, who as a young man was one of the responsible for changing that situation, as well as a great deal more in Ireland’s Gaeltacht areas.

Joe Steve, now 72, was a member of a group called Coiste Cearta Síbialta na Gaeilge, set up in the late 1960s to highlight the decline of the Irish language and campaign for greater rights for Irish-speaking areas. Their campaigns – often militant – led to the establishment of Raidió na Gaeltachta and Údarás na Gaeltachta, and also saw the Oireachtas come home to the Gaeltacht.

“There was a time when you had to take a stand,” says Joe Steve, who was on the committee that brought that first Oireachtas to Connemara in 1974.

This weekend, he will be one of those marking that milestone, when Oireachtas Chois Fharraige takes place in South Connemara. Oireachtas Chois Fharraige, celebrating the first ever Oireachtas to take place outside Dublin, will include concerts, films, debates and fun, but no competitions. Those will be left for the annual Oireachtas na Gaeilge, taking place in Killarney at the end of October.

After the 1974 Connemara Oireachtas broke the mould, a tradition was established to move the cultural gathering to different towns and cities. Oireachtas na Gaeilge is so big these days that many Gaeltacht areas don’t have the facilities to accommodate it and Killarney is a popular venue.

Breaking the mould was what Coiste Cearta Síbialta na Gaeilge was all about – and with good reason, says Joe Steve.

“Everyone else in my class at school emigrated, and that was from primary school; we didn’t go to secondary.”

He, too, would have taken that path except his father died when Joe Steve was nine and the youngster became responsible for the family farm. “It was an 18-acre stone farm, but my parents had knocked a living out of it,” he says.

Having made the decision to stay, it became vital to take a stand. The Cois Fharraige area was in dire need of second-level education facilities, families had no running water, no work, no sports facilities, and no radio station, he says. And despite a lot of lip service to Irish, there seemed to be little respect for the people who were keeping the language alive.

“When we had any kind of an examination at school, it was always someone from outside coming to see if we could speak Irish properly and not to see if we could speak English at all,” Joe Steve recalls.

“Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael owned the place and it was unusual for young people to take a stand. We were unruly alright!”

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

CITY TRIBUNE

Living with the ignominy of anonymity on social media

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Country Living with Francis Farragher

Technically, I am on Facebook and Twitter, but I can never seem to quite motivate myself to tell all my virtual friends that my dog has overeaten today; that the cat has disappeared again without a word of explanation; or that the neighbour down the road is driving out in a brand-new car.

At times, I imagine that I’m suffering from some type of serious personality disorder because of my failure to get excited about sharing the most boring details of my daily chores with a cohort of people, some of whose names I am familiar with, while others could have no possible connection to my existence on this planet.

Mind you, I bear no animosity towards those people who want to befriend me via the world of fibre optics and instant communication from any part of the globe, but neither do I harbour any great desire to start up conversations about the banalities of life.

It really is bad enough to have to endure and survive those tribulations every day without having to trouble my newly-acquired set of friends – that I don’t know – with the details of how good or bad my day has been.

I’m sure that there are super ‘shrinks’ out there who will make a case for the virtue of being able to share your daily woes and wonders with those in the world of cyber space, but a thousand Facebook communications (not that I’ll ever make them) just can never compensate me for a face-to-face interaction with an old friend or even a regular verbal sparring partner in the local watering hole, who can jibe me about some alleged minor transgression on my part over recent times.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Huge study gives thumbs up to dairy in the diet

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Health, Beauty and Lifestyle with Denise McNamara

Every time I go to a café, I am amazed by the offering now available for people who no longer want to add milk to their brew. Even in the tiniest of coffee kiosks, they stock oat, soy or almond milk as an alternative to cow’s milk, usually for a surcharge of around 50c, reflecting the high cost of these alternatives.

The big food companies have lately got in on the act, offering non-dairy yogurts in the convenient small pots in most supermarkets. Customers no longer have to head to the health store for these premium, specialist products.

The trend to non-dairy and vegan diets – which means no animal products at all – has certainly become mainstream among Generation Z and Millennials.

But is it good for your health?

A comprehensive new study originating in Sweden would suggest otherwise – at least when it comes to the consumption of dairy.

The international team of scientists studied the dairy fat consumption of 4,150 adults aged 60 living in Sweden which has the world’s highest levels of dairy production and consumption.

They measured blood levels of a particular fatty acid that is mostly found in dairy foods rather than relying on people recording the amounts and types of dairy foods eaten, which may be unreliable given that dairy is commonly used in a variety of foods.

Experts then followed this group for an average of 16 years to observe how many died, had heart attacks, strokes and other conditions indicating cardiovascular disease (CVD). After statistically adjusting for other known CVD risk factors such as age, income, lifestyle, dietary habits, they concluded that those with higher intakes of dairy fat had a lower risk of CVD compared to those with low intakes.

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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Galway in Days Gone By

Galway In Days Gone By

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At the official opening of the new tile factory in Portumna on January 13, 1967.

1921

Tenants’ desperation

That the land question is far from settled in certain areas is obvious to those who have been reading the series of articles contributed to these columns by a correspondent in South Galway. The slowness of the Congested Districts Board has been proverbial.

Our correspondent suggests that failure to effect local settlements within a reasonable time, coupled with the inefficiency he charges, have brought about a condition of discontent which may result in a violent explosion at any moment.

No one could contemplate with equanimity such an outburst, for it might have an effect far beyond that intended and might endanger national peace at a period when its preservation is of supreme moment to the Irish people.

But it would seem indisputable that the Congested Districts Board is taking risks that no public body is entitled to take; and the completion of the division of the estates involved should be pushed forward in the public interest without further unnecessary delay.

The tenants on the Ardilaun estate at Cong have already taken the matter into their own hands. At a meeting attended by congests, some of whom walked fifteen miles to be present, it was declared that all confidence had been lost in the Congested Districts Board “which has long since practically ceased to function on this estate” and the tenants requested Dáil Éireann to take over the administration.

The facts in regard to the Ardilaun property are sufficiently remarkable to afford in themselves a damnatory criticism of the Board’s methods. It contains seven hundred householders, whose average valuation is from 15s. to £3. Congestion and poverty is abound; there is little untenanted land to relieve either.

Migration of bodies of tenants is the only real and permanent remedy. But nine years after the late Lord Ardilaun expressed his desire to sell, the Congested Districts Board has not, it would appear, put forward any real effort to relieve a distressing situation.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

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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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