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The abused phrase that leaves you Ð literally Ð fuming



Date Published: {J}

Is there a more abused word in the world of broadcasting than ‘literally’? Because it seems that there is an unwritten rule that you must use it for emphasis in – literally – at least every third sentence you utter.

And invariably it’s in the wrong context – because what the broadcaster really means is ‘metaphorically’ or ‘figuratively’ or even ‘actually’ although they shouldn’t have to resort to that space filler either.

Of course they take their cue from the rest of us who seem to buy time mid-sentence by sticking in the word ‘literally’ in the mistaken belief that it either underlines your point or takes it on to a whole higher level.

Because when was the last time a man literally had a canary? How do you literally get to your wit’s end? When did the economy literally take two steps forward and one step back? And if a Government thinks it can solve our financial woes by literally kicking the can down the road, shouldn’t someone pull them up for littering?

How do you literally keep someone on tenterhooks?

When did you find the time to literally see that movie a million times? And were you not afraid of the danger of literally laughing your head off?

Then there was the woman who literally threw herself at men – the ability to throw oneself at anything should mean this woman is a national hero rather than a metaphorical tramp. And what about the male equivalent, who was literally caught with his pants down?

A speeding driver who was literally flying down the road is actually a pilot. A man who literally tears the head off another man in an argument is a murderer. You may literally devour your dinner, but you’ll get chronic indigestion if you literally devour a book.

If a movie was literally heartbreaking, it should carry a health warning – and if its main star is literally making a name for his or herself or literally carving out a career, then they are clearly handy with a piece of pliable wood.

But if they literally put their heart and soul into their screen or stage performance, wouldn’t they then have a chronic medical difficulty living and breathing long enough to reap the reward of their incredible commitment.

Have you ever seen someone who literally pulled themselves up by their bootstraps?

The only people literally freezing to death are those who are actually suffering from hypothermia – although they might also be those people who are literally jumping out of their skin.

But even the coldest of weather isn’t the most dangerous time to go outdoors – you need to take extra care when it’s literally raining cats and dogs….not least if you’re a dog.

Politicians are chronic abusers of the word as well; Osama Bin Laden may at different stages actually have had blood on his hands, but he didn’t literally have the blood of thousands of Americans despite what the pro-war lobby might have you believe.

But that pales beside the proclamation of former US Presidential candidate Gary Hart – a man who frequently visited Oughterard and Connemara as a Senator – who blamed reporters for destroying his presidential prospects by revealing his sexual peccadilloes, exclaiming: “I saw journalists become animals, literally.”

Metaphorically he would not have been wrong, but that sort of transformation belongs in Twilight or other werewolf offerings aimed at teenagers on the small screen.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.


For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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Archive News

Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup



Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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