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The Leaving Cert nightmare that refuses to go to sleep

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Country Living with Francis Farragher

I HAD a dream the other night – no, not the Martin Luther King type – but it’s one  that has recurred fairly regularly since a June day back in the mid-1970s when I sat in the gym area of Tuam CBS trying to grind out a result from the Leaving Cert of that year. There is really no other exam that leaves such an impression as the Leaving Certificate. Diplomas, degrees, masters and PhDs may come and go for the luckier ones, but the exam that never seems to leave the mind’s eye is the Leaving Cert and its association with the longer days of Summer.

My problem the other night when the sub-conscious had assumed control of the mind in the hours of deepest sleep, was that once more, I was sitting at the lonely single desk in the Tuam CBS gym with a higher level (honours we used to call it in my day) Irish paper in front of me.

For the life of me, I couldn’t understand why I had opted for the higher-level paper (a C in ordinary level Irish was the height of my ‘Gaeilge’ achievements in the real world), and despite a detailed perusal of all questions on the paper, I didn’t understand one single word of Irish that confronted me, not alone to answer any of the questions.

I managed to make a temporary escape from the exam hall (all these things are possible in the world of dreamland) but discovered to my horror that when I went to elicit information from passersby, no one had a clue what I was on about, and to make matters worse I had forgotten the exam paper.

A brother of mine – long since then departed this world – then arrived on the scene and attempted to give me a crash course in Irish that would enable me to make a stab at some of the questions but my great fear was that I was about to set a national record for the lowest ever marks achieved by a student sitting the Leaving Cert honours Irish paper. For some reason, a huge ‘4%’ figure kept appearing in front of me. The return to the exam hall though was ignominious with some illegible notes written on the skin area, from wrist to elbow, that turned out to be no help at all to me.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Country Living

Bemoaning loss of innocence in a sport driven by big bucks

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Brazil dazzled the world of football in 1970 with their mix of pace, grace and sheer footballing class.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

I’m not big into trying to resolve the huge issues of the world like wars, climate change or attempting to dethrone the obnoxious Elon Musks of this world, primarily on the basis that my influence would be akin to a moth trying to stop a herd of charging elephants.

And, I suppose at this stage, I have to accept that it’s far too late to try and call a halt to the World Cup proceedings in Qatar but for the life of me, the event doesn’t even send a sliver of enthusiasm through my nervous system.

Maybe, it’s an old-fashioned streak that’s there inside of me, but the thought of watching World Cup matches in the run-up to Christmas just doesn’t seem right. Okay, so it will be about 30°C in the heart of the Qatar desert but watching a World Cup semi-final in the middle of the Christmas office party is just a stretch too far for me.

Alas, World Cup memories go back a long way with me to a late Sunday in July 1966 when as a ‘small boy’ I was given the job of ‘minding’ the house while the ‘rest of them’ saved a small field of hay a couple of miles away from the house.

Of course, at the time there wasn’t even a faint chance of a black-and-white TV in the house, while visits to any abode that might have a telly, were strictly confined to a Sunday with the stipulation that Galway footballers had to be involved.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Country Living

Long gone are the days of penance and sacrifice

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Country Living with Francis Farragher

THE year 2022 seems to be freewheeling along at an alarmingly fast rate with our good Summer and long sunny days now just a distant memory as we tread through the gloomier and danker days of November. Already the talk is of Santa Claus, Christmas parties and shopping expeditions, while the opening of the seasonal outdoor market in Eyre Square on this Friday is ushering gently – but quite quickly also – into the season of goodwill.

There was a time when November tended to be the Winter equivalent of the Lenten period in late Spring, with various people giving up little vices in preparation for the season of Advent which clicks in on the last Sunday of the month.

It was also a month when some of us would invariably make the ‘huge effort’ to ‘give up the drink’ but as the years pass, one of the commitments I make to myself, is that I’m too long in the tooth to be making  sacrifices that are just a step too far.

I’m making an effort at present to read a Dermot Whelan book, ‘Mind Full’ – quite an enjoyable and insightful read – where he devotes a chapter to the impact that the ‘Demon Drink’ can have on our lives.

One of the conclusions he came up with was that giving up drink for a period of one month was quite a fruitless exercise – even self-defeating – as when the penitent returned to the pint, as on Easter Sunday after Lent or December 1 in the wake of the November drought, larger than ever amounts would be consumed. (For the record, his recommendation for a meaningful break from ‘the pint’ would be a period of one-year – now that would be a real tester).

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

Changing times in that trawl for a perfect mate

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Jon Kenny and Norma Sheahan in a scene from The Matchmaker: Only the means and methods of meeting have changed since the 1960s.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

There’s an old country saying of: “When God made them, he matched them,” and often one not used in a complimentary tone back the years when I’d hear my father or mother, or the neighbours, dissecting the travails of a couple not renowned for their tolerance or understanding of each other’s way.

Tales would emerge of how couples had been matched up,– sometimes with bad light and the cover of darkness being used to camouflage the more obvious physical defects of one of the parties – but even if the pairing was made in the shade, honour would prevent it from being undone, when the next viewing occurred during the reality of daylight.

A couple of weeks back, I took one of those far too infrequent visits to the Town Hall Theatre in the city of Galway (accompanied) to take one of those steps back in time to watch one of the late John B. Keane’s classic compositions, The Matchmaker.

Maybe, not a production to everyone’s liking on the basis of slightly coarse language and a cluster of sexual innuendos, but you’d want to be in a seriously bad humour, not to burst into fits of laughter at the antics of Jon Kenny and Norma Sheahan.

It was a tonic for both body and soul, although at an early stage of the performance four or five people took to the exit doors, two of them having to climb over the backs of their seats, to escape from the devilish and irreverent prose of the Listowel playwright.

While there is of course the funny side to the whole business of matchmaking, that mirth could also conceal a deep-rooted loneliness felt by many people in rural Ireland, often bachelor farmers of reasonable means and appearance, who had a longing to spend the rest of their days with a companion (in those days always a female) to stoke the fire, share the household duties and maybe enjoy ‘a bit of fun’ as well.

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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