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The pathway to perfect happiness Ð turn off your phone

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Date Published: 03-Apr-2013

 We’ve all seen it – two people sitting across from each other in a restaurant, utterly engaged in conversation…..only not with each other, but on their phones.

They won’t necessarily be shouting into their mobiles, but vigorously texting is just as bad and just as anti-social. And yet it’s like cutting off your right hand – how could you get through an entire meal without it?

I’ve done it myself, but not frequently – and I’ve sat there with five or six people where four of them were on the phone.

It’s not like they were in school and weren’t allowed to use their mobiles for the four hours before lunch – it’s just habit as much as anything else, but at least one expert says it doesn’t make you happy.

Apparently we would all be much more content if we turned off our mobiles and concentrated on friends and family rather than checking emails and text messages.

This is according to an acknowledged expert on happiness; Professor Paul Dolan, of the London School of Economics, is also a former member of the British Cabinet Office’s Behavioural Insight Team, or Nudge Unit, which suggests ways people can make small changes to improve their lives.

He says that the popularity of smart phones meant that users were constantly having their attention drawn to the devices rather than to the people around them.

Enjoying human company is more worthwhile than repeatedly looking at your phone, he believes. And he wants people to alter behaviour before they start to suffer from mental illness as a result.

“We’re constantly having our attention distracted, and distraction is a cost. When you switch tasks it requires attention,” he told a conference in Columbia recently.

And you think of that TV ad for the guy walking into everyone while texting and then getting into his car – so if texting and driving is clearly bad for you, texting and eating can’t be too far behind.

“Paying attention to what you’re doing and who you are with, and turning your phone off and enjoying being with your friends is much better for you than constantly checking your phone and checking emails,” says the Professor.

He said that subtly altering the environment in which we use our phones would be the most effective way of preventing distractions.

He cited an American game called ‘Don’t be a d*** at dinner’ in which participants placed their devices in the middle of the table and the first one to use it had to pay for everyone else’s meal.

I know some people who’d be stony broke if that were ever implemented here – but it just illustrates the point.

Those of us of a certain age lived the majority of our lives without the luxury of a mobile and, while we wouldn’t be without them now, we can survive them on silent for an hour while we eat.

Ditto on trains or in queues; text, by all means, but do not talk – no one wants to know what you’re up to, who you saw last night, where you’re going to or what you plan to do when you get there.

Some things are best left unsaid – at least until you’re face to face with the person you want to say them to.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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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

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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

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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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