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Country Living

The sheep on her back is in trouble when magpies arrive

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Country Living with Francis Farragher

As young lads, many moons ago, one of the morning and evening jobs we’d get taxed with was to look at, and count, the sheep quite carefully.  One of the things you’d always watch out for was a ewe on her back – quite simply a mature sheep who would find herself on her back and be unable to free herself from that position.

If they weren’t spotted on time, they could eventually die due to a build-up of fluids, as one vet once explained to me, but there could be other quite nasty consequences as well.

One of the most feared flying creatures in the countryside in those days was the magpie – the feathered equivalent of one of those Spitfire aircrafts that the Brits used to thwart the Germans during World War 11.

The magpie, or magpies, would spot the vulnerable sheep on her back and these birds always had a particular liking for the eyes.

If the helpless ewe wasn’t freed in time, then the magpies would have had their breakfast, or dinner or supper and the poor sheep would be left eyeless for the rest of her days. Most of the days though, we always got there in time to thwart the magpies.

Over the past couple of weeks that image of the ewe on her back kept coming back into my mind every time I looked at a newspaper or my phone bleeped with some new revelation about our new agriculture minister, Barry Cowen.

Unfortunately, he found himself on his back, and after the first magpie had moved in, they arrived in droves to try to pick out some juicy pieces of flesh.

Whether you’re a sheep or a Minister for Agriculture, it’s no fun being on your back when the magpies are around whether they be of the feathered kind or the human variety who feed quite greedily on bits of news and scandal.

Now the magpies have their role to fill and there are many of us who are part of the great magpie family but the only problem is that when the sheep has righted herself, a time comes when there’s nothing to pick at.

A magpie might fly over the moving sheep but by then the chance has gone and the bird has to wait for another animal to fall into a vulnerable position.

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.

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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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Country Living

Decision made never to come ‘under the influence’ again

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Country Living with Francis Farragher

Expectations, are I suppose, determined to a large extent by the times we live in. Growing up in the 1960s and ‘70s, the job priorities could range from aspiring to being a lorry driver or the more grandiose life of a teacher that is if the door to third level education could be prised open.

Then, of course, there were always those practical guys who were good at putting pieces of timber together; or at laying blocks in perfect alignment; or at being able to join copper pipes with just a couple of spanners and a few shiny nuts.

They turned out to be the tradesmen (oops, in the world of political correctness should that be tradespeople) who for the rest of their days were never to be short of work or a few bob in their pockets. A combination of good hands and a good head was really a pretty unbeatable combination to ensure that the dole queue would never be part of their lot in life.

Some of us along the way got sucked into a ‘bit of writing’ and in our own tinpot way managed to make a living for us, but of late I’ve managed to note a couple of occupation titles that would have been unimaginable a few decades back.

First off, all there were the ‘socialites’ a great term of the Sunday Independent newspaper at the height of the Celtic Tiger when glamourous men and women – rich on style but poor on substance – could always make their way into the gossip pages of that weekly organ.

I often wondered what did these people do for real jobs as they jollied their way around such night spots as Copper Face Jacks, Renards and the Voodoo Lounge at all hours of the day and night before taking the best part of a week to recover until the next round of socialising.

Now, move it all forward a couple of decades and into the peak of the social media age when the ‘big number’ across the world is the position of ‘influencer’.

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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