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The strange profession of those ‘Men in Black’

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Service with a smile from Abbeyknockmoy's 'Men in Black' – local undertakers, Paddy Mannion and Gerry Delaney – pictured at the arrival of the new ‘funeral car’ last week. PHOTO: JOHNNY RYAN PHOTOGRAPHY.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

As an old piece of black humour about undertakers goes: “it’ll always end in tears,” but over the years I’ve developed a sneaky admiration for the profession, as in contrast to the famous line from Yeats, about ‘casting a cold eye on life and death’, the ‘Men in Black’, tend to give a warmer glance at that taxing time when we shed our mortal coils.

Out the country, undertakers take on a status that leaves them in a strange kind of place, a conduit between this life and the next, the linking carriage on the train of mortality between the doctor and the priest, as family and friends bid farewell to a loved one.

Here and there though, I do have moments of concern as regards the unfailing interest of the two local undertakers in my health, as I’m occasionally beset with a bout of coughing after a slug from my pint. They do probably mean well, but deep down I know that some day, in the great coffin store hidden away from public view, there’s a box left out for me. (Hopefully not in both places!).

Irish writer, John McKenna, sums up rather delightfully the slightly unusual relationship that exists between undertaker and potential clients for the future, in this little verse:

“Each time, I pass the undertaker’s store,

I swear, I see him wink and gently smile.

Behind him, through a widely open door,

A vast array of coffins to beguile,

Like invitations issued year on year,

To parties that are bound to end in tears.”

On the purely business side of things, it’s a competitive market too, especially where two undertakers operate from the one village, with stiff rivalry between the parties as to who gets what. Traditionally, some families will give their custom to the one undertaker and this continues on through the generations.

Anyway, there we were in the local Mannion hostelry in Abbey, on a particularly benign July evening last week, with little else on a rather bland conversation agenda other than the weather and how the turf was ‘coming on’ over the summer, when the excitement levels rose and word broke that the new hearse had arrived outside the front door, and quite an impressive piece of mechanical engineering it was. It gleamed impressively under the glint of the dozing evening sun – a softly purring Merc’, all of 18 feet long with automatic transmission and a glass chamber that any body would be proud to be transported in.

The same night, big John Deeres and Massey Fergusons thudded by on the N63, their day’s work still not complete as fields of late summer grass remained to be felled. Those big machines though drew little attention from the customers who had their made way outside Mannion’s Bar and were – in the words of John McKenna – ‘beguiled’ by the arrival of the impressive bus of the last journeys.

Undertaking is, at the end of the day, a business, but surely it’s not one for the faint hearted and like the way of life of the publican, there’s nearly a necessity to be brought up with it from an early age. Sensitivity and professionalism are probably the two key words of the trade but the close contact of undertakers with families at times of acute grief, has meant that the profession holds a place close to the heart of many families.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

 

CITY TRIBUNE

Ex-TD, ‘Our Nuala’ and some surprising DNA test results!

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Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

In March 2011, Nuala Nolan was co-opted onto Galway City Council to represent the City East ward.

She replaced her namesake, Derek Nolan as a city councillor; he progressed on to Dáil Éireann after topping the poll in the General Election some weeks previous.

Our Nuala was anointed after a stiff selection convention contest where she saw off a number of challengers for the position.

When asked about his replacement, Derek Nolan’s stock answer about Nuala Nolan was always: “No relation.”

But it turns out that is not strictly true!

Our Nuala, who has since defected to Aontú, tells us that an immediate family member of Derek’s (who was reunited with his Labour buddy, Councillor Níall McNelis, at party stalwart John McDonagh’s wedding recently) has taken a DNA test. And it has produced some interesting results.

It turns out that Derek and Nuala “come up as a match; fourth cousins”, she said.

This, according to Our Nuala, was “hardly surprising”, despite Derek’s previous protestations, “given that both our parents come from Ballyloughane” in Renmore.

She said that ‘No Relation Derek’ may be “surprised” by the results but added: “DNA does not lie, for sure.”

In fairness, there is a resemblance between the two. Christmas round the Nolans’ should be fun!

(Photo: Long-lost cousins, Nuala Nolan and Derek Nolan. Nuala was co-opted onto Galway City Council in 2011 to replace Derek when he was elected a TD. Derek, who now lives in Australia always stated that they weren’t related but a DNA test shows they are).

This is a shortened preview version of this article. For more Bradley Bytes, see the August 12 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

One person’s useless tat is another’s stuff of dreams

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

The world is divided into two kinds of people; those who like to live in a world of clean, white lines and minimal clutter – and those of us who just love accumulating stuff.

Stuff covers a multitude, which – depending on your perspective – might be alternatively defined as either the souvenirs or detritus of your life.

Books, match programmes, concert ticket stubs, seashells, Dinky cars, beer mats…it’s all stuff that one person wants to treasure and the other, invariably, wants to throw straight out in the bin.

And it’s at the core of a fair percentage of domestic differences too – ‘it’s my stuff’; ‘don’t move my stuff’; ‘your stuff is taking over the house’ – because, for every hoarder, there’s an aspiring Marie Kondo who wants to take minimalism to new heights.

Attics are invariably full of stuff that hasn’t seen the light of day in years; old cardboard boxes of childhood toys, suitcases packed with dusty photo albums, boxes of video cassettes for which there is no longer a VCR; clothes that you didn’t want but also didn’t want to throw out – and it’s only a matter of time before they’re back in fashion and you’ll have shed the three stone it would take to close the zipper.

Overall, it’s the kind of stuff that you hoped you’d get back to and wallow in nostalgia, years after you consigned it to the darkest recesses of the eaves.

Those who abhor clutter have a different approach, working on the basis that – if you have stuff stored in a box and you don’t open that box for three years – you don’t need that stuff anymore.

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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Connacht Tribune

Lyng taking over from Cody leads to an outbreak of relief in Galway

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Galway's Ciara Donohue breaking out of defence against Lauren Homan of Cork during Sunday's All-Ireland Intermediate Camogie Final at Croke Park. Photo: INPHO/Bryan Keane.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

THERE was surely a collective sigh of relief in Galway’s hurling strongholds when former midfielder Derek Lyng was appointed to succeed Brian Cody as the new Kilkenny manager last week – the first time since the winter of 1998 that a new senior supremo has been unveiled down Noreside way.

After Cody somewhat surprisingly ended his long tenure as Kilkenny manager in the wake of last month’s battling All-Ireland Final defeat to Limerick, it was only natural that current Galway team manager Henry Shefflin, Kilkenny’s most decorated player of all-time, would be linked with the vacancy.

“Don’t do it Henry” was a common refrain on social media as Galway supporters understandably feared the Ballyhale Shamrocks clubman would find the prospect of talking over his native county impossible to resist. Lyng, Martin Fogarty and ex-Laois boss Eddie Brennan were also touted as being in the running.

A similar precedent had been set this summer when Liam Cahill abruptly departed Waterford to return to Tipperary after the local County Board hardly covered itself in glory in the manner it ended the tenure of former player Colm Bonnar after just one year in charge. Admittedly, it had been a tough championship for Tipperary, losing all four games in Munster, but there were extenuating circumstances.

For starters, Brendan Maher and Padraic Maher retired – the latter was forced to hang up the boots due to a neck injury – while other heroes of past All-Ireland triumphs, Bubbles O’Dwyer, John McGrath and Seamus Callanan, were also notable absentees. It meant Bonnar took over a Tipperary team in transition.

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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