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Time to say bon voyage as our summer guests depart

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Corn is cut and the straw baled at a field near Tuam on the Dunmore Road during one of the better days last week as the swallows keep a watching brief from the overhead powerlines before they head south. PHOTO: JOHNNY RYAN.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

Scarcely a day has passed since mid-May without a near miss when I enter the small tool shed close to the back of my house. Each time, just at the point of entry, a couple of swallows exit at break-neck speed and miss my forehead by millimetres. Each time I hear the swish of their wings as they make it quite clear that my entry is not particularly welcome.

Their in-built radar means that despite all the close shaves, there is never any collision, but over recent days there has been an increasing giddiness with the swallows in the vicinity of the shed as they begin to get the message that a far bigger journey lies ahead.

Most of their summer adventures around the farm this summer, based on my own observations, have involved reconnaissance missions quite close to ground level, a trait that one of my neighbours insists is always an indication of a bad summer with rain on the way.

There may be some scientific basis to this theory as the birds rely for survival on gathering food along their flight paths. In better weather, the thermals carrying the insects the swallows feed on, tend to be higher in the air, while when low pressure is dominant, the warmer air lies closer to ground level.

Given the coincidence of their low flights and the summer we’ve just endured, there may be some grain of truth in his musings, but over the coming week I expect to see them gathering in their hundreds along the telephone and ESB wires that straddle our countryside.

Since early childhood days, the arrival of the swallows in the lofts and sheds of our farmyard was a thing of celebration, and if here and there, a mischievous cat was athletic enough to go on a murderous rampage, it nearly led to a day of mourning around the kitchen table.

The swallows, or barn swallows to give them their correct title, were always regarded as lucky visitors to the farmyards, heralding the start of summer, and even if they did leave their ‘marks’ on the underlying mowing machines and horse carts, there was never a word of complaint about having to clean off their residues.

They do love their old barns and sheds, with the unguarded window and door openings, that allows the parents to build their nests and gather food for their young in an unhindered flight zone.

During the course of their summer holidays in Ireland, swallows will often have three to four broods of young, with four or five eggs laid each time, incubating over a period of about two and a half weeks.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

CITY TRIBUNE

Wetherspoons’ entry could transform city pub sector

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An artist's impression of the proposed Wetherspoons on Eglinton Street. The chain is owned by Brexit support Tim Martin.

Bradley Bytes – A sort of political column by Dara Bradley

“I hope it’s a massive failure,” said a London-based confidante who loves proper ale and Galway in equal measure.

“The beer is usually great, though, unfortunately,” he added, when asked about the impending arrival of JD Wetherspoons to Galway City.

The British pub chain has transformed the industry across the water. Now that it’s planning to open at the former GPO/Carbon nightclub premises on Eglinton Street, the mood locally is mixed.

Critics say that its large outlets, serving cheap food and alcohol, in central locations, have undermined traditional family and licensee-run pubs in England.

They argue staff are paid poorly, on long shifts. This is obviously bad for the workers, but it’s not great for customers either – who wants to be served by someone who doesn’t want to be there?

Galway is lucky that it has bars where the publican licensee is hands-on (think Hughes’ in Woodquay, Tigh Chóilí on Mainguard Street or The Crane back the West, etc) or employs hospitality-specialists and career-oriented professionals who are in it for the long haul (think the Dáil Bar or Freeney’s, among many more).

Well-paid and well-looked-after staff, or owner/licensee occupiers are generally preferable to pubs run by part-timers or transient workers. There’s a symbiotic relationship between drinker and publican/staff in those ‘proper’ local bars that are peppered across the city.

But will that change if Wetherspoons gets a foothold after a €2.5m investment in the Three Red Sails bar and restaurant over two floors?

Our London beer-fly said: “He’ll buy some beer that’s close to expiring – perfectly fine for drinking – and sells it at a bulk discount. Breweries say he’s great to deal with.”

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

City’s cycling plans must get out of the slow lane

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Days like this...the Galway Community Cycle making its way along Grattan Road.

World of Politics with Harry McGee

From about the age of ten I began cycling to school every day, from Glenard into Sea Road – not alone in and out in the morning and afternoon, but also home and back at lunch-time – because everybody had dinner in the middle of the day in the 1980s.

The concept of separate facilities for cycling back then were as alien as having parking for spaceships. Traffic was much lighter though; only a third, maybe a quarter, of the cars on the road today.

I can remember accidents involving bikes – fatal and serious ones – during my youth. I’d say up to half the pupils in my school cycled every day.

That picture has changed over the years. The Galway Transport Strategy quotes a figure from the 2011 Census which says that five per cent of people cycle to work, school or college.

The city is compact and relatively small. The strategy recommends “high quality facilities for walking and cycling” to encourage more people to walk and cycle to school, to work, to the shops, or for leisure.

So what’s happened in the 30 years since I left Galway?

Traffic volumes have increased and the number of people using bikes for the daily commute has decreased. There are some bicycle lanes in the city but the percentage is very small compared to other Irish cities.

I spent a few hours cycling around Galway last week and wrote a piece on it for The Irish Times. I might have cycled in and out to school when I was a kid but I would not put my eleven-year-old daughter on a bike in Galway. It’s just not safe enough.

I put in a number of queries to Galway City Council last week and they told me there was a total of 20.45 kilometres in the city – that excludes off-road and park cycle tracks such as NUIG.

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

Energetic Fitzy hops back onto the hurling managerial merry-go-round

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Barna's Seán Fitzgerald is pursued by Rory Melody of St James’ during Friday's Senior Football Championship tie at Pearse Stadium. Photo:Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

WHETHER you’re a fan or not of Davy Fitzgerald, nobody can dispute the reality that he’s mad for road. Within days of stepping down as coach to the Cork camogie team, the former Banner goalkeeper is off on his managerial travels again – this time, however, he will be returning to an old stomping ground.

Fitzgerald, a fearless competitor between the posts, was one of the lynchpins of Clare’s long-awaited and emotional All-Ireland triumphs in 1995 and ’97, but his profile has moved onto a different level over the past 15 years. Whether it’s through his management roles or TV shows like Ireland’s Fittest Family, he is rarely out of the limelight.

And that’s basically why some people don’t like him . . . they basically see too much of him. He was even added to the Sunday Game analysts panel this summer where he was something of a muted observer on hurling’s finer arts. Apart from the three counties – Kilkenny, Tipperary and Cork – who would never countenance an outsider, Fitzy is nearly linked with every managerial vacancy that crops up these days.

For a few days last winter, he looked the number one candidate to replace Shane O’Neill in Galway, but his bubble was burst somewhat when County Chairman Paul Bellew launched an audacious and successful attempt to entice Henry Shefflin west. Having just finished up with Wexford – a project which flatlined in his last two years in charge – Fitzy is clearly not one for standing still.

But why are some counties still inclined to swoon about the prospect of having Fitzy on board? For starters, he landed two Fitzgibbon Cups with Limerick IT before taking over as Waterford manager in mid-season in 2008 after the players revolted against Justin McCarthy. He guided the Deise to that year’s All-Ireland final only for them to suffer a humiliating 3-30 to 1-14 loss against Kilkenny.

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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