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A Different View

We’re all far too tolerant of the nanny state

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A Different View with Dave O’Connell

There is a terrific business opportunity out there for someone who’d like to make easy money and allow smokers to enjoy their addiction without having to gaze at the throat tumour that now graces their box of twenty fags.

How about a wrap-around box that just says 20 Major or a replica John Player Blue box, so that the smoker – who needs no reminding that they are wiped five minutes off their life every time they light up – can slip the new state-sponsored horror box into more familiar and friendly surrounds?

It’s not that I have any love for smoking, but I hate the notion of a nanny state even more.

Banning smoking in pubs was a terrific idea because it allowed us non-smokers to enjoy a pint or a meal without the fog of nicotine – and perhaps it caused a few smokers to pack in the habit as well.

But mainly it brought out the best in smokers who abided by a rule that would have been impossible to enforce without their acquiescence – and they stood in the rain or sheltered under lean-tos and then came back in from the cold.

Eventually pubs erected more permanent structures and some even put in heaters and wide-screen TVs, which suddenly meant that the smokers were outside ‘smirting’ – smoking and flirting – while us non-smokers sat inside minding the pints.

The point is that smokers knew they didn’t have the right to inflict their habit on others, so they took it outside – but it wasn’t enough for us to be spared the secondary inhalation, we now want to drive them into submission altogether.

So we’ve put a gaping tumour on the front of cigarette boxes as though the mere sight of this horror would make them realise the error of their ways after thirty years on the fags.

It’s the same nonsense that suggests we’re all driven to drink because we watch the Heineken Cup or that Liverpool fans only drink Carlsberg and Celtic fans only drink John Smith’s.

The most recent epistle – this time from the EU – bans pictures of babies on baby food, because apparently this could idealise the use of such foods, to the detriment of breast-feeding.

Because obviously parents are so shallow that, if they saw a jar with a beautiful baby on it, they’d assume that pouring gallons of that formula down their little mite’s neck until they were a shoo-in for top prize at the Bonny Baby competition.

There’s always some do-gooder who isn’t just content being miserable themselves – they also want to tell everyone else how to live their lives so we can all be miserable together.

Of course the Government has a duty to look after our health, and some of that is through education and some of it seems to be through legislation – the classic carrot and stick approach – but much of this is just an optical illusion.

They might look after our health better if they increased accessibility to hospital beds, if they tackled the spiralling cost of health insurance that is forcing so many to take a chance on giving it up, or if they slashed the layers of bureaucracy that epitomises the HSE.

The long and the short of it is that we won’t start lashing back the Heineken just because we’re watching the Heineken Cup, no more than smokers will stop smoking because there’s a stomach-churning picture on the front of the fag box.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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.

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Connacht Tribune

Sense of belonging that brings it all back home

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

It was a chat with a ‘Galwegian in exile’ that brought it all home to me; although now domiciled in the capital for more years than he’d lived in the west, he was delighted to bring his Dublin-born daughter to the All-Ireland Football Final wearing her maroon jersey.

To be honest, she’d probably have gone to Croke Park dressed as Elsa from Frozen because it was just a day out – but Daddy couldn’t have been prouder if his eleven-year-old came on for Damien Comer with five minutes to go.

The sense of place is understandable when it comes to ourselves as born-and-bred Galwegians, because while you can change where you live as often as you like, even if you wanted to, you can never change where you’re from.

But trying to impose your own geographical heritage on the next generation is alternatively seen as understandable and a little selfish at the same time.

It’s a topic for discussion in our own house on occasion because while the two lads grew up in Galway, they were in fact born in Dublin – and if they want to pull my chain, all they have to do is remind of that fact.

My reply is a tired and stock one, to the effect that although Jesus was born in a stable, nobody ever suggested that made him a horse.

The more serious point is that you are shaped by your formative years rather than the maternity hospital of your arrival – and those years were spent in Galway.

Galway is their point of reference for sport and music and school friends and nights out and pubs and college – and almost everything else that really matters.

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

Gaeltacht days – and a rite of passage to remember forever

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

A scholarship to Irish College wasn’t so much a backhanded compliment as an inverted acknowledgement of your grasp of the language – in other words you got one because you were bordering on useless, or to put it more diplomatically you’d benefit more than the rest from a couple of weeks of immersion in your native tongue.

Only it then transpired that the experience of three weeks in the Gaeltacht taught you that going there had a small bit to do with learning Irish for sure – but a whole lot to do with growing up, or at least beginning that blossoming process.

And you would do all this in an atmosphere as alien to your small teenage self as free elections are to the people of Russia; céilís, cispheil, comhra agus craic – as well as an Irish language version of the Streets of London written and taught to us by Art Ó Dufaigh that still lives in the memory bank, even longer than Ralph McTell’s original.

The truth, when you get there, is the realisation that three weeks in the Gaeltacht is a little like a week at the Galway Races or the Rose of Tralee; just as the horses or the Roses are ostensibly the reason for going, they’re really just the hook to get you there.

And so it is that you go to the Gaeltacht to learn the language but you come home having learned so much more.

My Gaeltacht summer was at the tail end of the seventies with three weeks in Beal a’ Dangan and céilís in Nestor’s Hall, brought there in a bus by a young man called Máirtín Tom Sheáinín who would go on to enjoy a stellar career as a broadcaster – particularly presenting Comhrá – but was back then a knacky driver with a dream, traversing windy roads in pitch darkness.

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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