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A Different View

What’s a good story if you don’t embellish it?

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Máirtín O’Connor accepting the overall Gradam Ceoil TG4 award from Pól Ó Gallchóir at a ceremony in the Cork Opera House last weekend; the Award recognises the outstanding achievements of musicians across six various strands of Irish Traditional music.

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

Which of us hasn’t embellished our best stories with a little poetic licence – the old fisherman’s tale, the one that got away, the near miss with disaster, the celebrity meeting?

Our best stories get better as the years go by – the goal that never was, the tackle that turned a game, the extra honour in the Leaving Cert.

When we’re young we add a pint or two to our drink capacity; when we’re married we lob one or two off the final total.

Ditto, you spend the first half of your life pretending you’re older than you are so that you can get into pubs and clubs and impress members of the opposite sex – and the second half taking a year or two off as you cling to your youth with the grasp of a desperate man.

So we shouldn’t be too hard on NBC News anchor Brian Williams whose tall tale looks like it has now cost him his 30 year career at the top.

Brian had dined out for a long time on his war story, recalling his brush with death during a reporting spell in Iraq in 2003 when he was on board a Chinook helicopter that was forced to land after it was hit by enemy fire.

Only it turned out Brian wasn’t on any chopper hit by fire or anything else for that matter – Brian was in a later helicopter that was under less pressure than Joan Burton at a water protest.

If Brian had only told the story once and got on with it, things might have been fine. But Brian couldn’t help himself and his brush with death became the stuff of legend.

During an August 2006 appearance on Jon Stewart’s Daily Show, he recalled how he was in an Israeli military helicopter over northern Israel when Hezbollah rockets flew ‘just beneath’ them.

He repeated his dramatic experience – with added whistles and bells – on the David Letterman show. And it would seem that soldiers who saw those clips on the internet later finally had enough.

In the end it was the flight engineer of that Chinook helicopter in Iraq who had enough of this nonsense and blew the whistle on Williams with a comment on the NBC News Facebook page.

“Sorry dude,” wrote Lance Reynolds. “I don’t remember you being on my aircraft. I do remember you walking up about an hour after we had landed to ask me what had happened.”

And then – like a helicopter hit by enemy missiles, it just spiralled out of control from there.

The US military publication, Stars and Stripes, brought it into the wider domain – and from there the story snowballed.

Eventually Jim had no option but to recant – although his bizarre explanation only added fuel to the fire.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Exam points are not the only measure of education success

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

By now, the next batch of around 60,000 students set for third-level education are over a week into the Leaving Cert – the exam that will determine what course they attain a place in for the new academic year.

Their success – added to the performances of their class-mates – will determine their alma mater’s position in what are commonly known as the school league tables.

This is a calculation of how successful a secondary school is, based entirely on the number of its Leaving Certs it gets into third-level education.

In turn – based on this – parents will choose where to send their little bundles of joy when the time comes for them to make the transition from primary to second-level.

And it’s such an arbitrary method of determining the relative success or failure of a centre of education, because it leaves so much out of the equation.

Firstly, it means performance is entirely based on the numbers who go on to third-level, ignoring those who gain apprenticeships or go straight into the workplace.

Admittedly, that’s not a large cohort these days because Careers Guidance seems to begin and end with helping you to choose the right course, not the right career.

But more fundamentally, getting a good student to pass his or her exams and gain a place in college isn’t the ultimate test of a teacher; getting a student who is struggling with reading or writing to a level where they comfortably do both is a far better achievement for any teacher.

Bringing a student who is in danger of failing mathematics, for example, to a position where they pass their exams – but more importantly understand how it works – should be recognised in any measure of performance.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

How will we acclimatise as we ease out of Covid?

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

Back in the world before Covid, a mention of Corona either brought to mind a beer or a rock band – but, as we ease our way out of dire straits (another rock band, as luck would have it), we might require a different kind of acclimatisation.

Because what will the evening be like when no more deaths are flashed up as a statistic on the Six-One News?

Who will the world turn to if we have no more Fergal or George or Zara giving out the daily update in a funereal tone?

What will happen to all the people who used to go to the Department of Health press conference at tea-time in the same way the rest of us once headed for the pub?

Like Pavlov’s Dog, we’ve come to expect an evening illness update, taking consolation in it being two less than yesterday or taking fright if it’s two more.

Nobody told us who these poor people were, unless the local paper carried a tribute a week later – for the number crunchers and bean counters and prophets of doom, they were today’s statistics, to be flashed up for a few seconds every night.

And we took these figures as we got them, never questioning if a person died from Covid or with Covid; if they were described as having ‘underlying conditions’, we seemed to accept that as a very broad church.

We listened intently as Fergal or George or Zara told us what the mean age was, breathing a small sigh of relief if it remained a good distance into the future from our own age now.

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

Home ownership should be a prerogative – not a pipedream

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

Half of our 18 to 34-year-olds fear they won’t be able to buy a home in next ten years, according to a new survey. That’s not the shock – it’s the fact that half of them think they actually will.

Because the truth is that owning your own home hasn’t been as much of a pipedream since the days of feudal landlords; indeed many of them will find it a job and a half to even come up with the rent.

And that’s a sign of just how critical our housing crisis has become in the space of a single generation.

We thought that things were bad in the eighties when unemployment levels were way ahead of our pre-Covid figures; when the boat and the plane were the best 0or maybe only – chance for many to secure a job far from home.

But for those who were working, owning a home wasn’t a farfetched concept at all, because there were plenty of starter homes being built and the cost of them still bore some relation to your income.

There was a time before that, when the bank had a simple equation to decide the size of the mortgage they’d give you. It was two and a half times the combined salary for those buying the house – in other words, yours alone if you were a sole purchaser, or double that if it was yourself and your partner.

On top of that, there was no point turning up in the first place unless you had a ten per cent deposit – so it was a straight-forward calculation to find out what you could afford. And house prices, for the most part, kept within that equation.

Of course there were always homes you coveted and couldn’t afford, but you could still buy a roof over your head for a price that only took 20 years to pay back.

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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