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Country Living

When life was rough and tough for a generation of Irish navvies

Francis Farragher

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A photo, probably late 1800s, as navigators as they were called at the time – later shortened to navvies – dug out a trench during the construction of the canal network across the UK and Ireland. The navvy name ‘stuck’ when the transition was made to working on the tunnels, road projects and building sites across Britain during the 20th century.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

I remember as a small boy of the ’60s, some of the visits that would cause a bit of a stir in the household, or on occasion, even in the village. The times of the year were either midsummer, often coinciding with the Galway Races, or in the run-up to Christmas.

The setting would be ‘the return of the emigrant’ for a holiday from places like London, Birmingham or Manchester, and most times there would be quite a fuss before ‘the arrival’, with bits of touch-up being completed around kitchens and bedrooms.

An uncle of mine, long since gone to his eternal reward, always captured the mood and atmosphere of the occasion. Not a man to hide his light under a bushel, he would arrive in a flashy suit and shirts so bright that they almost had a dazzle effect.

The scenario seemed to be replicated in other houses across the village, not always with the same ostentation, but the message being delivered was that these people had done well . . . had found the pot of gold in Britannia. . . and were now back home to show off the trappings of their good fortune.

Sometimes though, the departure back to England tended to be a tad more inglorious. A week or two at the Races and in the local hostelries would often mean that the cash supply had run dry by the closing days of the visit and a little ‘sub’ might be required to get him back in one piece. In fairness though, this uncle was meticulous in paying back such temporary loans.

In later years, I found out that this relative – probably like a lot of other such visitors – would then spend months in his London flat without ever moving outside the door or even spending one ten shilling note on the demon drink. It was one extreme to the other.

Many decades ago, I remember a brother of mine (alas departed too for many, many years) who spent one summer holiday period working ‘across the water’ and his return was also marked by an element of flamboyance by way of a light pair of bellbottom trousers, white shoes, a bright corduroy jacket and even a small hint of an English accent. All a bit too much to absorb in one go – in a couple of days though, my mother had him deprogrammed with the help of a day or two on the farm.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Country Living

A joyous welcome for the arrival of that ‘happy day’

Francis Farragher

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A time to embrace the season of light. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

I’m pretty unashamed . . . and maybe a tad repetitive too . . . about what my favourite day of the year is, and has been, for many decades now. It’s always been that last Sunday in March when the clocks change and the evening sunset lazily stretches its reach. With just one turn of the clock handle, our sunset springs forward to around the 8pm mark, and the very real lure is there to go outside and do something in the open air of the late evening.

Like the rest of the population, I’ve found this to have been one long and hard Winter, even if our weather wasn’t particularly severe. True, it was a fair bit wetter than average since last October, but in terms of extreme events like raging storms or great freeze-ups, the past few months haven’t been so bad at all.

But yet, it’s a Winter that has seemed to go on forever. We no sooner had Christmas ‘promised to us’ by the powers that be, than we were roundly scolded for being too bold, leading to Surge 3 of the dreaded coronavirus. The inevitable lockdown followed and January – never my favourite month – just seemed to go on forever.

Like the story of the little boy trying to walk to school on the slippy road, going two steps backwards for every one forward, we just don’t seem to have gotten any breaks from our battle with ‘The Covid’.

We (Ireland and the EU) were months behind the Brits in getting the vaccines rolled out; deliveries never seemed to arrive on schedule and still don’t; and our mood seems to have worsened every time we hear that huge swathes of the population of Northern Ireland will be vaccinated while we lurch around the 5% to 10% mark. Not bedrudgery . . . just a sense that we’re being left behind. Without a shred of a doubt, the UK left the EU ‘sitting’ when it came to the vaccine strategy. Is it any wonder that there’s no humour on us?

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

When it’s a lot better than okay just to be feeling okay

Francis Farragher

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Country Living with Francis Farragher

It’s kind of strange at times how things can turn and change in the space of a few hours. There are always what appears to be important little tasks laid out to be completed over the following day or week and then suddenly they seem to count for nothing anymore.

The last day in February was a particularly benign Sunday with the high pressure, which had enveloped the country, producing the backdrop of a glorious blue sky and even if temperatures were modest, the overall ambience of the landscape was very positive.

It was one of those days when a cycle could be enjoyed, the backroads of the former landlord’s estate could be strolled at leisure, a few not too taxing farming tasks could be completed, and the week ahead could be looked forward too with a high enough positivity reading.

A small digression here in the shape of the little exchanges I’ve had over the years with my local vet and good friend too. Often, months would pass without me having to make any contact with him for an animal in need of assistance and I would remark to him: “God, Tom, I haven’t seen you in ages.”

Never a man to go tempting fate his reply would arrive pretty rapidly: “Don’t say that, just leave things as they are. I never like to say things are going too well.” He had good reason too, for a Spring calving season could follow which might see me calling in three or four times in the week. Anyway the moral of ‘Tom’s Tale’ was: just to be happy enough when things are okay.

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

Country life is good for city slickers, whatever their age

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Spring is in the air: little lambs jumping around and chasing each other.

Country Living with Colm McSherry

Until recently, I was longing for the good old days when I frequented my favourite city-based and bustling stomping grounds – remembering when I was ignorant to the meaning of the phrase ‘social distancing’. I was so nostalgic for ‘normal’ – desperate for the day when people can cough in public without instantly becoming a pariah. A few weeks ago, I didn’t appreciate how great my humdrum life working from home in the countryside was.

I stood in my modest half-acre garden this week, listening to the sounds of Spring in the air. The birds sang enthusiastically, cheering Winter’s passing. Lambs were bleating in the sunshine. The earth beneath me was stirring with a richness of inaudible sounds. I imagined the whispers of leaves uncurling and vegetation growing.

To experience the seasonal changes so closely is deeply comforting. It’s one of the pleasures of living in the countryside. The earliest hint of longer, brighter days, and the replenishment of the land it promises, fills me with a renewed hope.

My wife and I moved to our bungalow situated between the villages of Monivea and Abbeyknockmoy 10 years ago. It wasn’t a seamless integration. The fact that I grew up in Dublin City, and knew nothing about country living, probably aroused suspicion. I’m sure the local farmers watched my daily grind of jogging up and down the by-roads, and wondered.

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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