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Connacht Tribune

Writing is on the wall for the humble letter and pen

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A Different View with Dave O’Connell

Two thirds of young British adults say that they use a pen less than five times a week – and more than a quarter prefer emojis to words when expressing their feelings.
If that doesn’t tell you all you need to know about the world and the hell we’re headed to in a handcart, nothing will.
Of course, texting a little emoji of a tear falling from a round yellow face is easier than actually having to write the words: “I’m sad” – but how can it be that little cartoon characters have surpassed the written word?
The survey – carried out for the cruise company Cunard for that sparingly celebrated annual event called National Writing Day – found that one in four people have neither sent nor received a handwritten letter in the past decade.
One presumes this excludes school reports – or have they too been relegated to a series of emojis . . . the devil’s scarlet face if you failed, an angel for an ‘A’ and a whole series of clappy hands if the overall result was worth celebrating?
Does it exclude cards for Christmas or birthdays or Valentine’s Day – or is it now acceptable to just send a love-heart followed by a big ‘U’ to cover all such occasions of soul-baring?
But most upsetting of all is the admission that 65 per cent of those aged between 25 and 34 hardly ever pick up a pen.
It’s no surprise therefore than almost none of them can spell; when they use their phone, they rely on the auto-correct function to do the work for them. Which might explain the increasing number of American spellings in phone messages.
Apart from spelling, the other consequence is a hopeless deterioration in handwriting standards, to the point that even a doctor would struggle to read it – and they have perfected the prescription scrawl.
On the other side of the coin, 89 per cent said they would love to receive more handwritten letters – although given that none of them want to send them, you’d have to wonder where they expect them to come from – and 70 per cent have held on to letters received in the past.
Thus, it would appear that the death of the letter isn’t so much down to the advent of phone technology as much as pure laziness.
And in fairness, when you can record your deepest thoughts with nothing more than your thumb – sending it instantly to the other side of the world – it’s hard to see the motivation for finding writing paper and a pen, an envelope and a stamp and traipsing halfway across town to a post office.
But there’s something wonderful about the written word – and part of that is the planning, thought and effort that someone has made because they believed you to be worth it.
There are thousands of teenage boys and girls in the Gaeltacht right now, learning Irish – and for the first time they are also experiencing the joy of a letter.
Because their phones and tablets are under lock and key, their only communication with the outside world is via a letter from home where the news, by its nature, is three days old and arguably of little significance anyway.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Thousands on waiting list for student accommodation in Galway

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The student housing crisis is ‘the worst it’s ever been’ – with thousands on waiting lists for rooms; hundreds relying on hostels and friends’ sofas; and countless more facing deferral or dropping out altogether.

The President of NUI Galway’s Students’ Union, Róisín Nic Lochlainn, told the Connacht Tribune that students had been left in a desperate situation, as she called for mass protests to have the issue addressed.

According to Ms Nic Lochlainn, 3,000 students were currently on the waiting lists for NUIG’s on-campus accommodation – Corrib Village and Goldcrest Village – with around 500 in line for any bed that might come up in the Westwood.

“Gort na Coiribe and Dunaras have told us their waiting lists are well into the hundreds too. I’ve only got to contact two of the hostels around town, but Kinlay and Snoozles have almost 200 students between them already – and they’re expecting more.

“The first years haven’t even arrived yet, and on top of all that, you have people in B&Bs and staying on their friends’ sofas,” said Ms Nic Lochlainn.

Pressure on the student rental market had been building for years, she said, but it had gone off the cliff edge this year as a perfect storm was created by increased student numbers and reduced bed availability.

“[Minister for Further and Higher Education] Simon Harris created new places on courses this year and talked about maximum access to education . . . I’m not sure how that works for students who are homeless.

“Because there weren’t many students around last year, some private landlords might have moved on. There was no new purpose-built accommodation delivered, and then Simon Harris creates new places with no new beds,” said Ms Nic Lochlainn of the causes of this year’s problems.”

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Government asked to “do everything” to ensure Intel chooses Oranmore as base

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The Taoiseach and Tánaiste will be asked to do “everything in their power” to ensure technology giant Intel selects Oranmore as the location for its new microchip manufacturing plant – which could create 10,000 jobs and transform the West of Ireland economy.

The 540-acre site is owned by the Defence Forces and was selected by IDA Ireland as the preferred site for the company’s new EU ‘chip’ base.

BY STEPHEN CORRIGAN
AND DARA BRADLEY

Oranmore is up against sites in Poland, France and Germany and Intel confirmed to Taoiseach Micheál Martin that the site is under consideration.

Galway East TD Ciarán Cannon said the development would be “transformative” and would be Intel’s largest microchip manufacturing plant in the world.

Meanwhile, at a meeting of the Athenry Oranmore Municipal District this week, councillors backed a proposal from Cllr Liam Carroll to write to Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar to urge them to push forward the plan.

“This would be a game-changer, not just for Oranmore but for the whole of Connacht. Imagine 10,000 directly employed at some stage in the future, and the spinoff from that,” he said.

The Oranmore site is reported to have been selected ahead of three other locations in Ireland.

It is on Intel’s short-list for the proposed project, which would involve building eight factory modules on a single campus at the site off the M6 motorway, northeast of Oranmore, the newspaper reported.

The American multinational tech company has whittled down its short-list to 10 finalists; Oranmore is up against sites in Poland, France and Germany.

The Sunday Times reported at the weekend that if it proceeds, the new Oranmore ‘mega-fab’ would dwarf Intel’s existing site in Leixlip, which employs almost 5,000.

Galway East TD, Ciaran Cannon (FG) said: “It would put Galway on the map internationally as a place for high-tech investment and it would serve to rebalance the economic imbalance that exists in our country where all of the weight is on the east coast.

“The IDA has a formula where every one new job created in that industry creates about eight or nine more jobs downstream in terms of the supply chain and services. They’re saying 10,000 jobs on site – twice the population of Athenry – on one campus and then another 80-90,000 jobs off site. The figures are phenomenal, mind boggling,” said Deputy Cannon.

The demand for the facility arose during Covid-19 when the supply chain between Asia and Europe broke down.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Fraudsters ‘spoof’ Galway Garda Station’s phone number

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Fraudsters replicated the phone number of Galway Garda Station and used it to call a local woman to demand money.

Crime Prevention Officer, Sergeant Michael Walsh, said that the number ‘091 538000’ was somehow used by criminals who attempted to extract money – in the form of the online currency Bitcoin – from the victim.   Despite the phone call appearing to come from the Garda station at Mill Street, the woman became suspicious and reported it to Gardaí.

Sgt Walsh said it was the latest in a series of ‘spoofing’ phone calls to have occurred this year.

Spoofing is where fraudsters change the caller ID to ring unsuspecting members of the public to try to extract money or personal information off them.

He said that the number of spoofing incidents reported to Galway Gardaí has more than doubled in the past year.

“It is top of my agenda,” he said.

He pointed out that criminals can obtain a ‘ready to go’ phone and SIM card, relatively cheaply, and it was “very difficult” for Gardaí to trace the caller.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story and more details on fraud figures in Galway, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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