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Connacht Tribune

Writing is on the wall for the humble letter and pen

Dave O'Connell

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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

Galway to complete vaccine roll-out by end of the summer

Denise McNamara

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Ninety-five year old Margaret Kenny was first person to be administered the Covid-19 vaccination Practice Nurse Deirdre Furey at the Surgery Athenry.

On the first anniversary of Covid-19’s deadly arrival into Ireland, the head of the Saolta hospital group has predicted that all who want the vaccine will have received it by the end of the summer.

Tony Canavan, CEO of the seven public hospitals, told the Connacht Tribune that the HSE was planning to set up satellite centres from the main vaccination hub at the Galway Racecourse to vaccinate people on the islands and in the most rural parts of the county.

While locations have not yet been signed up, the HSE was looking at larger buildings with good access that could be used temporarily to carry out the vaccination programme over a short period.

“We do want to reach out to rural parts of the region instead of drawing in people from the likes of Clifden and over from the islands. The plan is to set up satellites from the main centre, sending out small teams out to the likes of Connemara,” he explained.

“Ideally we’d run it as close as possible to the same time that the main centres are operating once that is set up. Communication is key – if people know we’re coming, it will put people’s minds at rest.”

Get all the latest Covid-19 coverage in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Galway meteorologist enjoying new-found fame in the sun!

Denise McNamara

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Linda Hughes, presenting the RTÉ weather forecast live in studio.

Growing up in Galway where four seasons in a day is considered a soft one, Linda Hughes always had a keen interest in the weather.

But unlike most Irish people, instead of just obsessing about it, she actually went and pursued it as a career.

The latest meteorologist to appear on RTE’s weather forecasts hails from Porridgtown, Oughterard, and brings with her an impressive background in marine forecasting.

She spent six years in Aerospace and Marine International in Aberdeen, Scotland, which provides forecasts for the oil and gas industry.

The 33-year-old was a route analyst responsible for planning routes for global shipping companies. She joined the company after studying experimental physics in NUIG and doing a masters in applied meteorology in Redding in the UK.

“My job was to keep crews safe and not lose cargo by picking the best route to get them to their destination as quickly as possibly but avoiding hurricanes, severe storms,” she explains.

“It was a very interesting job, I really enjoyed it but it was very stressful as you were dealing with bad weather all the time because there’s always bad weather in some part of the world.”

Read the full interview with Linda Hughes in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Great-great-grandmother home after Covid, a stroke, heart failure and brain surgery

Dave O'Connell

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Mary Quinn...back home after an incredible few months.

Her family are understandably calling her their miracle mum – because an 81 year old great-great-grandmother from Galway has bounced back from Covid-19, a stroke, heart failure and brain surgery since Christmas…to return hale and hearty, to her own home.

But Mary Quinn’s family will never forget the trauma of the last three months, as the Woodford woman fought back against all of the odds from a series of catastrophic set-backs.

The drama began when Mary was found with a bleed on her brain on December 16. She was admitted to Portiuncula Hospital, and transferred to Beaumont a day later where she underwent an emergency procedure – only to then suffer a stroke.

To compound the crisis, while in Beaumont, she contracted pneumonia, suffered heart failure and developed COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – the inflammatory lung disease that causes obstructed airflow from the lungs.

“Christmas without mom; things did not look good,” said her daughter Catherine Shiel.

But the worst was still to come – because before Mary was discharged, she contracted Covid-19.

Read Mary’s full, heart-warming story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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