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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

Eyrecourt tune makes it to Hollywood in Jig time

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A tune composed to celebrate the twinning of Eyrecourt in south-east Galway with Gouesnach in France is to feature in a new film.

Written by Niall Crehan, ‘The Eyrecourt Jig’ made quite a splash when it was released in 2013 and is still popular in music sessions up and down the country.

Niall had been commissioned to write the tune for the 20th anniversary of the twinning of the two villages, Eyrecourt and Gouesnach.

So, when he had a small part as a fiddler in a TV film called Royal Rendevouz, he started playing the jig.

The producers were so impressed, they added it to the movie soundtrack and it will appear in the credits.

Niall is a member of a celebrated traditional Irish musical dynasty hailing originally from County Clare.

He is the youngest son of whistle and concertina player Vincent Crehan and nephew of renowned fiddler Junior Crehan.

Niall and his brother Kieran ran the Dublin shop Crehan Musical instruments until his early retirement.

Now living in Kildare, Niall is a cousin of publican Mick Crehan, who runs the renowned folk pub in the west end of Galway, The Crane.

Niall and the large army of musicians in the extended family are regular guests.

His brother Dermot got music playing parts on films such as the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter and he managed to get Niall onto the likes of Downton Abbey.

This latest TV project is the latest foray into the world of film, explains his son Brian.

The story centres on an American chef who is invited to an Irish manor to cook a feast in order to convince the matriarch not to sell the home.

It premieres on Sunday, February 26 at 9pm on the E! Network starring Isabella Gomez, Ruairi O’Connor and Ronan Raftery.

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Connacht Tribune

‘No show’ TDs criticised at County Galway policing committee meeting

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A county councillor has launched a stinging criticism of Oireachtas members for their repeated failure to attend County Galway Joint Policing Committee (JPC) meetings.

At a meeting of the JPC on Monday, Cllr Michael ‘Moegie’ Maher (photographed) said he believed it was time the three TDs on the committee decided if they wanted to remain, or give their place up to someone who would make use of it.

“I am asking the Council to write out to our Oireachtas members and ask them do they want to be on this JPC or not, and if not, let someone else be on it,” blasted the Fine Gael councillor.

This followed repeated non-appearances from TDs representing the Oireachtas on the committee – the three representatives are Deputy Noel Grealish (Ind), Deputy Anne Rabbitte (FF) and Deputy Catherine Connolly (Ind).

Cllr Maher said the JPC, which sits around five times per year, was deliberately held on a Mondays to facilitate Oireachtas members who were in the Dáil later in the week. He said there were issues being raised regularly that required raising at a national level and it was incumbent on national representatives to bring those matters back to Dublin.

One such issue was the use of CCTV in the pursuit of illegal dumpers and travelling crime gangs, said Cllr Maher who is Cathaoirleach of the County Council.

“I would like our members of the Oireachtas to be taking the message back on CCTV,” he added, as representatives locally were getting no further as a result of data protection laws.

None of the three Oireachtas members were present for this week’s meeting. Chair of the JPC, Cllr Jim Cuddy, confirmed he had received an apology from Deputy Catherine Connolly.

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Connacht Tribune

New Chief Executive for Galway County Council

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The new Chief Executive of Galway County Council is set to be unveiled in the coming weeks.

Liam Conneally, who is Director of Services for Economic Development at Clare County Council, is understood to be the preferred candidate following an interview process and has been offered the post.

His appointment will have to be ratified by councillors at an upcoming meeting of Galway County Council.

He will replace Jim Cullen, who was Acting CE for a number of years.

The last permanent CE of the local authority was also a Clare native, Martina Moloney who retired in 2014.

Since then, Kevin Kelly initially and then Jim Cullen have been acting in the roles.

According to his LinkedIn page, Liam Conneally was a senior planner at Limerick City and County Councils for almost three years before taking up the Director of Services role in Clare in 2016.

He was educated at University of Limerick and Queen’s University Belfast.

A native of Ennistymon, he is steeped in the GAA.

“He’s done a very good job in Clare; he’s very dynamic and forward-looking, he will be a good choice for Galway County Council,” said a source familiar with Mr Conneally, and the interview process.

Government completed a review in 2021 about whether it was going to appoint someone permanently into the CE role, which was filled on a temporary/acting basis for almost nine years.

It’s understood that officials in Dublin had delayed filling the role as they wanted to push for an amalgamation of both Councils.

The amalgamation, however, was rejected by local politicians, and has since been put on the back burner.

Meanwhile, Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, is due to retire this year. It’s understood his deputy CE, Patricia Philbin will take the role in an acting capacity until an interview process is completed.

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