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No country for young men or women either

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Now a well kept walled garden off Tuam's Dublin Road thanks mainly to the efforts of local people . . . part of the burial ground where nearly 800 children were interred from the '20s through to the '60s. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

There was a glorious summer’s evening last week after the silage was cut and the cows were looked at in the callow field when I strolled through one of those sites that are dotted around the Irish country – a small plot of risen ground pickled with flat stones and now home to a majestic ash tree.

This Lisheen, known in some places as a Lios or a Cillíní, was according to my father a place where many, many infants were buried from the 1800s and well into the 1900s as well.

It was a course a reflection of the high infant mortality rate in Ireland and while this situation did improve somewhat as the State began to grow through the mid-20th century, the change was only marginal.

Due to the work of local Tuam historian, Catherine Corless, the issue has featured in newspapers and TV stations all over the world, with her chronicling of the deaths of 796 children at the home ran by the Bon Secours nuns from 1925 to 1961.

The location of a septic tank in close proximity to the site on Tuam’s Dublin Road of course was ‘into the barrow’ of headline writers with the image being conveyed of the infants and children being buried indiscriminately in a most inappropriate place.

The septic tank, and indeed the houses that straddle Dublin Road and the Athenry Road on the site of the burial ground, have no real relevance but overall the sheer scale of infant and children deaths was reflective of what was going on in Ireland at the time.

In many ways, Ireland wasn’t a very nice place to live or grow up in during our first half century of independence, especially if any individual was unfortunate enough to ‘stray outside the Pale’ in terms of their so called moral standards.

Unmarried mothers or people with mental health problems were at particular risk of, at best, social isolation and at worst, incarceration at institutions that could have been taken straight from Dickensian times.

Catherine Corless’s work in detailing the records of those buried at the Tuam site was assiduous and dignified but she must have grimaced many times when the national and international press got their hands on the story.

The image of children’s being dumped in a septic tank was conveyed in many of the stories, but the truth is that across Ireland in a large middle chunk of the 20th century, thousands of infants and young children died due to now entirely curable ailments such as TB, measles, flu, bronchitis and meningitis.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

The fine art of good timing when it comes to elections

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Charlie Haughey...snap election backfired on him.

World of Politics with Harry McGee

Academically, politics is described as a science. But in the real world, it’s more of an art – and one of the big decisions a Government has to make is to decide when to call an election.

Will they see out the full term, or will they go early – either to mitigate the damage they will ship, or to secure a victory before things go awry, or the economy takes a dip, or some kind of controversy erupts?

Timing is everything.

And there’s a bit of art to that – not to mention a lot of luck. If you call it early and win big, you’re a genius. If you call it early and lose, you are the political version of the village fool.

Charlie Haughey was a poor judge of the public mood. Twice he called snap elections and on both occasions they backfired. Haughey succeeded Jack Lynch as Taoiseach in late 1979 and did not – technically – have his own mandate. He tried to remedy that by calling an election in 1981. But it recoiled. Ray MacSharry warned him not to hold it during the H Block hunger strikes when republican prisoners were dying each day. He did not listen to the advice and found himself out of office.

After his return to power in 1987, Haughey tired of presiding over a minority government that kept on losing votes in the Oireachtas (the opposition won nine private members motions).

So he called a snap general election and it backfired. Fianna Fáil lost seats and had to broker a coalition deal with the Progressive Democrats and his long-standing political adversary Dessie O’Malley.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

If you don’t know who you are, the door staff have no chance

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

The only time in your life that you should ever utter the words: “Do you know who I am?” are if you’ve just had a bang on the head or you are unfortunately suffering from dementia.

Because, otherwise, the phrase ‘do you know who I am’ only serves to make things a whole lot worse.

Normally, the phrase is unleashed towards late night door staff on a wave of alcohol – and never once in the history of time has it produced the result the utterer had intended.

The doorman may well know who you are which is often the very reason you’re not getting into the place in the first instance – or if he doesn’t know who you are, he won’t be unduly influenced when he does, unless you’re a famous movie star or his long-lost cousin.

‘Do you know where I am?’ might often be closer to the phrase you’re looking for, because that would serve you well when you’re looking for a taxi.

‘Do you know who I am?’ is a threatening phrase that in truth wouldn’t frighten the cat. But if you’re anxious to dig the hole a few shovels deeper, you should follow up with ‘I’d like to speak to your manager.’

Managers can be elusive at the best of times, but they’re normally rarer than hen’s teeth when it comes to the small hours of the morning – and even if they’re there, they are most likely watching proceedings on CCTV…just so they know who you are, in case you yourself can’t remember.

‘I’d like to speak to your manager’ suggests that you and he or she are from the one social sphere which is several strata north of the one occupied by door staff.

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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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City councillors see red over Green senator’s tweet  

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Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

Galway Green Party Senator Pauline O’Reilly’s ears must have been burning last week.

City councillors didn’t mention her by name, but it was clear who they referred to. And they didn’t spare her.

Cllr Declan McDonnell (Ind) attacked her as a “one-term senator”; a slur he withdrew after Mayor Clodagh Higgins (FG) rebuked him.

There was “no need for that”, she snapped. But Classy Clodagh was not happy with Pauline either.

Declan fumed that a certain Green Party senator had gone on national radio and social media, misrepresenting what councillors had agreed at the previous meeting.

“It’s a disgrace,” he squealed. The unnamed senator (Pauline O’Reilly) hadn’t been at the previous meeting and had interpreted their vote arse-ways, was the gist of his rant.

Classy Clodagh agreed. “We all know what we agreed but the public needs to know; Twitter doesn’t know, Twitter needs to know,” she thundered.

There was more righteous indignation from Cllr Alan Cheevers (FF). The Chief Executive, Brendan McGrat,h needed to unleash the might of City Hall’s Press Office and issue a statement. Set the record straight.

He moaned about “misinformation” and “false information” spouted on the Wild West of social media, Twitter.

Pauline, as is her wont, clearly got under the skin of councillors when she criticised them last month.

On April 18, she tweeted: “The end of the Renmore Ballyloughane cycle lane happened last night. It beggar’s belief that another cycle lane in Galway has been voted down by all but two councillors. It is claimed that it would ‘block off access’. What this really means is that it would reduce car parking.”

This referred to a motion at the April meeting, tabled by Cllr Terry O’Flaherty, seconded by Cllr MJ Crowe.

The motion that was passed, read: “We propose that Galway City Council reject the proposals set out in the Ballyloughane Road/Renmore Avenue Active Travel Scheme in its present format.”

It passed by 14-2, with one abstention. Both Green councillors, Martina O’Connor and Niall Murphy, opposed it.

Councillors at the latest meeting complained the vote was misrepresented. They were angered by Pauline’s tweet and the national media coverage it had garnered her on RTÉ Radio One.

Councillors argued that the phrase “in its current format” meant it was not “the end” of the scheme, as she’d claimed on social media. Instead, the Council executive could come back with more palatable proposals.

Brendan McGrath concurred. He “didn’t see the need” to issue a statement to articulate the decision they made. It was “wrong”, he said, if that decision had not been communicated or interpreted correctly. But it was “abundantly clear” to management what councillors had decided.

Meanwhile, Pauline’s ‘offending’ tweet remains up.

(Photo: Pauline O’Reilly at the Mayoral Ball with Green councillors, Niall Murphy and Martina O’Connor).
This is a shortened preview version of this column. For more Bradley Bytes, see the May 19 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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