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Country Living

Good riddance to a month of darkness and little cheer

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January weather images more often than not depict the harshness of mid-Winter in its many guises.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

As months of the year go, January I find to be one of the most unlovable of all, a bit like Paddy Kavanagh’s dandelions in the field of potatoes as the sprayer pondered his next move. The only little saving grace it has, is that for a short while at least, time seems to go just a bit slower during this dreariest of months, but having said that, as our paper hits the shops today, 25 days of January have elapsed.

Meteorologists and Met Éireann always categorise January as our mid-Winter month based on temperature statistics and it rarely passes without leaving us with some stinging reminder that we’re still a long way off from seeing a real stretch in the evenings and better days to come.

It is a month of morning darkness, with January a veritable scrooge in terms of releasing any extra light before 9am, although there is the ‘cock-step’ in the evening brightness with a solid half-hour plus gain in the sunset time as compared to a month ago.

The ‘cock-step’ is a charming piece of old country lore, and is based on a little idiosyncrasy of the male of the hen species, as they preen themselves in front of their female admirers, more often than not in the past, on the dung stead of the farmyard.

The rooster, cock or cockerel had the habit of lifting one leg at a time without any other body movement and then leaving it back down in almost the same place, but not quite.

On close inspection, there was always just the slightest little gain in terms of the imprint size on the dung heap . . . a little increase in size, but not very much, hence the term ‘cock-step’ to pithily summarise the tiny light gain we enjoy through January.

If we do get the frosts and snows through the month of January, there is often little respite in terms of thawing power with still only a short window of potential sunlight.

Sunrise today (January 25) in Galway, still hasn’t broached 8.30, with the sun going down at 5.06pm, but the key element in terms of ‘thawing power’ during the first month of the year is the height of the sun in the sky.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Country Living

Getting a small bit spooked as the machines get smarter

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Country Living with Francis Farragher

WE all get attached . . . nay, even dependent . . . on our technology devices, most notably the mobile phone, but here and there the technology does spook me a bit.

A couple of weeks ago, as I sat into my car one evening as I prepared to head for the hills, I began to sing a verse or two of the Beatles classic ‘Yesterday’.

The Apple CarPlay system was on in my car and I had scarcely completed the first verse of the song when lo and behold what started to play on the speakers but of one Paul McCartney with the ‘real thing’.

Now, some of my technology nerd acquaintances will come up with a simple explanation as to why this happened but it surely wasn’t a coincidence.

There are times too when I think I’m paranoid, or maybe not, when after certain conversations have taken place about anything from cars to canisters, an ad flashes across my iPhone about the topic we’d just been discussing.

And now, the latest buzz words in the whole chain of technology advancement are Artificial Intelligence or AI, which I have to admit is just a little bit above my basic level of competency or understanding of high-tech jargon.

Being of country stock, the AI initials always meant only one thing back the years – artificial insemination – when the man with the straws of bull semen would arrive on the farm to impregnate cows in what had to be a very non-pleasurable experience for all concerned.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Country Living

Dark days when innocence disappeared out the window

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Country Living with Francis Farragher

Sometimes, the return drive from Dublin after a weekend sojourn in The Capital can feel a bit longer than it should. The passengers are generally tired and try to steal forty winks so often the radio is the best companion to court. With local stations out of range, I flicked through the channels on a Sunday evening and stumbled into one of those programmes that once you hear the beginning of . . . well it just sucks you in.

It was a documentary made a number of years back for Radio 1 on the Whistleblowers’ theme, featuring the story of one Father Gerard McGinnity who in the late 1970s and early 1980s was regarded as one of the ‘up-and-coming stars’ of the Catholic Church in Ireland being appointed as Senior Dean of Maynooth College in 1978 at the age of 32, decades younger than any of his predecessors.

The Armagh native seemed destined for high places in the Church hierarchy,  with ‘the sky the limit’ for someone so young to have advanced so quickly through the ranks. However, all was to change dramatically around 1984, when Fr. McGinnity was made aware of allegations of possibly of improper contacts between the then Vice-President of Maynooth College, a Fr. Micheál Ledwith, and young seminarians.

Fr. McGinnity, still alive and well in his mid-70s, spoke on the documentary about how he wrestled with his conscience and what he should do after these concerns were raised with him.

Eventually, he made the decision, that he needed to express his concerns to a number of bishops and the then Papal Nuncio, Gaetano Alibrandi, expecting that his concerns would be treated in confidence and properly investigated. Neither of those two things happened.

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

Suffering from everything apart from hypochondria

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Country Living with Francis Farragher

It’s a condition that’s eased with the passing of time but here and there little symptoms of it return. A sore calf muscle; a cough that lasts more than a week or so; a stiffness in the back of the neck of shoulders; a soft little lump on the bottom of a foot . . . now that is a whole range of harmless enough symptoms but when you add in a measure of hypochondria to that cocktail . . . well then the medical self-diagnosis can be devastating.

The only little consolation for an ordinary Joe Soap, who might occasionally suffer from this condition, is that it’s one shared by many famous people across the globe. Over a decade or so, a pretty widely acclaimed book by Brian Dillon, entitled, Tormented Hope: Nine Hypochondriac Lives, documented the lives and times of nine famous people spanning the centuries who were afflicted with extreme doses of the condition.

From Charles Darwin to Charlotte Bronte to Andy Warhol, these are famous people who had an unhealthy preoccupation with their health or what they believed was impending doom coming down the track for them. Of course, the inevitable is coming for all of us either sooner or later, but the trick is not to be envisioning the final whistle being blown early into the second half of the match.

Mark Twain was probably ahead of his time when he cautioned about reading too many health books ‘in case you might die of a misprint’ and now for every little pain of headache we experience, the temptation is there to flick through Google where invariably you will find a fatal affliction connected to that occasional twinge in your big toe.

Hypochondria can be defined rather simply as an irrational fear about health and death and while to non-sufferers, it’s the butt of many jokes and moments of jocularity, the rather more serious side to it is that it can make life pretty miserable for the person that believes, for no particular reason, that the end is nigh. It can lead to depression or be caused by depression but the simplest cure for it may be just a simple heart-to-heart chat with your GP.

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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