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Make sure your bed is comfortable before you lie in it



Date Published: {J}

It may have escaped your notice, but March has been designated as National Bed Month in Britain – presumably by the people who make and sell beds.

But ‘research’ carried out by Ikea has discovered that Britons spend more time choosing what to eat for their lunch than what kind of mattress they will spend the best years of their life sleeping on.

Frankly that surprised me too, because while I clearly spend some time considering what tasty morsels can sate my lunchtime hunger, I too place a huge importance on sleep.

Back in the day when I bought my first house and was the proud recipient of the £2,000 first time house buyer’s grant – the only money I had for furniture – I had to prioritise by domestic appliances.

I had to have a cooker and a fridge, a cheap table and chair and a wardrobe – but the one thing I didn’t want to scrimp on was a mattress.

When I told the furniture store man all of this – and emphasised the point by joking that some of my happiest times were spent in bed (meaning asleep, to be honest), he replied mockingly: “Modest, aren’t we.”

It’s not just about mattresses, of course – you first of all have to have a bed. And while you would sleep anywhere in your youth – the floor, a shelf, a car, under a tree or on one particularly shameful occasion, in the old handball alley at UCG – there comes a time in life when nothing less than home comforts is enough.

There was a recent occasion – New Year’s Eve as it turns out – when a major gathering of in-laws was muted. The problem was that, while the host is a most generous man who always appears to have done a deal with a local brewery so that supplies never run out, the sleeping arrangements involved either a blow-up mattress or a collection of cushions from the settee.

Blow-up mattresses work if you’re a small child or a six stone jockey – and I’m neither – and cushions tend to part like the Red Sea minutes after you manage to arrange them. Thus New Year’s Eve was spent home alone, but happy in my own bed.

Because the truth is that I cannot function without sleep and having endured lumpy mattresses in dodgy cheap hotels to appreciate the value of a good one.

And yet we spend so little time picking the place where everything happens – Ikea’s survey discovered that nearly three quarters (72 per cent) take under ten minutes and 37 per cent take less than five minutes to choose the mattress they are likely to sleep on for the next eight years.

According to the research, that’s the same amount of time people take choosing their lunch each day.

Is it any wonder then that 70 per cent of Brits don’t believe they are getting enough sleep – and that 52 per cent think a bad mattress could be to blame? Although one-third of the women blame their partner’s hogging of the duvet for disturbed sleep. Yeah, right.

The main reason behind these hasty purchases appears be the great British reserve, which research shows, is alive and well as nearly a third (31 per cent) of those surveyed admitted to feeling shy and embarrassed when testing a mattress.

A further 26 per cent admitted that they would be too embarrassed to even lie down on a mattress in-store before purchasing it.

And that’s commendable, because there are few worse sights in life than, when you go into a home store, to find a giggling couple rolling around on a mattress that might actually have been yours if they hadn’t ruining it with their public cavorting.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.


For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Galway have lot to ponder in poor show



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013




GALWAY’S first serious examination of the 2013 season rather disturbingly ended with a rating well below the 40% pass mark at the idyllic, if rather Siberian, seaside setting of Enniscrone on Sunday last.

The defeat cost Galway a place in the FBD League Final against Leitrim and also put a fair dent on their confidence shield for the bigger tests that lie ahead in February.

There was no fluke element in this success by an understrength Sligo side and by the time Leitrim referee, Frank Flynn, sounded the final whistle, there wasn’t a perished soul in the crowd of about 500 who could question the justice of the outcome.

It is only pre-season and last Sunday’s blast of dry polar winds did remind everyone that this is far from summer football, but make no mistake about it, the match did lay down some very worrying markers for Galway following a couple of victories over below par third level college teams.

Galway did start the game quite positively, leading by four points at the end of a first quarter when they missed as much more, but when Sligo stepped up the tempo of the game in the 10 minutes before half-time, the maroon resistance crumbled with frightening rapidity.

Some of the statistics of the match make for grim perusal. Over the course of the hour, Galway only scored two points from play and they went through a 52 minute period of the match, without raising a white flag – admittedly a late rally did bring them close to a draw but that would have been very rough justice on Sligo.

Sligo were backable at 9/4 coming into this match, the odds being stretched with the ‘missing list’ on Kevin Walsh’s team sheet – Adrian Marren, Stephen Coen, Tony Taylor, Ross Donovan, David Kelly, David Maye, Johnny Davey and Eamon O’Hara, were all marked absent for a variety of reasons.

Walsh has his Sligo side well schooled in the high intensity, close quarters type of football, and the harder Galway tried to go through the short game channels, the more the home side bottled them up.

Galway badly needed to find some variety in their attacking strategy and maybe there is a lot to be said for the traditional Meath style of giving long, quick ball to a full forward line with a big target man on the edge of the square – given Paul Conroy’s prowess close to goal last season, maybe it is time to ‘settle’ on a few basics.

Defensively, Galway were reasonably solid with Gary Sice at centre back probably their best player – he was one of the few men in maroon to deliver decent long ball deep into the attacking zone – while Finian Hanley, Conor Costello and Gary O’Donnell also kept things tight.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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