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Country Living

A man whose words were his wealth and eternal legacy

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“O commemorate me with no hero-courageous Tomb - just a canal-bank seat for the passer-by.” (From the Paddy Kavanagh poem: Lines Written on a Seat on the Grand Canal, Dublin).

Country Living with Francis Farragher

Afew years back, I had a conversation with former TD, Paul Connaughton Senior, which took its usual ramble through various diversions. We started to talk about Patrick Kavanagh and his writings, with both of us agreeing on the delights of his free-flowing prose and delightful poetry.

His umbilical connection with the land and his descriptiveness of country life in Ireland during the harsh and hungry years of the country through the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, made his poems all the more insightful with words beautifully crafted.

At this point, I enquired off the former Junior Minister for Agriculture, what Kavanagh was like as a farmer, and he replied: “Well, the world’s worst – the writing was lovely but the farming was terrible.”

This week, on the 50th anniversary of Paddy Kavanagh’s death (November 30, 1967), the thought struck my mind that even if the man had been a brilliant farmer and an awful writer, there wouldn’t be a word about him, but now he has secured his own very notable piece of immortality, with his stature as a writer and poet having grown immeasurably over recent decades.

Like most people of my generation, Kavanagh came to my notice in a book simply entitled: Poetry, Leaving Cert Anthology, edited by a W. J. Steele, and from the point of view of exams, Kavanagh’s poems seemed a lot easier to understand and to tune into, rather than the more spiritual and ethereal musings of W. B. Yeats.

There seems little doubt that Kavanagh was a contrarian, in any walk of life he was in, getting involved in ‘scrapes’ with writers, newspaper and publishers. One of 10 children and born in 1904, he played in goals for the local Iniskeen Gaelic football team, before deciding in 1931 to ‘follow his star’ and go to Dublin to further his writing career.

He used local language to write about the unembellished lives of ordinary people, a style that didn’t exactly ingratiate him with the more upmarket literary ‘set’ in Dublin of the time and almost from the word go, there was artistic friction between the farmer and the ‘upper crust’ of the arts world in the capital.

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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