The darkest hour is just before the dawn

Thu, Nov 25, 2010

My mother had an expression uttered each time she saw a pram which went “there’s last year’s fun on wheels.” Well, last night at the publication of the Four Year Plan, we got the bill for the fun that was had by many, though not all in the first seven years of this century. And like a bill in a restaurant when you peruse the columns to make sure you haven’t been charged for something you didn’t order, there are a lot of people in this country this morning who will be mnystified why they have to foot the bill for a party to which they were not invited.

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Taking a co-ordinated approach to traffic management

Thu, Nov 18, 2010

Ireland rolled out a key element of its new road safety campaign this week, and, as expected, there was huge interest where the Gardai's new mobile traffic cameras (think emissions), operated by private contractors, were to be posted - so much so the Garda website crashed several times.

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Springtime for Ireland and Germany...

Thu, Nov 11, 2010

Hi ho, hi ho, itzoff ze vork ve go...and so rings out the tune floating across Eyre Square and in through my window this week as the German Christmas market takes shape. Vot vit all ze merry German vorkers vit zer hammers and zer lederhosen schlapping their thighs and hammering, ze happy leetle hammer men. Humming Eine Kleine Nachtmusik as zey vork into ze small hours. Unloading zer cuckooo clox vit ze leetle burd saying cuckoo cuckoo. Ze Irish are living in ze cloud cuckoo's land.

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Aer Arann approval is great news for the west

Thu, Nov 04, 2010

The decision late last evening in the High Court to approve a plan for the survival of Aer Arann is one that is to be welcomed warmly in the west and indeed in all of the remote locations that it serves along the western seaboard of this country.

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From the people who brought you the present, it’s The Future

Thu, Oct 28, 2010

“Well your honour, the defendant was just making his way into the city centre, having disembarked from the Queen of the Seas luxury cruise liner, when he was set upon by the homeless man who proceeded to beat him about the head with his iPad. He then walked past the President Higgins Memorial Theatre, crossed the Conneely pedestrian footbridge over the Corrib, past the former courthouse which is now the virtual artspace, and was enjoying his quadruple shot mocha mocha latte when the attack occurred. The homeless man, obviously addicted to connectivity, came up to him and asked him if he had any spare USBs”

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City will pay big price if it runs market out of town

Thu, Oct 21, 2010

Have you ever seen anything that has gone out of style such as the kick in the arse? When I was young, it was all the rage. If you annoyed your brother, you got a kick in the arse. If you fought with your friends, you got a kick in the arse, even in the school I went to, the teachers would send the boot in the direction of your cheeks if they felt you deserved it.

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Time to stop whinging about the Christmas market

Thu, Oct 14, 2010

The decision this week by the city council to overwhelmingly endorse the Christmas Market planned for Eyre Square next month is one that should be welcomed by all locals, despite prophecies of doom issued from some quarters that Galway is not a suitable venue in which to hold it.

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Manuela’s invaluable legacy to Galway

Thu, Oct 07, 2010

Time has a habit of dulling the images of the past. Remembering the people we love, trying to recall their faces takes a second or so longer as each year goes by, the pictures blur, the sharpness becomes fuzzy; try as we might, the tide of memory ebbs and flows and slowly goes out to the horizons of the mind.

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‘Black Thursday’ breaking point can also open our eyes to new opportunities

Fri, Oct 01, 2010

The dizzying scale of Irish debt as finally revealed by the financial and state authorities yesterday will have no doubt left most of us reeling from shock and anger. Already dubbed ‘Black Thursday’, the figure of more than €35 billion now defined as the outer limits of what we must raise in order to pay off government liabilities, is staggering. The news of a further €3 billion bail-out required for AIB, that will effectively nationalise the country’s largest bank with money taken from our own National Reserve Pension Fund, can only be described as sickening. Coming one on top of the other in the face of the international markets deeming Ireland a no-confidence zone, it feels like we are just being socked in the stomach over and over again. How many more body blows can we endure?

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Embattled west must prepare for cuts

Thu, Sep 30, 2010

It may have proved a futile gesture, but the man who drove his truck at Leinster House gates yesterday morning - believed to be a Galway-based businessman who previously struck in Galway - demonstrates the sheer frustration and anger many people in Ireland are currently feeling. His anger comes the same week it was revealed former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Sean Fitzpatrick’s wife retains more than €1 million in her bank account.

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Arthur’s Day could be the salvation of us all yet

Thu, Sep 23, 2010

At 17.59 this evening, millions of easily-led paddies will raise a pint of the black stuff to the sky and participate in the greatest laughing yer way to the bank exercise that the field of marketing has ever seen. It is a good thing that the roar will be heard around the world as it will conceal the equally loud kerr-chink of the tills as millions are spent on pints as the country engages in the greatest encouragement of skulling pints before teatime. Yes, the streets of every town and village in Ireland will ring to the cheers of the pint holders at teatime this evening, just one week after the common noise was the tut-tutting about the pint-skulling exploits of An Taoiseach.

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Piston broke — What’s the story, morning glory?

Thu, Sep 16, 2010

We are blessed to have a Taoiseach who is very good at impressions. Word is the current incumbent was up ‘til the early hours in The Ardilaun mimicking Micheal O Muircheartaigh. He follows in a long line of Taoisigh who are adept at doing impressions. The previous officeholder used to do an hilarious impression of a socialist, while his stand-up routines about loo-las and economists hanging themselves are the stuff of legend. While The Squire Haughey did a fantastic impression of a porn star, screwing the entire country and its gossip columnists at the same time, saying ‘take it baby.’ Ah, they’re a gas lot, the FFers when it comes to entertaining us with an auld camalya song or versions of Phil Coulter songs. But back to Biffo, the man of the moment. His star impression is that of a drunk. In fact, he’s so good at it, he doesn’t even know he’s doing it, and that they say is the sign of a class act (no, not you Bev, you’re a different class act). Brianeen can sound so drunk and be stone cold sober. The Clara Amateur Drama Society must be wondering how they let him slip through the net and into politics. Niall Toibin, Frank Kelly, Eamonn Morrissey have nothing on this man when it comes to playing a drunk. He can slur the words and do the walk like a star. The secret about playing a drunk though is not to flail arms and stagger around the place. On the contrary, drunks are mostly upstanding people, concentrating very hard on their next step, their next word. So hard in fact that they miss that step or confuse the words Croke Park with the words Good Friday and then top it off with a bit of a laugh.

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Piston broke — What’s the story, morning glory?

Thu, Sep 16, 2010

We are blessed to have a Taoiseach who is very good at impressions. Word is the current incumbent was up ‘til the early hours in The Ardilaun mimicking Micheal O Muircheartaigh. He follows in a long line of Taoisigh who are adept at doing impressions. The previous officeholder used to do an hilarious impression of a socialist, while his stand-up routines about loo-las and economists hanging themselves are the stuff of legend. While The Squire Haughey did a fantastic impression of a porn star, screwing the entire country and its gossip columnists at the same time, saying ‘take it baby.’ Ah, they’re a gas lot, the FFers when it comes to entertaining us with an auld camalya song or versions of Phil Coulter songs. But back to Biffo, the man of the moment. His star impression is that of a drunk. In fact, he’s so good at it, he doesn’t even know he’s doing it, and that they say is the sign of a class act (no, not you Bev, you’re a different class act). Brianeen can sound so drunk and be stone cold sober. The Clara Amateur Drama Society must be wondering how they let him slip through the net and into politics. Niall Toibin, Frank Kelly, Eamonn Morrissey have nothing on this man when it comes to playing a drunk. He can slur the words and do the walk like a star. The secret about playing a drunk though is not to flail arms and stagger around the place. On the contrary, drunks are mostly upstanding people, concentrating very hard on their next step, their next word. So hard in fact that they miss that step or confuse the words Croke Park with the words Good Friday and then top it off with a bit of a laugh.

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We must support the leaner and more efficient Aer Arann

Thu, Sep 09, 2010

The news that came out of the High Court yesterday afternoon that there is a reasonable chance of Aer Arann surviving is one that should be welcomed most especially here in the west. Our local airport is dependent on Aer Arann for giving us the type of connectivity to the major UK and Irish cities that a major city like Galway needs.

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Mick’s spirit will live on in Druid

Thu, Sep 02, 2010

Tonight when the floors of the Druid Theatre in Druid Lane fall silent, and when the last vestige of light is squeezed out by the arriving night; and when the last lock has been bolted, there will be heard a cough, a clearing of the throat and that chuckle, the head thrown back, and an “arragh shure.”

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Rearing children to be sacrificed on our killing fields

Thu, Aug 26, 2010

While you are reading this and seeing the mere words that lie on this page, several families in Kerry are going through an unimaginable grief. They are numbed by the events of yesterday morning; they are shivering and shaking as their bodies try to absorb the enormity of it all; the hugs and handshakes meaning little as they nod in an automated response; the realisation that after rearing children from the cot to the threshold of their own independence, that all they had hoped for their children has been taken away from them.

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Let’s not have petty war over German market

Thu, Aug 19, 2010

I don’t get excited anymore about the flick of a switch and seeing a light coming on. In fact the thrill of being thrilled by lights has dimmed somewhat since the heady days of the rural electrification scheme when Paddy might have been excited by seeing the surprised look on the cow’s face on those otherwise dark nights of the 1930s. And because lights don’t negate the need for Viagra anymore in any of us, it is heartening to see that this year the good burghers of Galway are to look beyond lights to make Galway festive and instead are to turn Eyre Square into Little Bavaria this winter to create an atmospheric Christmas market — a sort of Volvo Ocean Race for the winter where all sorts of Germanic and mainland European festival flavours will convert our central plaza from the great nothingness that it is into something to be savoured and enjoyed by thousands of families.

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Ivor’s biggest sin — getting caught

Thu, Aug 05, 2010

Sssssh. Listen. Can you hear the patter of hundreds of tiny trotters as the piglets sprint away from the massive swill trough before the bold pig spills it over. Off they run lest they be splashed with any of the muck-spreading that has been caused by the bould pig Ivor. They’ve all known for a long time that the bould pig Ivor had been lashing up the swill with all four trotters, but sure, they let him carry on because they just didn’t want the farmer to come over and see what was going on at the trough. ‘Cos then he might look at them all, and see the muck on the trotters from the fumbling in the greasy swill.

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Thursday morning coming down...

Thu, Jul 29, 2010

...ate a clock in the morning like...smartphone alarm beep beeps into me ear...one hand picks up and smashes it again the wall...not so smart now is it...where am I...recessed lights in ceiling shine into me eyes...discover me pyjamas have a hood in them...fell asleep in the clothes again...where am I...not Mrs O’Brien’s b & bloody b this year... no, not for me...fine room in wan of them gombeen hotels owned by NAMA for half nawthing...open shirt buttons and spray deodorant under arms and head for the lift...close buttons, push buttons and fella in the lift mirror does the same...full Irish with bacon rashers and eggs... throw back the lugs and dive in...lash back the orange juice...parched I am...try to walk sober like, wan foot then the udder, repeat...I’m Racingman, I’m wide out...down the square check out paddys ladbrokes boyles muls get the odds... and ends... too early to go out yet...sit on bench and look at fountain knocked on for the week...the trickle, they’d needn’t have bothered their...whole week I’m here for...then light up brighten up... wink at young wan get scowl but scowl back at her... she don't know what's she missing...missing in Racingman... light another... hand shakes but 'twould by now anyways Wednesday and all... phone dying just two bars...head dying just 25 bars...need cash...act fast...shaky fingers dance on vomit-splattered keypad at hole in wall...good job don't need numbers 3, 8, 2 as they're splashed pretty bad... cash comes out crisp clean only gives 300 so go to other machine... clean pad, thick wad jammed in arse pocket but switch to front... can't be too sure... cute hoor watching ya catching ya but not me. I'm wide out me so I am, sham ya have to get outa the scratcher early to catch out Racingman...Romanian fecker murdering a violin in the Square...where’s Lee Harvey Oswald when ya need him...get the Racing Post...to look cool like...and the Star but no picture of Georgia Saipa...bring it back and get fresh one...dash into Debbinghams and when the wimmen aren’t looking over Racingman is lost in a cloud of Calvin Kyne and Ralph Lawrence eau de sweat...smelling grand...ready for the road...ready for the course...hop into taxi...sit in front..big head on him...air stinks of air freshener and stale conversation...he tells me country is fecked...emigrants should shag off home...can’t get planning...and he’s from Lagos...three ways to racecourse...green, blue and red routes...we take a bit of blue and red and he drops me in a cowfield near Castlegar church...walk that way he says... the brown route...and I walk...better now...go to ring the boys but smartphone still smarting from batin’ I gave it. Must be an app for that...see the stand ahead...walk straight...shoes covered in shite...sham says ‘anywan want to try the three card trick the three card trick, watch out Char-less the shades are lamping the scene’... don't fall for that not after last year not me cos I'm wide out...Racingman won’t fall for that...this year...in the gate...meet yer man from home he waves and says he knows a fella who knows Weld is the man...get card and biro...rip page from card and jam in raffle drum to win another shaggin’ night in a gombeen hotel...always been lucky mother said when I won the teddy bear at the sale of work but she didn't know I stole it then sold it then stole it again...Guard nods at me I nod back howya guard what does he know probably has a file on Racingman the big happy Templemore head on him...met the byes... the byes from home...lads shout yahoo at Ted Walsh and some other... twenty years since he rode her mother...run to the stand... spilling plastic pints down new Next shirt, it’ll live up to its name tomorrow...horse romps home...plastic pints go skywards...beef sandwiches all round... grease is the next stain for the Next shirt... Lads have quare wans' mobile numbers wants 200 notes for an hour of the bould thing... lads laugh when I ask for group discount...an hour I laugh, an hour of drinking time wasted...she says for 400 she’ll bate me with a whip til I cry...told her I can get a batin’ for nawthing outside Supermacs...and then the streets...Latin quarter me arse...from wan pub to another...Racingman’s head’s in a spin...time for food...tuna melt with extra dolphin...staggered up the pedestrianised streets, avoiding the bikes and the rickshaws like fecking Tianaman Square ‘tis...taxi and shows him card from hotel...Lagos man again......more stale conversation...emigrants should feck off home...he should feck off home to Carlow with all the other taxidrivers...drives me around town nine times and then drops me at gombeen hotel where room was chayper than taxi...birds are singing when me head hits the bed...zzzzzzzzzzzzz..ate a clock...smartphone about to beep its alarm, but decides not to...now that’s a smart phone...still only Thursday morning.

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Many families are fearing the coming winter

Thu, Jul 22, 2010

At around 9pm on Tuesday, when the heavens opened and the celestial beings tipped the buckets over Galway, it was a minor inconvenience to us all and to the thousands of tourists who are currently spending their holidays here. To some it was the soft Irish rain that’s good for the complexion, but for hundreds of householders across the county, it sent a dart of pain across their minds and brought them back to last winter when the pitter patter splish splashin’ saw their homes turned into a watery hell, forcing many of them to flee and leave behind all of the things that they had worked so hard to put together.

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