Drinking German tea, and other stories from South Galway.

Thu, Nov 30, 2017

Pete Lane, now in his 80s, who went to Ballindereen national school, spent most of his busy working life ‘on his knees thinning beet’. He had a friend Tommy Staunton from Lough Cutra, who had fought in World War I. Before Tommy went ‘over the top’ he was delighted when each soldier was handed a ‘little glass of brandy’. After which, Tommy claimed, you had no fear in the world. One day they were fighting the Germans, and managed to drive them out of their trenches. There they found a boiler of tea. It was still warm. The men settled down for a good cuppa but the officer warned them that the tea might be poisoned. Nobody cared if it was poisoned or not. ‘We were so exhausted an killed out’ that they enjoyed the break while the fighting continued.

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Letter from Ted Hughes to Sylvia Plath’s mother, Aurelia, March 15, 1963

Thu, Nov 02, 2017

Dear Aurelia, It has not been possible for me to write this letter before now...

I shall never get over the shock and I don’t particularly want to. I’ve seen the letters Sylvia wrote to my parents, and I imagine she wrote similar ones to you, or worse.

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While Europe prepares for war, Galway dances the Lindy Hop!

Thu, Oct 19, 2017

Charles Lindberg made his famous non-stop flight from the US to Europe in May 1927. A young pilot of 25 years, he flew from New York to Paris, on a plane christened The Spirit of St Louis, and his achievement was celebrated across the world. Even on the dance floor!

The Lindy Hop, later more widely known as the ‘Jitterbug’, owes its origins to Black Harlem influence, and to the granddaddy of Swing himself, Mr Shorty George Snowdon. The legend says that Shorty was watching couples dance in his club when a journalist asked him what were they dancing? A newspaper article which headlined: LINDY HOPS THE ATLANTIC was nearby. Shorty replied: ‘They are doing the Lindy Hop’.

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‘Oh steer my bark to Erin’s Isle...’

Thu, Oct 12, 2017

On Friday evening towards the end of the Easter Rising, there was one further horrific incident that convined Padraic Pearse that surrender, and quickly, was the only course open to the rebels.

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Inspirations for a poet

Thu, Sep 28, 2017

Week II

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The moaning came from the room next door

Thu, Sep 21, 2017

In the early 1960s the poet Richard Murphy spent an eventful decade ferrying visitors on his converted traditional Galway hooker type boat, the Ave Maria, between Cleggan and Inishbofin, and to the islands beyond. It provided rich pickings for the poet. He kept a diary of the journeys, the characters who came on board, and the excellent fishing that anglers enjoyed, which he included in his finely observed autobiography The Kick, recently republished to celebrate his 90th birthday.*

It was a healthy, and sociable lifestyle, but out of the blue he was struck down by a mysterious illness. The day following his 39th birthday, August 6 1966, he developed a fever and a sore tongue. He was brought to the Regional Hospital (now University College Hospital), and, probably because it was feared that his fever was contagious, put into a room on his own.

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The poet who went mad on Inishboffin

Thu, Aug 17, 2017

In 1959 the poet Richard Murphy renovated the black-sailed Ave Maria, a traditional Galway hooker, which he used to ferry visitors to Inishboffin, and for a day’s fishing. Over the years the poet, the boat and the magnificent landscape attracted a flotsam and jetsam of humanity, many of a literary kind.

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Éamon de Valera enters the Irish political stage

Thu, Jul 27, 2017

On June 7 1917 Major Willie Redmond, MP for East Clare, was killed in action leading the Royal Irish Brigade to victory at the Battle of Messines Ridge at Ypres. A member of the Irish Parliamentary Party (his brother John was party leader), he had represented East Clare at Westminster for 25 years. At 53 years of age Redmond was too old to be a soldier. But he was convinced that an Ireland loyal to the Crown would succeed in achieving Home Rule, and so he joined the Irish troops at Flanders.

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A letter sent to GA Hayes-McCoy

Thu, Jul 06, 2017

One hundred years ago there were a series of truly terrible battles on the Western Front which were watched anxiously in Ireland as elsewhere. On June 7, near the Belgian village of Messines, the Allied army won a substantial victory. It gave hope, which turned out to be tragically false, that perhaps this was the beginning of the end of the war. With the capture of the Messines ridge, the Allies were confident they could clear a path all the way down to Passchendaele, and capture the Belgian coast up the Dutch border.

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