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Forty years of staying on the line

Thu, Apr 28, 2016

Forty years is a major milestone. For humans and for organisations. To span four decades mean you span almost two generations of change. To span four decades in Ireland means you span almost a hundred years of attitudinal change.

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Time to stay home and be counted

Thu, Apr 21, 2016

If you’re planning a bit of extra marital atin’ over the fence, spreading the wild oats and praying for a crop failure, then next Sunday night is not the night to do it. Not this year anyway. Cos this is the night that the hotels of the country will be scoured to make sure that everyone in the room (registered or not) is lined up again a wall and counted for the purposes of the Census. For one night, fight your desire to avail of low-rate Sunday rates for liaisons of love. That’s the night that the staff will kick in the door, tap ya on the shoulder while you’re in flagrante delicto, ask who are you, what’s your name, have you any kids, how do you get to work, and how the hell did you manage to get into that position without ruining your back?

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Libraries — the delivery room of ideas for the enquiring mind

Thu, Apr 14, 2016

There’s something strange about being alone in a library in the dead in night, when everyone has gone home; the ‘librarial’ silence is even more silent, the expectant hum of a noiseless space long extinguished, the flapping of a turned page no longer a possibility. That sort of silence. Dead silence.

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’Twas just resting in my account. Honest

Thu, Apr 07, 2016

You never think these things will catch up with you. Do you? I mean, there I was in bed on Tuesday morning, just an ordinary Joe Soap, and I discover that I’ve all this money and belongings stashed away in the British Virgin Islands. (British and virgin, two words you don’t often see together). So I says to herself “Herself, what did ya do with the money I gave ya to hold, to mind for me. Did ya give it to anyone?” And Herself, she says, “Himself, I did. I gave it to a fella in the bank who said he’d mind it for us.”

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Connacht Rugby adds to growing sporting culture

Thu, Mar 31, 2016

A rather large unfurled Leinster flag, held high by two poles, blocked the views of fervent Connacht Rugby fans at the Galway Sportsground on Saturday.

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A week when so many never came home

Thu, Mar 24, 2016

Lives and families take a long while to construct. They are the product of memory, of experience, of thousands of repetitive episodes of the mundane. Of night time tuck-ins, or morning wake-up calls. Of late night pick-ups, Of meals prepared. And shared. And moments of greatness and of nothingness. Of hugs and tantrums. Families in whatever shape they take are honed over a lifetime of experiences, not all memorable, but all bricks in the wall that construct the web of togetherness.

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Next generation of Irish start from a stronger base

Wed, Mar 16, 2016

The past is indeed a foreign country. The past in Ireland certainly has been.

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One day I will....

Thu, Mar 10, 2016

Champagne was sipped and chocolates savoured in the office of the Galway Advertiser on Tuesday. Courtesy of owner Ronnie O’Gorman, it was a simple but thoughtful recognition of the female employers to celebrate International Women’s Day.

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How come all this change doesn’t feel like change at all?

Thu, Mar 03, 2016

In every other election in the recent past, there has been a defined amount of certainty. There was always only one or two possible Taoisigh. Always one or two possible combinations. The local faces seemed to be the same local faces. Those same local faces were loyal to the same national faces. The local constituencies merely a foreplay to the grand coupling in the smoke-filled rooms.

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Vote — Don’t waste the chance to make a difference

Thu, Feb 25, 2016

So do you know yet? Have you made up your mind if so-and-so deserves your vote? Have you decided if you can trust your candidate to really care or has he/she the look of a chancer about them? Do you feel respected when you hear them talk or do you feel a just a little bit patronised. Do you feel that whether you vote or not will not impact on the result. Or your life? Or the life of those around you? Apart from those who are actively involved and engaged with the parties and candidates, there are many who feel that voting does not matter and so they don’t bother. So there is a dilemma. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or a politics of hope?

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Use next week to make your best choice

Thu, Feb 18, 2016

They’re getting cranky. And irritable. And aren’t taking the abuse that was thrown at them in the early days of the campaign. Now they can see the prize. And even those who can’t see the prize are having some belief injected into them by their most ardent supporters. And despite the warnings, none of them ever believed that dogs in real life actually bite until the Ringer took one in the ankle. So now they’re wary of every Fido and Bruno. And their legs hurt. And their eyes hurt. But they know they’ve to carry on for one more week. For them it’s akin to begging. Coming to doors, trying to say something that will impress the unimpressable. ‘Cos they know that when they’re looking in the doors of those who are struggling to get by, they know they’re asking the voter to help them get a contract worth more than half a million euro and all they can offer them in return is a chance to earn a few hundred euro a year more. So straightaway it’s an inequitable relationship. Turn it on its head and you’d have their undivided attention.

And they’re frustrated by the unwillingess of people to engage with them on the doorsteps; and they find that those who do engage with them just want to rile them or insult them. And then there was the weather, and they think back to a potential election last November when strangely the nights would not have been as dark or as wet. Or the people as miserable. Back then there was Christmas to look forward to, but now they are engaging with people who are after coming out of a tight Janaury, who have seen their increase in their wages go in one splurge on one intangible thing after another.

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It’s good to dream about summer nights in Carnmore with Bruce

Thu, Feb 11, 2016

About a quarter of a century ago, I remember talking to a doctor in north Galway whose dream it was to make his native Glenamaddy the live music centre of the country. At the time, the only suitable large concert venue capable of handling the mega acts was the then Point in Dublin (now the 3 Arena). This was also a time when the country had effectively staged Europe’s biggest live music concert in a converted stables in rural Co Cork. Dr Paddy Geraghty owned a massive riding stables on the outskirts of the town and he often stood there and imagined it full to the brim, a sort of musical Newgrange attracting thousands of fans from far and wide.

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It takes a village to abuse a child

Thu, Feb 04, 2016

When the darkness strikes and when you know that no matter how loud you scream, you will not be heard, the feeling overtakes you. When you want to wail out for help, but you know that you have no voice, the desire to cry out leaves you. And so you sit and accept the wrongs done to you because in your mind, if nobody cares, then what hope is there. Hope has been stripped from you. And you have been left.

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Your vote is valuable, make sure who gets it deserves it

Thu, Jan 28, 2016

Before the cock crows five times, the belief is that the country will be in election mode. Not a dog will be able to relieve itself against the base of a telegraph pole for fear of having a ladder placed on his paw. Not a handshake or a greeting will be uttered by an upstart candidate that won’t be cynically mistaken for a canvass. And the stage will be set for what will be perhaps the most open and unpredictable general election in modern times as the parties and their people stomp from door to door to get your vote.

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Two decades of comfort and culture

Thu, Jan 21, 2016

Out back in the darkness, back beyond the velvet and the drapes and the flats that hold up the set, there are the steep stairs, bounding down them, throwing your lines together in your head, rubbing makeup into your neck, the smell of sweat and talc and panic and calmness. Up here, you can hear nothing, ‘cept for the occasional applause. And as you exit that far flung dressingroom, with your costume change completed, you struggle not to be distracted by the lane outside. Up here you could be anywhere, but in a minute you’ll be on stage in front of 400 souls. And when you wait in the green room and keep an eye on the monitor to see where your fellow cast members are at in the story you are telling your audience, you can feel the hairs rising and you rise and stretch and go through your routine, before completing the journey down to backstage. Back here in the darkness, you wait for your cue, you get into the mental space, you feel the reassuring squeezes of your fellow cast members. And you wait.

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They’re coming to get your vote

Thu, Jan 14, 2016

We’re nearly there, any day now. Enda will sup tay with Michael D, slap him on the back and say ‘howya lad, I’m thinkin’ of going to the country so will ya sign this pieceen of paper so I can turn the car wesht and start the canvassing’…the knocking on doors. But I’m ahead of him. I’ve been on the canvass for a month now. Getting the face out there. Pressing the flesh. Meeting the great unwashed. With their flus and their colds. And the smell of dinner of them. Every night I’m at it and every day. With my team. Up the path shuffle, ears open for fear the bloody dog would wake, but there’s no dog so there’s a soft cough and a rattle of the knocker and a figure coming up the lit hallway…Howya Maam is himself at home? Oh sure yourself will do. I’m running in the election so I am so I’d be hoping you’d give me your number one or two or anything at all…sure I know yer local man has looked after ye well down here with the new light above at the church and all that but I’d look after ye too so I’d take a two too so I would when you’re scratching your numbers down at the school next month…Oh ya well that’s great so it is…and here’s me card and me email address. I’ve an email address now that people can email me from their email machines on their computer thingys…or you can twitter me or like me or poke me on Facebook, so if you’ve any potholes or potheads or anything you want rid of, I’m your man. I’m your man. I’ll do everything I can, to get meself elected…thank ya ma’am thank ya… Too aisy, this is. The public love me, can’t get enough of me, but will they vote for me. D’ya think she’ll vote for me? She will in her…whole month now I’ve been doing this patch, scratching away at the list all week…patting snottynosed kids and spitting at snottynosed dogs…giving me opinion on everything and anything under the sun…’cos I’m well read…Get the Times so I do…Vote for me. I’m your man. I’ll do everything I can, to get meself elected…Repeal the eighth is it? Jaysis that’s wimmens’ matters now so I’m not too up to speed on these but sure if you want me to repeal it, whatever it is I will, and the Ninth and Tenth as well if you that’s what you want. And I’ll plead the Fifth. I will, sure I will if you’ll vote for me…I nod a lot and what’s the word, empathise. That’s the one. It means pretending I feel like they do…I tut tut. Yeah the floods and the hospital…shocking stuff shocking…you were 78 hours on a trolley…jaysus that’s terrible so it is. Well if I get elected, I’m banning trollies so there’ll be none of them. They can sleep on the floor. They’ll be glad they had trollies then, so they will…and the homeless, yeah I think about them, but sure you don’t have to think much about them when you’re knocking on doors, ‘cos they don’t have doors and you’re not going to meet one, so you nod and tut tut…and blame the government…Vote for me. I’m your man. I’ll do everything I can, to get meself elected…I dream of the guts of a million spondoolicks over five years. I dream of standing on the plinth outside the Dail in March. A plinth is just a big step, ok. One big step for “I’m ur man”kind…“what d’ya mean I’ll have no power. Sure I will. I’m me own man. I won’t be whipped. Sure I haven’t been whipped since herself came home from Fifty Shades in the village cinema last year full of bullock’s notions, so she was. I keep walking and knocking. They love me. Can’t get enough of me. I’m giving them everything they want. Another door, another mangy dog, where are all the cat lovers when you’re canvassing?… they send the kid out ‘cos they’re watching Operation Transformation and the state of them all sitting on the couch atin’ pizza and drinking Coke and laughing at the fat feckers on the telly. Father waddles out eventually…I shake the hand and he tried to catch me out. “Sure I’m a nationalist too, yeah the right kind, not the kind that kills ya, the other kind. We’re five weeks out now from the big day…don’t forget the face now or the name…got the new suit for when they lift me on their shoulders and throw me up and down…and my speech done, two of them, wan for if I’d ever lose, and another one where I thank Mammy for making me the man I am, and for making me breakfast for nigh on 50 year.

Canvassing I hate it… like begging it is. Like asking people for a favour so it is. Promising them this and that. Is it lying? No, I promise to do this to the best of my ability. It’s just they have no clue what the best of my ability is. And neither do I…… Howya sir, can I count on ya next month, ‘gwan, I’ll look after ya. A grant is it.

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The importance of the watermark

Thu, Jan 07, 2016

When the evening stretches beyond teatime again, they’ll look at it. They’ll run their hands along it, they’ll let the green slime fill the little rivers on their fingertips. And they’ll marvel and say, isn’t that amazing?

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Local tragedies have numbed us all this festive season

Wed, Dec 23, 2015

Tragedy and misfortune seem to be amplified the nearer they are to the Christmas season. Our reaction to news of the darkest kind at this time of year centres on the ruination of the occasion, the absence of friends, the destruction of memories and the fact that it careers into the path of a season that is ostensibly presented as one of joy and familial togetherness.

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The magnet of Galway keeps drawing in med tech giants

Thu, Dec 17, 2015

Back in the day, there was nothing quite like a jobs announcement to get the blood flowing in a journalist. A jobs announcement meant a call from the hallowed offices of the IDA; a tip off that there was good news in the air; an early morning start to meet a Minister on his/her arrival at said destination; wellies at the ready if it was a greenfield plan; or surgical scrubs and hairnets if it was in one of those new squeaky clean facilities that now dominate our industrial landscape.

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The silent burglar of rising water

Thu, Dec 10, 2015

Our homes are precious places. They are the last bastion of the day dreamer, they are the harbours to which our emotional ships flee in time of strife and bother. To our homes, we afford a feeling of invincibility because they are not bolstered alone by bricks and mortar, but by love and memories and familial strength. That is why when homes are burgled, so much more is lost than the goods that are taken. What is stolen first and foremost is the sanctity of the home, that the boundaries have been breached by someone not welcome, not invited.

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