Michael Fox Singer & Radio Presenter

UP, DOWN, BACK OF BEYOND OR MIDDLE OF NOWHERE?

UP, DOWN, BACK OF BEYOND OR MIDDLE OF NOWHERE?

 Know Where You Are Going!

 

 Since moving here to the west ofIrelandto live, I have become increasingly aware of the usage of colloquial expressions relating to travel and geographical location in general conversation. Certainly, they all convey, quite adequately, what is intended by those uttering same and in that they are fully understood by the listener (myself included!)

 

 

Having grown up in an Irish community many of these expressions are, of course, quite familiar to me but I have never previously paused to consider (indeed, has anyone?) how and why these expressions have originated, and have been assimilated into every day conversation.

 Having conducted a little research into the subject, may I offer the following for edification and amusement and in so doing hasten to add that this is all somewhat “tongue in cheek” and, of course, no offence is intended!

 

 Usage of these expressions is of course not confined to the west ofIreland. Readers hailing from other parts ofIrelandmay recognise the terminology, indeed may have their own “local” examples, and might like to dwell on how  these have arisen?

Where do you live?

“Where do you live, exactly, and what is it like?”

 

 On occasions, when I have returned to “Brum” during the period of almost 3 years which has elapsed since I left there to settle in the west of Ireland, I have been asked the question “Where do you live, exactly, and what is it like?”

 

 In pinpointing precisely where we reside, I am also pleased to tell those asking the question that my wife and I consider that we are, indeed, very fortunate to now live in one of the most beautiful, and still largely undiscovered and unspoilt, parts of Ireland.

 

 For the interest of readers of The Harp, and particularly those who may be considering a first time visit to the west of Ireland this year (and doing my bit for Irish tourism to boot!) here is a whistlestop tour, of our immediate environs and, indeed, some of our local attractions.

Tsunami Concert

Large Turnout for Mid West Radio Show for Tsunami Disaster Fund

 

So many contribute in the wake of the Tsunami

 The evening of Monday 24th January witnessed some 1200 people attending a major concert of top class country and Irish music and comedy. This was held at the TF Royal Hotel & Theatre in Castlebar, Co Mayo to raise funds towards the worldwide relief effort taking place following the recent Tsunami in south east Asia which at time of writing has claimed well in excess of 220,000 lives, ranking this as arguably the biggest natural disaster of our times.     

Tourism ireland

“What we had to offer has now dissolved”

 The demise of Ireland as a tourist destination?

 

“What we had to offer the visitor to Ireland has now dissolved”

 This statement, and a view that that Ireland is no longer a tourist mecca, formed the potentially controversial, perhaps provocative, theme of a letter which appeared in the “Irish Independent” recently. Subsequently, this became the subject of an animated discussion on the popular Mid & North West Radio Tommy Marren daily phone-in programme, with some opinion supporting this view.

This really is the limit

This really is the limit!

 

Wednesday 20th January last finally ushered in here in the Republic a much heralded change in the designation of the speed limits on our roads, from the longstanding imperial “miles per hour” to the metric “kilometres per hour”.

 

In fact, it was said in one radio programme on the subject that I happened to hear that this change would takeIrelandcloser toEuropeand break yet another “link” with our closest neighbour.

 

Explanatory leaflets were delivered to every household, graphically explaining the changes that were to take place to speed limits, changes that, it was stated, would be the most significant for Irish motorists since the founding of the State. New speed limit signs would replace old from that date, displaying the metric value of the old imperial speed limit (or as near as possible to this, thus avoiding going to a number of decimal places!) together with the unit “km/h” (lest anyone should be in any doubt that the new “higher” figure displayed was still an imperial designation, inviting them to travel at a considerably greater speed than was originally permitted!).

The Reek - Seven day Challenge

Climbing the Reek – A Fundraising Challenge

In March 2008 the holy mountain of Croagh Patrick, in County Mayo will witness the re-staging of what was a quite unique fundraising event that took place in January 2007,albeit, it is anticipated, on a much bigger scale.

 

 Croagh Patrick, otherwise known as “The Reek”, has long been a place of devout pilgrimage and each year many thousands, following in the footsteps of Saint Patrick indeed others before him, make the difficult and very physically demanding climb to its peak, and to the little white-painted church there which looks out on a vista that takes in some of the most beautiful and breathtaking landscapes that Ireland has to offer, and including the choppy waters of Clew Bay its numerous islands often likened to a regal crown beset with jewels.

The answer, my friends, is blowin’ in the wind!

The answer, my friends, is blowin’ in the wind!

Maybe, on the crest of a wave, as well?

Visitors to Ireland this year, and particularly to a number of the western counties, would not have failed to notice the number of wind turbines that are appearing atop mountainous areas and across larger areas of flatland, in some instances appearing to encroach upon established areas of scenic beauty.

Whilst some would regard these “towers” as “blots on the landscape” others would agree that these, and the more that can be erected, are absolutely essential to the efforts of this country, in common with other progressive countries around the world in the face of depleting fossil fuel sources and rising oil prices, to increasingly generate electricity supplies from “renewable sources”.

The Government here, very recently, issued a Green Paper on energy, the first in 30 years, as part of it plans to radically shake up the Irish energy supply market.

That's Mad Ted!

“That’s Mad, Ted”

A Milk Round With a Difference

Most of us, I am sure, are familiar with the popular television situation comedy “Father Ted” which focussed on the unlikely lives of three Irish catholic priests and their housekeeper on the remote (albeit fictional) Craggy Island, located somewhere off the west coast of Ireland.

Originally aired on Channel 4, “Father Ted”, co-written by Arthur Matthews and Graham Linehan, ran for 25 episodes spread over three series, from April 1995 to May 1998. Dermot Morgan, who featured in the title role, died from a heart attack during a celebratory party the day after the filming of the final episode of the third series, bring to a finality the production of an iconic comedy series which, with numerous repeats on a variety of television channels, endures to this day and which, for many “Father Ted” enthusiasts, has become “cult viewing”.

Climbing the Reek – A Fundraising Challenge

Climbing the Reek – A Fundraising Challenge 

In March 2008 the holy mountain of Croagh Patrick, in County Mayo will witness the re-staging of what was a quite unique fundraising event that took place in January 2007,albeit, it is anticipated, on a much bigger scale.

Croagh Patrick, otherwise known as “The Reek”, has long been a place of devout pilgrimage and each year many thousands, following in the footsteps of Saint Patrick indeed others before him, make the difficult and very physically demanding climb to its peak, and to the little white-painted church there which looks out on a vista that takes in some of the most beautiful and breathtaking landscapes that Ireland has to offer, and including the choppy waters of Clew Bay its numerous islands often likened to a regal crown beset with jewels.

Captain Gallagher

Captain Gallagher – The Irish Highwayman

 Stand and Deliver!

 

 

Many will be familiar with the legend of Dick Turpin, that notorious highwayman, and his deeds, some two hundred years ago. He was renowned, in particular, for a heroic ride fromLondontoYorkastride his trusty steed Black Bess, before his eventual demise on the gallows.

 However, my subject for this story is our own, albeit less well known but not without notoriety, home grown highwayman here in the west of Ireland, one Captain Gallagher. He roamed these parts at the end of the 18th century and into the 19th century, meeting his fate in 1818, fearlessly it is said, on “the hanging tree” in Castlebar. His execution, of which more later, is reputed to have been the last public hanging to take place on this gibbet. Other reports, not well substantiated, say that he, in fact, met his end on the gallows inSligo following capture on the Tubbercurry to Bonniconlon road. Prior to his apprehension there was posted a reward of 500 guineas offered for his capture, about £525 and a princely sum in those days. To this day there are people here who can point out some of his hideouts.

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