Our friends in WIT will be watching with interest the situation not too far up the road where the Tipperary Institute has entered negotiations with Limerick Institute of Technology with a view to merging the two colleges.

Confirming that discussions were underway, the Acting CEO of TI, Michael O’Connell, said last week they were looking at what the overall model might be but, at the end of the process, there would be one organisation. However, the Tipperary Institute had its own culture and strengths that would have to be taken into account, he added. No job losses are expected at either campus and Tipperary executives believe a merger will boost their Institute’s standing in terms of attracting more students and increased funding. Interesting.

Shoddy workmanship

In a situation seemingly common to all parts of the country it has emerged in recent weeks that, in many cases, water pipes into people’s homes are not buried deep enough in the ground with the result that pipes froze and left thousands of families without a water supply.

Government regulations stipulate that mains water pipes must be at least 60cm underground to prevent freezing but it became apparent that this rule had been blatantly ignored in many private and local authority estates leading to frozen pipes and massive disruption. Hundreds of home owners in one estate (not in Waterford) discovered that their pipes had been laid down at less than half the required depth. It all smacks of yet another case of shoddy workmanship. “Sure it’ll do, boy, we’ll be long gone before anybody notices.” Unfortunately, for the victims, there are always consequences eventually.

Dusty Springfield’s Waterford connection

A connection was discovered recently between the late singer, Dusty Springfield, and the Redmonite movement that still exists in pockets of Waterford politics. It turns out that Dusty Springfield’s grandfather was one of this country’s most famous journalists. Maurice Patrick Ryle was a close friend of the MP John Redmond and strongly supported his brand of conservative nationalism and his recruitment policy during World War 1.

Born in Kerry, Maurice Ryle was at various times editor of The Evening Herald and The Irish Independent and, in the 1920s, he was enticed to Athlone by the Chapman family that owned the Westmeath Independent and The Offaly Independent at that time.

Mr Ryle died in 1935 leaving four daughters and four sons. One of his daughters, Mary O’Brien, emigrated to England where her daughter, who became Dusty Springfield, was born. The late singer was a first cousin of the prominent historian, T. Ryle Dwyer, who is also a grandson of Maurice Patrick Ryle.

Congratulations to all the Flower Power generation

I received the following letter from a reader last week concerning all the children who were born in the 1940s and 1950s and grew up in the 1960s, known collectively as the Flower Power generation. My correspondent is exceedingly politically incorrect and I’m pretty sure he is not advocating a return to former practices but, all the same, I couldn’t help but smile and concede that he has a point! His letter was as follows:

Dear John,

Congratulations to you and all the rest of us for reaching such an advanced age in our lives. We are truly blessed considering we were born to mothers most of whom smoked and/or drank while they carried us and lived in houses partly constructed from asbestos. Our Mams took aspirin, ate blue cheese, raw egg products, loads of bacon and processed meat, tuna from a can and got tested for nothing. Then, after the trauma of birth, we were put in baby cots that were covered with bright, coloured, lead-based paints.

We had no childproof lids or locks on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and, when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets or shoes, not to mention the risks we took when hitchhiking. As children, we rode in cars with no seat belts or air bags. We drank water from the garden hose and not from a sealed package. Takeaway food was limited to fish and chips (often made with lard and dripping) and, even though all the shops closed at 6pm and didn’t open at the weekends, somehow we didn’t starve to death!

We often shared one soft drink with four friends from one bottle and nobody actually died from this. We could collect old drink bottles and cash them in at the corner store and buy toffees, gobstoppers and bubble gum. We ate cupcakes, white bread with real butter and drank soft drinks with sugar in it but we weren’t overweight because we were always outside playing. We would often leave home in the morning and play all day and it was OK as long as we were back when the streetlights came on.

We would spend hours building our go-carts out of old prams and then ride down the hill only to find out we forgot the brakes. We built tree houses and dens and played in river beds with matchbox cars. We did not have all the electronic playthings available today. There were no mobile phones, no personal computers, no internet or internet chat rooms. But we did have friends and we went outside and found them. We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no

lawsuits from these accidents. Only girls had pierced ears! We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt and the worms did not live in us forever.

You could only buy Easter Eggs and Hot Cross Buns at Easter time and we were given airguns and catapults for our 10th birthdays. We rode bikes or walked to a friend’s house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just yelled for them. Various sporting teams had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn’t had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that! Getting into the team was based on merit!

Our teachers used to hit us with canes, leathers and gym shoes and bullies (the bastards) always ruled the school playground. The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law! We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all. Congratulations, my friend, you were, and are, one of us.

Warm regards and all the best from You Know Who.