Elsewhere on this page is a tribute to the country music singer, Merle Haggard, who became a star after selling millions of records.
Yet only a couple of weeks ago, on Easter Sunday, a young County Wexford singer called Emily Jane Furlong made a recording of a ballad that, at the time of writing, has exceeded 500,000 viewings.
Recorded on a smartphone in Rathangan Church to her father Nicky’s guitar backing, Emily Jane’s version of ‘Grace’ was posted on Facebook by her sister that night and has since gone ‘viral’.
It’s a powerful version of the song made famous by the late Jim McCann that commemorates the marriage of Grace Gifford to Joseph Mary Plunkett in Kilmainham Jail on the night of May 3rd, 1916, just hours before he was executed.
In the old days, if you could shift half a million singles you could make a career out of it and potentially earn lot of money. Unfortunately, Emily Jane won’t get a cent from her recording despite all the people who heard it but congratulations to her and, hopefully, it will help her move upwards on the ladder of success.
There’s no place like home!A middle-aged man walked into a bar in a Waterford hotel last weekend and it was obvious to everybody that he was an American tourist. He bought a drink and then scanned the lounge taking particular interest in the women.
There were quite a few extremely attractive and unattached women present but after about ten minutes the tourist made his way over to a very plain woman who was sitting alone at a table. Her expensive outfit suggested ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ and she appeared to have a permanent scowl.
“Hi honey,” he said, “Can I buy you a drink?” “Of course you can, I’ll have a double Vodka and Coke,” she replied in a loud voice as rough as sandpaper.
The tourist beamed happily and returned to the bar to fetch his new friend’s drink. “Listen, Pal, no offence, but you could do an awful lot better than hitching up with that particular bird,” whispered the barman as he gave the American his change.
The tourist grinned. “Thanks but don’t worry, son, I’ve been on the road for a month now and I’m not feeling randy, I’m just homesick.”
Goodbye to the
Okie from Muskogee
He was a singer/songwriter I admired very much and some of his live concert recordings from the late 1960s and early 1970s were, and still are, absolutely electrifying.
Merle, together with people like Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and Buck Owens were regarded as country music ‘outlaws’ and their more earthy, live performances became known as the ‘Bakersfield Sound’ as compared to the more laid back and sweeter ‘Nashville Sound’.
Haggard, himself, regarded country as ‘journalism put to music’ and such was his stature that he made the cover of ‘Time’ magazine in 1974.
The writer of some of country’s best ever songs, Merle Haggard had a mean and hard upbringing. After getting into trouble with the law at an early age he managed to turn his life around. He never attempted to hide that part of his career from his fans and, more than likely, he inspired many others in similar situations to follow his example.
Grandma was correct about
‘most things in moderation’
The older I get and the more scientific reports I read about food and diet the more convinced I am that the old adage that says ‘most things in moderation’ is true and the real key to healthy living.
The latest debate to erupt concerns low fat and full fat milk. For years we have been advised to opt for skimmed milk over full dairy and since full-fat dairy products contain more calories, it would seem fair enough.
But large population studies in the United States that look at possible links between full-fat dairy consumption, weight and disease risk are starting to call that advice into question.
Some research suggests people who consume full-fat dairy weigh less and are less likely to develop diabetes.
A new study involving 3,300 adults over fifteen years found ‘no prospective human evidence that people who eat low-fat dairy do better than people who eat whole-fat dairy.’
According to some experts, when people reduce the fat they eat they tend to replace it with sugar or carbohydrates, both of which can have worse effects on insulin and diabetes risk.
Dr Dariush Mozaffarian, who together with his colleagues analysed the blood and health of the 3,333 adults enrolled in the fifteen year Nurses’ Health Study, said it was crucial at this time to understand that it was about food as a whole and not about single nutrients. “We should be telling people to eat a variety of dairy,” he said.
Incidentally, the excellent television series ‘What Are You Eating, presented by Philip Boucher Hayes on RTE 1, is both entertaining and very informative and really worth checking out. Last week it dealt with dairy products and addressed some of the matters written about above.
Where did all the April Fool
madness come from?
It’s a long tale that might be worth recounting some day but, all of 34 years ago in 1982, this writer actually received a wagging finger from Buckingham Palace no less. It occurred when our April Fool spoof involving the then single Prince Andrew took on a life of its own and went international. We claimed he was going to marry a girl whose grandmother lived in O’Brien Street off the Mayor’s Walk and the HRHs were said to be not amused at all at all!
When I was young and we were all rather innocent, the BBC scared the living daylights out of children on both sides of the Irish sea by announcing on April 1st that the Spaghetti Crop in Italy had failed so there would be no tins of spaghetti in tomato sauce for a whole year!
While it’s all great fun, nobody really knows where the April Fool tradition began.
According to a lengthy article in Time magazine, one possible precedent is in the Greco-Roman festival called Hilaria that was celebrated on March 25th. The festival honored Cybele, an ancient Greek Mother of Gods, and its celebrations included parades, masquerades and jokes to celebrate the first day after the vernal equinox.
Traditionally, the vernal equinox was thought of as the beginning of the year in the Julian calendar but in the 16th century the Christian world switched from the Julian calendar introduced by Julius Caesar to the Gregorian calendar named for Pope Gregory XIII. That change moved the New Year to January 1.
The only thing that we know for sure about April Fool’s Day is that it is not a worldwide phenomenon and is only celebrated in Europe and North America. You pays your money, folks, and you takes your choice.