Frank Brandon’s Column

Galway ‘thumber’ the last of a dying breed!

Our man Frank on the dying art of ‘thumbing’, a mysterious bird of prey, the Turkish man who went to a forest to find himself, and the imminent return of the Creggs Harvest Festival…

It’s Monday evening and I am coming home from Galway, a town I have visited twice in one week after not being there for a very long time. As they say about buses – you wait so long for one to come, then two of them come along together!

Anyway, the road is a great place for seeing things and today two things caught my eye. The first was the number of cyclists out and about on a Monday morning. This in itself wasn’t of huge interest, but what grabbed my attention was the fact that three separate cyclists had no Hi-Viz gear on whatsoever. The weather was typical of October – one minute the sun was shining and the next it was dark, grey, wet, and windy – and the three cyclists were all dressed in either grey or black. In truth, they were difficult enough to see.

The main road to Galway is only middling at the best of times, so surely all cyclists should make sure they are as visible as possible. The number of cyclists who are involved in accidents seems to be increasing all the time, so it surprised me to see that even one of them would take to the road without any Hi-Viz gear.

The second thing that caught my eye was a member of a species that I thought was almost extinct – a ‘thumber’. For the second week in a row, I saw a lad standing on the side of the road sticking out his thumb in what appeared to be a vain attempt to hitch a lift. Now I don’t think they were one and the same person, but considering that thumbing has become an almost forgotten art, it was great to see there are still some hardy souls out there prepared to keep an old habit alive. As someone who travelled the length and breadth of the country ‘on my thumb’, surviving several car crashes and an attempted armed robbery, I have always been sad that thumbing has almost been outlawed. I was truly delighted to see two young lads revive an old tradition.

Monday’s lad was so desperate that he was even trying to thumb a motorbike. Even in my worst predicament I don’t think I ever tried to hop on a two-wheeler. I did once take a spin with my cousin Leo on his Honda 50 nearly fifty years ago, fell off, and have never been on a motorcycle since!

A huge improvement in Galway since my visit week before is the fact that the Headford Road roundabout, which used to be the stuff nightmares were made of, has been totally rejigged with new lanes and traffic lights. Thankfully it’s now a much simpler operation to get across and hit for the city centre.

Speaking of strange sights, the other day in the garden we spotted a hawk perched on top of a garden lamp. I don’t know whether, like the thumber, they’re scarce or endangered species, but in any case we got a good picture of it. It seems to be either a red tailed hawk or a small buzzard, but whatever it is, it had been a long time since I had seen one of them.

As with a lot of things, hawks were a regular enough sight back when I was a young fellow, but numbers seem to have diminished down through the years. As such, it was exciting to see one sitting in our garden.

We spent some time discussing the hawk’s dietary requirements, and no one was too sure as to what the bird of prey actually preys on. Some of the more dramatic members of our group believed the hawk could eat small dogs, while others thought they grabbed little birds, either in flight or while perched, and a few more said they hunt for worms and insects. Whatever they feed on, it was unusual to see one so up close – although we all agreed that, like a bad smell, it would be better if it was only passing through and moved on fairly quickly.

It’s a few days now since its appearance, so hopefully it has moved on to pastures new. The little birds that we feed out in the garden can live in peace and quiet, without fear for their lives (at least not from the hawk, but maybe from the black cat that occasionally comes calling).


Turkish delight as

Beyhan ‘finds himself’


We have all done stupid things while under the influence of alcohol (at least those of us who drink have), but it would be hard to beat the actions of fifty-year-old Turkish man Beyhan Mutlu, who last week spent several hours trying to find himself. That might sound hard to believe, but it’s true.

Mr. Mutlu was at a party, and having got lost in the woods on his way home, was reported missing by his wife to the police, who organised a search party to look for him. He came across members of the search party and decided to help them find the ‘missing person’, obviously not knowing it was himself. He only realised he was the focus of the search when they called out his name. However, in a scene that could have come from Monty Python or Fawlty Towers, they didn’t believe Beyhan when he told them who he was, and the search party continued. It was only when his friend Mesut – who had been drinking with him earlier – saw him that the truth came out.

Mutlu, who had spent several hours looking for himself, asked one of the rescuers, who was a policeman, not to punish him too harshly as his father would kill him. He was then returned rather sheepishly to his wife and family.

In the modern world, when so many people spend thousands of euro in an effort to “find themselves”, this drunk Turkish man actually did – a true Turkish delight!


Readers have their say

on dangerous celebrations


A few weeks ago, I wrote about the very bad habit of young people hanging out of moving car windows while celebrating local sporting victories. I expressed my concern at the obvious dangers involved in such activities. Several readers contacted me to agree with my sentiments, and among the various messages was a letter from a ‘Concerned Parent’.

I quote from part of their letter: “The people who allow this behaviour are totally irresponsible and should get a fine and points on their licence. I only hope it doesn’t come to the point where there is a serious accident before people realise the consequences”.

I am fully aware that concerns expressed by me and others may not put an end to this very dangerous practice, but it may make some people question if that type of celebration is worth carrying on with.


Ladies’ garden talk

a great success!


Marie Barlow from the Glinsk Ladies Club tells me that last Saturday’s Gardening Course, given by Rod Ogilvie (RSO Landscape Design), was a wonderful success, and thoroughly enjoyed by all in attendance.

This year, the ladies club was again grant-aided by GRETB to do both a gardening and cookery course, and the cookery course with Marie Fitzmaurice will take place shortly – the grant is essential for the club, and they are most grateful for it every year.

Last week they all met in Rod’s garden, and Marie tells me they learned so much about lawns, plants, leaf cuttings, root division, and stem cuttings, that I expect to see them partake in Bloom or the Chelsea Flower Show next year.

Anyway, there’s another talk on Thursday, October 14th, this time in Barlow’s Organic Farm (F45 EH27) at Cloonfaughna, Glinsk at 12 noon, where the emphasis will be on fruit and vegetables and all are welcome.


Finally for this week…


A little bird (not one of the ones I feed in the garden) tells me the great news that the Creggs Harvest Festival has been given the green light, and will take place, outdoors, over the October Bank Holiday weekend. As yet, I have no details, but all will be revealed shortly, and, all I can say, after so much heartache and heartbreak, is that it will be great to have it back.

As an aside, I met my old friend Danny Burke, when himself, Paddy Duignan, Bill Kelly, and one more were umpiring the recent championship match between Creggs and Clann na nGael. We were bemoaning the fact that we still cannot sit at a bar counter and have a quiet pint. I’m not sure if all the restrictions will be lifted by the time the harvest festival rolls around, but if they are then I’ll have a stool ready and waiting for Danny, and we’ll finally have that pint of plain!


‘Till next week, Bye for now!