The Positives of Arthur’s Day

297682_10150436083389046_432523328_nOver the past number of days, I have seen the keyboard warriors jump on the latest bandwagon they have seen passing. Negative as ever, their narrow minded views fail to comprehend that Arthur’s Day might actually be about more than just drinking. I am not a heavy drinker, nor am I a regular drinker. I enjoy a few pints of Guinness in moderation and in the company of my friends. I would describe myself as fairly active; I run marathons, play sports and love being out doors. This is just a brief outline of why I for one shall be supporting Arthur’s Day.

The “Boycott Arthur’s Day” Facebook Group must be looking through Beer Goggles if they can only see Arthur’s Day as a “Booze Fest”. While I will never condone binge drinking, and I acknowledge the campaign is highlighting the issue of binge drinking, they are not acknowledging how some people intend to enjoy Arthur’s Day and to drink responsibly. Is it right to spoil the event just because a few didn’t know the one which was one too many? When critising about something, it is very easy to focus solely on the populist negative aspects. This campaign does just that. They have focused on how Diageo are stereotyping us Irish as Guinness drinkers and the minority of participants who drink to excess. Do the same campaigners campaign against St. Patricks day as we tell stories of how St. Patrick rid the country of snakes and Leprechauns with their pots of gold? Do they campaign against children getting sweets at Halloween or corporate exploitation of Christmas? 

Diageo are also taking much criticism over their marketing of Arthur’s Day. Some say it is corporate greed. We have holidays at various times of the year; Valentines Day, Easter, Mothers Day, Fathers Day, Halloween, Christmas and many others besides. Each of these days is marketed towards a niche grouping in society, Valentines day at couples and so on. So why not have a day dedicated to friends and friendship. While Arthur’s Day may have been created to champion one of Ireland’s most distinguished exports, it may have inadvertently created a day for a much greater audience.

So what good can come of Arthur’s Day? The working world can prove to put a strain on the best of friendship’s. We don’t have enough time in our busy schedules to just sit down and relax. I will be meeting some old college friends this Arthur’s Day, friends I haven’t seen in over 4 or 5 months, and even longer in some cases. We are going to be using Arthur’s Day as our reason to meet up and discuss the various worldly topics and critique the pint of Guinness that sits before us. Are we wrong to do so? Are we wrong to use a Diageo’s Marketing Day for something more than drinking?

The Irish Pub tradition is fast becoming a memory of the distant past. Arthur’s Day gives much needed business to struggling pubs. These pubs employ thousands of people who would other wise be on the live register. By supporting Arthur’s Day, you are also supporting the Irish economy. Diageo hire over 1,500 employees directly, and the 4,500 VFI members hire many more. Each supplier to each of the 4,500 VFI members hire countless more. Each of these employees are supporting the Irish economy.

The binge drinking topic has been championed as the driving force behind the campaign to bring an end to Arthur’s day. I find this distressing as the people who are behind the campaign are clearly out of touch with the goings on in today’s society in Ireland. Binge drinking is a serious issue which is widespread throughout the youth of Ireland. It would by ignorant to suggest that this is because of pub culture or Arthur’s Day. The reason’s behind the rise in binge drinking is the availability of cheap alcohol from off-licences, and particularly Tesco, who offer cheap alternatives for people who don’t want to pay for a pint in a pub. Students around the country are abandoning their student bar’s in favour of buying a naggin of vodka or whiskey in order to get drunk. This is not the fault of Arthur’s Day. Pubs and bar’s offer a safe environment in which people can drink. Bar men can regulate the amount that you drink and can tell you when you’ve had enough if you can’t decide for yourself. Bringing people back to the pubs during Arthur’s Day reintroduces them to a safe environment in which they can enjoy alcohol.

To conclude, Arthur’s Day is not to blame for the binge drinking culture in Ireland. Arthur’s Day has many positives associated with it, and it would be naive to suggest that it should end due to the behavior of some on the day. I have not mentioned tourism that would be generated, or the good that Guinness are doing with the Guinness Projects. I for one will support Arthur’s Day, and I suggest that you too should view the pint as being half full.

10 things you need to know about post op hernia (inguinal repair)

Last Friday, I underwent a straight forward surgical procedure, an inguinal repair. Basically, an inguinal hernia is when your small intestine protrudes between your abdominal muscle, causing pain and discomfort. The surgery is a procedure where a mesh is put behind the abdominal muscle to patch everything up and keep everything where it’s supposed to be. Fairly plain and simple.

Truth be told, I never really looked into what life was like after the operation, and what to look out for. Granted it hasn’t fully been a week since the operation, I think its high time to point out the obvious things, just in case anyone is wondering what it’s like, or if you are about to have the procedure done yourself.

1. Everything hurts

After the operation, everything is perfect. You’ll still be enjoying the last remaining minutes of anesthetic as you are returned to the ward. Naturally, hospital staff are eager to ensure bodily functions are still working. Once I began to get out of the bed, every little tweek sent darts of pain running up my spine. The initial 5 minutes where you attempt to stand will be painful, they were for me. Gingerly, I stood up, and shuffled slowly to the bathroom. I had to pull the assistance chord as I felt dizzy, I assume this was due to the general anesthetic still being in my system, but it was a frightening experience nonetheless. I also noticed a small amount of blood on the bed sheets as I returned. These are little things that hurt you should be conscious of.

2. Getting out of hospital

I left the ward in a wheelchair, and was pushed out to the awaiting car. I was ever careful not to push myself up and strain the area where my hernia used to be. Getting out felt quite sore, almost like being pinched continuously around the wound site. I was also extremely careful not to sit down too quick, as this too increases pressure on the abdominal area.

3. Baby Steps

When you do make those first few post op steps, you’ll find that even the shortest journey is now a mammoth marathon of man versus, well…man. You’ll be reduced to a mere shuffle, tender, ever mindful to not rupture the procedure just completed. The day of the procedure is bad, and so are the following two days. You won’t be able to lean down and put on socks or shoes, and you certainly won’t be able to pick anything up. Best advice is to stay in bed. You’ll also be crouched over, so get ready for it!!

4. Getting out of chairs

I remember if it was only last week, mainly because it was only last week, but sitting down and getting up out of chairs became quite the struggle. As with the walking, you’ll be ever mindful that you’ve just been sliced open by surgeons, and you’ll be minding yourself as a result. The would will feel like it is being severely pinched as you sit down and stand up. Aches and pains will run down your spine. There is however a way to avoid this paid. Sit in high chairs. While they may be uncomfortable to sit on, they provide much needed support, and are easier to sit down in and get up out of.

5. Laughing

This is something that caught me by surprise. As I was watching TV, something came on that made me simply giggle. The pain and discomfort of this cannot be underestimated. Whats worse, the more it hurt, the more I laughed. I was torturing myself and I couldn’t stop. So, simple piece of advice, watch Sky News for about 4 days… be grand!!

6. Coughing

Much like laughing, I wasn’t expecting this to hurt. While the cough was merely a drop of water going down the wrong way, and the cough being a pathetically faint one, the pain which manifested itself felt like the very stiches which were holding me together, just came apart. This happened a few times and even today, a week on, it still hurts like hell. There is no simple piece of advice I can give about this, only be careful, and know its going to hurt.

7. Getting into bed

We all do it, every day. We subconsciously cast our weary legs into our beds and drift of to the land of nod, squirming continuously until we find that perfect position and all is right with the world. It took at least 5 minutes to get into bed, slowly moving more and more into the center. It was a slow process, with many darts of pain. Unlike pre op, I had to lay on my back, and let the fatigue carry me to the land of nod….eventually…

8. Getting out of bed

See “Getting into bed”, only in reverse!!

9. Walking

As the days go on, and you get on your feet that bit more, you’ll feel brave enough to take a few adventures outside. This will hurt, but with each passing step, it will get better and better. At first, you will shuffle along. A simple 5 minute walk to the shops will become a tedious 15 minute walk. Whats more, you won’t be able to carry anything making the trip to the shop pointless. It will feel like a stitch and uncomfortable, but this pain is worth it.

10. Sneezing

Finally, sneezing…I’m not going to say much on this matter, only find a way not to sneeze. I don’t care what it is, don’t sneeze. Those precious seconds afterwards are extremely painful and feels like you are after ripping yourself apart!!

Other than that, the procedure went ok. I’m healing up well, and 10 days post op, I feel a million times better. These are just the a few things that’ll hurt just after the operation, and something you should be mindful of to make your recovery that bit better!!

A quick few words of thanks…

The surgeons and staff in St. Vincents University Hospital were actually amazing, as were those who looked after me on my first days out of hospital!!

Road to recovery

As I lay here in bed for the third day, I can’t help but long for the great outdoors, the freedom of running to my hearts content, and not miserably wallowing in self pity. I miss the mornings, the cold ones, rain slicing my face like razor blades, the lactic acid burning my muscles as I try to push ever further. I miss the feeling of accomplishment when I’ve finished a run, that feeling of utter satisfaction. Yet here I lay in bed, I am merely incapacitated as I try to recover from an inguinal repair.

How did I get this in the first place you may ask… well, I don’t really know. All I know is it came during the summer, I went to the doctor, then to the hospital then to surgery. For those not familiar with hernia’s, it basically your small intestine trying to bulge out through your abdominal wall, delightful, I know!!

I’m being cared for by my girlfriend, Aoife, and Ger, one of my  best friends. They tolerate me as I shuffle from point A to B, and are there with a helping hand if I ever need it. I am not one to enjoy others being put out to help me, but its comforting to know, when I need help, its close to hand. I have been making use of my time however; I have planned my races to full fitness, planned a fitness regime, tried to teach myself how to make android apps, so all is well. I have been looking into the Paris half and full marathons, both in the spring. I am going to try learn how to swim….again. Once I have received the all clear from the medical experts, I will try to start doing light weights again, to build up muscle I lost during this tedious process.

While the road to recovery might well be at least 6 weeks or more until I’m fully fit and healthy again, this little knock out has provided me with a stark realisation, how lucky we are to be fit and healthy. In my ward was a brilliantly cheerful lady, Betty, who was in for a small surgery to remove a tumor, who was stoutly upbeat despite her ailment. We as a people need to enjoy our health while it lasts, and not worry about petty insignificant differences. If someone is sick, go visit them, because when you are the one sick, you will appreciate every single person!!

Abandoning the Two-Mile Borris Super Casino

As a native of Two-Mile Borris (of sorts), I have grown up familiar with the site where Richard Quirke proposed to build his multi functional “Venue”. While I agree that it would have been fantastic for the area, and while I would have like to have seen the site as an entirety developed, we must remember a number of brief points, of which Michael Lowry and Richard Quirke may well agree.

1. Casino’s on a similar scale exist around UK and Europe – There are many casino’s in the UK, in places like Brighton, who also offer many other services to accompany them. This development would then lose its unique selling point, as it is not unique

2. Pressure from various agencies to ban casino’s outright – As I assume you are well aware, gambling can become a serious addiction. As a result, there are many organisations who outright oppose the opening of ANY casino in the country, as young people in that locality are at a higher risk of developing a gambling addiction

3. Location – While I, as a proud native of Two-Mile Borris, would have loved nothing more than a world class leisure facility on my doorstep, the reality is, such a development would prove economically unsound in the long term as (a) There would be more than one casino developed in the country and (b) The footfall required to keep the doors open would prove unrealistic

4. Competition from Vegas – The glamour of going to Las Vegas has been idolised in many Hollywood films, such as the Hangover. If you book through eBookers online, you can buy a package for 5 nights stay on the “strip” and return flights for as little as €550. Our small island economy is vastly over priced to compete with such offers

5. Increase in crime – The white elephant in the room, is the potential increase in crime as a direct result of the casino. People might gamble savings, weeks earnings, and much more besides, and might see no other option, only to turn to crime to survive. Organised crime might see this as a way of laundering their “dirty money”, as their winnings would be traced back to the casino.

While I would love nothing more, than to see the Breeders Cup grace our fair county, to see our micro economy flourish in the midst of economic austerity, and to see tourism boosted by this development, it is only when one looks at this with an open mind that they can truly appreciate that this decision, not to grant the super casino licence, might just have been the right one.