I realize that this kind of list has been done before, but this is MY list! These are 10 things that I miss about rural Ireland from when I was growing up in the late 80's, early 90's. Here goes!

1) Time and the pace of life. People nowadays don't seem to have the same art of conversation. Remember how we as kids would dread our parents meeting certain people because the conversations took so long?! They would be chatting aimlessly about everything and anything for what seems an eternity. One particular neighbouring farmer would walk his cows the same mile route during the summer, morning and evening. The farmer would take so long chatting enroute, that the cows would be home before him and sometimes his wife would have them milked too!  Creamery time was also nightmare time, for everyone! Chats, chats, and more chats! And then the paper would have to be called for, which meant more chats! There was a story that did the rounds in our village that in the olden days a certain farmer would call to his local after the creamery to indulge in his favourite tipple. Once he'd over indulged, he would be placed on his cart and his donkey given a rare old crack  on the posterior, upon which the donkey would proceed home, farmer asleep on the cart! Then again the pace of life was so slow, it nearly stopped. If it could be done tomorrow, the day after that would do fine! But people knew people. How many times did we hear our parents remark that it was strange that a neighbour wasn't at home at a certain time, or how someone wasn't in the pub at a certain time. It was neighbour watch before it's time.

The internet and it's various facets are wonderful, but it has definitely downgraded the art of conversation. Even phone calls are now a dying art. People prefer to use keyboards, emails and texts. Each to their own, but who knows who like our parents did? Look at your Facebook friends and tell me when was the last time you spoke to any of them? We're all too busy, doing of little importance. Like our parents, but they enjoyed company while doing it.

2) Sport was played and not watched. Local sport especially in the modern time has been lost to the national and international games. Imagine a time when the only football on rural 2 channel Ireland was on Saturday afternoons, on the unequalled "Sports Stadium"? No super Sundays with 2 or 3 matches at a time. No midweek Champions League games, and no other matches but English ones.  No Bundesliga, no La Liga, not even League of Ireland! FA cup final days were epic, because the preview meant you got to see the finalists previous rounds goals. The only rugby was 5 nations games. Hurling and Gaelic football didn't exist until summer time. An even then, you had one chance. There was no back door route of qualifiers.

All of which meant that we had more time to play sports. Sundays were days spent waiting for someone to arrive on the bike and say "Fancy a game?". This meant more kids played underage and more people played Junior sports. Which led to higher crowds at local games, because people didn't have a choice. Local sport was the only access to 'live' sport that most people had. And people had local heroes. How many times did we hear the someone should have played for higher level teams?! Or that his brother was better "only for the drink/women/gambling"!!

3) Sports Stadium. Ah Saturdays with Brendan O'Reilly on RTE 2. How we loved it. All sports got their air time. Hockey, handball, football, GAA, rugby, horse racing, Badminton, squash, etc. Only the Irish 5 nations (with commentary with Fred Cogley) games were shown, and it meant that the days football match was delayed by 30 minutes and then shown as 'live'. No fast forward in those days, so all sports were watched. AIL games came into the equation in the latter days, and they were watched with equal intrigue as internationals. Especially on rainy Saturdays when it meant we, as kids, had Brendan to ourselves for the day as the rain meant we had no jobs. One of my loveliest memories of this time was my sitting in on  February Saturdays with my Dad watching the five nations. I always thought my Dad was a staunch GAA man until those Saturday afternoons. And the glorious thing about Sports Stadium was because time was at a premium, there wasn't any halftime analysis. We made up our own minds and watched the match in peace! Sport was so rare, it was a treat to watch it. Those Saturdays we would watch whatever match RTE could show and make do with it. One match that sticks in my brain was a 4-3 between Millwall and Crystal Palace. Mark Bright and Ian Wright up front for Palace, with Teddy Sheringham and Tony Cascarino for Millwall. I watched it because it was Football. Now I find myself choosing what match to watch because so much football is on. What is seldom is wonderful.

4) Innocence. Good God, we have changed as a nation. We're all grown up and old before we're young. Our parents monitored our media intake, and we took no notice. Telly was turned off at certain times, and the radio was turned down at inappropriate times. Kids of eleven have mobile phones. Why? Who do they have to ring? They have Facebook pages, Twitter pages, etc. Why? Should our kids be exposed to these things before puberty? In the good old days, girls were noticed in secondary school, and approached in Inter cert for the lucky chaps, and Leaving Cert for the rest of us. The debs meant for a lot of us having to select a girl to ask to go. And when she said no, we had to find a realistic target! But kids could be kids before they had to experience stress and worry. I still remember the anxiety over the debs!

Even in sport, kids are starting way too young. My first competitive match was at school and then, under twelve level. Now kids are in at under eight level. I know a lot of sports have reverted to non-competitive at this level again, but I still feel it's a bit too much.

Even "playtime" was more child friendly. We would disappear for hours on end, but our parents never worried as they had a fair idea where we were and that we would come to no harm. After all, how much trouble can you get into playing 3 goals in, catch, cycling the byroads to call to friends, or building playhouses. In the summer time, we would follow the silage tractors and watch them at work. The wonder of it all! Even computer games were sedate compared to now. Pacman and Space Invaders were hardly in the Call of Duty genre!

5) Entertainment. Television has changed beyond belief. In 2 channel Ireland, you watched programmes when they were on. If you were allowed to! In my youth, "racy" programmes like Dallas were off the menu, and we weren't allowed to watch it! Now you can record TV programmes and watch them at your leisure. Box sets have changed TV viewing forever. Missed an episode? Never mind; get the box set! Series were ruined over a missed episode in the 80's and 90's. Granted the quality of Television dramas has improved greatly, and for that we should be grateful! A lot of television is now reality based. It was great gas at the start, but it's becoming very staged. Entrant comes on with seemingly no hope, and breaks into excellences. Cue stunned faces and oohing from the crowd. Seen it, seen it, seen it. We get so much of our entertainment on our own nowadays that family shows are of a distant past. Shows like Glenroe faded quickly when choice came in. But for many, it was a signal for the end of the end of the weekend!

Movies are now more plentiful, be it in the cinema or on television. We even have movies for kids, but this is a good thing. Movies like Shrek, UP, or Toy Story are a joy to watch and are applicable to all kids, young and old!

Most entertainment today is consumed online, and this can be a lonely, solo experience. We watched what was on and we were often joined by parents or siblings due to lack of entertainment. But the programme became a common interest. It provided a means of engagement and kept communication lines open.

6) Community interaction. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not on about community spirit or action groups here. I'm talking about festivals and carnivals. The carnivals were great craic. 10 days of swings, bumpers, slots and silly stuff. Villages came alive for festivals, and many people returned home for at least one weekend of the carnival. Road races, hurling challenge matches, beauty pageants, etc were the order of the day. Throw in open air music, pub quizzes, local discos to keep the adults entertained and it was a recipe for success. Neighbours had a catch-up in the pub over a few jars, and romances began or were rekindled. And the great thing was that carnivals and festivals were in most villages, so you had them for the majority of the summer. And yes, they were innocent, but we knew no better and were happy out.

7) Socialising. There has been a massive overhaul here. And I'm not talking about drink driving, or smoking bans. I'm talking about how people view the pub. In my formative years, the pub was for company, and catch up. You went for the pint and the chat. The pints were few and the chat many. You might have 2 or 3 pints because you couldn't afford any more, so these few pints lasted the night long. But you met up with friends and you exchanged news. The thing was that you may not see some friends from one end of the week to the next, and hence you would have loads to chat about. But when the mobile phone became more sophisticated and more ways we had to communicate, the less we did. People always drank at home, but now it is the norm. Staying in is the new going out. But to me, we have lost a huge part of what made us such a lovely place to grow up. We have lost the friendly smile and chat because we spend so long communicating through a screen. I still long for an evening in the pub supping pints, and playing cards. Cards are a dying art because people don't go out to play them. I remember a bachelor locally who loved the cards, and lived for his Friday night game in the local. When opponents began to die away, so did the game as newer rivals never came along to replace the older ones. This chap gradually stopped going out and died a lonely death. Socialising is about far more than drinking; it's about catching up and having a laugh. Life is too short to take seriously.

8) Fame meaning something. In the late 80's and early 90's being famous meant you were famous. You were instantly recognisable. Hence why the Late Late Show was so successful; you knew each guest and were interested in what they had to say. Now you look at some of the guests on it and wonder who they are. When they don't catch your attention, you tune out. To be fair, The Graham Norton show retains this quality as he gets the biggest stars, but the rest are lagging behind. Take Joey Essex for example; who is he? And why is he famous? When celebrity shows are on, the popular game is to name the celebrity you know! When watching a celebrity show I shouldn't need to wait for the introduction to know who the "celebrity" is.

9) Moderation. What I mean here is the lack of excess if that makes sense. When I was younger a "new" car didn't mean an brand new one, it just meant a car that wasn't as banged up as the one you had! And the first question wasn't what make it is, but "Is it diesel or petrol?"!! Over the boom times, we wanted bigger, better, faster. And we wanted it straight away, and it had to make a splash. Go back to your early socialising days. 2 to 3 pints and you were merry. If anyone asked, you'd drank anywhere between 6 to 10 pints! But you hadn't because you couldn't afford it and you made do. When people got more money in their pocket, the faster people drank.

I never got birthday presents, even for my 21st or 18th. Which were big deals back then. Now, extravagant presents are given and parties thrown for each birthday. In college, I had a bike and cycled everywhere. On Sunday, I got a train or bus to college, and repeated the journey home on a Friday. A friend of mine did a survey in a student house lately and couldn't get parking with all of the cars outside the house. How can we teach our kids about value and money when we hand them everything they desire, and sometimes more?

Houses are the same. Once upon a time, a house was 4 walls and various rooms. Nowadays it has to have entertainment systems, wifi, televisions in most rooms, and various gadgets. People make homes, not things.

10) Accountability. Gradually as parents, we no longer take responsibility for our actions. Kids are getting fatter because they are doing less in the way of exercise. They get dropped and from school and matches, and any activities they may engage in. "I can't get their head out of the TV/Game Console". Why not? Take it off them, or use allocations. Our parents never set out to be our friends, and they did their duty to raise us properly. If you created trouble, you got in trouble. No soft soaping, you got punished appropriately. We have gone soft on our kids because we don't want to upset them. I had a father tell me later that his son can't seem to find an job he likes and is on the dole until he finds one to suit him. When I asked how the son was surviving financially, the father told me that he was giving the son "a few bob to tide him over". Why would he get a job? Why earn a living? I know the answer I'd have received from my Dad if I was in the same situation, and it wouldn't have been pretty!!

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