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€30m bill for road repairs

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Date Published: 21-Jan-2010

AN unprecedented scramble for money is about to be undertaken by Galway County Council as they embark on a monumental programme to repair the hundreds of miles of shredded roads following the recent freeze.

It is one of the biggest tasks ever facing the local authority as they are faced with a roads network which has deteriorated rapidly over the past fortnight – and at the moment they have a miniscule budget to deal with the grim situation.

In the short term Galway County Council is hoping that grants approved for specific roads projects can be redirected towards essential repairs to some of the main routes including the N17 and N18.

That appeared to get the green light from government on Tuesday when Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey confirmed to his Cabinet colleague Eamon O Cuiv that he would be giving a direction to Local Authorities that they will be allowed to prioritise funds from his Department towards surface restoration this year.

But Fine Gael Deputy Paul Connaughton saw this development in a different light, as Minister Dempsey admitted that the government would provide no extra money from central funds to deal with road repairs after the big freeze.

He said that Minister Dempsey confirmed yesterday to the Oireachtas Transport Committee, that he had no reserves to call upon in order to make extra funding available – Councils though could initially use 25% of their proposed annual roads allocation, for repairs as compared to the normal 10%.

“This will be woeful shock for Galway. We have 6,250kms. of county roads in need of repairs at an estimated cost of €30m. The County Council simply doesn’t have that money to spend,” he said. In any event, the restoration of the severely potholed roads will take some considerable time with some of the worst affected back roads not being treated for several years because of the financial constraints.

Director of Services, Frank Gilmore told The Connacht Tribune that it was vital that the Council has access to around €8 million immediately to proceed with urgent road restoration works.

Mr. Gilmore explained that all of the national primary and secondary roads had been seriously damaged by a combination of the end of year flooding followed by the freeze.

“We are currently in discussions with the Department of Transport and the NR A to give us the flexibility to use grants that have already been approved to carry out emergency works”, he said.

Mr. Gilmore said that the principal areas of concern were the national and other strategic routes within the county and it was vital to restore them to an acceptable standard as soon as possible.

While he couldn’t say at this stage what the roads restoration bill will be for the county’s fragmented roads, there is speculation that it could be in the region of €30 million.

Over the past week, councillors throughout the county have highlighted the serious damage to roads in their area and at the moment the local authority is carrying out emergency repairs with their limited financial resources.

Continued on page 2 of this week’s Connacht Tribune

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.

 

For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

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Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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