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6,000 take part in city protest

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Date Published: 10-Nov-2009

REPRESENTATIVES from the public and private sectors, as well as the unemployed, were united in the city on Friday when between 5,000 and 6,000 people took part in the national public protest at wage cuts and proposed budgetary cuts.

The Get Up, Stand Up march was hosted by the Galway Council of Trade Unions for the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, which organised the one day protest.

There was a good mix of the public and private sectors at the march, which gathered at Galway Cathedral and ended up at the Spanish Arch, where a rally was held.

Pat Keane, Chairman of the Galway Council of Trade Unions, acted as Master of Ceremonies on the podium and thanked everyone for taking part in the first of a series of protests to be held at various centres over the next few weeks – the next one is scheduled for November 24 but that one is specifically a public sector strike.

Brendan Cunningham, Sectoral Organiser for SIPTU, mirrored what marchers were chanting when he said that workers were angry at the Government for “getting us into this mess” but angrier still that they didn’t appear to be proactive on protecting people’s jobs and homes.

“We need to stop the recession turning into depression. We have had enough. The message has to get through that the low to mid income families are carrying the burden but it should be borne by those who can afford it.

“There should be a job restoration and creation policy with nearly half a million people on the Live Register but instead we are facing another €4 billion cut from public services in the next Budget.”

John Carty, the Divisional Organiser for Impact, said that there was an agenda to “divide and conquer” as there were efforts to put a divide between public and private sector workers, between men and women, between white and blue collar workers and between Irish and foreign workers.

“But we will not be fragmented in Galway. The Government can take our answer to the banks. We have a struggle ahead but we will be resisting unilateral wage cuts imposed by companies as scare tactics and opportunism,” he added.

Ann Fergus, Chair of the Irish National Organisation for the Unemployed, said the centre, based in Nun’s Island had been there for 20 years but that sadly it looked like it would be there for another 20. She said the proposed cuts were attacking unemployed families and that instead of cuts, they should be getting support.

Ann Irwin of the Community Workers’ co-operative also addressed the crowd warning that their work with the disabled, the Travellers, women and communities that didn’t benefit from the Celtic Tiger also had to be protected.

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

City Library hosts ‘Inspired’ exhibition of photography

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Date Published: 11-Apr-2013

 An exhibition of photography from students of the VTOS Adult Education Centre in Galway is being held in the City Library from this weekend until April 30.

Inspired will feature a beautiful collection of work by the talented adults in ‘second-chance education’ and is free to all members of the public.

The exhibition includes a diverse range of the best photos produced by amateur photographers for their FETAC level 5 portfolios. These photographers were all beginners when they started the VTOS course and have now qualified at FETAC Level 5. Many have now moved on to third-level courses and others have found employment or started up in their own business.

VTOS is a community college which offers opportunities to adults to acquire educational and training qualifications in a friendly and supportive atmosphere, allowing them to progress to further education and employment. It was established in 1989 under the auspices of City of Galway VEC.

Inspired will run at Galway City Library and will be open on Mondays from 2pm to 5pm; on Tuesdays from 11am to 8pm; on Wednesdays from 11am to 8pm; on Thursdays from 11am to 5pm; on Fridays from 11am to 5pm; and on Saturdays from 11am to 5pm until April 30.

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Archive News

No better man than Joyce to coin a phrase

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Date Published: 17-Apr-2013

 You’d have to feel sorry for the bloke in the Central Bank who made a pig’s ear of the new commemorative €10 coin that misquoted James Joyce.

Because it’s not hard to misquote a man who uses the coma as sparingly as the Fianna Fail Government used the Bank Regulator.

And – let’s call a spade a spade here – Joyce may well be a genius but most of us haven’t the first notion what in the name of God he’s going on about.

So if we didn’t lose track of things because of a deliberate lack of punctuation, chances are we’d miss out on a line or two through the sudden onslaught of sleep.

The erroneous lines on the front on the coin are taken from the beginning of chapter three of Ulysses, where Stephen Dedalus walks alone along Sandymount Strand reflecting.

What Joyce actually wrote: "Ineluctable modality of the visible: at least that if no more, thought through my eyes. Signatures of all things I am here to read."

However, on the Central Bank coin the surplus word ‘that’ is inserted into the second sentence.

Now without being overly pedantic about it, one could argue that the use of ‘that’ actually improved the sentence – but criticising Joyce in literary circles here is akin to making a wisecrack about Kim Jong Un’s haircut in North Korea.

Perhaps the Central Bank would be better occupied trying to get us a better deal on our debt than minting tributes for Joycean aficionados – but given our penniless state, they’ve clearly committed bigger crimes than this one over the past decade.

Wouldn’t it have been a much bigger mistake if our unfortunate designer had put €20 instead of €10 on the coin and we accidently ended up devaluing them by half with the stroke of a metaphorical pen?

The only complication there is that this €10 coin was already retailing for €46, which only goes to show that there’s a fool born every minute – lashing out nearly five times the face value for a coin you’ll never spend unless you accidently divvy it up to a barman when you’re drunk.

But if our Central Bank pen-pusher had put in an extra zero or two at the end of it, we could have bought these coins ourselves for a tenner and then sold them to the Germans for a hundred – or even a thousand – thus making the first serious dent in our national debt.

Remember too that the Germans had a great fondness for Joyce – even if it was William instead of James – but wouldn’t it be nice to have the last laugh (the last Haw Haw if you like) on our old paymasters?

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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