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A different German experience accessible from your door



Date Published: 11-Jul-2012

If a city ever encapsulated its own country, then it’s Frankfurt; well planned and structured – not least because it was rebuilt after being reduced to rubble by war – it has the soul of a big city and feel of a compact town.

Part of the reason for that is that, unlike other German cities, Frankfurt built upwards instead of outwards; when it came to restructuring Germany after the war, the authorities wanted a financial capital – and given that Berlin was carved up by the Allies, they decided on the city on the Main given its long history as a financial centre anyway.

And just so this didn’t spread too far outside the old city boundaries, they opted for skyscrapers – banned elsewhere in Germany – to the extent that one bank is accommodated in adjoining twin towers … affectionately known to the locals as Debit and Credit.

So Frankfurt is home to the Bundesbank, the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and most importantly to the European Central Bank – and when you first see the giant blue and yellow euro symbol on the street, it’s like bumping into an old friend because it’s so familiar from the news bulletins every night of the week.

A must-see for all visitors to this financial sector is the glass-fronted Main Tower. When it was completed in 1999, it was the first high-rise building with a façade made entirely of glass – and it has a viewing platform on top that offers spectacular panoramic vistas of the entire city, at close on 200 metres from the ground.

But the banking quarter – despite its 227 banks – is only one section of this city that’s less than 250 square kilometres in size with a population of under 700,000 in what is only the fifth biggest city in Germany.

This is a city of culture – indeed of multi-culture because the world of finance means than one third of all residents are not Frankfurters at all – and that’s down to the embankment area along the Main where 26 museums jockey side by side for position. Half of them are on the riverbank itself and the rest in close proximity.

That’s less than half of the city’s total museum inventory and there are more than 50 art galleries, 60 theatres and almost 50 cinemas – not bad for a city of less than 700,000.

History comes in the shape of Frankfurt’s favourite son, Johann Wolfgang Goethe, the writer, artist and politician of the eighteenth century, whose family home is restored as a monument to his memory.

You can walk the city with relative ease and it’s a Mecca for shoppers; naturally there’s an emphasis on traditional Christmas markets too, but this is not just a seasonal experience.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



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



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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Archive News

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



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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