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A ‘hapworth of tar’ for the potholes



Date Published: 30-Jul-2010

IF you never knew that Galway Races were on this week, the subliminal signs were so obvious that you’d have guessed – the city always gets quite a brush-up in preparation for the influx of tens of thousands of holidaymakers and day trippers.

Fact is that the day trippers may have been more numerous this year than others because of the new motorway to Dublin being completed. This year it really was possible to get from Dublin to Galway in a little over two hours, so thinking of a day at the races, then going driving back to Dublin that night, was a very distinct possibility.

Meanwhile, when it came to preparations for the Races, it has always been a bit like the days when families hosted ‘The Stations’ – a ceremony involving Mass in people’s houses. In the weeks leading up to a household hosting the neighbours, out would come the paint brushes and everything would be given a fresh coat of that bilious ‘New Nile Green’ which appeared to be all the rage for years.

Down would come the delph that hadn’t been taken from the dresser in donkey’s years, ‘himself’ might even get a new suit, aunts and uncles that had not ‘darkened the door’ in ages would get a backhanded invitation in the hope that they wouldn’t come, and all would culminate in a gorge of rashers, sausages, black puddings and eggs on the morning that would feed the nation.

It’s a bit like that in Galway for The Races. Bus Éireann pull out all the stops to get the maximum number to and from Ballybrit, the cops come out of wherever they hide for the rest of the year so as to direct the traffic, and though the city swells to twice its normal population and traffic, things run smoothly. It all makes you wonder why a few weeks later the arrival of a wet day can bring the whole place to a shuddering halt.

By the way, just an aside . . . one of the buses I travelled on to Ballybrit two years ago, obviously had been used on school

runs on other occasions. Whoever the student was who drew the graffiti on the back of one seat . . . let’s say he/she wasn’t sleeping during biology class so graphic were the drawings! I’ll say no more, and just hope that the same attention to detail was paid in maths class.

Of course, Galway is not unique in this style of special spruce-up for a special occasion like the Races. You’ll remember a few years ago when the President was visiting one area in the West, they tarred half a mile of road in the vicinity of the neighbourhood she was due to visit! There was no tar and chippings, however, for many another pothole or rocky road.

And last week, with impeccable timing, they filled one of Galway City’s best known potholes – the one just across the road from Arch Motors and near the entrance to the church in Westside. Honestly, there were times in recent weeks when it looked like someone was working on a tank trap, but this monster and a neighbouring pothole which was turning into another nightmare, got the ‘hapworth of tar’ just in the nick of time.

Read more from JC on page 17 of this week’s City 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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