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A quarter century bringing the news



Date Published: 11-Sep-2009

This week, the Galway City Tribune celebrates 25 years of covering the issues that matter in Galway City.
And it has been a year of celebrations for The Connacht Tribune Group, with the flagship title also celebrating its 100th anniversary.
To some, it mightn’t seem like all that long ago. To others, it will be an eternity. Either way, 25 years ago, Galway City was a very different place to live and work, but the economy was in similar dire straits.
Such was the rapid expansion of the ‘town’ in terms of population, business, industry and infrastructure in the 1980s, The Connacht Tribune Group decided it was time to launch a separately-titled city edition of the country’s biggest-selling provincial newspaper. In 1984, which happened to coincide with the city’s 500th year as a Mayoral city, its quincentenary, the paper was launched.
Since its inception, your Galway City Tribune has gone from strength to strength, and is now firmly established as the city’s premier newspaper with unrivalled coverage of news and sports, as well local notes, columnists and award-winning photography. For a quarter of a century, it has been part of the fabric of weekly life in the city, and we plan to continue to build on that.
Geographically and aesthetically, Galway’s City’s landscape was hugely different in 1984, although economically, a very dark cloud hung over the population of 42,000 which in the interim has grown to nearly 70,000.
A glance through our newspaper’s archives (available online through our website) shows that sometimes things just never change – in 1984, there was opposition to the new £7 million bridge over the Corrib (the Quincentenary Bridge), while Galway Chamber of Commerce slammed the Corporation for failing to provide a roundabout at Moneenageisha junction, four years after it was approved! There was no money in the city’s coffers.
Among the other interesting snippets making the news in the paper’s maiden year were:
• Our high-profile exclusive that Guinness smashed a major fraud which affected city pubs – delivery men were refilling kegs with slops and selling them to unsuspecting publicans. Following an abnormal amount of complaints from tipplers in the West, Guinness hired a private detective to follow deliveries around Galway. Delivery men and publicans were involved in the scam, and charges were later brought against three people.
• We uncovered the vice-like grip which illegal moneylenders had on hundreds of families by preying on areas like Ballinfoile, Castle Park and Rahoon – our in-depth investigation later formed the basis for an RTE Today Tonight special.
• The city’s first roundabout at Corrib Park, which was unfinished, almost turned into a death trap when the absence of road markings led motorists to drive around it the wrong way.
• The Revenue Commissioners warned DIY drinkers in Galway that they were liable to pay 36p a pint and could be fined up to £500 for making home brew without a licence, even if they were drinking it at home.
• A group of experts at UCG warned that the Corporation’s plans to dispose of city sewage at South Park would result in pollution at the beaches in Salthill and Ballyloughane.
• On the jobs front, American clothing company Farah in Shantalla (now Aldi and the West City Centre Retail Park) announced the expansion of its operations, with the creation of 67 new jobs, bringing the workforce to 242 over three years.
• Jobs were seriously under threat at CIE when a pay row escalated to a four-week strike and 100 workers were laid off. Bus workers were joined by rail colleagues in a strike against shorter hours and the abolition of overtime following a revised passenger service. 102 workers would be left on £114 per week. During the strike, some workers’ families had to survive on £20 per week.
• Many households had a computer, and the City Tribune carried a weekly computer column on how to write your own computer programs. (10 REM. 20 PRINT “MY NAME IS …”. 30 GOTO 20. 40 END.) A Commodore 64 computer (with 64k of memory) with a joystick and four games cost £330.
• Salthill was a completely different ‘village’ to that which exists today. With more than a dozen discos running a thriving business in the resort, the city area hadn’t even registered in terms of nightlife.
• A £600,000 CAT scan machine, which was hailed as a miracle because it helped early diagnosis of cancer and haemorrhages, lay idle for a second year at Galway Regional Hospital, because funds weren’t available to man it.
• Bungling thieves at a school in Renmore were stopped in their tracks – by a group of nine year olds. Twice! The fearless kids at Scoil Chaitriona returned to class to find a pair of thieves stealing money collected for Ethiopian famine victims and a tape recorder. They gave chase, and the two thieves made off, dropping the money near the school wall. However, one pupil spotted them behind the wall a short time later and a cavalry of 30 kids chased them away again.
• Galway Gardaí were based in Eglinton Street Barracks on a site which now houses Eddie Rockets and Roscoes. One of the most high-profile cases they faced in 1984 was when Loyalists planted tiny poison capsules in Quinnsworth in the Galway Shopping Centre in protest over the substantial monies the company allegedly paid to the Republican kidnappers of Quinnsworth executive Don Tidey earlier in the year. It took the Crime Squad a matter of minutes to find the tiny poison capsules in a cigarette behind packets of washing powder.
• The West of Ireland’s first ever ATM ‘hall’ was officially opened by Dinny and Miley from Glenroe at Bank of Ireland’s branch at 43 Eyre Square.
• Tesco, which was then in the Westside Shopping Centre, had a dilemma with missing shopping trolleys. After trolleys were strewn around local estates, management paid local kids to collect them. Weeks later, they introduced a 50p per trolley deposit.
• English chain Woolworths – located in what is now Supermacs – closed their doors in Eyre Square after 31 years. It would be replaced some months later by Penney’s.
• In the Town Hall or the Claddagh Palace cinemas, the likes of Police Academy, Beat Street, BMX Bandits, Ghostbusters, The Karate Kid, The Company of Wolves, Gorky Park and Top Secret were showing. For those who fancied a night in, O’Connor’s TV were selling colour portables for £399, while a Mitsubishi VHS video was £599. A Betamax sold for the same price.
• Furious residents of the Rahoon Flats ended up huddling together over Christmas because the heating broke down – during a big freeze that lasted two weeks.
• In John F Kennedy Park in Eyre Square, the final pieces of the Bank of Ireland fountain were being put together to mark 500 years.
• In Salthill, the quincentenary celebrations were continuing, with work on the £100,000 Old Folks’ Park – designed by Digital – getting underway. A time capsule filled with artefacts and information on life in Ireland in 1984 was sealed in the Park and buried with the message ‘do not open until 2484’.
• Inchagoill Contractors were selling homes in Knocknacarra Park for £36,500, while in Rockbarton in Salthill, a four-bed detached was selling for £70,000.
• City garages were offering a new two-litre Toyota Camry for £12,990; a Citroen 2CV for £5,095; a Nissan Cherry for £6,695; an Alfa 33 for £8,295 and Toyota Starlets for £6,590. For those who couldn’t afford to get around on four wheels, BMX bikes cost £99

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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