Date Published: 02-Jun-2011
BY CIARAN TIERNEY
The 62 members of staff at Galway Airport are facing an anxious Bank Holiday weekend as the Government decision which will seal their fate is set to be made on Tuesday morning.
Members of the Cabinet will meet in Dublin to decide whether or not to provide the €1.7 million in operation subvention funding which is required to keep the Carnmore facility open until the end of this year.
Uncertainty over the future of the airport is already leading to a crisis in confidence amongst potential travellers and the indications from the Government are that the State subsidy will be brought to an end, forcing the closure of a facility which has provided links to the UK since 1987.
The short runway has prevented Galway Airport from catering for jet aircraft which could link the city with European destinations and, with international facilities at Shannon and Knock, the long-term viability of the facility has been called into question.
“If we don’t get Government support, we are talking about airport closure,” said Galway Airport Manager Joe Walsh yesterday. “Our future depends on Tuesday’s decision. We have not been officially told that the decision will be made on Tuesday, but we’ve heard it through the media.
“It is very difficult for all of our staff. Some people have been working here for over 20 years and they have done an exceptional job throughout that time. But the view of the Government seems to be that we have too many airports.”
He said it was ironic that Galway Airport, which currently has two direct links with London, was being threatened with closure while the new Government expresses a commitment to boosting tourism numbers.
For more on this story, see the Galway City Tribune.
The way we were – Protecting archives of our past
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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