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At last Ð I can join the ranks of the 10 G begrudgers



Date Published: {J}

Phew! I’m thanking my lucky stars that 2009 has finally come to an end . . . and that’s not because of the absolutely awful Summer, the floods and frost of the past few weeks, the business of picking your way along the frozen footpaths, and now the apparent threat of the return of the floods.

No, it’s because my 09G registration is finally ‘an old car’ and, hopefully, those resentful stares will end at the traffic lights.

So, while the Summer was awful, and the Christmas period conspired to keep us indoors for fear of falling and breaking our collective backsides, I have that even more persuasive reason to be cheerful at the end of the year and the dawning of a new one.

You see, last January I had the idea of buying a car with a 09 G registration, little thinking that it would turn me into something akin to a hate figure. I found myself ‘standing out’ at junctions and if I could lip read, I have no doubt there would have been a few expletives in there in the passing conversation between drivers and passengers as they looked sideways at the 09 plate.

Honestly, in 09 I got more dirty looks at traffic lights, snarls at roundabouts, and ‘go on . . . I dare you’ stares at junctions!

There were times when I looked in my passengers’ seats to see if, by any chance, Michael Fingleton, Seanie Fitzpatrick, the former boss of FAS, or any of the directors of the Bank of Ireland or Allied Irish Banks, had slipped in beside me unbeknownst.

Honestly, I don’t have a house in Spain, I don’t disappear to Mustique on holidays . . . and no, I won’t be in the High Court trying to explain how I was once a handy blocklayer who eventually stuck AIB for a billion-plus.

No such luck. Anytime I was a few days late with paying the minimum on my credit card, I always got that snotty letter telling me how sorry they were, but my next purchase might cause embarrassment.

The 09 resentment and anger was reserved for this old codger driving a 1.4 engined car that Jeremy Clarkeson and The Stig would regarded as a bit of a joke for their speed needs, and The Stig would have been lucky to take around their track in two minutes.

However, in the angry and resentful times in which we live, anyone in the past year in any of the maybe four thousand 09 G cars which were eventually registered, was in danger of being ostracised from decent society.

By which I mean the ordinary run-of-the-mill people who simply use their cars to drive to work, or for ‘tootling about the town’, who have no need of 2-litres, who wouldn’t know a twin overhead camshaft from a Morris Minor, and whose dream would be to actually have a car paid off before it packs up!

From the stares at the lights, and the glares at the 09 plate, you would imagine mine was a Bugatti Veyron. Listen, this thing is a 1.4 Civic Hybrid. In other words, an electric motor kicks-in when you stop at lights, to make sure that it is as parsimonious with petrol as the unreformed Scrooge was with his Christmas greetings.

Thomas The Tank Engine, or a butterfly on speed, would give off more CO2 than this creature. Its carbon footprint is that of a newborn infant. It would be the kind of car John Gormley would take to bed with him instead of a security blanket.

The road tax is €104 per annum. If the Green Party had their way, we would all be driving this sort of car. From my point of view – and 90% of my driving is done in and around Galway – it is perfect. I ain’t going to be ‘crashing any lights’ with it. My joy at the lights is that the clever little thing knocks off the engine and simply runs on electric batteries for maybe the 30 seconds.

The upshot of all this is that I put petrol in it once every 15 days – about €40 worth. Given that it’s such a ‘green machine’ why all the dirty looks . . . but now I can join the rest, given that a few 10G cars have begun to put in an appearance on the roads. It was a positive joy to see the first one in recent days and realise that ‘the heat was off’ and I now had ‘an old car’.

Now, I will be able to sit in my 09 at the junction at the courthouse and glare at the 10G cars that pass. Last week it appeared that maybe three or four hundred of these machines were already on the Galway roads . . . from now on at the junction, I will be as sanctimonious as the crowd going home from the Annual Novena.

You know the crowd. They have been an hour singing hymns, craw-thumping, praying, listening to sermons on the Christian virtues – which surely must include yielding the odd time at a busy junction! – and minutes later they wouldn’t let you filter into a lane of traffic if you promised to get them a double plenary indulgence in Medugorje.

The others are the ones who are concentrating so hard on the road ahead that you know they simply don’t see you! Not half! The most delicious moments of such a confrontation is when they realise that they recognise you. Then they have the awful dilemma of still pretending not to see you . . . or else that sheepish moment when they wave you out into the traffic.

Now that 2010 has arrived, I will sit in ‘my old car,’ glare at the 10Gs and protest aloud as to where they got the money . . . it’s payback time as I join the swollen ranks of the begrudgers.

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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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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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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