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Battle over bogs a long way from over



Date Published: 10-Sep-2009

ver 200 people who turned out at a public meeting in Abbeyknockmoy last weekend on proposed turfcutting restrictions, were told that the ‘battle would be taken to the bogs’ next spring if that ‘was the way it had to go’.
Feelings at times ran high during the meeting held in the Abbey Inn, which was attended by MEP Jim Higgins as well as TDs Noel Treacy, Michael Kitt and Paul Connaughton, with politicians asked to ‘deliver’ on a major issue for rural people.
If the status quo doesn’t change, turf cutting will be banned at a number of raised bogs across the country including areas of North East Galway, Portumna and Connemara from next spring.
Last weekend’s meeting heard that over the past 10 years, domestic turfcutting only had removed approximately 0.5% of the total raised bog area – a detailed presentation was made on the breakdown usage of the raised bogs.
Next Wednesday a deputation from the Turfcutters and Contractors Association will meet with a special working group set up by Environment Minister, John Gormley, to review the whole bog/turfcutting issue.
However this week, the Chairman of the Turfcutters and Contractors Association, Michael Fitzmaurice, made it clear that this working group – made up of civil servants and scientists – was nothing more than ‘a sham’.
“We will meet them and make our presentation but I’m not optimistic about the response. The really shocking part of all of this is that turfcutting for domestic use and conservation are not in conflict at all – all of our information points to this,” said Michael Fitzmaurice.
He told last Friday night’s meeting in the Abbey Inn that in the past Irish people had fought to keep and preserve their lands and he vowed that if their bogs and turf were being taken from them, the fight would be every bit as intense.
“It is the old story of the people on the ground being completely ignored . . . these are the same people who down through the years have maintained the bogs in pristine condition. This is a battle that we cannot lose – and we will go all the way,” said Michael Fitzmaurice.
MEP Jim Higgins, the TDs present and local councillors vowed to support the turfcutters in their campaign although there was an element of friction towards the end of the night when Cllr. Luke Flanagan, Roscommon, said that the TDs would have to stand up and be counted when it came to a Government vote on such an issue.
The Turfcutters are now in the process of organising a series of public meetings at different locations across the country to rally public support – over the coming weeks protests are planned for the Sligo, Kerry, Cork and Donegal areas.
The meeting was also told that bog owners in locations currently not affected by the raised bog restrictions should not be complacent as ‘down the road’ the plan was to prevent turf cutting ‘across the board in Ireland’.

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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