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Blind loyalty – one virtue that can fast become a vice

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Date Published: {J}

A friend, more gentle than I, pointed out just how violent the talk of the upcoming budget sounds. She’s right: ‘Brutal’ cuts will ‘punish’ the poor, taxpayers will ‘suffer’ in this financial ‘war’. A visitor from Mars would think the Fascists had taken over. If they know what Fascists are on Mars that is, which I hope they don’t. Martians at all would be disturbing enough, let alone Martians who are into Hitler. What an image.

But I digress. Should we really be thinking in these violent term? I’m in two minds. The language is clearly not healing in any way, is being used almost with a relish bordering on the sadistic. Maybe we should, to borrow a phrase from Stephen Colbert and John Stewart’s March to Keep Fear Alive, bring it down a notch. With the courts deciding that governments do actually have to hold elections even when it doesn’t suit them, the end may be in sight for our lords of misrule. If we can’t quite think clearly and constructively yet, we can at least start thinking about being able to think clearly and constructively.

But toning it down now would I think be to let this administration off the hook. The budget is, after all, going to hurt. By God it is. It will feel like falling down two flights of steps into a pitch-black cellar full of upturned broom handles.

The only term I really object to is ‘punish’. Punish who for what? If one thing’s for sure, it’s that the people most responsible for this will suffer the least. Maybe a few corrupt politicians and bankers will lose their positions, perhaps even their liberty. Many more however will sail happily into directorships or pensions bigger than most of us could ever even imagine earning, while people at the other end of the wealth scale who need the support of working health and welfare services – even of working banking services – are in real danger.

Many have already lost their jobs. Some will lose their businesses, some their homes, some even their health. Ordinary people are going to die because of this.

So what exactly are they being punished for? Their only crime was to keep voting for the same old politicians and parties, when deep down they new full well that many of them were steeped in venality and cronyism. And perhaps that was a sort of crime. I just don’t think it merits the death penalty.

It’s strange to think that what they are being punished for is their loyalty. Well and good though, we are too loyal in this country – loyal to a fault. If ever there was a virtue that when taken to excess can become a vice, it is surely this. Loyalty is no virtue in a beaten dog, it teaches our leaders nothing.

If they still reap the rewards for things that their grandfathers did, why should we be surprised if we’ve fostered a political generation whose most significant feature is their own sense of entitlement? Sticking with the same party through thick and thin is only admirable until you realise that it’s the politicians who are getting thicker.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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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

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

images/files/images/x3_Courthouse.jpg

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

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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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