Date Published: 12-Oct-2011
A family from Inis Meáin has suffered a second shocking tragedy in just over a decade after a 36-year-old son was shot dead on the streets of suburban Boston.
The Aran islander has been named as Ciaran Sean Ó Conghaile. He was returning to his apartment block in Dorchester on the weekend of a big Irish festival when he was killed in the early hours of Monday.
The Boston Police Department reported he was discovered shortly after 1am on Nahant Avenue, suffering from what appeared to be a gunshot wound to the chest. He was pronounced dead at the scene and removed to a local hospital.
They distributed flyers on cars and to houses calling for witnesses after the incident.
One newspaper reported that investigators believe the Aran islander was not intentionally killed but may have been caught up in a botched robbery.
When contacted by the Connacht Tribune, Boston police would not comment on whether he had his wallet stolen as he walked home from the Irish Heritage Festival.
Ciaran, who was known as Kiwi to his mates in Boston, left the island around 15 years ago after a stint in the knitting factory when he finished secondary school.
He worked in the construction industry in Boston and was part of a close-knit community of emigrants from the area, which included at least eight from the tiny island.
Johnny Joyce, a retired pressman from the Boston Globe newspaper, had known Ciaran for quite a few years.
The native of Lettermore recalled that he had only seen Ciaran a few days ago walking by on the street.
“Ciaran was a very popular, hardworking kid. He was short and stocky and well liked by everyone. Everyone here is really shocked. He was always a jolly fella, always friendly,” he said.
The son of Michael and Anna, one of his sisters, Deirdre (Nikoras), lives in Boston.
His funeral Mass takes place this morning (Thursday) in St. Mark’s Church in Dorchester. His remains are being flown home and he will be buried on his native Inis Meain. It is expected that the remains will be returned to the island on Friday evening.
A 10k race to be held on the island this weekend has been cancelled as a matter of respect for the family.
It is not the first time unimaginable grief has been visited upon the family.
His brother Michael was swept out to sea by a freak wave as he stood chatting on the pier side to his sister in 2000.
See full story in this week’s Connacht 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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