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Call for inquiry into swim pool incident

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 21-Apr-2011



Parents who were present at Leisureland during the near-drowning of a four-years-old city boy last Sunday afternoon have called for a full and independent inquiry into how the incident was handled by staff at the Salthill facility.

Although the lifeguards on duty have been widely praised for saving the life of the Ballybane youngster, there were distressing scenes as children witnessed the youngster being taken out of the water and resuscitated on an elevated platform.

Thankfully, Brendan ‘Bradley’ Sweeney, from Castle Park, has made a miraculous recovery after receiving cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) from two staff members before the emergency services arrived.

The youngster may have gone without oxygen for up to five minutes. He was not breathing when he was taken from the big pool and the lifeguards persisted with CPR for up to 30 minutes before he began to cough up water.

His subsequent recovery after two days spent in an induced coma has been hailed as a “miracle” as the child now has just a case of pneumonia to deal with as he managed to get out of his hospital bed and walk on Wednesday.

The Gardaí and Leisureland management are conducting separate investigations, which include the use of CCTV footage of the pool area during the public session on Sunday.

Concerns have also been expressed about the lay-out of the pool during Sunday afternoon sessions, when a large inflatable is deployed in the middle of the 25 metre pool, and that the lifeguards do not have ‘high chairs’ which would give them a better view of the bathing area.

Retired health and safety officer Lar Ferris, who was in the pool with his six-years-old daughter, claimed that the attitude of the lifeguards on duty was “too relaxed” before the boy was spotted lying in the water at 2.30pm.

“The pool in which the accident took place was in itself a source of danger,” claimed Mr Ferris. “Submerged lane separators and submerged guy ropes attached to the inflatable obstacle course should never have been allowed.

“A crowd of children were allowed within 10 yards of the scene where CPR was being administered, some of them screaming and shouting, with a full view of the harrowing scene as it unfolded. This should have never been allowed,” he said.

The interim City Manager, Joe O’Neill, has urged witnesses who may have opinions over how the incident was handled to contact the Manager of Leisureland, Paddy Martin, as part of his investigation.

“Leisureland has an excellent safety record. There has not been one fatality in the pool since the facility opened in 1973, which is an excellent record over 38 years,” he pointed out.

Mr O’Neill said that Leisureland attracted an estimated 200,000 visitors every year and there were 10 lifeguards on duty on Sunday afternoon. He said part of the investigation would focus on health and safety issues.

For more on this story, see the Galway City Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Judy Murphy



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

Ruby ready to rock again and Bob is worth a big flutter in Gold Cup

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 06-Mar-2013

New edge to Galway hurling championship title pursuit

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Archive News

A battle of talent and the ability to pull in public votes

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 11-Mar-2013

Here is a question. And there is no holiday or grand prize for getting the answer. But can anyone name the people who have won The Voice of Ireland and what has become of them?

Over across the water in the UK they have The X Factor and while I hate the concept of it, it has produced a few stars even though they don’t last long in the whole scheme of things.

But The Voice of Ireland seems to generate false excitement with the winner ending up become more anonymous than they already were. And it is costing families a fortune in the process.

While the programme is a ratings winner, strangely, it has resulted in those getting through to the final stages investing huge amounts of money in the hope that they will receive enough votes to get through to the next stages.

So, suddenly, it is not about the voice or the talent involved, it is all about votes and who the participants can convince to pledge their support for them. So it is obvious that talent goes out the window.

It means that someone with half a talent could realistically win the whole thing if they generated enough support behind them. From now on, the judges will be taken out of the equation and it will be left to the public to generate income for some phone operator.

Those who get through to the live performances have to engage in a massive publicity campaign in an effort to win votes which makes this whole effort a pure sham. It is no longer about their ability and just an effort to win appeal.

While the initial process does involve some vetting of the acts, now it becomes a general election type exercise in which the most popular will win the competition and the judges will have no say whatsoever.

It is a bit like the recent Eurosong in which the judging panel across the country voted for their favourite song, which incidentally was the best of a very bad lot, but then this was overturned by the public who chose a relatively crap song to represent us.

But again, this was all down to convincing the public about who to vote for rather than having any bearing on the quality on offer. There are times that genuine talent becomes overlooked because of the need to extract money from the voting public.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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