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Catching up with advances in technology Ð 30 years late



Date Published: {J}

I must have been living on the moon for the past number of years, so changed has the modern business become . . . like all people with a lack of information, the world of shopping came crashing in on me when I went looking for the simplest item and found out that I was 30 years behind the times.

Someone had given me a present of the Brendan Balfe Production The Irish Voice, a three-parter which featured everything from the Titanic loss to the Flanagan Brothers, to Micheal MacLiammoir.

Can I digress for a moment to say what an extraordinary production this is, with real gems such as Patrick Kavanagh’s Spraying of the Potatoes, The Spinning Wheel by Delia Murphy, the brilliant Eamon Morrisey reciting Flann O’Brien’s The Workman’s Friend, and even Josef Locke singing Hear my Song Violetta.

But this piece is not about the joys of the three disc set, though I will return to it later. It’s about the extraordinary business of deciding that you might like to see or hear something and suddenly you find yourself in the middle of a new world of shopping which is based around a new world of computers and phones.

As I said, someone had given me a present of the three disc set, but I wanted something simple to play the tracks on. All sorts of options were put to me, including transferring tracks to a computer and then onto an iPod, but like all traditionalists, I wanted something simple with as few controls or buttons as possible. In other words; one to stop it, one to make it play, one to reverse it, one to make it go forward and one to eject the disc.

So, one of my resident computer experts suggested we check what was in the shops. I said that meant traipsing around the shops over the next few days and for my pains got an indulgent smile at how I could be so out of date. He pulled out his phone and began shopping, as I looked on like some kind of thicko from another generation.

My resident genius connected to a series of shops in Galway to find out if they had one of the cheap manually operated CD players with the five buttons . . . in other words eminently suitable for an electronic thicko who still listens to the radio and who would not know in a million years how to programme a television or a video to record anytime in the next fortnight.

My resident genius announced that there was a player available in Argos, which seemed eminently suited to my prehistoric mindset – the player had five buttons, the discs were manually inserted and extracted, the stereo sound I found more than adequate, even for John McCormack and, above all, it seemed ‘idiot proof, which is a very important feature when dealing with ‘cavemen’ who have survived into the electronic era.

But the thing which most caught my eye was the fact that you could dial into a shop’s system, find out if they had one in stock, get the price of the item and reserve the item for a few days if you wished to pick it up. Oh yes, you could also get a picture of the player.

With the whole of that information, I have to confess that I felt like a bit of a ‘ludramán’ . . . even an offer to explain how these things work was turned down . . . dammit, my life is complicated enough without having to learn how to use the full panoply of services which the modern phone brings.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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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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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