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Celebration allows McCormack chance to reflect on 40 years of public service



Date Published: {J}

Taoiseach Enda Kenny will lead the tributes next week in Galway to retired TD Padraic McCormack, who gave almost 40 years of service in public life as councillor, Senator, Dail Deputy and as Mayor of both Galway City and County.

The reports are that the gala dinner, planned for the Salthill Hotel on November 4, is already a sell out with Health Minister, Dr James Reilly, among the guests and McCormack to be flanked by major western backers such as Ministers for State Michael Ring, John Perry and Dinny McGinley.

McCormack held the one seat in Galway West for Fine Gael for over 20 years after the inglorious departure of John Donnellan and Fintan Coogan who had won two seats in 1982 and looked like they should hold onto them forever in a five-seater. However, that was before Bobby Molloy left Fianna Fail to found the PDs and changed the face of Galway politics for decades to come.

McCormack reached the high point of his career with his service as chairman of the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party from 2007-11 and he was also a prominent member of Public Accounts Committee of the Dail.

He and his wife Eilish will be the main guests at the dinner in the Salthill Hotel, where Taoiseach Kenny, who is now the leader of the biggest ever Fine Gael Party, will make a special presentation to them on behalf of the party nationally and locally.

The dinner is being organised locally by the likes of Chief Whip Paul Kehoe, TD’s Brian Walsh, Sean Kyne, Senator Fidelma Healy Eames, Coincillor Padraig Conneely while lending a hand out in East Galway will be new TDs Paul Connaughton and Junior Minister Ciaran Cannon, as well as Senator Michael Mullins.

It will be a night of huge celebrations – but the party afficionados will be hoping that it will banish for good, the memories of the Fine Gael convention just before the General Election when McCormack surprisingly was not selected to contest the election.

This especially annoyed the McCormack connections because, as chairman of the Parliamentary Party, there had been a hop tip that McCormack would wind up with one of the plum jobs of politics, the Ceann Comhairle or Leas Ceann Comhairle, two sinecures which bring with them six figure salaries, and state cars, plus offices in Leinster House.

Interestingly one of these posts, that of Leas Ceann Comhairle went to long serving Fianna Fail TD Michael Kitt, who has been in the Oireachtas since 1975 and because of the cuts in state cars, is reported to have been the only politician with a free car at Galway Races this Summer.

For more, read this week’s Connacht 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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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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