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Challenging times in the marketplace for traders

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 21-Jun-2012

The good times saw an explosion in farmers’ markets around County Galway, with virtually every small town hosting one. But these days, things are tougher, as shoppers have become far more frugal and, so, farmers’ markets have faced challenging times.

In the past two to three years, there has been a fairly major downturn in the whole market, according to well-established organic grower and trader, Cáit Curran. But more recently, she is seeing signs that things are improving.

“Galway City wouldn’t have been as badly hit as other places in any case, but my figures are slightly up on last year’s and other people seem to be holding steady.”

It’s been a pretty difficult couple of years, but because she operates on a “fairly smallish scale and is in the market for a long time”, she is surviving. “Hopefully the worst is over but you can never say.”

Organic vegetables are at the upper end of the market and in terms of restaurants who buy organic food, there has been a decline in that area.

However, individuals and householders are still buying and most stallholders would still have the same customers as they have had for years, but on a different level.

“People are buying but they are buying less. More people are saving money now,” says Cáit.

Not everybody is noticing an improvement Peterswell farmer Justin Flannery had been involved in local markets in Ardrahan and Oranmore but he finished up a fortnight ago.

 

“For the past six months I’ve noticed it going down, so I sold the [market] unit two or three weeks ago,” he explains.

Justin, who owns a 120-acre farm and an onsite abattoir in South Galway, sells his own beef, lamb, chicken and ducks and has a shop on the farm every Friday and Saturday.

Some of the customers at Ardrahan were already purchasing from his on-farm shop, and the market was more convenient for them, but it just didn’t make financial sense for him to continue there.

“People are watching their spend and you’d want to be in the centre of things to do well.”

Justin’s prices compared more than favourably with city butchers and supermarkets, he says, but it wasn’t enough.

“Maybe if I was staffing it myself, it would have made a difference, but I supply two restaurants in Dublin and when thing are difficult, you have to mind home.”

Not everybody involved in local markets is selling food. Italian born Simona Ridolfi, who lives in Corofin is a trader at Kinvara Market and is also part of the market committee. She sells soaps and creams at Kinvara every Friday and also at the Galway City Market on Saturdays.

The Kinvara Market, which until recently was held in an old walled garden space in the village, recently moved to the Square to increase its visibility.

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

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Judy Murphy

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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

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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Archive News

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

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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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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