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Charities see huge jump in families on the breadline

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: {J}

By Declan Tierney

The number of cash strapped County Galway families, who have turned to the St. Vincent de Paul for assistance in the run up to Christmas, has more than doubled compared to this time last year.

And in a startling revelation, it has been learned that many of those families who had helped out St. Vincent de Paul in the past have now come with ‘cap in hand’ looking for much needed help this year.

It is estimated that the VdeP have come to the assistance of almost 4,000 families across Galway city and county this Christmas which is more than double the number they helped out last Christmas.

A combination of the new unemployed, home owners in negative equity and those who cannot survive on social welfare payments have all been turning up at the St. Vincent de Paul door.

“I simply don’t know where the people are coming from this year. The number of people who are in dire need of our help is unprecedented and we have never had to deal with such a volume in the past”, admitted Colm Noonan, Administrator with the VdeP in Galway, who paid tribute to the large number of volunteers who had helped the organisation this year.

It is also an indication of the increased demands on their services that some of their offices that had closed in the past have now been reopened because of the poverty that has affected nearly ever parish of County Galway over the past three years.

The St. Vincent de Paul office in Galway city, which also serves those in a dire situation around Connemara and even the Aran Islands, distributed around 700 hampers of food this Christmas while they provided other assistance to more than 1,600 people in the region throughout the festive season.

On the east side of the county, the charity came to the assistance of an even higher number of families in need and this resulted in a lot more people having to be looked after with much less resources.

Colm Noonan said that their contributions were down by €120,000 in Galway city alone while the numbers seeking their help had risen by between 55% and 60%.

“In all my years involved with this organisation, I have never seen such poverty in our community”, Mr. Noonan added.

The huge demands on St. Vincent de Paul come at a time when the Government is introducing a household charge, septic tank registration fee while families’ incomes were further hit in the recent Budget.

“People that helped us out in the past and fundraised for us are now the people we are helping because their fortunes have changed so much.

“The number of new people that have come to us looking for help is quite staggering”, Colm Noonan added.

Other charities too have admitted they are finding it increasingly difficult to deliver their normal services through a combination of reduced contributions and an increase in the demands from those they assist.

Charities that depend on the majority of their funding through voluntary contributions have admitted that they are struggling to deliver the services they provide – and concede that the ‘big fund raising events’ have become a thing of the past.

At the same time, demands on their services had increased significantly and that had resulted in wage cuts and general cutbacks within the organisation but without essential staff having to be let go.


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

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



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



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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