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City discovers long lost Californian cousin



Date Published: 29-Nov-2012


Moves are afoot to restore important links between a small Galway suburb and its affluent American namesake, a town in the heart of Silicon Valley and home to some of the world’s biggest rock stars.

Thanks to the efforts of one Galway native, the prospect of Menlo on the outskirts of Galway city forging links, and possibly ‘sister city’ ties, with its affluent namesake town in California, is back on the cards.

Historians, business leaders and Council officials in Menlo Park, California – named after Menlo village – are anxious to explore the possibility of establishing a friendship with Galway City, and possibly a sister city connection.

Menlo Park in California was founded in the 1800s by two men from Menlo in Galway, Dennis J Oliver and D.C. McGlynn, who emigrated to the United States during the Great Famine.

Today, it is one of the hubs for Silicon Valley’s venture capitalist companies and boasts of being the birthplace to one of the biggest internet companies ever, Google, and is the location for the headquarters of another internet giant, Facebook.

In the early 1850s the two Galway exiles purchased a large ranch or tract of land of between 800 and 1,700 acres and named it Menlo Park, after their hometown. The entrance to the ranch was, apparently, modelled on the archway entrance which was the former gatelodge at Menlo Castle. Some years later when the train system was being built in America, one of the stops on the railway was at Menlo Park and the town ‘grew up’ around the station.

At a recent meeting in Menlo Park, California members of the Menlo Park Historical Society, the Menlo Park Chamber of Commerce and the Mayor of Menlo Park, Kirsten Keith, said they were keen to explore the possibility of establishing friendship links and sister city ties between the two areas.

Castlegar native Gerry Hanley, who has a keen interest in the historical links between the two Menlos, visited California where he had lunch with the local dignitaries and was given a tour of Menlo Park, including the train station, St Patrick’s Seminary and the Civic Centre.

“They are anxious to forge some sort of link with Galway. They are keen to explore the possibility of forming sister city ties,” said Mr Hanley.

Now, Fine Gael Councillor Padraig Conneely has tabled a Notice of Motion with Galway City Council for its meeting on Monday night proposing that Galway establish a formal relationship with Menlo Park in California.

“I want this put on a formal footing,” he said this week. “After all, there are not too many places around the globe with such an established connection with Galway. This city in California would never have existed in its current guise but for the Famine forcing these two Menlo men to emigrate in the mid 19th Century.

“I believe this link should be established from an historical perspective alone, but if the two cities can be mutually beneficial to each other in the years ahead, then all the better. I sincerely hope the City Council react favourably to my proposal,” he added.

For more on this story, see the 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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Archive News

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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