Classifieds Advertise Archive Subscriptions Family Announcements Photos Digital Editions/Apps
Connect with us

Archive News

Cœirt plays host to one of top names in British journalism



Date Published: {J}

He lives in London with a background rooted firmly in Scotland, yet writer Ian Jack, who will take part in next month’s Cúírt Festival of Literature, has barely answered the phone for our interview when he asks when the Galway-Limerick railway line will be re-opening.

“I’m fascinated by railways,” he says by way of explanation. Truth to tell, The Guardian columnist, former editor of the renowned Granta magazine and co-founder and editor of England’s Independent on Sunday, is interested in most things.

On April 24 he’ll be reading from his latest book, an evocative collection of essays entitled The Country Formerly Known as Great Britain, and then discussing it with Fintan O’Toole, Irish Times columnist and author of Ship of Fools: How Stupidity and Corruption Sank the Celtic Tiger.

Part of the book details the cultural climate that Ian, who was born in 1945, caught the tail end of and that his parents belonged to. That began to disappear in the 1950s and was nearly dead by the 1980s, he says.

“Britain had been an empire and had a distinct civilisation compared to Europe and North America, most of which has now disappeared, for good or ill.”

When he was a child – in fact well into his adulthood – Scottish nationalism didn’t exist. Despite that, there was a civilisation in Northern Britain that was separate from the rest of the UK territory. It was based on heavy industry, in a place where the Protestant religion was hugely important and where there was a non-metropolitan view, he says. It was a place where people regarded themselves as being superior to Londoners in some ways.

But even during his childhood, it was falling apart. The Clyde shipyards were closing and the Lancashire woollen mills were closing. As Ian points out, he grew up between two epochs.

That’s what the book is about but it’s not nostalgic. Nor is it a political or economic treatise. One piece recalls the year, 1956, when he and his parents ate a tin of baked beans that also included sausages – a memorable first experience. This is a book in which the daily details of British life in the late 20th century are catalogued in fonddetail, a book where the past shines a light on the present, warts and all.

“There are many reasons not to want the 1950s back but if there is anger in what I write, it’s because the working class, or the skilled working class – people like my parents – had a very thin time for no great reward,” Ian says.” They were betrayed by the British political elite who weren’t interested in the old ways of making money, such as manufacturing. Margaret Thatcher has got a lot of bad press and I don’t want to vilify her any further, but she was in large part responsible for people following the idea that Britain could make a living from marketing and financial capitalism rather than manufacturing.”

He sees many similarities between Ireland and Britain “as if an economy based on buying and selling houses could make you rich”.

“There is so much anger now, but what do you do with the anger. There has been very little discussion of any alternative political or economic system. It seems global capitalism is the only option and that any actions taking place are done with a view to keeping the system alive.”

Ian, who has been working in journalism for well over 40 years, began his career in Scotland, after several rejections and a period spent working as a librarian, when he was finally accepted as a trainee on The Glasgow Herald.

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

Continue Reading

Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

Local Ads

Local Ads