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Coming soon to your area – FF talent scouts



Date Published: 11-Aug-2011

FIANNA FÁil leader Micheal Martin TD began last week in Cork the business of recruiting talent into a new rank FF is creating of ‘area representatives’ – the aim is to fire-up the organisation and get it up and active as possible after the huge General Election defeat.

And the word in FF circles in Galway is that in the near future the same process is to get underway in key areas like Loughrea and Ballinasloe, as the party works on deepening its roots in local communities, gets much more involved in local issues, and tries to interest new involvement in the ranks at local level.

The strategy is aimed at giving FF a presence on the ground with which local people can interact, to pick up on local issues so that FF becomes more ‘issue driven’ and to renew, where necessary, a jaded, ageing organisation in many areas where ‘the same old same old’ are the people attending party meetings year-in year-out.

It’s a job that might ordinarily be expected to fall to councillors, but these area reps will be appointed in electoral divisions where FF did badly in the Local Elections in 2009.

I understand that districts such as Ballinasloe, Loughrea and areas in Galway East where Fianna Fáil suffered heavy losses in the 2009 Local Elections, will be targeted – in the Loughrea and Ballinasloe districts, for instance, FF fell disastrously to one councillor in each


This slew of countryside from Loughrea to Ballinasloe was once countryside where – in the case of Loughrea Electoral Area – Fianna Fáil could boast the majority of the seven Council seats in Loughrea. At one stage they had five and in Ballinasloe they had four. In 2009 the party fell to one in seven in both Ballinasloe and Loughrea.

In the Fianna Fáil heyday, the party peaked at 17 councillors out of a total Council strength of 31. Now there are 30 councillors . . . and Fianna Fáil have only seven seats in all.

Party sources stress that the ‘local reps’ concept will be in addition to the sitting councillors (Gerry Finnerty in Loughrea and Tomas Mannion in Ballinasloe).

And let’s not forget that they had a very strong runner in the General Election in Michael F Dolan, someone that many in the party point to as a name to watch for the future with his over 4,000 first preferences last February when it was not popular to have the FF brand label as your tag.

But, I understand that they are especially interested in recruiting in the towns of Ballinasloe and Loughrea.

There was no mention of Galway City, but then, the party did not fare too badly in the city in the Locals (three elected Michael Crowe, Ollie Crowe and Peter Keane).

However, FF never did particularly well in the city in General Elections and they may need to look at their performance at that level. The city area is complicated by a strong Labour presence (five councillors), strong Independents, and Fine Gael with three councillors, and there is a strong hangover from the progressive Democrat era.

For more of John Cunningham’s analysis see this week’s Tribunes

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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