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Contractor wins court battle for payment



Date Published: 26-Jul-2012


A civil action brought by a contractor against Senator Fidelma Healy Eames has been dismissed, although an order was made for €12,412 against her husband, Michael, at Galway Circuit Court yesterday.

Judge Rory McCabe concluded the two-day hearing in favour of the plaintiff, Michael Allen, who had sued the couple for money owed for plumbing and heating works at their home in Maree, Oranmore, three years ago. They had denied his claims, and counter-sued for shoddy workmanship.

“The fact that the defendants tried to rewrite the contract, and force the plaintiff to accept a deal for less than the agreed price, speaks for itself,” the Judge said in announcing his decision.

He described as “implausible” Mr Eames’ version of events – that Mr Allen had carried out works on the couple’s garage without being instructed to do so – adding that it was “unthinkable that a contractor would do it on spec.”

Senator Healy Eames became emotional in the witness box yesterday when she told the court that the total rebuild of their family home had been 12 years in the planning.

She disputed the claim made the previous day by Mr Allen that she had been in a hurry to have work on the garage completed, so as to provide offices for Fine Gael and a boardroom upstairs.

“My office was in the city, I didn’t need another office in the garage – there were no discussions about it,” she replied.

On Wednesday, Mr Allen had told the court that he was paid only €13,000 of the €28,840 he had originally quoted for plumbing and heating works before he was thrown off the job in 2009. There were also additional outgoings, or “extras”, that needed to be paid for by the defendants, he claimed.

He said that Michael Eames had pestered him to do the job. He had initially refused.

He said Mr Eames did not stick to the payment agreement reached – €10,000 on the first fix, the same amount for the second, and the balance on completion.

“Michael only gave me €7,000 – I felt he was fobbing me off, paying when he felt like it, and not what we agreed . . . he was throwing me a trickle to get things done,” he said.

He said that Mr Eames made threatening phone calls to him, one of which was received while he was in his solicitor’s office.

In his evidence, Michael Eames told the court that it was Mr Allen who had pursued him for the work, and had suggested the garage be turned into a mini-house, to save the family renting elsewhere.

“I asked for a quote (for the garage), then I arrived back one day to find them two days into the work,” Mr Eames added.

He said that Mr Allen had walked off the job and, despite efforts to get him back, the contractor had initiated legal proceedings against them.

Judge McCabe concluded the hearing by dismissing any claim made against Senator Healy Eames, whom he was satisfied was not intimately involved in the contract.

“I am satisfied that the plaintiff was at all times ready, willing, and able to finish the job, and was frustrated by the ill-advised decision (of Mr Eames) to terminate the contract. I am happy that the defendant owes money to the plaintiff.”

He made an order against Mr Eames for €12,412.97, deducting the monies paid by the homeowners to other tradesmen working on the project, he also granted costs to Mr Allen.

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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