Date Published: 29-Jun-2007
Galway City Council are continuing to deny they have pulled out of around 25 commitments to buy private houses around Galway — despite seeking the return of deposits paid to many of the sellers.
The local authority have refused to acknowledge they have left dozens of people in a chain of debt, claiming they never had an agreement to buy the houses.
They have issued a series of categorical denials to the Galway City Tribune and our sister publication the Sentinel that they have reneged on the deals, despite a growing dossier of information to the contrary in this newspaper’s possession.
Under the current Housing Programme, the Council have purchased more than 60 houses in private estates around the city and are in the process of buying 55 more, which will then be rented out to Council tenants.
However, they had committed to purchase in the region of 25 more — selling prices were agreed between auctioneers and in some cases, booking deposits were paid.
In the past week, some sellers were told the purchases will not be going ahead, although many cannot get information from the Council. Those sellers — some of whom have purchased other homes on foot of the commitments given — have now been left with tens of thousands of euro down the drain in wasted legal and valuation fees.
Others who already traded up face crippling double mortgage payments for the next few months as they attempt to sell their homes in a slowing residential property market.
The Council have denied that they decided not to proceed with some purchases or that there is a list of properties which they have decided not to buy.
However, a letter from the agents for the Council to an auctioneer acting on behalf of one of the affected sellers admits there is no funding to buy the houses.
The Galway City Tribune has seen a list of
The way we were – Protecting archives of our past
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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