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No country for young men or women either

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Now a well kept walled garden off Tuam's Dublin Road thanks mainly to the efforts of local people . . . part of the burial ground where nearly 800 children were interred from the '20s through to the '60s. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

There was a glorious summer’s evening last week after the silage was cut and the cows were looked at in the callow field when I strolled through one of those sites that are dotted around the Irish country – a small plot of risen ground pickled with flat stones and now home to a majestic ash tree.

This Lisheen, known in some places as a Lios or a Cillíní, was according to my father a place where many, many infants were buried from the 1800s and well into the 1900s as well.

It was a course a reflection of the high infant mortality rate in Ireland and while this situation did improve somewhat as the State began to grow through the mid-20th century, the change was only marginal.

Due to the work of local Tuam historian, Catherine Corless, the issue has featured in newspapers and TV stations all over the world, with her chronicling of the deaths of 796 children at the home ran by the Bon Secours nuns from 1925 to 1961.

The location of a septic tank in close proximity to the site on Tuam’s Dublin Road of course was ‘into the barrow’ of headline writers with the image being conveyed of the infants and children being buried indiscriminately in a most inappropriate place.

The septic tank, and indeed the houses that straddle Dublin Road and the Athenry Road on the site of the burial ground, have no real relevance but overall the sheer scale of infant and children deaths was reflective of what was going on in Ireland at the time.

In many ways, Ireland wasn’t a very nice place to live or grow up in during our first half century of independence, especially if any individual was unfortunate enough to ‘stray outside the Pale’ in terms of their so called moral standards.

Unmarried mothers or people with mental health problems were at particular risk of, at best, social isolation and at worst, incarceration at institutions that could have been taken straight from Dickensian times.

Catherine Corless’s work in detailing the records of those buried at the Tuam site was assiduous and dignified but she must have grimaced many times when the national and international press got their hands on the story.

The image of children’s being dumped in a septic tank was conveyed in many of the stories, but the truth is that across Ireland in a large middle chunk of the 20th century, thousands of infants and young children died due to now entirely curable ailments such as TB, measles, flu, bronchitis and meningitis.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

CITY TRIBUNE

RTÉ expenses’ exposé justifies TV licence fee

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Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

Irish people have a love hate relationship with the national broadcaster. In keeping with our begrudging nature, we love to hate it. But, paradoxically, we have an ingrained affinity with it too. And for all its faults, it is ours. News and current affairs distinguish it from other channels.

RTÉ’s Irish language services – Radió na Gaeltachta and Nuacht TG4 – despite operating on shoe-string budgets compared with their English language counterparts in the same stable, are excellent and justify the licence fee.

So too does Prime Time Investigates. The only complaint you’d have with it, is there aren’t enough investigations by Prime Time.

That’s because journalism, particularly investigative journalism, takes time and money. And notwithstanding that they do pay their ‘stars’ too much, RTÉ is nearly always short of money.

Last week, RTÉ did the State some service with its exposé of the flawed expenses system for people elected to local authorities.

It was worthy of licence fee funding. One man who got full value from his TV licence fee, from the programme, was Galway City Councillor Declan McDonnell.

Without RTÉ Prime Time Investigates, we would not have known that he had repaid and refunded over-claimed expenses.

The ex-PD, who topped the poll as an Independent in City East at the most recent local election, didn’t feature on the TV programme but was one of many elected members named in an accompanying lengthy online article.

In it, Declan confirmed that he had over-claimed and refunded expenses relating to attendance in 2015 at a Committee of the Regions seminar in the Netherlands on Thursday, March 12, and a conference in Monaghan on the same day.

“I realised that when I completed the GCC form, I over-claimed one day and this has since been refunded to Galway City Council,” he said.

On another occasion, he told RTÉ he had made a mistake on a claim form submitted, and subsequently refunded a daily allowance of €33.61 to the City Council. This related to meetings in Leitrim and Roscommon on the same day in 2019.

A claim form indicated he had attended a planning meeting in Carrick-on-Shannon, and returned at 10pm on Friday April 5. Another claim form – related to a Committee of the Regions-related meeting, at the Northern and Western Regional Assembly in Ballaghaderreen – said he left home 11.30am on Friday, April 5, for a 2pm meeting, returning home at 5.45pm.

He explained to RTÉ: “Following discussions with my family, they have recalled that I left the conference in Carrick-on-Shannon early morning on April 5, 2019, to return home and deal with an urgent family matter. I then left Galway to attend the CoR meeting in Ballaghaderreen.”

The money amounts are quite small. And, Declan McDonnell was one of many highlighted in the investigation who had made mistakes claiming expenses.

A conscientious and experienced city councillor like Declan McDonnell would no doubt thank RTÉ for bringing it to his – and our – attention.

On a broader level, RTÉ deserves credit for investing time and money into shining a spotlight on an expenses’ system that nearly all councillors agree needs an overhaul.

(Photo: Councillor Declan McDonnell)
This is a shortened preview version of Bradley Bytes. To read more, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Fearsome Limerick hit new high by tearing Tipperary rivals apart

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Galway’s Carrie Dolan breaking away from Laura Doherty of Westmeath during Saturday's All-Ireland camogie championship clash at Kenny Park. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

In the aftermath of a wonderful sporting achievement, it’s easy to get carried away and, perhaps, overrate what we have just seen at the expense of great deeds from the past. But even against that background, what Limerick hurlers achieved in the second-half of Sunday’s Munster Final was extraordinary.

They looked a beaten docket at half-time. Trailing by ten points to a Jason Forde inspired and a fiercely committed Tipperary, the All-Ireland champions were in serious trouble. They had conceded two goals directly from opposition puck-outs to Jake Morris and Bubbles O’Dwyer, and so many of their marquee players were off the pace.

In fact, Tipperary could have been ahead by more. With Dan McCormack playing deep to free up Brendan Maher as their sweeper, they created a world of chances with Forde – the most under-rated forward in the game – rifling over a series of points from all angles and distances. Limerick were all at sea and only Cian Lynch and Tom Morrissey were having a significant impact on the action.

But nobody could have envisaged the sensational turnaround in the third quarter. Within 18 minutes, a resurgent Limerick had gone a point ahead as reserves Aaron Gillane and Dan Morrissey added fresh vigour to their challenge at opposite ends of the field. It was like watching two different matches as Tipp were simply overwhelmed.

Their older generation really sagged in the unforgiving temperatures and by the time their management made changes, Limerick had already taking control. On the scoreboard, Tipp were still in it, but their players must have been in a state of shock over how a big lead had been so quickly and so ruthlessly wiped out. Limerick’s younger legs and sheer physical power were now dictating the terms of engagement.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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Connacht Tribune

No great rush to mend the error of your ways!

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

It was St Augustine who famously petitioned in prayer: ‘God, make me good – but just not yet’. It’s a sentiment that one Sister Mary Joseph took to whole new levels, because after spending her first 61 years as a high-living heiress, she spent the last three decades as a cloistered nun.

And she closed one chapter to open another one back in 1989 with a party for 800 of her closest friends at the Hilton Hotel in San Francisco – so many guests that the hostess carried a helium balloon all night, with the words “Here I Am” so that people could find her amid the throng.

The next day the former Ann Russell Miller flew to Chicago and joined the Sisters of Our Lady of Mount Carmel as a novitiate, spending the rest of her life as Sister Mary Joseph of the Trinity.

Or as one of her 28 grandchildren put it: “It was like The Great Gatsby turned into The Sound of Music.”

Her recent obituary in the Times painted quite the colourful picture of a lover of the high life turned Holy Roller.

“She smoked, drank champagne, played cards, spent five hours a day on the telephone and, as an expert scuba diver and enthusiastic skier, travelled around the world.

“She had a season ticket to the opera, was a high-society patron of many charitable causes and drove her sports car at such reckless speeds that, according to her son Mark, ‘people got out of her car with a sore foot from slamming on an imaginary brake’.”

Because if ever a life could be described as a tale of two-thirds of high living and one-third of contemplation, this was it; the mother of ten who enjoyed the casual company of celebrity friends like Nancy Reagan and Bob Hope opted for an order which allowed her one visitor a month – and even then no touching given the two rows of iron bars between them.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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