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Cruisers bypass Ballinasloe

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 03-Jul-2008

BOATING enthusiasts have confirmed that larger Shannon pleasure craft are not visiting Ballinasloe because of fears about whether they will have sufficient clearance to get safely under a Bord na
Mona bridge near Reilly’s Ford, about an hour downstream from the town.

The single span concrete bridge structure is used to support a Bord na Mona railway system which transports peat from the nearby bogs, and is located over part of the River Suck which was made navigable as far as Ballinasloe eight years ago.

However boating enthusiasts in Ballinasloe, backed up by the Chamber of Commerce, feel that the town is not benefitting sufficiently from the tourist spin-off which should have resulted from the opening up of the town to river Shannon pleasure craft.

Despite the millions of euro that was spent on making the Suck channel navigable to Ballinasloe, and providing it with its very own marina within a stone’s thow of the town centre, the general consensus is that the knock-on impact from a tourist point of view has been disappointing.

Now the town’s Chamber of Commerce has set up a subcommittee aimed at tackling the problems associated with the Bord na Mona bridge in the hope that the flow of boating traffic can be increased to the benefit of local business concerns.

They are hoping to persuade Bord na Mona to raise the bridge further in order to increase headroom and allow the ever increasing number of larger pleasure craft to make their way to Ballinasloe, and
are working alongside another group comprising representatives from the Town Council, Ireland West Tourism, Ballinasloe Area Community Development and RAPID, who are examining tourism
development opportunities in the area.

According to Chamber activist and boating enthusiast, Terry Noone, the number of boats passing through the lock at Poolboy was down almost a quarter last year on the figures achieved when the
Suck was opened up to pleasure craft in 2001, and the indications for this year are not much better. “This is our eighth year and you would think we would have at least doubled on the numbers but instead we are in fact well down on the previous years.”

Last summer’s heavy rainfall and consequent rise in the level of the River Suck exacerbated the situation, and this year’s current rainfall levels would appear to indicate a repetition of the problems
encountered by boat owners who failed to make it to Ballinasloe in the larger craft.

“Our weather has changedyear the river was flooded,” explained Terry Noone who quoted the example of one boat which hit the bridge that month and didn’t realise the damage sustained to its flybridge until it reached the lock in Poolboy. Unable to make the return trip, the boat had to
stay in Ballinasloe for two weeks until the levels of the river went down.

“We want to get people into Ballinasloe but the fact is that there were only two hire boats in the marina last night, and five the night before, and we are not benefitting as we should. What has happened is that boats have got bigger and are higher out of the water.”

Visitors hiring boats along the river Shannon are apparently being told not…
and for the whole of July last

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Judy Murphy



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

BallinasloeÕs young squad aiming to floor Armagh junior champs

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 24-Jan-2013

A new chapter in the history of Ballinasloe football will be written at Breffni Park, Cavan, on Sunday when Sean Riddell’s young side take on Ulster champions An Port Mor of Armagh in the All-Ireland Junior semi-final (2pm).

It’s the first competitive game outside the province of Connacht in 33 years for Galway football’s ‘sleeping giant’ with the enticing prospect of an appearance at Croke Park on February 9 on offer for the winners of what should be a competitive tie.

Ballinasloe have romped through Connacht since overcoming a couple of tricky hurdles on their way to collecting the Galway junior title, which was their target for the campaign this time last year.

With a return to Intermediate football secured, Riddell’s youngsters really have nothing to lose – while their triumphant march to county and provincial titles has revived memories of the club’s glory days when they contested three Galway senior finals in a row between 1979 and ’81.

Intriguingly, the seniors of St Grellan’s never got to play in Croke Park when they reached the All-Ireland final back in 1980 – they lost by 3-9 to 0-8 to St Finbarr’s of Cork in Tipperary Town.

This team’s progression has provided rich rewards for an abundance of hard work at underage levels in the past ten to 15 years and the current side’s ‘do or die’ attitude was very much in evidence in the cliffhanger wins over Tuam and Clifden in the domestic championship.


They are a well-balanced side who really never know when they are beaten and have an inspirational leader in county panelist Keith Kelly, whose exploits at centre back have been among the key components in their dramatic run to reach the All-Ireland series.

Riddell, who recalls playing senior football with the club during their heyday, is determined to get Ballinasloe back among the county’s leading clubs but, for the moment, he is delighted just to have a shot at getting to Croke Park in a bid to emulate Clonbur’s achievement in winning the title outright last year.

Riddell went to Newry on a ‘spying mission’ to see the Armagh champions overcome Brackaville of Tyrone by 2-9 to 0-11 in November – and was impressed by the quality of the football produced by An Port Mor in the Ulster final.

“They are a nicely balanced side who play good football,” he said. “There was a bit of the physical stuff you’d expect from two Ulster side, but I was impressed by their performance.”

An Port Mor became the first Armagh side to win the provincial junior decider. First half goals from Shane Nugent and Christopher Lennon sent them on the road to victory, before a red card for Brackaville captain Cahir McGuinness eased their progress to the All-Ireland series.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Archive News

Coalition promised an ocean of reform Ð but the wind has gone out of its sails

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 30-Jan-2013


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