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December 30, 2009

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: {J}

Pig problem

The townspeople of Athenry have a serious grievance in connection with the pig markets, and the sooner this grievance is remedied the better, if the people are not to go back to Paganism.

It has been the custom of the country people for some time past to bring in their pigs to Athenry the night previous to the fair or market, and some of the shopkeepers give stabling to their country customers and friends.

 On Sunday last, it was lamentable from a religious point of view to see the large number of country carts which arrived in town for Monday’s pig market. While the country farmers are to blame for this irreligious practice those in town who encourage them by giving them stables are far worse, and doubly guilty for disturbing the people of the town on Sundays and holidays, which happen to precede fair days.

Another matter which occupies a prominent place in the minds of the townspeople is the manner in which the fairs and pig markets are conducted. The outside public would scarcely believe that a pig fair was in full swing at midnight on Sunday, and any of the businesspeople were compelled to stop up all nght. The fair was over, so far as buying and selling is concerned, at 2 o’clock in the morning, and the country people are all tied away from the town at 8 o’clock a.m.

These fairs are, therefore, no good from a business point of view, and the rule made some years ago of not permitting buying to take place until 8 o’clock in the morning should be strictly enforced.

 Clifden penalties

At the last meeting of Clifden Guardians, the following resolution, proposed by Mr. John D’Arcy, was carried unanimously – “That we, the Clifden Board of Guardian instruct our Clerk to obtain a copy of the Lord Chief Baron’s judgment in the case of the appeal of the Board of Richmond Asylum against the surcharge of the auditor”.

This has arisen owing to the fact that the auditor has already surcharged the Clifden Guardians in the matter of contracts where they had not accepted the lowest tender, and a further surcharge is threatened for the same cause, although the judgment above referred to states that the opinions of public bodies who are entrusted with the disbursement of public monies should be supreme, and that they need not accept the lowest tender, and that no auditor or other person can compel or coerce them to do so.

Town Hall opening

It has been announced by Monsignor McAlpine, P.P., that the Town Hall, Clifden, will be formally opened on January 6, when His Grace the Most Rev. Dr. Healy, Archbishop of Tuam, will be present, together with that eminent historian and scholar – Dr. D’Alton – by whom a lecture will be delivered. It is also expected that a few of our M.P.s will be present.


Cinemagoers spoilt

Picturegoers are being well catered for at Galway’s cinemas this week.

On Tuesday and Wednesday nights “A Cup of Kindness” was screened in Galway’s new super cinema, the Savoy and was a sparkling comedy, guaranteed a laugh bringer.

Christmas rates

The collection of rates in County Galway during the Christmas week showed a decided improvement as compared with the collection during the corresponding week last year.

At the weekly meeting of the Finance Committee of the Galway County Council, Mr Martin Quinn, chairman, presiding, said the rates collected during the week amounted to £2,062 as compared with £960 during Christmas week 1933.

The total collected to date was £61,973 or 32.6 per cent.

 Suicide charge

At Galway Circuit Court on Wednesday, before his lordship, Judge Wyse Power, a man from Tiernea, Lettermore, pleaded guilty to a charge of attempted suicide by throwing himself into the sea on November 15, 1934.

His lordship said he believed the accused did not know what he was doing at the time through drink and would therefore discharge him.


Christmas boom

“Business in Galway during the few days prior to Christmas Day was better and brisker than it was during any Christmas advent of recent years.” This is the expressed opinion of many Galway businessmen, but none ventured to offer a reason for the improvement.

A week before Christmas market prices held on the same level as those ruling prior to the previous Christmas and business was not all that might be expected in the shops. The only improvement in prices at the markets came with a strong demand for turkeys on Wednesday.

The improvement in shopping business was noticeable in every section of trade – drapery and millinery, grocery and fancy trade etc., and the range of purchases outside the type of articles generally purchased for gifts was extensive.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.


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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Henshaw and McSharry set to field for Irish Wolfhounds in clash with England Saxons

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 24-Jan-2013

CONNACHT’S rising stars Robbie Henshaw and Dave McSharry look set to named in the starting xv for the Ireland Wolfhounds who face the England Saxons in Galway this weekend when the team is announced later today (Thursday).

Robbie Henshaw is the only out-and-out full-back that was named Tuesday in the 23-man squad that will take on the English at the Sportsground this Friday (7.45pm).

Connacht’s centre McSharry and Ulster’s Darren Cave are the only two specialist centres named in the 23 man squad, which would also suggest the two youngsters are in line for a starting place.

Former Connacht out-half, Ian Keatley, Leinster’s second out-half Ian Madigan and Ulster’s number 10 Paddy Jackson and winger Andrew Trimble, although not specialist full-backs or centres, can all slot into the 12, 13 and 15 jerseys, however you’d expect the Irish management will hand debuts to Henshaw and McSharry given that they’ll be playing on their home turf.

Aged 19, Henshaw was still playing Schools Cup rugby last season. The Athlone born Connacht Academy back burst onto the scene at the beginning of the season when he filled the number 15 position for injured captain Gavin Duffy.

The Marist College and former Ireland U19 representative was so assured under the high ball, so impressive on the counter-attack and astute with the boot, that he retained the full-back position when Duffy returned from injury.

Connacht coach Eric Elwood should be commended for giving the young Buccaneers clubman a chance to shine and Henshaw has grasped that opportunity with both hands, lighting up the RaboDirect PRO 12 and Heineken Cup campaigns for the Westerners this season.

Henshaw has played in all 19 of Connacht’s games this season and his man-of-the-match display last weekend in the Heineken Cup against Zebre caught the eye of Irish attack coach, Les Kiss.

“We’re really excited about his development. He had to step into the breach when Connacht lost Gavin Duffy, and he was playing 13 earlier in the year. When he had to put his hand up for that, he’s done an exceptional job,” Kiss said.

The 22-year-old McSharry was desperately unlucky to miss out on Declan Kidney’s Ireland squad for the autumn internationals and the Dubliner will relish the opportunity this Friday night to show-off his speed, turn of foot, deft hands and finishing prowess that has been a mark of this season, in particular, with Connacht.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Drinks battle brewing as kettle sales go off the boil

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 30-Jan-2013

You’d have thought there might have been three certainties in Irish life – death, taxes and the cup of tea – but it now seems that our post-tiger sophistication in endangering the consumption of the nation’s second favourite beverage.

Because with all of our new-fangled coffee machines, percolators, cappuccino and expresso makers, sales of the humble kettle are falling faster than our hopes of a write-off on the promissory note.

And even when we do make tea, we don’t need a tea pot – it’s all tea bags these days because nobody wants a mouthful of tea leaves, unless they’re planning to have their fortune told.

Sales of kettles are in decline as consumers opt for fancy coffee makers, hot water dispensers and other methods to make their beverages – at least that’s the case in the UK and there’s no reason to think it’s any different here.

And it’s only seems like yesterday when, if the hearth was the heart of every home, the kettle that hung over the inglenook fireplace or whistled gently on the range, was the soul.

You’d see groups gathered in bogs, footing turf and then breaking off to boil the battered old kettle for a well-earned break.

The first thing that happened when you dropped into someone’s home was the host saying: “Hold on until I stick on the kettle.”

When the prodigal son arrived home for the Christmas, first item on the agenda was a cup of tea; when bad news was delivered, the pain was eased with a cuppa; last thing at night was tea with a biscuit.

The arrival of electric kettles meant there was no longer an eternal search for matches to light the gas; we even had little electric coils that would boil water into tea in our cup if you were mean enough or unlucky enough to be making tea for one.

We went away on sun holidays, armed with an ocean of lotion and a suitcase full of Denny’s sausages and Barry’s Tea. Spanish tea just wasn’t the same and there was nothing like a nice brew to lift the sagging spirits.

We even coped with the arrival of coffee because for a long time it was just Maxwell House or Nescafe granules which might have seemed like the height of sophistication – but they still required a kettle.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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