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Does this ‘expert’ know anything?

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Date Published: 04-Jun-2010

YOU know, sometimes I wonder about experts! Like the one who was quoted extensively in our sister paper, The Sentinel, last week as putting forward unique solutions to the traffic problems of this city.

He said we could reduce traffic congestion by 50% by individual action . . . and then went on to suggest the actions which might work. This was either a load of cobblers, or Irish drivers are such a crowd of morons and thicks that you can only expect the worst from them.

Now, I accept that, of course, if I used my car less, if I inconvenienced myself a little more, and if a sufficient number of people did the same thing, we could hugely reduce our car dependence, and whole areas of spending on new roads and infrastructure could be rendered totally unnecessary.

The expert was also quoted as having the theory that one of the reasons that traffic moves quickly, or speeds, is that people have, effectively, ceded the streets to the car. He cited as one of the examples of his contention, the fact that people had stopped their children playing in the streets, and said the cars had simply taken over.

He appeared to suggest that, if a sufficient number of drivers publicly promised that they would always obey speed limits, and then did so, then people might once again be able to allow their children to play in the streets.

This point certainly recalled a childhood spent playing in the streets for this writer . . . though the cars were a great deal scarcer at the time and there was only a fraction of the traffic. More importantly, people felt secure in letting kids out to play in the street. Nowadays, they must be supervised at all times and for all sorts of reasons other than traffic, so, in my opinion, the idea becomes impractical.

But the concept of the ‘moving speed bump’ was the idea that really caught my eye. The expert suggested that by moving at a moderate and legal speed at all times, local people could, in effect, become ‘moving speed bumps’ that would slow down traffic and help people reclaim the streets . . . and without the need for actual speed bumps, traffic calming and other such measures.

Now my personal experience is that anyone driving within the speed limit gets enough dirty looks in this city most of the time. You get the impression if you’re at less than 30mph, most drivers regard you as doddering. And some of the worst of the dirty looks seem to come from young lady drivers who now have even more testosterone than their male counterparts!

I tried a little experiment of my own on two days in Galway last week and the expert might like to hear of my experience and add it to his research store.

My first experiment was at the pedestrian lights at the Docks where I pulled up to allow a pedestrian across. Even though the pedestrian lights were not yet in her favour, she had stepped out a few feet on to the crossing. A gobdaw behind me in a ‘01’ registered car began blowing immediately and continued to do so. I was tempted to get out and go back and ask should I run the pedestrian down?

Chastened, but not yet fully persuaded that being ‘a moving speed bump’ was a bad idea, I drove on to Salthill and slowed-up and stopped to allow a woman across with a baby buggy. Of course she shouldn’t have been there . . .but it was a question of steaming through and not allowing her across, or pulling-up. I felt the situation was potentially dangerous and stopped.

Yes! You guessed it! – that same thick in the ‘01’ registered car was still behind me. He blew and began gesturing at me to move on! Maybe, I thought, this system of slowing down traffic is not for the average Irish driver such as that ‘01’ eejit.

Worse was to follow. A day or two later I was driving down Threadneedle Road, passing the entrance to Salerno, when a bus travelling in front of me pulled over and the members of a hockey squad and followers began to alight from the front of the bus.

They were ‘blind’ because they were crossing in front of the bus, so I remained stopped in the road behind the bus, allowing them to cross in threes and fours – as the bus driver signalled his thanks to me in his external rear view mirror.

One of the reasons I had stopped was that I had learnt my lesson a few weeks earlier when I passed a school bus in such a situation and the bus driver let me know in no uncertain terms what he thought of my driving! It was damned dangerous and I shouldn’t have done it!

On this occasion outside Salerno, however, a woman driver immediately behind my car began to hoot the horn and give me a very ‘bad time’. Then the other drivers of cars in the line held up behind her began to hoot the horns in a cacophony of impatient noise.

Again, I damned near got out and went back to the ‘lady’ driver, but in that kind of situation, all you do is make things worse . . . and cause an even greater hold-up for traffic. All of which makes me think that any so-called solution to the Galway traffic snarl-up which is based on courtesy, driving within the speed limit, and inconveniencing yourself, has about as much chance of working as appeals to Galway people to stop littering the streets, daubing walls with graffiti, and to scoop-up the dog poo on the Prom when their mutts defecate there.

I really don’t know how long I can keep up the courage to drive within the speed limit, wear my seat belt, and hang back when a potential traffic jam is building up – rather than plough into the middle of it and make it worse.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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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

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

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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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