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Ex-student shines the spotlight on Galway



Date Published: 19-Apr-2012

It’s always fascinating to know what other people think about us – even if we don’t necessarily agree with these people’s opinions.

A new guide book by NUI graduate Christina McDonald, who previously worked as a journalist in Galway, gives a very good insight on how at least one American views Ireland.

Moon Living Abroad in Ireland is a comprehensive guide book geared at both tourists and people who are thinking of moving here to live. And for the most part, Christina’s thoughts on the country, especially Galway, are positive.

That’s possibly not surprising as she has many happy memories of her time here as a student – these include meeting the man who became her husband when she spotted and fancied him him at a Taekwon Do class.

These days Christina lives in London with her husband Richard and their three-year-old son. Speaking on the phone, she laughs as she recalls how she noticed Richard in class one day and manipulated the situation so she was paired up with him for manoeuvres.

“It changed the course of my life,” she says of her time in Galway. And it also proved invaluable when American publishing company Moon, which specialises in independent travel and adventure books, was looking for somebody to write a guide book on Ireland.

Seattle native Christina had sent her CV to the company about five years ago, after spotting an advertisement it had posted on the website Craigslist. Back then Moon wanted somebody to write a book on her area of America and she figured she was an ideal candidate.

They felt differently, however.

“I never heard anything back. But then, a few years later they contacted me about writing a book on Ireland.”

She sent on an outline of her ideas and they went from there.

“Moon has a fairly standard outline for all books, but there is room for a bit of personal input on each country,” says Christina. Her personal tips include fun items such as a history of the Claddagh ring and Galway hooker as well as practical tips on safety, travel, tax relief and the cost of living.

Her research relied largely on her personal experience of living here and her knowledge of both American and Irish society, which allowed her to explain differences in customs and languages between the countries.

For factual and statistical information she relied largely on websites from various Government departments as well as the Citizens Advice Board and Fáilte Ireland. She also contacted experts in various areas and made use of online expat forums used by Americans living in Ireland.

Like the Rough Guides and Lonely Planet travel books that people on this side of the world are more familiar with, the Moon Guide contains a general overview of the country being featured. There’s a history of the country – in this case Ireland – advice on planning a fact-finding trip and making the move. In that section Christina covers visas, immigration, health, employment, communications and transport.


One section of the book is entitled Prime Living Locations. There, Christina explains that for someone moving to Ireland, they have two choices about where to live; urban or rural.

She deals briefly with rural areas before selecting Dublin, Cork, Galway and Limerick, in that order, as her prime living locations.

She describes Galway as “the soul of what really sums up all that is ‘Irish’” and she accurately captures the climate of the Western seaboard.

“You may wake up to bright sunshine but by the time you get out of bed, dark angry clouds may be lashing fat drops of cold rain.”

Christina first wanted to come to Ireland as a child, when she was a saw a photo of the Dingle Peninsula and loved it. She has no close family connections with this country, but she felt drawn here.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



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



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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Archive News

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



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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