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F‡ilte Ireland announce blueprint to build on Volvo Race success

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Date Published: {J}

The national tourism development authority is seeking to build on the positive exposure generated by last year’s Volvo Ocean Race stopover as they anticipate an increase of 230,000 visitors to Ireland in 2010.

Fáilte Ireland announced that it would be developing the tourism infrastructure in the West and providing support for local businesses and cultural festivals during the year ahead.

The Volvo Ocean Race stopover in Galway City – now back on the agenda for a repeat visit following this week’s announcement of up to €4 million in funding from Government – was described as a great success and one of the highlights of the 2009 tourism calendar at the annual Tourism in the West briefing at the Ardilaun Hotel yesterday.

Head of Operations for Fáilte Ireland Fiona Monaghan said that 2009 could be summed up as the year of “boats and business” as more than 300 tourism and hospitality operations in the West received training from the authority prior to the Ocean Race festival.

The stopover resulted in more than 200,000 bed nights for the city and county last summer as 650,000 visitors flocked to the Race Village and Salthill during the event. Almost €56 million was injected into the local economy during the two week festival.

Ms Monaghan told the briefing that one of the key priorities for 2010 is to build on the positive exposure that the West received last summer as 1.327 billion people tuned in to watch the Galway leg of the event on television.

“Fáilte Ireland in the West will not be taking its foot off the pedal in 2010,” she said. “We will aggressively chase every business and every drop of potential in the home holiday market and we will continue to provide significant business supports and advice to tourism businesses throughout the year.”

Specific plans for the tourism industry in the West include increased emphasis on outdoor and adventure activities, development and growth of ‘spiritual tourism’, support for an extensive cultural festivals programme and the provision of practical supports for local tourism businesses.

CEO of Fáilte Ireland Shaun Quinn said that there was cause for some optimism in 2010 and the tourism authority anticipates growing the country’s visitor numbers by 3% to 7.85 million during the year ahead.

“This time last year the outlook amongst tourism operators was universally bleak, prompting a widespread belief that 2009 was all about survival,” he said. “This year the tectonic plates of business sentiment are shifting somewhat.”

For more, read page 7 of this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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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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