Date Published: 13-Mar-2008
THE last cheques in the post will arrive this year for West of Ireland farmers — from next October, the electronic era will take over.
The bureaucracy of the EU has decreed that from October 15 next, all payments to farmers should be made electronically through the banks.
Already a campaign is under way to keep the cheques coming — especially for older members of the farming community who may not have bank accounts. Deputy Paul Connaughton raised the matter in the Dáil with Minister Mary Coughlan who informed him that an EU Directive ‘demanded’ that all payments be made electronically through the banks.
“It seems that even credit unions and post offices will be left out of the loop for payments. “Surely we don’t have to bend the knee to every bureaucrat in the EU — what’s wrong with sending out a few cheques to farmers who want to get their money that way,” said Deputy Connaughton.
Co. Galway IFA Chairman, Barry Donnelly, said that there was a long tradition of farmers getting their payments via the cheque in the post. “Many of those farmers go down to their local merchant or shopowner, change the cheque and spend their money locally. There has to be a bit of flexibility shown,” said Barry Donnelly.
Since Ireland joined then EEC in 1973, payments from the EU to farmers have contributed billions to the rural economy via farm payments known for decades as ‘the cheque in the post’.
For a full report see the Farming section of the print or digital ediations of The Connacht Tribune
The way we were – Protecting archives of our past
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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