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FG hoping that simmering row won’t damage campaign

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 06-Jan-2011

That row in Fine Gael in Galway East over the addition of Senator Ciaran Cannon to the election ticket by the party HQ, was still a very raw nerve with some in the party this week. Top brass will be hoping that it settles down.

It will be crucial to FG hopes of possibly snatching a third seat in the four-seater Galway East that the party supporters ‘vote down the ticket’ and transfer with maximum possible efficiency, if FG are to be ‘in with a shout’ of a seat gain.

In other words, FG will be looking for the sort of ruthless efficiency in use of the PR voting system, that was once associated with Fianna Fáil. FF in their heyday were legendary in getting maximum efficiency out of their vote and not allowing any to stray to other candidates.

It’s hard to believe that in this constituency where the second Fine Gael seat was always a ‘marginal’ which could be in danger of falling to Fianna Fáil, the Fine Gael strategists are now openly talking of the possibility of Fine Gael taking three.

It’s a fair indication of the parlous state of FF support as shown in the national opinion polls that predictions are that they will struggle to hold more than one seat in practically any constituency. And that includes Galway East!

However, I always warn that you must never write-off Fianna Fáil, especially in a constituency like Galway East where they were once capable of scoring almost 60 per cent of the first preferences, where they had 40 per cent in 2007 and where their dyed-in-the-wool supporters most certainly will not vote for Fine Gael. The hand would wither!

The polls are the reason that FG strategists are ‘chalking down’ Galway East for two seats, and ‘a possible third.’ To do that, one thing they must do is solve that simmering row in the constituency over the FG selection convention and the addition of Senator Cannon to the candidate ticket.

At the convention a few weeks ago the delegates voted in the following order – Councillor Paul Connaughton jnr., Councillor Tom Mchugh, Councillor Jimmy McClearn, Councillor Michael Mullins, Councillor Peter Feeney, and Senator Ciaran Cannon.

In fact, former PD Leader Cannon got only 20 votes. But, on joining Fine Gael, he had been assured by the party leadership of a place on the ticket. In fairness, it also should be pointed out that in 2007, when he stood for the PDs in Galway East, he showed himself very capable of getting votes and of being no political novice – when he polled 3,300 first preferences.

On the night of convention, the two spots open to delegates to fill (one in the north of the constituency and one in the south) went to Paul Connaughton jnr. and Jimmy McClearn.

But the row broke out when a few weeks later, Senator Cannon was added to the ticket by party HQ in the southern end, while the northern end vacancy was expected this week to go to Tom McHugh.

Strategists will be keeping their fingers crossed that the ticket ofPpaul Connaughton jnr., Jimmy McClearn, Ciaran Cannon and Tom

McHugh will win the support of their supporters ….. and that, faced with the possibility of being in government and winning a third seat in Galway East, the ‘true blue’ supporters would produce Fianna Fáil-like loyalty.

Perhaps one seasoned Fine Gaeler put it best this week when he said ….“I think people would have preferred that the ticket would better reflect the votes of the delegates to the Fine Gael convention …. but, when it comes to the campaign, I think people will work for the party to retain its two seats, and, on a good day, maybe to be in with a shout for another.”

For more of John Cunningham’s analysis of Galway East and a word of the campaign already under way in Galway West, see page 12 of this week’s Tribunes.


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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Archive News

BallinasloeÕs young squad aiming to floor Armagh junior champs

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 24-Jan-2013

A new chapter in the history of Ballinasloe football will be written at Breffni Park, Cavan, on Sunday when Sean Riddell’s young side take on Ulster champions An Port Mor of Armagh in the All-Ireland Junior semi-final (2pm).

It’s the first competitive game outside the province of Connacht in 33 years for Galway football’s ‘sleeping giant’ with the enticing prospect of an appearance at Croke Park on February 9 on offer for the winners of what should be a competitive tie.

Ballinasloe have romped through Connacht since overcoming a couple of tricky hurdles on their way to collecting the Galway junior title, which was their target for the campaign this time last year.

With a return to Intermediate football secured, Riddell’s youngsters really have nothing to lose – while their triumphant march to county and provincial titles has revived memories of the club’s glory days when they contested three Galway senior finals in a row between 1979 and ’81.

Intriguingly, the seniors of St Grellan’s never got to play in Croke Park when they reached the All-Ireland final back in 1980 – they lost by 3-9 to 0-8 to St Finbarr’s of Cork in Tipperary Town.

This team’s progression has provided rich rewards for an abundance of hard work at underage levels in the past ten to 15 years and the current side’s ‘do or die’ attitude was very much in evidence in the cliffhanger wins over Tuam and Clifden in the domestic championship.


They are a well-balanced side who really never know when they are beaten and have an inspirational leader in county panelist Keith Kelly, whose exploits at centre back have been among the key components in their dramatic run to reach the All-Ireland series.

Riddell, who recalls playing senior football with the club during their heyday, is determined to get Ballinasloe back among the county’s leading clubs but, for the moment, he is delighted just to have a shot at getting to Croke Park in a bid to emulate Clonbur’s achievement in winning the title outright last year.

Riddell went to Newry on a ‘spying mission’ to see the Armagh champions overcome Brackaville of Tyrone by 2-9 to 0-11 in November – and was impressed by the quality of the football produced by An Port Mor in the Ulster final.

“They are a nicely balanced side who play good football,” he said. “There was a bit of the physical stuff you’d expect from two Ulster side, but I was impressed by their performance.”

An Port Mor became the first Armagh side to win the provincial junior decider. First half goals from Shane Nugent and Christopher Lennon sent them on the road to victory, before a red card for Brackaville captain Cahir McGuinness eased their progress to the All-Ireland series.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Archive News

Coalition promised an ocean of reform Ð but the wind has gone out of its sails

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 30-Jan-2013


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