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FG hoping that simmering row won’t damage campaign



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



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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