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Fine Gael AGM to test just how loud the roar is of their Cannon in Galway



Date Published: {J}

We are coming to the time of year when the political parties hold their Annual General Meetings at all levels – the Fianna Fáil Cumainn get together to choose their officers and delegates in contest which can be fierce locally as people jockey for position.

In Fine Gael, where the contests are just as fierce, they will have the additional feature of watching just how a new Fine Gael TD and Minister of State, Ciaran Cannon, fares out in his bid to get to the heart of Fine Gael.

At the party convention prior to the General Election, Cannon was one of those chasing a nomination and went to a convention with hundreds of delegates where he was roundly beaten into last place with only 20 votes – a mere fistful compared to the likes of Paul Connaughton Jnr, Michael Mullins, Jimmy McClearn and Tom McHugh.

With only 20 votes out of the huge electorate it looked like ‘political curtains’ for the attempt by Cannon who was resented by some ‘true blues’ in Fine Gael as a possible ‘parachute’ candidate being encouraged by the likes of Enda Kenny, Phil Hogan and Frank Flannery.

Cannon, after all, had been a strong contender for the Progressive Democrats at the previous General Election with over 3,000 votes, he was also leader of the PDs at one stage and was the man left in charge of the final winding up of the Progressive Democrats when Noel Grealish went Independent and left Cannon – then a senator – as one of the PDs still surviving.

Some in Fine Gael baulked at the arrival of Cannon and showed it at the convention where Cannon was dismissed with a mere 20 votes from the hundreds of delegates. But they reckoned without the intervention of Kenny, who was entitled to ‘add’ to the ticket and did so deeply annoying the supporters of then Councillor Michael Mullins from Ballinasloe, who went on to advance his political career later by winning a seat in the Seanad.

Cannon during the campaign enlisted the support of no less a person than former Fine Gael Taoiseach John Bruton, who canvassed openly for him, and Cannon also got vital local support in areas such as Ballinasloe from Dr John Barton the cardiologist who has been a high profile figure in the battle to ensure the future of Portiuncula Hospital, in Ballinasloe.

When it came to election time, Cannon brought off one of the political surprises of the entire campaign when he won a seat in a constituency which was now considerably more difficult because of a strong Labour party performance by Colm Keaveney, who surprised many by winning a seat.

The political line up in Galway East had changed almost beyond recognition with the only outgoing TD who stood for election, Micheal Kitt, holding onto his seat and three newcomers – Connaughton and Cannon (FG), and Keaveney (Lab).

It was a tremendous result for Fine Gael but it left a hangover among some about Cannon while Cannon himself began the business of working his organisation into mainstream Fine Gael. Remember, this was the man rejected by convention as a ‘parachute candidate’ and now not alone elected a TD but also appointed a Minister of State in the Education and Training area.

This post meant that Cannon is also a member of the Economic Development Body within Government which meets on key areas and is chaired by the Taoiseach and involves Finance Minister Michael Noonan and Education Minister Ruairí Quinn and is regarded as an extremely important grouping within Government planning.

For more, read this week’s Connacht 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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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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