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Fine Gael pays a heavy price for wanting anyone but Cox



Date Published: {J}

The Presidential election looks like taking the gloss off Enda Kenny’s heretofore shining record at the polls – but the painful reality for the Taoiseach is that it would never have come to this if he’d had his way.

Marking the man has been a recurring theme running through Mitchell’s campaign from the outset – more recently he’s been the Rottweiler snapping at Martin McGuinness’s ankles, but from the outset he was the choice of those within his party who were prepared to back anyone but Pat Cox.

So he garnered some of his support because he represented more of old Fine Gael – as opposed to a Fine Gael so new that the ink wasn’t dry on the membership papers – and with the guiding hand of John Bruton in the small of his back, he saw off Cox and Mairead McGuinness to secure the nomination.

There was a message in his proposers too – Frances Fitzgerald and Dan Neville – to show that he represented the Fine Gael establishment and they weren’t having any carpetbagger coming on board to capitalise on their rise in popularity.

But they overestimated Mitchell’s appeal and while Kenny has proven his electoral worth in local, European and finally a General Election, even a tidal wave cannot lift a sinking boat.

Mitchell has always been a street-fighter – and in fairness a party stalwart who has performed admirably in elections on his home ground – but the reality is that he has little or no traction outside of the Pale.

Ironically the biggest party in the land would have stood an infinitely better chance of success if they – like Sinn Féin – had opted for a McGuinness too.

She is sufficiently urban to draw a city vote, sufficiently rural to deliver a farmer’s vote – and a female to maintain our recent tradition in Presidential elections. Sadly for Enda Kenny, she never made it out of the starting blocks.

Last week’s Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll showed just how steep a cliff Fine Gael now has to climb, with Mitchell languishing in sixth place at nine per cent – down a massive twelve per cent on his last showing and with only Dana below him.

He’ll have taken no comfort in the even more spectacular implosion of David Norris who had fallen a full 14 points to eleven per cent, as the skeletons come tumbling out of his closet by the dozen.

His failure to deal with the issue of his legal advice for days – and then to apparently have no problem at all in identifying the source of that advice after all – smacked of the sort of ineptitude and indecision that has characterised his campaign for the start.

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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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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