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Forget the billions, and instead focus on the victims!



Date Published: 25-Oct-2012

If our Governments want us to feel disinterested and detached from our economic destiny, they’re doing a good job. While counting on our fingers to see if we can afford a bag of coal this week, we become blinded and bored in equal measure by the constant talk of the billions and trillions involved in global economics.

How does this World of Billions affect me? Isn’t it all beyond my control?

Well, if you want a seat at the table with Angela Merkel and Christine Lagarde, you may be out of luck, but there is one thing we can do, which in the long run will make a massive difference to our lives.

We must concentrate less on the pathetic sham of the Troika’s policies, and focus on the human victims they create.

I’m far from bored with the news. In fact I’m hurting: gut-twisting pain born of watching the most terrible mistakes of history being made all over again.

There’s no avoiding the dark irony that by desperately trying to avoid recreating the inflation and unemployment that brought about the rise of Hitler’s National Socialists, Merkel’s Germany is making war zones out of Greece and Spain, where as a result, the extreme Left and Right are thriving.

Forget the billions – focus on the victims. We need to get down and dirty with the people, our neighbours here in our very own continent. Right now in modern Europe basic medical care for children is being sacrificed on the altar of Fiscal Responsibility, while pensioners are raiding wheelie bins looking for something to eat.

There is mayhem on the streets of Greece, where police are telling callers to seek help from the Golden Dawn Party, a neo-Nazi power-base with 18 MPs. When your mother is hungry and your child is sick, you don’t notice the flag over the door that looks so much like a swastika. You take their food parcels, medicines and in return they own your loyalty.

Yet this is where the ironies crash around my soul like jagged rocks in a tumble dryer. The Greeks who resisted German fascist occupation so bravely are now being driven to fascism by a German who’s frantically trying to avoid creating fascism.

As Greek Prime Minister, Antonis Samaras, said: “It’s about the cohesion of our society, which is being threatened by rising unemployment, like at the end of the Weimar Republic in Germany.”

Instead of talking over the TV news footage of yet more riots in Athens, take a look at the faces of the people. We’re all from bailout countries, but they’re being screwed more violently than us.

Even if you dare to look inside this World of Billions, it makes no sense. The dreaded Troika doesn’t even agree with itself. The IMF is begging the ECB to agree to OSI (you have to have 3 letters or nobody takes you seriously!), which would allow for either a write-down or a write-off of Greek debt, but the ECB alongside Angela M are not for turning.

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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