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Galway duo help Haiti get back on its feet



Date Published: 24-Feb-2010

Two east Galway volunteers will be among a group of some 250 Irish people heading off to earthquake ravaged Haiti at the end of April on a mission which will involve the construction of 60 new homes for the poorest of the poor.


For quality engineer Ailish O’Reilly from Woodford, it is a return journey she has yearned for since her initial unforgettable experience a short four months ago when she was among the enthusiastic group of Irish volunteers who took part in the first ever “Build it Week” organised by the Irish aid organisation Haven.


That week left such an indelible impression on Ailish that she made her mind up to return to the Caribbean island at the first available opportunity.


And this time she persuaded work colleague Tom Haynes, an electrician at the Creagh Medical plant in Ballinasloe, to join the huge effort to aid a country that is so impoverished it is rated the poorest in the western hemisphere.


Now, inspired by some wonderful local fundraising and generous donations from family and friends, the duo are off to a country decimated by the recent earthquake – but already struggling for survival before that tragic event.


On April 25, Ailish and Tom, along with 250 Irish people from all walks of life, will travel to Gonaives which is north of Port au Prince, where the target build is 60 new houses. Based on feedback from the occupants of the first housing development, the house plans have been modified, but will still retain the hurricane proof aspects of the original design.


Ailish said that after the earthquake, the generosity of people in east Galway towards the people of Haiti had “scaled new heights”.

In response to promptings from Tom Haynes, national school children from Creagh and Newtown raised almost €3,000, while parishioners in Woodford/Looscaun contributed over €4,500 to the emergency relief fund.


The fundraising also involved a triathlon organised by Run Ireland and volunteers from Creagh Youth Club and the local Community Development organisation, while volunteers raised further cash by bag-packing in O’Meara’s of Portumna, and colleagues and family rowed in with individual donations.


Ailish has stark memories of her first visit to Haiti in October 2009, recollections that are dominated by the distressing poverty in the north east border town of Quanaminthe, where people live in makeshift thatched mud huts with no running water or toilet facilities.


Haven’s first ever “Build it Week” was a spectacular success and was the subject of a moving television documentary fronted by rugby pundit George Hook.


The second “Build It Week” will be located in a small village where there is a lot of available land that could accommodate a number of future visits from the Irish bricklayers, plasterers, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, painters and general helpers who all realise that their efforts, and the generous financial support of their neighbours and friends at home, is making a real difference.


Donations can be made to Haven, the Malthouse, Grand Canal Quay, Dublin 2, and the office can be contacted on 01-4333930.

See full story inside 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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