Date Published: 28-Mar-2012
TEAGASC and the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) have asked farmers to stick to a number of set procedures when agitating slurry, following a major incident in the North Galway area last week in which at least two men were lucky to escape with their lives.
The incident in the middle of last week claimed the lives of four top quality beef cows but it could have been much worse with one man having to be pulled to safety, while two others also suffered the effects of slurry gas poisoning.
The well ventilated shed was being agitated on Thursday, when a number of animals, that had been left inside, were noticed to be in a distressed condition – one of the men at the scene ran into the shed to try and ‘relieve’ the situation, but was overpowered by the hydrogen sulphide slurry gas.
A second man who entered the shed also suffered the effects of the gas but with the help of a third person at the scene, all three eventually made it to safety where they later received emergency medical attention.
Four top quality continental cows, estimated to be worth in the region of €1,500 to €2,000 each, died in the incident but over the weekend there was relief among the families concerned that all three people at the scene had escaped – all are understood to be making a good recovery.
This week, Anthony Morahan, an agricultural Inspector with the HSA told the Farming Tribune, that farmers needed to stick to a very straightforward code of procedures when slurry was being agitated for spreading.
“The risk is at its worst for the first 30 minutes after agitating but in a matter of 10 to 15 seconds, a person can become unconscious with the slurry gas. It really is highly toxic and gives little if any time for a person to get away,” said Mr. Morahan.
See full story in this week’s Farming Section of the Connacht Tribune.
The way we were – Protecting archives of our past
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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