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Galway to the fore in new international tourism blitz

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Date Published: {J}

THE West of Ireland is to feature prominently in next year’s campaign to reverse the dramatic 12% fall in overseas tourists, with tourism chiefs planning to achieve growth of 3% by focusing on the promotion of value breaks in the British and German markets.

Galway and its festivals as well as Connemara are being highlighted in a television campaign to be broadcast across Great Britain next month, part of a €12.8m investment in the market which suffered a devastating 15% drop last year. Tourism Ireland is the first tourist board in Britain to launch a TV campaign focusing on good value offers.

At the launch of the 2010 global tourism drive this week in the Ardilaun Hotel, head of Tourism Ireland Niall Gibbons said the agency would have to “shake the branches and get out on the road like never before” to buck the forecasts of other overseas agencies which are predicting further falls in tourist numbers of 2%.

“We will focus on getting short-term wins. Value will be the key message for the hugely competitive markets in which we operate and we’ll be highlighting the uniqueness of a holiday in Galway, the west and around the island of Ireland – the diversity of our culture and heritage and the friendliness of our people – to secure ‘stand out’ and differentiate ourselves in a very crowded marketplace,” he said.

He warned that their target of 3% growth – bringing in a total of 7.85m visitors – would be particularly difficult to achieve with the 12% decline in air access by carriers to the west this summer.

Around 50 tourism operators in the region who attended the launch were encouraged to join some of the 3,500 overseas marketing events planned for next year to promote themselves.

They were also advised to use the Discover Ireland website regularly to publicise up-to-date special offers, which could then be used by the agency in their overseas marketing.

Mr Gibbons told the Connacht Tribune that it was clear from the feedback from overseas trade operators that there was still a perception that dining out and drinking in Ireland made the country an expensive holiday option. While there were good deals for accommodation, it was essential that hotels, restaurants, pubs and cafes carefully packaged what they offered to ensure excellent value. This could involve more early bird offers or a free drink with lunch.

Ireland was currently ranked fifth out of 50 on the list of most-desired destinations in the UK, ahead of the US and New Zealand. But it was now up to all the stakeholders to shoot the island to the top of that list, he said.

That aim would be kick-started with 10 million advertising inserts going into newspapers around Britain in the first half of next year highlighting value breaks. This would be in conjunction with three 60-second TV ads – one of them featuring the Galway Arts Festival, the Galway Oyster Festival, Roundstone and the beaches of Connemara.

There would also be a much bigger marketing drive around St Patrick’s Day to raise awareness of the brand.

For more, read page 8 of this week’s Galway City Tribune

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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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

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

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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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