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
No time to sleep as singer Niall lives the dream
Date Published: 03-Apr-2013
Niall Connolly celebrates the launch of Sound, his sixth studio album, with a show at The Crane Bar on Sunday, April 21. The Cork-born, New York-based songwriter recorded the album in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, with his bass player Brandon Wilde taking on production duties.
“I deliberately took my time with it,” says Niall. “I wasn’t feeling under pressure with it timewise. All told, we probably started it a year ago. We were gigging the whole time as well, figuring out the songs in a live context and then being able to arrange them slowly and precisely in the studio as well. Which has not always been the case!
“I did a real sparse acoustic album with Brandon in 2011 that I recorded in three days,” Niall continues. "The album before that, in 2010, was done in very tiny studio, a lo-fi recording. I like these albums but they were done with constraints of time and recording equipment. I wanted to go back to doing a more full band production.”
One of the standout tracks on Sound is Lily of the Mohawks, which was inspired by a late-night stroll that took Niall past St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. On that quiet street, an engraving of Lily of the Mohawks captured his eye.
“I went home and did some research in my vast encyclopaedia – Google!” Niall says. “I found out that she was the first of the Mohawk family to be beatified by the Church. Surely the contrast of the Mohawk and the Catholic tradition couldn’t be any different?
“So I started thinking about the contrast of that, and also the Irish connection in St Patrick’s Cathedral. It made me think of the dream of the Celtic Tiger and the reality of it; the failed promise in both. So I wrote about 118 verses and I picked my favourite four!”
Niall Connolly lives in Brooklyn, which is seen as something of a creative hub. Being based in New York certainly has its upsides, he says.
“I love it – it’s great for music. Officially, there are eight million people in New York. The sheer population allows me to play all the time, reach a new audience, and go back to the same bed! Whereas when I was at home, you had to be touring all the time. I mean, I enjoy touring but I enjoy it more when I don’t have to do it!
“The other thing is the number of fantastic musicians,” he adds. “There are brilliant musicians at home of course, but people come here to try and achieve some sort of career. I know for some people it ends up being Plan B or C and they’re doing a load of other jobs, but the fact of the matter is there are world-class bass, players, drummers and guitar players here."
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Big cash boost to help Galway Utd rise from ashes
Date Published: 04-Apr-2013
Galway United is set to rise from the ashes and return to the League of Ireland next year after it emerged this week that a major financial boost – worth in the region of €100,000 a year for three years – is close to being delivered for soccer in Galway.
While the FAI has denied that any deal has been struck, a spokesperson admitted that discussions in relation to a three-year cash injection for a single Galway side were at “an advanced stage” and it was hopeful that everything would be in place for unified team in the 2014 League of Ireland season.
“It is very positive, but there is still a lot of work to be done. It is not true to say that anything has been agreed, there is a lot of devil in the detail yet, and it is disappointing that this has been reported with the deal yet to be finalised, but we are very happy with how matters are progressing,” the spokesperson said.
It is believed the deal is being brokered with the Comer brothers, who are originally from Glenamaddy and were approached by the CEO of the FAI, John Delaney, about backing a single Galway team to compete in the League of Ireland.
Discussions have been ongoing for a number of months, and it is believed some of the intricacies of the deal were hammered out at a meeting between Delaney and the Comers at last month’s Cheltenham Racing Festival.
While there has been senior soccer in the city in the past two seasons with Mervue United and Salthill Devon playing in the First Division, the failure to have a side representative of the whole of Galway has resulted in small attendances because of the ‘parochial’ nature of the clubs.
That prompted the FAI to order a review of the soccer situation in Galway last year, which culminated in the publication of the O’Connor Report last October.
The report was written after discussions with the main stakeholders in the game in Galway – the Galway FA, the Galway United Supporters’ Trust (GUST), Mervue United and Salthill Devon – and recommended that a single team should represent Galway City and County in the League of Ireland.
“The report notes the long term systematic weakness of having any more than one senior club in a city of Galway’s size on both sporting and commercial grounds and recommends a phased approach towards the resolution of this matter,” the FAI said at the time.
“This includes the eventual setting up a Connacht Senior League, and a Board for the single Galway club composed of a broad spectrum of football and business interests in the Galway area.”
That resulted in the FAI facilitating a series of meetings with the four main stakeholders in Galway, and a meeting held in the city last night was to hear the details of the proposed backing from the Comer brothers.
“If the reports are true, then there is something there for everyone to work with, and it is up to those who are interested to become involved in the new team,” said Joe Keating, Chairman of the Galway FA, on Wednesday.
“From a Galway FA point of view, we feel we have a wonderful facility in Eamonn Deacy Park, and would be anxious to have a Galway team playing there next season. There is nothing in writing yet, and until there is, we don’t want to comment much further. Any decisions we make have to have the backing of our 47 member clubs, but this is good news for a Galway team going forward,” he said.
A spokesperson for Salthill Devon said that, while they had heard some details of the reported deal, nothing was confirmed as of yet, and until it was, there was very little that could be said on the matter.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.