Date Published: 22-Jan-2010
A COUNTY Galway native is at the heart of the humanitarian relief effort in Haiti following the catastrophic earthquake that struck last week, reducing the city of Port-au-Prince to rubble and leaving as many as 200,000 people dead.
Paul Conneally, from Ballinasloe, is coordinating the emergency response of the International Red Cross (IFRC) in the wake of what he describes as “the worst disaster in the history of the organisation”.
With no pre-existing infrastructure in place and the IFRC Haitian headquarters levelled to the ground, the Head of External Communications for the international agency has had to start from scratch as he launches their humanitarian mission on the tiny Caribbean island.
“We had an office here but it was completely destroyed by the earthquake so we’ve basically had to start from nothing and set everything up in order to prepare the way for others,” he said.
“The humanitarian mission is being made more difficult by the fact that there is no central control whatsoever. The government buildings are as flat as pancakes and the Government – or what’s left of it – are operating from a tent at the airport.”
Paul has been sleeping outdoors amidst the rubble in Port-au-Prince since he arrived last week and reported experiencing violent aftershocks as recently as Sunday night. Such must be a source of anxiety for his parents Jimmy and Angela, former proprietors of the Dove Bar, but Paul says they are accustomed to it after his twelve years in the field with the Red Cross.
“I try to keep in contact but I haven’t got a chance to call in a couple of days,” he explained. “But the disaster has been covered so extensively that they always have a fair idea of what’s going on and that I’m okay. There wasn’t the same visibility when I was working in places like Darfur.”
His parents, along with his wife Linda and three children in Geneva,will have reassured themselves of Paul’s safety through his regular appearances in the media during the past week. He is the main English speaking spokesperson for the International Red Cross for the Haitian disaster.
He has also been communicating through the internet website Twitter, through which he describes the tireless work being undertaken by the Red Cross organisations, and expressed his gratitude for messages of support from the public.
See also on Page 4 of this week’s City Tribune
- City man to fly out today
- Former Minister outlines Govt response
- Physician plans to donate fees
- Oxfam ‘overwhelmed’ by Galway generosity
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
Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr
Date Published: 23-Jan-2013
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.