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Gilmore visits amid concern that ‘Michael D. seat’ is no pushover

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Date Published: {J}

There may be ‘mixed messages’ coming from the two Galway constituencies about how the Labour campaigns are going, but Eamon Gilmore will be demanding the maximum delivery from both Galway West and East when he visits the areas on Friday.

Fact is that, though we have heard of ‘the Gilmore Gale’ and its potential to boost the Labour vote, the recent slip in the opinion polls, plus some indication from Galway West that Labour is ‘no pushover’ to retain that seat held by Michael D. Higgins for 29 years, will have the Labour strategists seeking to rev-up the performance.

In Galway West, Michael D. has held that seat since 1987, though he was first elected in 1981 and subsequently lost the seat in 1982. In the 2007 General Election Higgins comfortably won the second seat in the five-seater, with the other seats going to Fianna Fail 2 (Eamon O Cuiv and Frank Fahey), Fine Gael 1 (Padraic McCormack) and Noel Grealish (Independent).

The man seeking to replace Michael D. is Labour’s City Councillor Derek Nolan, but there is a very clear message that he is having to having to look over his shoulder at the possibility of Independent Catherine Connolly (former Labour), or even the possibility that one of the Fine Gael runners (Fidelma Healy-Eames, Brian Walsh, Hildegarde Naughton or Sean Kyne), might slip-in, taking the Higgins seat in the late battle for the final two seats.

Let’s not forget that in 1982, after Michael D. Higgins had first won the seat in 1981, it was Fine Gael who took the Labour seat. You can’t rule out a Fine Gael challenge, but my impression is that the one Labour are most worried about is former Labour member Catherine Connolly. Once she was apparently being groomed as a possible successor to Michael D., but that was before there was a falling-out between them.

Connolly has been a long time around now in West Galway politics, she got 2,000 first preferences in 1987, she has been a consistent and persistent voice on areas like the health services for years, including key areas like the closure of beds in hospitals and public nursing homes, such as St. Francis Home in Galway City.

And she has an unusual ally at her disposal in that there is a link-up with Councillor Seosamh O Cuaig and the rump of what I term the old ‘Cumhacht’ vote in Connemara. It’s a link of which even some in Fianna Fail speak of with a degree of respect!

For more, read this week’s Connacht 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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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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