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Good Friday drink demand symptomatic of never knowing when to stop



Date Published: {J}

There is only one day of the year when Ireland is asked to abstain from alcohol – but the drive for drink on Good Friday would lead you to believe that a drought is a distinct possibility.

The Holy Thursday queues at the drink counter have an air of desperate quest for bread you’d have seen in Moscow at the height of the old Soviet Union.

Now, because there’s a rugby match in Limerick, the Mayor – urged on by the publicans – wants to see the pubs open so that supporters can toast their success or drown their sorrows. So is it any wonder that the world sees us as a nation of Riverdancing drunkards?

We don’t need the pubs open on Good Friday no more than we need them open on Christmas Day – but we do need reform of the licensing laws if we’re to prevent another growing phenomenon from taking even greater root.

Pubs should be closed on Good Friday, but off licences might as well stay open; not so they can sell more drink, but simply so that the orgy of alcohol can start a little later in the day.

Of course that also depends on an increased level of responsible behaviour on the part of a substantial number of off licences and drink sellers – and that’s not a given by a long shot.

The current trend is to stock up the night before, but this – according to those who deal with the effects of alcohol and addiction – means there’s an even earlier start to drinking the next day. At least if they were waiting for the off licences to open, it might reduce the impact on A&E before tea-time.

The last week in Galway was proof positive of this; there were students who were completely out of it well before lunchtime. We had them down our road, laden down with cans and bottles, walking out in front of traffic, utterly oblivious to anything going on around them – by midday.

 It’s not the College’s fault because these students are apparently adults. But you’d love to send pictures home to mammy and daddy who are presumably funding this extravagance, so that they could see where their hard-earned cash is going.

These students were presumably leading from the front again yesterday as they ‘drowned’ themselves and the shamrock to a depth of several feet. But they weren’t the only ones – as the flowing urine and broken bottles on the streets can testify.

And it is not just anecdotal evidence that suggests part of the problem is caused by stacking up on drink the night before.

The numbers presenting themselves for treatment at addiction centres now is higher than it was during the boom years – and the age profile is getting younger.

Nobody is suggesting that the only factor behind this is drink, but it is a major player – and while the pubs operate with a fair degree of responsibility, the same cannot be said of the off licences.

Supermarkets provide easier access for younger drinkers and the price of takeaways has never been cheaper. If you’re underage and can’t buy it yourself, there’s plenty who will do it for you.

Of course drugs play a large part too in the whole equation; prescription drugs like Valium are freely available on the black market, imported through Northern Ireland and then sold through the third-level network.

The head shops are the newest phenomenon, always staying one step ahead of the law because every time some of the product is banned, it re-emerges under a new name.

Reports suggest that well over a dozen people a month – mainly aged between 18 and 21 – are presenting themselves for psychiatric treatment in Galway alone as a result of their purchases from Head Shops.

There may well be more but because the west doesn’t have a HSE-designated addiction treatment centre, space is at a premium – and unless you have health insurance, you will face a six to nine month delay for help.

All of this is a long way from whether or not Munster fans should be able to have a few pints on Good Friday, but it’s symptomatic of our unhealthy relationship with alcohol and our apparent inability to celebrate any occasion without trying to drown ourselves in drink.

I love my few pints every bit as much as the next man, so this isn’t about prohibition – it’s about responsible drinking and the removal of illegal substances,or those on the borderline, from the market.

We have a crisis that is getting worse and growing in all sorts of new directions, and we have no Government determination or HSE drive to tackle it.

So open the off licences on Good Friday because we won’t stop people drinking to excess anyway and we might actually stop them stacking up.

But more importantly, put the sort of resources into tackling addiction that we do tackling any other disease. And stop trying to push a massive problem under the carpet.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



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



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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Archive News

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.

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