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Grandson charged with Labane murder

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Date Published: 19-Nov-2009

The parish priest of Ardrahan urged parishioners to draw from their faith to feel concern for the grandson accused of murdering his grandfather last week.

It was a wet and cold winter’s day when Finbar Fahy was laid to rest on Tuesday afternoon, mirroring the miserable death he met almost a week earlier.

At least 700 attended the funeral Mass of the murdered pensioner at St Teresa’s Church, Labane, the same day a memorial Mass for his late wife, Ciss (Celia), was due to be held.

The atmosphere in the Church was sombre as the tragedy that had befallen the tiny farming community really sunk in.

The 78-year-old was later buried in Labane Cemetery alongside Ciss, a local national school teacher who died twelve years ago this month aged 65.

The retired farmer was found dead by a family member in the living room of his house at Tullira on the N18 road between Ardrahan and Gort, at 8am on Wednesday morning.

His grandson, Gearoid Fahy has been charged with his murder after a post mortem examination revealed he had died of head injuries as a result of a blunt-force trauma.

The chief celebrant at the Mass, parish priest Fr Richie Higgins, said he had chosen the gospel of the scene after Jesus’ crucifixion on Good Friday because it was when darkness covered the earth.

“Tragic death, which is always sudden, is like a blackout, One minute, the light is shining, next minute it is a dark night with no chance to prepare ourselves for the panic and fear that comes when we are plunged into darkness.

“In the space of a minute our whole world is turned upside down. Nothing could prepare us for something like this, or save us from its devastating effects. We are shocked and cannot reason with ourselves. That is what Finbar’s death did to all of us,” he said in his moving homily.

Fr Higgins said it was a sad day for the community and parish. “We have feelings in our hearts for Finbar’s family as a result of his tragic death. Fie will draw from our faith the compassion of Christ to support the family.”

He added: “We will draw from it the love, forgiveness, the human concern to help Gearoid. He too is in our prayers and thoughts today. He has expressed sorrow for what he has done. he has expressed sorrow for the hurt he caused.

“Our mourning of Finbar and our way of dealing with this in love and peace can promote respect for life. In that way, we can improve the lives of others in our community and parish.”

Fr Higgins described his friend was a well-known character. “In later years he could be identified with his bicycle, very witty, a great story-teller, a great neighbour, a fluent Irish speaker that naturally he inherited from his mother who taught in Labane School.”

The sudden death of Ciss had brought great sadness to his life and he rarely missed a day without a visit to her grave and blessing it with holy water.

“He was too a man of great faith that he practised in his life. His Mass, his prayers, his Rosary meant a great deal to him. The little grotto over the door of his home is a landmark for passersby.”

Mr Fahy’s very distinctive house opposite the entrance to Tullira Castle, which was known to all the locals as it had a glowing statue of the Blessed Virgin over the front door, was now vacant, “his presence no longer there”.

But the priest urged people not to judge life by the way it ends.

“The life that Finbar lived is more important than the way he died,” he remarked.

“Today we lay him to rest beside her (Ciss) and pray that they both are at peace and rest.”

He finished the homily by extending the sympathies of the entire community to the family, his sons Gerry, Aidan and Noel, his brothers Finian, Cummian and Sr Ide, his sister, a Mercy nun.

Gearoid Fahy, of Carrownamona, Ardrahan, was charged on Saturday night with his murder at a special sitting of Ennis District Court.

Detective Inspector Gerry Roche of Galway Garda station gave evidence of arresting the unemployed man on Saturday and later charging him with the murder of his grandad.

Inspector Roche said that, in reply, the accused man had said: "I am just sorry for what I have done and I am sorry for the people I have hurt."

His legal aid solicitor Angela Dempsey said that she was not applying for bail, but requested that the 22-year-old be examined by a doctor while in prison.

Ms Dempsey said he was on continuing medication and was being seen by a doctor in Gort.

Judge Joseph Mangan remanded him in custody to appear before Shannon District Court in Ennis today.

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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