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Growing interest in putting your own food on the table

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: {J}

Cáit Curran hates Brussels sprouts. She’s not too wild about broccoli either. And for that reason the woman who is one of the county’s best known organic gardeners, who has a stand at Galway and Moycullen markets every week, doesn’t grow them in her garden.

That’s the sort of approach she recommends that people take if they are thinking of planting vegetables or fruit on their little patch of earth this year.

“There’s no point in growing something unless you like it,” she points out.

Cáit is an inspiration for anybody who has started to grow their own vegetables or who is thinking of doing so. Reared on a hill farm in South Kerry, she joined the Civil Service when she left school, moving to Dublin where she spent several years.

In the 1980s, Cáit took a career break and “never looked back”.

She moved to Clonmel and worked in a food co-operative where local growers would bring in their produce. She got to know them and became interested in the idea of growing her own.

Any experience she had at that stage had come from childhood on the farm, where “whether, you liked it or not, you were beaten out the door to help”.

After a period in Clonmel, Cáit moved to Galway because her husband, who worked in Digital, was transferred here from the Tipperary town.

“When I came here I knew I wanted to grow things. We bought a small holding in Athenry. It was three acres but it was good land and the first organic course in the country was being run here back in 1990.”

She got on that and began to grow food, first for themselves and then commercially.

“I added a bit every year,” she says, explaining that the first year she grew potatoes, carrots, turnips and root crops.

She then added a polytunnel and within a few years, she had six of them and about an acre outside.

For the past 20 years Cáit has had a stand at the Galway Market, where in addition to selling her own vegetables, she sells for several other growers in the county. Out of season, she imports veg and fruit, although she has limits and won’t import soft fruit, because it just doesn’t travel well.

As well as being a grower and trader, Cáit provides training for people in gardening and her expertise has benefitted many in Galway and further afield.

That started in 1995 under the auspices of the Irish Organic Farmers Association in a project funded by Europe under the Leader Scheme.

“It ended up that I did a project on the offshore islands from Donegal to Cork,” she recalls. She also trained people from Portumna to Connemara and got great pleasure in watching them reap the fruits of their labours.

That’s something that still gives her enormous pleasure “and if people look for me to do stuff, I’ll do it”.

“There’s a huge revival of interest in growing and I’m seeing it all over. It’s probably a combination of unemployment and a greater awareness of the environment.”

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Judy Murphy

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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

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

images/files/images/x3_Courthouse.jpg

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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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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