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Harsh budget and icy roads bring on the winter blues

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Date Published: {J}

What a day – the budget wasn’t even the start of it. To get a bus back to town I had to walk a mile over a road that had become a rink. It’s been like that for days now. The government assures us that we do have enough grit. What is it we’re short of then, shovels? I slipped and nearly fell four times on that slow shuffle to the bus. Which, of course never arrived. As Bus Éireann deny there were any cancellations and I waited for over forty minutes, it seems it actually came early and didn’t wait. It often does, rather giving the lie to the idea that people in the country have any alternative to using cars all the time.

I got a taxi.

And then I had to sit through a long speech that beat the poor around the face for the things that the rich have done. It’s lovely isn’t it, how Brian Lenihan describes the new levels of tax and welfare as "going back to the 2006 rate", etc. As if somehow we were moving back in time to when things seemed so much more secure. But it doesn’t fool us; we know we’re paying 2006 tax on 2010 wages. When we have jobs at all.

"I am not convinced that any alternative government would have done better." So spoke Brian Lenihan after summarising the appalling situation in which we now find ourselves. But this is what politicians always say when forced to admit that some slight error of judgment may perhaps have been made. Caught crawling from the wreckage of a crashed economy, keys clutched in their hands, breath still reeking of money, they’ll always fall back on the excuse that the other lot would have been just as bad. A child’s logic.

"My sister did it."

"No, she didn’t."

"Well she would have!"

We have heard this with such regularity that it’s easy to overlook what it means. What he’s actually saying here is that democracy is a sham. If every government is doomed to make the same decisions then we are just fooling ourselves by having elections. Of course it often feels like that, but it’s pretty depressing when even the politicians are saying it. "Actually, we are all the bloody same." Jesus.

No, this crash has FF’s fingerprints all over it. And even if the parties are too similar in their political and economic philosophies – they are – it still makes an enormous difference that one of them has had its hands on the levers of power for far too long. This is when arrogance becomes endemic, corruption casual. Any country that has what they call a "natural party of government" doesn’t really have democracy. It has aristocracy in suits.

Back in 2007 we had an election. Already there were clear danger signs. Boom had long become bubble, the economy was obviously unbalanced and overheated, Bertie Ahern was having a great deal of trouble explaining where the money he spent came from. And yet enough people still voted Fianna Fáil for them to cobble together another government. To those people I say: You deserve this budget.

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

images/files/images/x3_Courthouse.jpg

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Archive News

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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