Date Published: 03-Jul-2008
From the diary of David Allen,
BACK at the turn of the year, whispers of students’ summer plans began to rise with talk of J1 visas and Interail tickets around every corner – but I, on the other hand, was searching for something different.
It came in the form of one of hundreds of unopened e-mails hidden in my student account. ‘House Building in Zambia’ it said, and without thinking I’d already replied.
One late application later, I was sitting in front of four people being interviewed. Within an hour, I had recieved confirmation that I’d been picked for the project with Habitat for Humanity.
It had been an extremely quick process and within a few days our group meetings and fundraising had already begun.
A total of €67,500 was our target and everyone one of the 25 of us did our part to raise it. People shaved heads, bagpacked, wrote begging letters and much more. After many meetings, parental
warnings, injections and our target bypassed we were all set for the trip of a lifetime.
The 25 of us travelled by bus to Dublin, by plane from Dublin to London and finally Dublin to Lusaka.
On arrival in Lusaka we were all extremely tired yet so excited that nothing was going to ruin the strange buzz we found ourselves in.
We spent our first day in the country’s capital so as to rest between the lengthy journey we’d just taken and our five hour bus journey to the little village of Kuwama beside Ndola in North Zambia.
We arrived in Ndola and did our weekly shop to stock up on needed carbs for the working week ahead.
Myself and another member of the group jumped into the back of the pickup truck to mind the 600 litres of water and food we’d purchased for the quick trip to the village.
As we drove to Kuwama, we began to hear a large scream behind us and as myself and Mark turned we were greeted with the greatest and most heartwarming sight anyone could ever witness.
Children running from each house we drove past, chasing our pickup with huge smiles. They jumped on to the truck and hung off the edge just to be the first to talk with us.
Completely overwhelmed I listened as the kids asked the same questions. The words ‘How are you’ and What is your name’ lingered through the air continuously, I on the other hand was stuck for words.
Finally we turned a corner and were met by hundreds of people waiting for us; we’d finally arrived in the village of a thousand smiles!
As we stepped off the truck and bus we were surrounded like celebrities. People fighting to shake our hands and introduce themselves while the women of the village sang us songs and took our bags off the bus.
Some of us couldn’t handle such a welcome and tears were found in many an eye. We were given a tour of the village while a group of local women cooked our dinner. We were never permitted do the cooking in all our time, the women found it such an honour to cook for us and many nights we got the
chance to eat some of the local dishes which never failed to please.
After our introduction to the village we spent our evening playing with the hundreds of children who’d come a few miles just to see us.
That night we set up our sleeping quarters in one of the local houses – 12 of us sleeping on the floor in a room no bigger than many people’s sitting rooms – and we all slept without a single problem.
Adjusting to life in Kuwama was something we’d been warned may be extremely tough…
The way we were – Protecting archives of our past
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
Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr
Date Published: 23-Jan-2013
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.