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Hold the nerve message from Cowen and he dismisses Ôthat interviewÕ row



Date Published: {J}


The Fianna Fail TDs and Senators were in Galway to discuss the economy and how it might be revived – but Taoiseach Brian Cowen probably struck the note that unintentionally resonated with most of them when he told them …. “hold the nerve.”

That was before ‘that interview’ on Tuesday morning radio which caused some fresh wobbles of its own among ‘the faithful’ gathered in the Ardilaun Hotel in Galway for the Autumn think-in in advance of the Dail re-opening. He dismissed the interview controversy … but maybe found himself having to listen to his own advice about holding the nerve!

For any number of the TDs present – before ever ‘that interview’ was done – they knew that right down along the west coast the economic tough medicine being dished out by FF could jeopardise Dail seats – and that the Dail mathematics were tightening in the background even as they were meeting.

In fact, the Leinster House ‘sums’ are tightening even in Galway, where West Galway Independent TD Noel Grealish has warned that he is very unhappy at the health cuts, and, while discussions are going on in the background to save €65million in health spending in the west, Grealish is seeking a meeting with Taoiseach Cowen.

The HSE and trade unions are involved in those talks and, I understand, progress is being made on possible savings. One of the people encouraging those talks in the background is Eamon Ó Cuív (Minister for Social Protection), and he and Frank Fahey TD and indeed Noel Grealish helped organise a recent session at which TDs and Senators from Galway and Mayo had the dismal facts on spending outlined to them by senior HSE officials.

There were any number of reasons on Monday for FF TDs to be nervous. The opinion polls say that their vote will fall. Even if, as I suspect, the traditional loyalty of FF voters exerts itself and the vote is eventual better than the opinion polls predict, there is also speculation in the background about Independent TD Michael Lowry.

Up to now Lowry has been a reliable supporter of the FF-Green Coalition, but there is word that he may be thinking of trying to ‘get onside’ with his old party colleagues in Fine Gael.

And then, there are those three outstanding by-elections of which Fianna Fail TDs and Senators were openly talking in Galway on Monday. Some were of the opinion that the by-elections may have to be held – if only to ‘snooker’ that Sinn Fein court bid to force the contest in Donegal!

This was some of the background to Brian Cowen rallying the troops, in the Ardilaun Hotel early on Monday morning. He told them: “I believe we must hold the nerve and do what we know in our hearts and heads is right. We will use this time in Government as one where we will help the country weather the storm and manage Ireland through some of the most difficult economic conditions we have had to confront since the foundation of the State.”

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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