Classifieds Advertise Archive Subscriptions Family Announcements Photos Digital Editions/Apps
Connect with us

Archive News

Home truths from Padraic on tackling ghost estates



Date Published: {J}

Padraic Kenna has a simple solution to the ghost estates blighting the countryside. Bulldoze them and build parks for kids.

To deal with the looming personal debt crisis, which has so far put up to 400,000 in negative equity?

Extend mortgages for up to 60 years as is common practice in Germany.

Padraic – or Dr Kenna as he is known in academic circles – is one of the country’s foremost experts in housing. And he is not afraid of going out on a limb to give an opinion.

To his colleagues in NUI Galway he will probably be best known as the academic who helped do away with the requirement to pass an Irish exam for staff jobs after bringing his employers to court.

To the voluntary sector, he will be recognised as the man who headed the Galway Simon Community for five years.

The author of six books, his latest tome is the result of three years’ research but a lifetime’s work.

House Law, Rights & Policy is an essential reference point for lawyers, legislators, local authority officials, policy makers and analysts, as well as a key guide for housing professionals such as planners, housing managers, estate agents, architects and engineers.

The book – weighing in at over 1,000 pages – does not make for light bedtime reading. But it could prove invaluable for people on residents’ committees or those who find themselves in dispute with a landlord or mortgage company, as it contains the most up to date law and policy documents.

We Irish like to think we have a unique relationship with home ownership. Nearly three-quarters of us own our own homes – incredibly 40% without a mortgage – far ahead of Germany (43%) but far behind the likes of Slovenia and Greece, where more of the population live rurally.

Peculiarly in Ireland, Padraic believes, people immediately associate housing with social and local authority dwellings.

“Social housing is only about 10% of housing in Ireland. Because of the Part V requirement [in the housing act where 20% of developments had to be set aside for affordable and social housing] it’s all linked. In about 2000, one third of all the houses on the market began life as a council house. It provided the basis for the boom as people moved up the housing ladder.”


The housing system operates on the back of a range of subsidies paid for by the taxpayer such as the mortgage interest relief, tax breaks for developers, first time buyer’s grant.

So finance, planning and social policy are all interconnected, he explains.

“If there’s a message that I have learned after three years it’s that people who write the policy don’t talk to the people who know the law. There’s no dissonance as I call it – no coherence in our system of law and policy. It’s all fragmented and fractured. The government adopts policies but they don’t see it as a whole system. There was a complete lack of joined up thinking.”

For more, read this week’s Galway City 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

Continue Reading

Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

Local Ads

Local Ads