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Hope Ð in a week when the IMF come calling to the door



Date Published: {J}

I’m not sure just how we should describe the arrival of those people from the International Monetary Fund who are staying in a flash hotel in Dublin – would they be correctly described as examiners, receivers, or liquidators?

I have a theory that they might fall into some kind of hybrid category that would be a mixture of examiner and receiver – the latter role to see if Ireland Inc can continue to be run as a going concern.

There was a time, not so very long ago, when the difference between the three categories was a matter of theory learnt all those years ago in Business Studies. Maybe my memory is playing tricks, but I do not remember the status of examiner existing then.

There was also a time when ‘bonds’ were something that existed only on the pages of Bonfire Of The Vanities. Now, if I go into the average pub, someone is ringing Joe Duffy on a mobile to talk about ‘yields rising’. The only other impression is that ‘Government stock is falling’.

 Like a lot of people, I am struggling to understand how it all came to this – it’s a bit like all of us went to a party and now the bill has come in. We appear to have had plenty of rules which should have prevented banks acting like utter idiots, but the implementation of the rules was a total joke.

As the IMF men and women with the briefcases and laptops trawl through our situation, it is difficult to see much hope . . . and certainly not from the politicians, some of whom seemed to be suggesting that, because we are such a ‘basket case’, we are in a stronger position than we might otherwise be the case.

On the basis of that argument, people like Sean Fitzpatrick, Michael Fingleton and their buddies in the banks who lost the run of themselves, should have dished out maybe tens of billions more. Then, we really would have had the Germans and French in the spot where we wanted them!

I am glad to say, however, that I found a haven of solace, a place of some hope in the past week. Iit was in NUI Galway where the former boss of Intel, Dr Craig T. Barrett, was spelling out what we needed to do to ensure our future, and he had a message of hope that, maybe, with a bit of commonsense and the brain-power of young people, we could turn the corner.

I loved his line where he said that, unless we used our brains to outwit, outsmart, out-think and be better than others . . . then it was likely that we would find that someone in China, India, or indeed the US, had ‘eaten our lunch’.

Dr Barrett is a lanky grey-haired man who looks uncannily like the late Dr John Kenneth Galbraith – the economist who wrote a tiny but immensely readable history of the 1929 Great Crash in the US. Maybe we might have learnt something from it – that boom before that bust was built on the basis that everyone could be rich by having a go on the stock market.

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

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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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