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How to kill people – in a Christian sort of way



Date Published: {J}

It’s the kind of thing you couldn’t make up – or at least, wouldn’t want to. The US and UK armies in Afghanistan and Iraq are shooting Muslims with guns that have Bible quotations on them. Talk about adding insult to injury – and indeed to death and maiming.

The markings are on those high-tech luminous gun sights, and include "2COR4:6" and "JN8:12", references to versus from the second epistle of Paul to the Corinthians and the Gospel of John respectively. Just coincidence? After all, just about all modern manufactures are covered in opaque serial numbers and codes. They can’t all be Bible quotes.

But no, these guys really mean it. They’re called Trijicon, and they make their precision optics strictly in accordance with ‘Biblical standards’. So when, in the dead of night, a sniper draws a bead on his unsuspecting enemy’s head he’ll be looking through an eyepiece inscribed with a reference. And if he knows his Good Book, he will remember that John 8:12 reads: “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Then he will gently squeeze the trigger, and make a stranger’s skull explode into thousands of bloodied shards.

It’s clear that not everyone understands Christian principals in quite the same way. Some see them as being about turning the other cheek, others as being about firing bullets repeatedly through those cheeks, and other parts of the face. Company founder Glyn Bindon is dead now. It’s enough to make me wish there were a Heaven and all that, because I would love to have seen the look on his own face as Jesus roundly slapped it before throwing him into whatever really special pit of hell they devised for people who can interpret the ‘Light of the World’ as ‘night vision long range rifle sight’.

And needless to say, this will be a fabulous propaganda coup for Al Qaeda. The Americans and British can deny being Crusaders all they like, but when they start shooting you with guns decorated with Christian texts the prosecution can pretty much adjourn.

It makes a pleasant change then to see US forces engaged in an operation where for once you don’t feel more like rooting for the other side. Though food and medical aid is taking time to reach victims, only the most churlish could actually blame that on the enormous efforts America has made to help. It must be an incredible nightmare trying to reach a million and a half displaced victims in a city where the entire infrastructure has been wiped out. Few organisations could even hope to try.

I missed this America, the one that can be generous, courageous and swift to aid. The one that uses its Christian ideals for guidance rather than as propaganda. The one that . . . has a Democrat in the White House basically. It’s instructive to consider that, even in the depths of the worst depression in half a century, the US under Obama did more to help the disaster victims of neighbouring Haiti than Bush did in New Orleans for his own people.

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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