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Hundreds spell out message on Portiuncula at public meeting

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Date Published: {J}

Between 400 and 500 people attended a public meeting in Ballinasloe last weekend called by the Portiuncula Hospital Action Committee at which Galway East candidates in Friday’s general election were grilled on their commitment to securing future services at the hospital.

During a robust questioning session the candidates undertook to resign party whips and vote against a new Government if the hospital came under any threat.

Padraig Mulligan, Chairman of the Action Committee, afterwards expressed delight at the commitment given by the candidates standing in Galway East, as well as by Fine Gael’s Denis Naughten and Sinn Féin candidate Martin Kenny from the neighbouring Roscommon constituency.

All Galway East general election candidates, with the exception of Labour’s Lorraine Higgins, attended Friday night’s public meeting in the Shearwater Hotel where there was strong support for the retention of services at the hospital voiced on behalf of organisations such as the local Chamber of Commerce, the IFA and many sporting and voluntary organisations who once again turned out in an impressive show of solidarity.

Mr Mulligan said that the turnout was an indication that the community was not willing to allow the hospital to be downgraded and services taken away which it provided for the most vulnerable and needy of their community.

Neither were the community going to allow politicians to walk away with “lotto pensions” while the HSE came knocking at the door of the hospital’s general manager looking for cuts in services and jobs, or force their sick and elderly to commute past an existing centre of excellence in Ballinasloe and drive to Galway because the services and jobs had been re-located there.

Pointing out that Portiuncula Hospital had lost 22% of its budget in a series of cuts totalling €12 million since 2008, Mr. Mulligan said that a total of 28 nursing positions as well as posts in pharmacy, and physiotherapy, remained unfilled in the hospital, resulting in vital specialist nurses having to be moved to provide cover all over the hospital, as well as an unacceptable burden on those left to dispense medicine throughout the hospital, and a two year waiting list for physiotherapy.

He forecast that the first challenge of the new ‘super manager’ in charge of University Hospital Galway, as well as Portiuncula and Roscommon County Hospital, would be to implement new HSE cuts and address the current deficit at the Galway hospital.

“The result of this on our hospital will be to seriously curtail resources and services provided in Ballinasloe with a significant amount of services moved to Galway where they are already struggling to cope with service demands,” added Mr Mulligan.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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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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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

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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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