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If we only got the airport and the bypass sorted



Date Published: 12-Aug-2011

ILOVED that story Johnny Mulholland told in his radio interview with Galway Bay fm about taking half an hour for himself and a friend to make their way from one end of High Street to the other on one night of the Galway Races.

That was because it was ‘shoulder-to-shoulder’ among the huge crowds in the district for the Hurdle night. Why, there was even talk of people queuing outside the pubs, while other hostelries seem to have set up a ‘waiting list’ system under which you were promised that you would get in if others left.

For just one crazy moment, the latter story conjured up the idea of HSE-style ‘trolleys’ being set up outside the pubs as the thirsty punters waited their turn . . . but that was just a little too zany an idea for even this fevered brain to entertain for any length of time.

Ideally, you’d wish that there would be less queuing and sheer jostling, but let’s be thankful for what we’ve got. What Race Week, and the ones before it, did show was just how resilient and varied a tourism product we are lucky enough to have here in Galway and the West.

But while we can congratulate ourselves on a remarkable product, there are issues which need to be addressed – not the least of them is access and the future of the city’s airport, and the perennial discussion now on when, and if, the city bypass will ever be built.

Galway is a huge hub for industries such as medical devices and research in that area. Minister Leo Varadkar may argue that we are only a few hours by motorway from Dublin or Shannon and their international links, but, as a capital of a huge slew of country with thousands of jobs with international links, an airport is a vital piece of infrastructure.

The question of the outer bypass seems like it will be around to dog the city for years to come. Lack of a bypass is one of the key reasons why there are times when an entire community grinds to a halt – with tens of thousands of cars per day funnelled through areas like Quincentenary Bridge, because there is no other way to get to the west of the city.

The outer bypass is now in some sort of planning-legal limbo which is slowly grinding away in Europe. For a time I personally thought that someone like former TD Frank Fahey might be able to lead the campaign to success to get the outer bypass built.

Not exactly a Monsignor Horan, but someone who had a singlemindedness of approach and simply would not allow the business to slip down the public agenda of the city.

Others out there had also joined in a sort of unofficial campaign to keep the outer bypass before the public . . . is there a latter-day Monsignor Horan in the midst of our public or business life?

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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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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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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