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ItÕs nothing personal Ð as Labour arrive in Enda KennyÕs back yard



Date Published: {J}

A few eyebrows must have been raised in Fine Gael circles in Mayo at the weekend – for this is ‘true blue country’ but the Labour Party arrived in force in Enda Kenny’s back yard.

On the platform they had a number of candidates that Labour quietly fancy for any number of western constituencies, but this is countryside that FG have won from FF in recent years – three seats out of five in Mayo, two out of four in Galway East, two out of three in Roscommon-South Leitrim, with the only blot on the landscape being one out of five in Galway West.

Yet, here were Labour arriving in Kenny’s Castlebar . . . why, they even have a candidate who Labour believe could challenge in a big way for a seat in the already crowded Mayo five-seater where Kenny is the top dog.

The word is that up to 500 delegates were at the Labour Saturday think-in on the west session in Castlebar, with the pride-of-place in the morning session being given to former Mayo TD Dr Jerry Cowley, a convert to Labour and a man whose chances cannot be ruled out, even in a five-seater where Fine Gael have utterly ruled the roost since the last General Election.

Let’s not forget that Cowley was the first elected of the five TDs in Mayo in the General Election of 2002, getting more than 8,000 first preferences as an Independent in what has to have been recognition of his remarkable record of work on behalf of the elderly, the sick, and the returned emigrants who were in need of housing, or respite care.


Cowley’s first preference total fell back to over 5,000 in the 2009 General Election and he was squeezed out by an all-conquering FG ticket led by Kenny and Michael Ring. Fine Gael gained a seat when John O’Mahony’s name (6,800 first preferences) was added to those of Kenny (14,000 first preferences) and Ring (11,400 first preferences) in the Dáil.

Fine Gael took the first three seats with Kenny triumphing as the potential Mayo Taoiseach and the FG vote rising by 15%. The last two seats went to Dara Calleary (FF – 7,200 first preferences) and Beverley Cooper-Flynn, who was then Independent and polled 6,700 first preferences and is now back in the FF fold.

The weekend session in Castlebar saw Cowley very much centre-stage at the crucial Saturday morning session on health. Publicly, of course, the Labour target in Mayo has to be one of the FF seats if the Fianna Fáil vote is under pressure.

For more, read this week’s Connacht 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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