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January 6, 2010

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: {J}

Police tax

The extra police tax in Newcastle, Athenry, which is heavier than that about to be imposed for the Athenry water supply, is to be continued and the people of the district should make some attempt to settle this miserable dispute at Tourkeel. Why it can’t be settled is a mystery.

Those whose duty it is to settle such petty disputes seem to take no interest in such cases. Every policeman employed in connection with this dispute costs the ratepayers of the county £22 a year. The reduction which the farmers have got under the Land Purchase Act will be more than gone in the police tax.

Mountbellew tramps

Next Tuesday’s meeting of the Guardians, being the winter quarterly meeting, will probably have a full attendance, and it would be well that they would take some steps to mitigate the tramp nuisance.

It reflects very little credit on the Guardians to be housing at the expense of the ratepayers an average of seventy or eight tramps each week in the Workhouse. Many of these travellers call much more often that the regulations allow, and that is a state of affairs that should not be tolerated.

These wanderers are a public nuisance, and it is a surprise that the Guardians would not instruct the officials to make use of the law that no able-bodied man or woman would be lodged at the expense of the ratepayers oftener than the law would allow.

Serving a drunk

At the City Petty Sessions, the King, at the prosecution of District Inspector Mercer, charged Mrs. Flaherty with selling drink to a person under the influence of drink.

Contable McGloin swore that on the 20th December he was on duty. He saw a woman [who was also on other charges] on the defendant’s premises. She was drunk. Witness questioned the defendant as to why she supplied her with drink, and she said she did not supply drink to her, but she did to a man.

Chairman: If the publicans did not supply this woman, a habitual drunk, with drink, she would not now have to undergo a term of six months’ imprisonment. It is a scandalous thing for them to do so, and if there was any decency in them, they would not do so.

Mr. Mercer: It is an exceedingly bad case.

Mrs. Flaherty was fined 20s and costs. The Chairman said such offences were the worst under the Licensing Act.


Tinker’s tent

At Gort District Court on Saturday, a farmer and road worker from Lisbrien was charged by the State with the larceny of a tinker’s tent on Christmas Eve at Gort – Julia McDonagh, of no fixed abode, said that a bale of tarred canvas which she had bought in Gort was stolen from her cart in George’s Street.

Promoting Galway

“Keep your money at home … and keep prosperity in Galway. (1) To present to the reader a time-saving reference guide to the leading business and manufacturing houses in Galway. (2) To give reasons why every family in Galway and district should support these business houses, is the two-fold aim of this advertisement.

“By spending money outside the town you can help to prosper some other town which in NO way can benefit you, because it is a loss to the town in which you live in and in which you hope to get your living in. Every penny you spend outside Galway is lost forever to the town, and means the undermining of the prosperity of the town.

“REMEMBER THIS: The Galway stores are not behind the times and they carry as large and as wide a range of goods of the same quality as the leading Dublin or other city stores. They can sell for cheaper than city stores because their expenses are half those of city stores and consequently they can sell at much lower prices.”

90 new homes

The monthly meeting of Tuam Town Commissioners was held on Tuesday evening. Mr John P. Moran, engineer, submitted plans etc in connection with the proposed house building scheme on Kelly’s and the College field at Toberjarlath. He said this part of the scheme proposed that ninety houses be built.

Illegal malt

At Spiddal Distrit Court on Monday, before Sean MacGiollarnaith, D.J., the Attorney-Genral, at the suit of Supt. Neville, prosecuted a couple from Slieveneen, for being in illicit possession of a quantity of malt.

Guard Reilly, Moycullen, said that he was on duty with other guards at Slieveneen. When he was approaching the house of the defendant, he saw a woman leaving with a pile on her back. He asked her what was in the back.

She said it was “stuff”. It was malt. He searched the house and in one room, he found four stone of alt spread on the floor. Neither of them gave any excuse or explanation. A fine of £2 was imposed in each case.

For more, read page 30 of this week’s Connacht Tribune

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Judy Murphy



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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Rory takes on fresh challenge as lauded DruidMurphy returns

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 03-Apr-2013


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After twenty years Sarah lands dream role in Druid

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 04-Apr-2013

 Sarah Lynch has been living and breathing Druid Theatre since she wangled a job as a runner fresh out of college two decades ago at age 20. After holding down just about every role imaginable there – from company manager to director to stage manager – her appointment as general manager to one of the country’s most prestigious theatre companies last October seemed almost inevitable.

Because once she had tasted the fruit of Druid she was going nowhere . . . and going everywhere. Sarah’s tenure at Druid since 1998 has brought her on a journey that has reached just about every corner of the globe and almost all the islands off Ireland in between.

After graduating from Limerick with a degree in French and English Sarah spent a stint teaching in a secondary school. But it immediately became clear that wasn’t the road for her.

“One thing I was always certain of was I’d be involved in the performing arts, whether on stage or off stage or behind it. The immediate reaction of the audience is such a buzz,” she grins.

Her earliest memory was of her grandfather, Bud Clancy, on stage with his trumpet and dance band. “I must have been three or four because he died shortly after that. But it never left me. I got bitten by the bug. I started playing the trumpet. A friend of my grandfather taught me how to play and I was with the Limerick brass and reed orchestra known as the Boherbuoy Band, I was just a kid with all these adults.”

She learned to play other brass instruments such as the French horn and cornet before turning her hand to the guitar and song-writing. “I taught myself guitar. Sometime I tinker on the piano and I think that’s my next instrument. I love percussion. You can’t get me off a drum kit for love or money. Many is the night I’ve made a fool of myself on one of those,” she laughs.

In 2010, Sarah released her debut album, Letter to Friends, which was launched by playwright Enda Walsh, whose short play, Lynndie’s Gotta Gun, she had directed as part of the 2008 Galway Arts Festival.

The collection of songs was produced by Wayne Sheehy, a musician she had met when opening for Juliet Turner on Turner’s Burn the Black Suit tour.

“I could probably have done it ten years ago but for the manic schedule with Druid and touring so much,” she reflects. “I haven’t done much with it since. I used to play gigs in the Róisín Dubh. The bigger twin is theatre at the moment. The bigger twin bullies the other twin. You don’t get much time to do music.”

After fleeing the classroom, Sarah knocked on the door of a former college mate, Andrew Flynn, now with the Galway Youth Theatre, who kindly offered up his couch. He also managed to get her a job as a runner – the person who does everything from making tea to helping with props – on a Druid production of As You Like It.

“I remember working with Mark O’Halloran, I had great fun with him. There was Helen Norton, it was Maeliosa Stafford directing. He’s coming back to the Druid after ten years to star in Tom Murphy’s A Whistle in the Dark. He left me as a runner, now I’m general manager.”

Much of Sarah’s time behind the scenes at Druid has been spent on the road. In 2009 alone, Druid toured to Australia, Canada, the UK and the USA presenting 364 performances in 26 venues.

Indeed so much of life has been out spent living of a suitcase that she gave up her base in Galway to move back in with her family in Caherdavin, on the Galway side of Limerick city.

The tour of the Cripple of Inishmaan by Martin McDonagh was so long the crew were instructed to pack two suitcases, one with summer clothes, the other winter gear, as they would be spanning the seasons. Her job now entails a lot of commuting, but driving is where she gets a lot of thinking done.

Sarah’s decision to apply for the more home-based job of general manager was one she made discreetly while on the Druid Murphy tour around the US. She had to undergo her interview in between shows at the Lincoln Center in New York. It was the most nerve wrecking experience of her life, she admits.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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