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Judge Judy rules that might stop late night parties in Galway

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: {J}

I know that in the recent past some of my few fans have expressed concern about any apparent growing familiarity with what one might term ‘afternoon TV’. A mention seems to conjure up images of a figure slumped on a couch, with all purpose in life gone, watching Christmas cake recipes.

It’s quite possible that terminal torpor might hit, especially when weeks of torrential rain are replaced by weeks of footpaths and roads which make ‘dancing on ice’ seem like something that anyone should have a crack at . . . though maybe not recommended for the senior citizens.

Any number of reports of people turning up in A&E with strained or damaged wrists, tell their own story of upsets and tumbles . . . inching along by the walls and railings of the city on day after day, I saw many a tumble that looked very painful indeed, as men and women picked themselves up, gingerly finding out, joint by joint, if everything was still functioning.

Ever fallen and landed on your ‘tail-bone’? Then you know what I mean.

Faced with that kind of hazard, even the perils of ‘couch afternoon TV’ seemed preferable, and, once again, I ended up watching Judge Judy – despite the reservations of friends who are beginning to wonder about a man in his sixties who will spend an afternoon hour watching a very strict woman who dresses all in black, and wears ‘killer heels ‘and a cloak!

In the past I have pointed out that Judge Judy illustrates how the US civil justice system actually seems to function for the purposes for which it was created. For instance, in their civil justice system, fathers have to pay support for their children, even if they have set up new relationships. And they will be pursued for payment. Equally importantly, the system seems equipped to track them down, and does so.

At least two recent episodes have shown Judge Judy demanding a driving licence from a recalcitrant father, and then pass the licence on to the mother of his children. The driving licence would appear to be a much more important document in the US than it is here – I have repeatedly heard that ‘woman in black’ on the bench make the point that, if the father wants to work in future, then he will have to cough-up the child support on the basis of the mum now having the driving licence, which will make him easy to trace.

But, in light of the recent trouble in Galway, with difficulties in rented accommodation, all-night parties, and night-time incidents in suburbia caused by student parties, maybe someone in charge of the Irish civil legal system should be looking at how the law in relation to landlords and tenants appears to function in the US.

Last week, for instance, there was a case on Judge Judy taken by a woman landlord against a student tenant who had breached the tenancy agreement by holding a number of loud, late-night parties, keeping a dog, and generally making something of a thoroughgoing nuisance of herself in an area where, plainly, they valued their privacy and quiet.

The landlord produced a series of accounts showing that, every time a party was held in the condominium, there was a ‘fine’ imposed on the 20 year old tenant; there were also two ‘fines’ on the accounts for breaching the rules on having a dog on the premises, despite a rule to the contrary, and fines for the cops being called out.

I’m sure there are all kinds of terms and conditions in relation to tenancies by students all over Galway City, but how often do you hear of low-cost legal cases being possible under which a landlord demands –and may get – the payment of fines which are imposed for nonsense like all-night parties in predominantly residential areas?

Quite the opposite often appears to be the outcome, in fact: the residents who have invested their life savings – and future earnings – in an expensive mortgage for an apartment home in which they had hoped to live out their days, end up tormented night after night.

From recent reports in this newspaper, some of the house owners have even had to consider moving out because life has become intolerable through noise, parties and trouble. The selfsame bloody troublesome tenants often have the effect of making life intolerable in apartment developments.

A lot of those empty apartments in Galway City – and around the country – might be a lot more saleable if the potential tenants knew that they would not have ‘neighbours from hell’ living above or below.

Of course, many of the selfsame student ‘nuisance neighbours’ move on a few years later to become the new professional classes, who demand their privacy in huge expensive houses – detached of course because they value their privacy!

However, there was one further twist in the story of this particular Judge Judy programme . . . because of the fact that the 20 years old tenant had not paid the fines imposed for having a dog, the police call outs, and the late night parties, the fines were levied instead on the landlord, who, as part of the action, was, in turn, suing the tenant for non-payment.

So, under the law, if the tenant is difficult and does not pay, then the landlord is responsible for the charges which are levied by the management company which runs the development.

Compare this with Galway. I have knowledge of a case of parents with one child who were in an apartment and complained that they could not get any sleep because of noisy tenants. The landlord said he would do something about it . . . but when they complained again, he gave them notice to vacate the apartment, describing them as troublemakers. I’m sure they could have fought it, but they left anyway, in disgust!

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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Archive News

Henshaw and McSharry set to field for Irish Wolfhounds in clash with England Saxons

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 24-Jan-2013

CONNACHT’S rising stars Robbie Henshaw and Dave McSharry look set to named in the starting xv for the Ireland Wolfhounds who face the England Saxons in Galway this weekend when the team is announced later today (Thursday).

Robbie Henshaw is the only out-and-out full-back that was named Tuesday in the 23-man squad that will take on the English at the Sportsground this Friday (7.45pm).

Connacht’s centre McSharry and Ulster’s Darren Cave are the only two specialist centres named in the 23 man squad, which would also suggest the two youngsters are in line for a starting place.

Former Connacht out-half, Ian Keatley, Leinster’s second out-half Ian Madigan and Ulster’s number 10 Paddy Jackson and winger Andrew Trimble, although not specialist full-backs or centres, can all slot into the 12, 13 and 15 jerseys, however you’d expect the Irish management will hand debuts to Henshaw and McSharry given that they’ll be playing on their home turf.

Aged 19, Henshaw was still playing Schools Cup rugby last season. The Athlone born Connacht Academy back burst onto the scene at the beginning of the season when he filled the number 15 position for injured captain Gavin Duffy.

The Marist College and former Ireland U19 representative was so assured under the high ball, so impressive on the counter-attack and astute with the boot, that he retained the full-back position when Duffy returned from injury.

Connacht coach Eric Elwood should be commended for giving the young Buccaneers clubman a chance to shine and Henshaw has grasped that opportunity with both hands, lighting up the RaboDirect PRO 12 and Heineken Cup campaigns for the Westerners this season.

Henshaw has played in all 19 of Connacht’s games this season and his man-of-the-match display last weekend in the Heineken Cup against Zebre caught the eye of Irish attack coach, Les Kiss.

“We’re really excited about his development. He had to step into the breach when Connacht lost Gavin Duffy, and he was playing 13 earlier in the year. When he had to put his hand up for that, he’s done an exceptional job,” Kiss said.

The 22-year-old McSharry was desperately unlucky to miss out on Declan Kidney’s Ireland squad for the autumn internationals and the Dubliner will relish the opportunity this Friday night to show-off his speed, turn of foot, deft hands and finishing prowess that has been a mark of this season, in particular, with Connacht.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Archive News

Drinks battle brewing as kettle sales go off the boil

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 30-Jan-2013

You’d have thought there might have been three certainties in Irish life – death, taxes and the cup of tea – but it now seems that our post-tiger sophistication in endangering the consumption of the nation’s second favourite beverage.

Because with all of our new-fangled coffee machines, percolators, cappuccino and expresso makers, sales of the humble kettle are falling faster than our hopes of a write-off on the promissory note.

And even when we do make tea, we don’t need a tea pot – it’s all tea bags these days because nobody wants a mouthful of tea leaves, unless they’re planning to have their fortune told.

Sales of kettles are in decline as consumers opt for fancy coffee makers, hot water dispensers and other methods to make their beverages – at least that’s the case in the UK and there’s no reason to think it’s any different here.

And it’s only seems like yesterday when, if the hearth was the heart of every home, the kettle that hung over the inglenook fireplace or whistled gently on the range, was the soul.

You’d see groups gathered in bogs, footing turf and then breaking off to boil the battered old kettle for a well-earned break.

The first thing that happened when you dropped into someone’s home was the host saying: “Hold on until I stick on the kettle.”

When the prodigal son arrived home for the Christmas, first item on the agenda was a cup of tea; when bad news was delivered, the pain was eased with a cuppa; last thing at night was tea with a biscuit.

The arrival of electric kettles meant there was no longer an eternal search for matches to light the gas; we even had little electric coils that would boil water into tea in our cup if you were mean enough or unlucky enough to be making tea for one.

We went away on sun holidays, armed with an ocean of lotion and a suitcase full of Denny’s sausages and Barry’s Tea. Spanish tea just wasn’t the same and there was nothing like a nice brew to lift the sagging spirits.

We even coped with the arrival of coffee because for a long time it was just Maxwell House or Nescafe granules which might have seemed like the height of sophistication – but they still required a kettle.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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