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July 22, 2010

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: {J}

Policeman charged

At the resumption of the business of the Galway Summer Assizes at half-past 10 o’clock on Tuesday, a Constable of the Royal Irish Constabulary pleaded “not guilty” to an indictment charging him with commiting a rape upon an old woman of 74 years of age, of the 28th April last.

Mr. Fetherstonhaugh, K.C. and Mr. Coll (instructed by Mr. Blake C.S.) prosecuted for the Crown, and Mr. Macdermot (instructed by Mr. O’Dea solr) defended.

The story told by the prosecutrix, who is a widow residing alone at Rosdullis, was to the effect that prisoner came to her house whilst she was in bed, shortly after 12 o’clock on the night of 22nd April, threatened to break in the door and to burn the house.

He was in uniform and when she opened the door, he blew out the candle and assaulted her. Walking to the dock, she identified the prisoner as the man, after having first looked all round the Court.

Dr. Kennedy found no marks on [the alleged injured party] to indicate that an assault had been committed, as alleged.

For the defence, a number of policemen gave evidence to the effect that the prisoner returned from patrol at 11.30 o’clock on the night in question and went to bed. They expressed the belief that he could not have left the barracks subsequently without their knowledge. He did not sign the patrol book, although it is his duty to do so.

Prisoner was sworn and emphatically denied the assault. He forgot to sign the patrol book. Lord Chief Kenny, in addressing the Jury, said the case was a mass of impossibilities from beginning to end. The evidence given by the doctor, who was a Crown witness, was entirely in favour of the defendant. He found no marks on the woman. He asked the Jury to bring in a verdict of “not guilty”.

His Lordship directed Co. Inspector Flower to inform the constabulary authorities that the evidence given should not prejudice them against the constable. The prisoner was acquitted.

Mysterious vehicle

On Saturday evening, a strange vehicle pulled up at Fox’s public house in Church Street, Athenry, and many pedestrians halted to inspect it. On both sides police with rifle kept guard, while another man remained at the horse’s head. From inquiries I ascertained that it was one of Mr. Martin McDonough’s Monatigue transport cars which had come in with the thirsty emergencymen from Galway, who were saving the hay.


Pool calls

The drowning tragedy in the River Suck on Sunday evening, when a young man in the town lost his life through sad circumstances there, calls attention once again to the need of a properly supervised pool.

Some time ago the provision of such was discussed when application for a grant to the Department for Local Government was made. The project, however, was allowed to drop and since then nothing has been heard of it.

Each year when summer comes round, the dangers to children swimming in the river are again the subjects of discussion, but it is only when tragedy occurs that the need for such a pool is emphasised. Numbers of young children may be seen any day risking their lives in parts of the Suck where there are dangerous currents, and where it is impossible to have any proper supervision over them.


The eviction of eight families with their thirteen children, all young, from their homes in Kelly’s Lane, Ballinasloe, on Saturday evening, goes to show the pressing needs for more and more houses to accommodate the large number of congests in lanes and other areas on the town.

There are not nearly enough of houses in the town to accommodate the number needing houses, although the Council have, during the past few years, built up over 100 houses, 60 at present being in the course of construction.

Those eight families, however, evicted on Saturday night, will not be provided for in the houses when available as these houses are built for tenants in another condemned area, so that the eight families and the children who have been provided with temporary shelter in the disused and derelict wing of the fever ward at the old workhouse buildings will be compelled to remain in these unsuitable surroundings for an indefinite period, all housed together in one small building.

New road

Between 50 and 60 men are employed by the Galway Co. Council in the making of the cement road from Tuam to the Beet Factory. We understand that at the meeting of the Co. Council on Saturday, a motion will be put forward proposing that the rate of wages paid to labourers on this job (the present rate is 27s. a week) shall be increased.

For more, read 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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Ruby ready to rock again and Bob is worth a big flutter in Gold Cup

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 06-Mar-2013

New edge to Galway hurling championship title pursuit

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A battle of talent and the ability to pull in public votes

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 11-Mar-2013

Here is a question. And there is no holiday or grand prize for getting the answer. But can anyone name the people who have won The Voice of Ireland and what has become of them?

Over across the water in the UK they have The X Factor and while I hate the concept of it, it has produced a few stars even though they don’t last long in the whole scheme of things.

But The Voice of Ireland seems to generate false excitement with the winner ending up become more anonymous than they already were. And it is costing families a fortune in the process.

While the programme is a ratings winner, strangely, it has resulted in those getting through to the final stages investing huge amounts of money in the hope that they will receive enough votes to get through to the next stages.

So, suddenly, it is not about the voice or the talent involved, it is all about votes and who the participants can convince to pledge their support for them. So it is obvious that talent goes out the window.

It means that someone with half a talent could realistically win the whole thing if they generated enough support behind them. From now on, the judges will be taken out of the equation and it will be left to the public to generate income for some phone operator.

Those who get through to the live performances have to engage in a massive publicity campaign in an effort to win votes which makes this whole effort a pure sham. It is no longer about their ability and just an effort to win appeal.

While the initial process does involve some vetting of the acts, now it becomes a general election type exercise in which the most popular will win the competition and the judges will have no say whatsoever.

It is a bit like the recent Eurosong in which the judging panel across the country voted for their favourite song, which incidentally was the best of a very bad lot, but then this was overturned by the public who chose a relatively crap song to represent us.

But again, this was all down to convincing the public about who to vote for rather than having any bearing on the quality on offer. There are times that genuine talent becomes overlooked because of the need to extract money from the voting public.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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