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July 29, 2010

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: {J}

Castle fire

The sincere sympathy of all goes out to Sir Valentine and Lady Blake of Menlo Castle in the dreadful disaster that has so suddenly overtaken them. Only a few days ago, the Blake family threw open their beautiful grounds at Menlo for the Galway Annual Regatta,. In a few hours, the consuming fire swept into nothingness, the sumptuous furniture, the valuable pictures, the ancient armoury, and all the cherished treasures that a building of such antiquity might be supposed to contain.

But infinitely more sad was the loss of human life and their terribly tragic circumstances under which it occurred. On the evening of Monday, Miss Blake was killed.

Drunk and incapable

Sergt. Connolly summoned a woman at Ballinasloe Petty Sessions for being drunk and incapable on the 16th inst. She had a child in her arms.

Chairman: Have you any question to ask the Constable?

Defendant: I came out of the Workhouse to look for work. It is twelve months since I took any drink.

Mr. O’Shaughnessy: The child might be killed.

The case was adjourned for a week to allow the defendant to take the Pledge.

Same complainant summoned the husband for being drunk and incapable. There were several previous convictions.

A fine of 5s and costs was imposed.

Tuam steamrolling

The Chairman of Tuam Town Commissioners said he had written to the Co. Surveyor, East Riding, who in his letter, stated that a steam roller, including a watering cart, exclusive of a horse, would cost between 35s and £2 per day.

They would require a man for the watering cart, four sweepers, and three or four carters, to spread the metal in advance of the roller. The Glaud Bridge people would supply all the labour, not including the spreading, and carting of material, at from 45s to 50s per day. The roller would consolidate from 50 to 60 tons of metal each day.

The new D.I.

The new District Inspector who has taken charge of Athenry is recognised as being a sensible man, and many of the ladies have expressed their opinions that he is “awfully nice”.

Ladies always use strange language when pronouncing their opinions about mankind. Anyhow, it is to be hoped that he won’t follow in the footsteps of his predecessor.


Dockers’ strike

A serious situation developed in Galway on Monday morning when the SS Commber arrived at Galway docks with a cargo of grain for Messrs. Palmer. When the vessel docked the ensign was removed and burned. The crew were informed that it was in their own interests not to come ashore and the dockers refused to unload the boat.

On Monday night, at a public meeting in Eyre Square, it was unanimously resolved: “That as from nine o’clock on Tuesday morning, every Catholic worker was to down tools and not resume work until all the Orangemen had been driven out of Galway.”

Lady teachers

At the County Galway Vocational Education Committee meeting, a discussion took place on the question of lady teachers who continue in employment after marriage. The matter arose when Miss Fitzgerald, part-time teacher of Irish in Ahascragh, wrote to say that she intended getting married in the near future.

The committee were at the time considering the general question of the re-appointment of teachers.

Miss Ashe said her opinion on this subject was that no matter who the girl was, when she got married, she should stay at home and look after her place. There were a lot of other girls and boys looking for work.

The reverend chairman said this lady was only a part-time teacher and there was nothing in the Department’s regulations to prevent her from carrying on her work. If she were a whole-time officer, it would be different.

Miss Ashe: How many hours does she teach?

CEO: Two hours a day.

Mr. R.N. Sheridan, Departments’ Inspector: But all her teaching is done at night.

Very Rev. Canon Moran, S.P. said if a lady kept on her work after marriage, it would undoubtedly interfere with her domestic life, that is, if she proposed to carry on a normal domestic life.

Miss Ashe: You can take me as dissenting if you intend to allow the lady employees to remain after marriage.

The CEO said one difficulty presented itself to him. This lady was undoubtedly a very good official and the attendances at her classes were excellent, but suppose one of her classes went down at any time and they wanted to change her to another district, they would find it very difficult if she were married.

Chairman: She could resign then.

Answering Miss Ashe, the CEO said the lady was not married yet.

Miss Ashe: Well, give her till she is married and then she can resign. She then handed in a notice of motion that she will move at the next meeting, that all lady employees of the committee shall resign on marriage.

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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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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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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