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Kenny ”puts the cat amongst the pigeons”



Date Published: {J}

That national opinion poll at the weekend showing a significant rise in the level of support for Fianna Fáil, will have caused some head-scratching in the ranks of Fine Gael – but out in Galway East the cause of talk has been Enda Kenny’s promotion for Senator Ciaran Cannon.

The promotion was revealed in a communiqué from Fine Gael HQ headed “Kenny appoints Cannon as Seanad Spokesperson on Children and Youth Affairs.”

But coming from Enda Kenny, as a politician who is completely attuned to the ways of things down in the constituencies among the ordinary rank-and-file backbencher Dáil Deputies, the Fine Gael leader must have known that in Galway East it would “put the cat amongst the pigeons” in a big way.

For, in Fine Gael ranks in Galway East, relationships have been somewhat strained in the months since former Progressive Democrat Leader Senator Cannon was admitted into Fine Gael – with whispers in the background that when FG were courting Cannon to join up the FG ranks, FG handlers gave Cannon some sort of undertaking that he would be on the Fine Gael ticket in Galway East at the next General Election.

For instance, it is hardly likely that the camp followers of long-serving FG Dail Deputy Ulick Burke – who operates in the same neck of the woods in the Galway East constituency as Senator Cannon – would be sending congratulatory bouquets in the direction of Cannon. He surely must be seen as a long-term threat to the Burke seat in the southern end of Galway East constituency.

The rivalry between Burke and Cannon was behind that rather publicised ‘spat’ between Ulick Burke and Enda Kenny which took place at a Fine Gael Parliamentary Party meeting. Admittedly, that was some time ago now, but in my opinion it showed the strength of the determination of the Burke camp to fight-off any challenge from Cannon to a seat which Ulick Burke first contested way back in 1981, when he got 4,300 first preferences. He stood at four elections in the eighties.

Burke was first elected to the Dáil in 1997, lost the seat in 2002 and regained it in 2007 – so he has been ‘been through the winger’ for Fine Gael in a four-seater where that second FG seat has almost always been ‘touch and go’. Having come up the hard way over all those years, it is difficult now to blame him for fighting like a tiger for his electoral bailiwick.

Cannon, who got 3,200 first preferences as a PD in the 2007 General Election, passed his first electoral test for Fine Gael in the June Local Elections when he succeeded in getting his chosen candidate, Michael Mogie Maher, elected to an FG seat in Galway County Council. That test also showed, not for the first time, that Cannon can put a formidable machine into an electoral contest.

However, first let’s get that official press release regarding Cannon’s Senate spokesman appointment – from the national FG press office – out of the way. It said: “Fine Gael Party Leader, Enda Kenny, today (Thursday) announced the appointment of Senator Ciaran Cannon as the party’s Seanad Spokesperson on Children and Youth Affairs.


Speaking following the appointment Enda Kenny was quoted as saying: “Senator Cannon will bring a wealth of experience to this portfolio and I am confident he will have great success in his new role. I know that Senator Cannon is looking forward to working with his Fine Gael colleagues in the Senate and making an impact nationally and locally on this important issue.”

For more, read page 12 of 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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