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‘King of the roads’ is to be restored to its former glory



Date Published: {J}

An 86-year-old that surfaced many of the roads around County Galway while working for the Council is being brought out of retirement.

The 1924 Aveling Porter steam roller was put on display at the County Buildings after 30 years of service but has been sitting outside a storage facility at Sandy Road since 1998.

The former King of the Roads is now set to be restored to its past glory however, as a local vintage club has leased the steam roller from the Council with a view to undertaking the painstaking task of refurbishing it.

The old machinery was obtained by Galway County Council in the 1930s and steam-rolled many of the roads around the city and county while it remained in service until 1954.

The Aveling Porter was the most popular roller of the day but this particular model, with a sliding valve rather than a push valve, is somewhat rare. It is described as being in very poor condition, and the restoration will take between five and 10 years to complete.

“It has been stored outdoors so it’s in extremely poor condition,” explained Tom Heavey of Mountbellew Vintage Club. “We have had a specialist to take a look at it though, and it can be restored. It is entirely complete – everything is there – and that’s a very important factor.”

The vintage club has taken a 10 year lease on the steam roller after negotiating a nominal fee with the Council.

“We’ve saved it from the scrap heap really,” said Mr Heavey. “The Council wasn’t in a position to sell it or restore it, so it has been supportive of the project. It has invited us to apply to heritage grants to cover some of the cost of restoring it.”

The restoration is likely to cost more than €50,000 and Mountbellew Vintage Club will be looking at various ways to raise the necessary funds to pay for it. It is also appealing to people who may have photographs of the steam roller in action or may have seen it in use to contact it through its website

“Part of restoring the machine is trying to build a complete history of it,” said Mr Heavey.

The vintage club will take the first steps towards refurbishing the engine by procuring a suitable new boiler and rebuilding the firebox, which is likely to take two years.

It is not yet decided where the steam roller will be displayed once the restoration is complete but Mr Heavey is determined that its days exposed to the elements are numbered.

“There’s a long road ahead before it’s fully restored but when everything is finished it would be great to have some sort of launch, and it would be nice to think that the steam roller would feature in the St Patrick’s Day parade at some stage,” Mr Heavey said.

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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