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Labour’s audacious dream – to bring off the ‘impossible treble’ in Galway!



Date Published: {J}

It’s the ‘impossible’ treble – but Labour, in light of their very strong position in the opinion polls, are prepared to dream: Michael D. Higgins to win the Presidency, Labour to hold his Dail seat in Galway West, and Colm Keaveney to win a Dail seat in Galway East.

Okay, it’s a real long-shot, but Labour have been months on the crest of a wave of support, according to the opinion polls. Wonder what odds Galway Fine Gael bookie John Mulholland (The Better Bettor) would give on that treble?

Labour Leader Eamon Gilmore went on the record at the weekend as hinting that one of them – a shock Dail seat win in in his native Galway East – is not being ruled out. He says it’s the kind of seat they want to win.

Speaking after the special meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party in the Abbey Hotel, Roscommon, Gilmore told The Deputy: “Galway East will be a crucial constituency for Labour in the next election. This the sort of constituency in which we must make gains if we are to succeed in our objective of increasing the number of Labour TDs West of the Shannon and securing sufficient seats to be the biggest party in the next government.

“We have a very able and energetic councillor in Colm Keaveney and I expect that in, due course, he will be joined on the ticket by a second candidate from the southern part of the constituency,” he added.

The speculation in some Labour circles is that Keaveney – who got 2,500 first preferences in the Tuam area in the Local Elections last year – will be joined on the Labour ticket by Independent Councillor Tim Broderick (Ballinasloe), who got 1,500 first preferences in the Locals.

They have a hell of a challenge in front of them because this is what Fianna Fail used to love to call its ‘heartland’ – two elections ago FF took three-seats-out-of-four in the area (Noel Treacy TD, Micheal Kitt TD and Joe Callanan TD), but in 2007, Callanan lost his seat and Fine Gael took two, with both Paul Connaughton and Ulick Burke getting into the Dail.

The year 2007 showed that the Fianna Fail vote was ‘on the slide’ in Galway East, with a drop of more than seven per cent in the first preferences. That trend was confirmed by a disastrous Local Elections result in Galway East in 2009, but Micheal Kitt and Noel Treacy still had 39 per cent of the first preferences at the last General Election – within a vulgar fraction of the two quotas needed.

Recent Labour analysis of national opinion polls, and extensive canvassing already done by Keaveney and his team, are what’s giving Labour hope that a shock might be on the cards.

The task is huge. Not alone do they have to take out one of the long-serving Fianna Fail TDs Mick Kitt or Noel Treacy, they also have to contend with a hugely strong FG team of Connaughton TD, Burke TD, Senator Ciaran Cannon and Councillor Tom McHugh, who are aiming at electing not just the two outgoing TDs, but three, according to some FG schemers.

For more, read 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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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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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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