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Let’s erect a plaque in memory of the legacy of our banks



Date Published: {J}

I have to admit, I don’t get this. They’re talking about splitting Anglo-Irish into a ‘good’ and a ‘bad’ bank. This means they’re actually going to make a bank worse than Anglo-Irish is already. That’s some trick. I guess they plan to hive off whatever good assets Anglo-Irish have and keep the rest to rot. But what’s the point in that? The State still owns the same amount of good and bad assets however you slice it.

Unless they’re thinking of selling the profitable bit as a going concern to raise money to pay for the bad, which sounds worryingly like short-term thinking. Again.

If they do this though it’s just going to lead to more hard choices. When they were originally thinking about nationalising Anglo-Irish I speculated whether they would rename it Irish-Anglo-Irish Bank, or simply Irish-Irish. It’s perhaps as well that they kept the name though, as it offers a solution to what to call the two new halves.

The only question that remains: do we name the bad bank ‘Anglo’ or ‘Irish’?

It’s a tricky one. Perhaps we should decide it by tossing a coin – after all, we’re throwing money at them already. Calling it Anglo Bank would be to suggest that it was all somehow the fault of the English.

Everything ultimately is of course, but it wears rather thin as an excuse.

To call it Irish Bank on the other hand suggests a sort of Yellow Pack (that dates me) or value brand, a generic Irish bank made of all the ingredients that you expect from the product – abysmal management, insolent attitude to small customers, endemic corruption – in one neat no-frills package.

A caricature of course that wouldn’t reflect too well on the other Irish banks, to put it mildly, but perhaps they deserve it.

If we need to break with that name though, I could think of other pairings that would be cute. I like the Bank of Optimism and the Bank of Experience. The Bank of Cause and the Bank of Effect maybe. Or how about a teeny-tiny Bank of Truth and a great big Bank of Bullshit? I like that.

And I’m talking a real bank here. It would be too easy on ourselves to hide our bad bank away by having it only exist on paper. We need to remember this episode. So when the Bank of Ireland gives us the old parliament building as part of its reparations, I suggest we use that.

Imagine, in great big lettering – preferably illuminated – right there overlooking College Green. The Bank of Bullshit. And perhaps a plaque below that worded something like:

“In Memory of Those who gave their Hopes and their Homes in the Great Bullshit Outbreak of the 21st Century, that we may never again be seduced into paying too much for things by the offer of easy money to pay for them with.

For let it never be forgotten that when the value of a house drops to a fraction of what you borrowed for it, the Bank of Bullshit still needs to be paid in full.”

Remind me again, why do they need to be paid?

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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