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Liam is back in the saddle again

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 23-Oct-2009

THE special bicycle of a Galway man with a rare medical condition was returned to him yesterday after it was stolen by heartless thieves at the weekend.

Castlegar resident Liam Cullinane was diagnosed with Listerial Meningitis 16 years ago. Due to the effects the condition has had on his body, his specially designed bicycle, which has three wheels at the front and one at the rear, was his only viable means of independent transport.

As reported earlier this week in the Sentinel, Liam’s bike was stolen in the early hours of Saturday morning when, after leaving it locked outside Halo nightclub in the city to enter the premises, he returned to find it had been stolen. And yesterday, when his bike was returned, Liam credited the publicity generated by local media coverage as one of the reasons for getting his bike back.

“I haven’t spoken to the Guards, but I heard that some girls handed it in. I presume they won’t do anything more about it,” said Liam.

At the time of speaking to the Galway City Tribune yesterday, Liam had the bike in his garden shed and was about to send it to a bicycle repair shop to remedy the damaged state it was found in.

“A friend is going to put it into his van and bring it to the bike shop on Dominick Street to get it repaired. I imagine it will be up and running in a few hours.”

Despite the damage, Liam is not worried about the cost of the repairs, as the bike’s unique features that support his condition do not require maintenance. “The frame is intact and that’s the most important thing,” he said.

Before it was stolen, Liam’s bike was last seen at 2.40am by the bouncers of Halo nightclub. When Liam left the premises 20 minutes later the bicycle was gone.

Despite his friend’s efforts to track down the whereabouts of the bicycle that morning, he was unable to get it back, and was left without an independent mode of transport for the next five days.

Due to the rareness of Liam’s illness, his bike is the only one of its kind in Ireland. It was just a few months old, after a crash he had in March of last year resulted in him having to get a replacement, which took over a year for it to be custom built and delivered to him from Wales.

The bicycle cost Liam €3,000, and other alterations made to it when it was serviced just two weeks ago cost him a further €180.

Before being diagnosed with Listerial Meningitis in 1993, Liam had spent seven years in the French Foreign Legion, taking on roles in the Mountain Company and in the Special Forces Skydiving Section before being promoted to Corporal.

Liam was living in Scotland and about to take a deep sea diving course when he was diagnosed with his illness in April 1993, which initially left him in a coma for four weeks. Although he has had difficulties with his speech and physical movement, he has vastly improved since the time of his initial diagnosis.

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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Archive News

BallinasloeÕs young squad aiming to floor Armagh junior champs

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 24-Jan-2013

A new chapter in the history of Ballinasloe football will be written at Breffni Park, Cavan, on Sunday when Sean Riddell’s young side take on Ulster champions An Port Mor of Armagh in the All-Ireland Junior semi-final (2pm).

It’s the first competitive game outside the province of Connacht in 33 years for Galway football’s ‘sleeping giant’ with the enticing prospect of an appearance at Croke Park on February 9 on offer for the winners of what should be a competitive tie.

Ballinasloe have romped through Connacht since overcoming a couple of tricky hurdles on their way to collecting the Galway junior title, which was their target for the campaign this time last year.

With a return to Intermediate football secured, Riddell’s youngsters really have nothing to lose – while their triumphant march to county and provincial titles has revived memories of the club’s glory days when they contested three Galway senior finals in a row between 1979 and ’81.

Intriguingly, the seniors of St Grellan’s never got to play in Croke Park when they reached the All-Ireland final back in 1980 – they lost by 3-9 to 0-8 to St Finbarr’s of Cork in Tipperary Town.

This team’s progression has provided rich rewards for an abundance of hard work at underage levels in the past ten to 15 years and the current side’s ‘do or die’ attitude was very much in evidence in the cliffhanger wins over Tuam and Clifden in the domestic championship.


They are a well-balanced side who really never know when they are beaten and have an inspirational leader in county panelist Keith Kelly, whose exploits at centre back have been among the key components in their dramatic run to reach the All-Ireland series.

Riddell, who recalls playing senior football with the club during their heyday, is determined to get Ballinasloe back among the county’s leading clubs but, for the moment, he is delighted just to have a shot at getting to Croke Park in a bid to emulate Clonbur’s achievement in winning the title outright last year.

Riddell went to Newry on a ‘spying mission’ to see the Armagh champions overcome Brackaville of Tyrone by 2-9 to 0-11 in November – and was impressed by the quality of the football produced by An Port Mor in the Ulster final.

“They are a nicely balanced side who play good football,” he said. “There was a bit of the physical stuff you’d expect from two Ulster side, but I was impressed by their performance.”

An Port Mor became the first Armagh side to win the provincial junior decider. First half goals from Shane Nugent and Christopher Lennon sent them on the road to victory, before a red card for Brackaville captain Cahir McGuinness eased their progress to the All-Ireland series.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Coalition promised an ocean of reform Ð but the wind has gone out of its sails

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 30-Jan-2013


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