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Life is so easy when everyone else is wrong!

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 02-May-2013

 Dear Mum,

I know it’s a while ago now, but I’m sorry that I argued with you. I felt terrible as soon as I put the phone down, and even though we speak nearly every day, the fact that I’ve not yet apologised properly has been on my mind for weeks.

Maybe I just felt so comfortable with our chitty-chatting that I thought I’d get away with saying how George Osborne had managed to enrage me. I know that no matter how much I tried to explain my outrage, you would respond with classic Daily Mail stances.

I’m not suggesting that you are unable to form your own opinions. I remember well the dark and fearsome atmosphere in the family home decades ago when life was tough for the Adleys, and it looked like you might vote for the SDP, rather than the Conservatives.

Dad didn’t know what to make of it, but I was impressed. It was a huge opinion shift for a woman who had spent all her adult life campaigning and fundraising for the Tories.

As you know, I lost my interest in party politics when New Labour arrived on the scene. Even though it was great that their victory broke the sequence of four successive Conservative governments, Blair’s rebranding made my old socialist party sound like a jazzed-up washing powder.

Trouble was mum, you and I were coming at our conversation from completely separate perspectives. You sent me to Public School, so I know well the Camerons, Osbornes and Blairs of this world. I know them for the self-serving ignorant little twits they are, so when Osborne asked why the English should have to support a Dole culture like that enjoyed by child-killer Mick Philpott, I just lost it a little in the noodle.

However much I insisted that there is no Dole culture being enjoyed by people like Mick Philpott, because Mick Philpott is a crazy evil man, and that by making such a comparison Osborne was not only trying to scrape some political kudos from the bottom of a stinking barrel, but also, in the process, demonising all other families on the Dole, you kept referring to the way Philpott had exploited all his women to increase his Welfare payments.

I’m sorry that I lost it, but that sounded so Daily Mail, and I can only take so much of George Osborne’s knee-jerk bigotry. You see, despite the way the English middle classes depict themselves as quintessentially conservative with a small ‘c’, there are few people I’ve ever met more conservative than the Irish.

When they’re not comfortable with their own status quo, they borrow someone else’s and stick to that like a mouse in a glue trap. To satisfy this appetite for conservatism, Ireland actually has two Daily Mails: one of them is called the Irish Independent.

So no, I didn’t mean to offend you, and yes, you’re right, Philpott was just doing it for the money and the power, but isn’t that central to Conservative policy?

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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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Moment of truth for Galway U21s

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 01-May-2013

 Dara Bradley

FOUR matches, four victories, one after extra-time, a Connacht title, four goals and 56 points scored, four goals and 30 points conceded, a heap of wides from their opponents, sinews strained, buckets of sweat and blood spilled.

It’s been one hell of a roller coaster campaign for the Galway U21 footballers but all that will be forgotten come 7pm on Saturday evening at the Gaelic Grounds, Limerick when they cross swords with Cork for the honour of being crowned Cadbury’s All-Ireland champions.

Six weeks ago as Galway set out on their 2013 U21 journey against Sligo in Tuam, the May Bank Holiday weekend final was always the target. They took each game as it came and now it has come down to this – 60 minutes of football to decide who the best U21 team in the land is.

And while there were times along the way when Alan Flynn’s charges looked like they’d fall off the wagon, against Mayo, against Roscommon and again against Kildare, Galway showed resilience and mental strength to time and again bounce back and defy the odds. Often down, never out. It is that perseverance that will stand to Galway in the heat of battle this weekend.

Cork has won an All-Ireland at this grade more times than any other county since the competition’s inception in the 1960s. The most recent of their 11 titles was won in 2009, and they’ve claimed a three-in-a-row of Munster titles with a defeat of Tipperary last month.

Interestingly, five players – Alan Cronin, Jamie Wall, John O’Rourke, Tom Clancy and Damien Cahalene, the son of former inter-county player Niall – that are expected to start this Saturday lined out in each of the last three Munster finals, so they have experience of playing in the pressure cauldrons.

Galway aren’t as experienced. True, a couple of players already have a All-Ireland medal from 2011 – a year Galway beat Cork in the semi-final – but there are a lot of young guns in the panel. Of the squad of 33, about 19 of them are young enough to play U21 next year as well, while eight or nine of the starting 15 will be eligible next year, although you wouldn’t think it given the levelheadedness they’ve displayed throughout the past six weeks.

Galway had plenty to spare over a hapless Sligo outfit in Tuam the first day out, winning by 16 points, which didn’t flatter them, but old rivals Mayo in the following game at the same venue was a different story. After a tense and tight hour of fare, Galway took the spoils after showing immense character to dig it out by two points in a dogfight, 0-9 to 0-7.

Fighting qualities were needed again in the Connacht final in Hyde Park against Roscommon – Galway were minutes from being knocked out of the championship when a heroic comeback, three points in as many minutes from Kilkerrin/Clonberne’s Shane Walsh, rescued extra-time, a period which Galway never looked like losing.

The Tribesmen took their chances when they presented themselves, a trait that also saw them knock-out Kieran McGeeney’s highly rated and much fancied Kildare outfit in a thriller at Tullamore a fortnight ago.

The Lilywhites were wasteful, true, but that’s their problem, and Galway just had too much natural footballing class to take their chances and emerge with a deserved five points, 2-10 to 2-5 victory, despite 19 wides from the vanquished.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Deserted hotel to be turned into a community centre

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 14-May-2013


City planners have given the green light for the transformation of a deserted hotel in Doughiska to a community centre, with multi-denominational worship area.

The DRA Development Company Ltd (Doughiska, Roscam, Ardaun) has been granted permission for a change of use of the hotel – formerly known as the Racing Lodge, Amber Lodge and Blackrock House Hotel – for use as community, educational and pastoral facilities.

Planners have ordered that all uses of the building must be strictly ‘not for profit’.

The plan – which will serve a population of more than 10,000 and almost 40 nationalities – is now contingent on the purchase of the hotel for €520,000 from owner Stephen Harris.

The project will include the refurbishment and reconfiguration of the existing ground and first floor levels to provide general purpose accommodation for the community, while there will be shower and changing facilities in the basement. There will be seating for a congregation of up to 270.

Planners attached a condition to the permission which stipulates that “all uses associated with this community, education and pastoral facility shall be allied to community use and shall be operated on a not-for-profit basis, these terms of usage also applies to all sub-letting arrangements”.

The community group is understood to have already paid a deposit to Mr Harris – the developer behind the collapsed Harrmack Developments.

An independent ‘donor’ has provided a €100,000 interest-free loan, the City Council has committed to €200,000 and the Galway Diocese has expressed an interest in providing 50% of the funding for the project, in return for a lease which will guarantee Mass times.

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