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Connacht Tribune

Living on the edge

Judy Murphy

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Historian Diarmaid Ferriter has turned his fascination with Ireland’s offshore islands, including Aran and Inishbofin, into a captivating new book. “Island people had an extraordinary strong sense of place,” he tells Judy Murphy.

Historian Diarmaid Ferriter can trace his fascination with Ireland’s offshore islands back to 1977, when he was five years old.

“We went to the Blasket Islands and I remember being terrified going out on the boat,” he recalls of a family trip to the islands off West Kerry. “Your imagination as a child is so vivid and I was wondering what it would have been like as a child out there, getting up in the morning and going to school.”

Although Diarmaid was born and reared in Dublin, his father’s family were from West Kerry and the islands were known as Ferriters’ Islands before becoming the Blaskets.

He returned later and the fascination didn’t diminish.

Diarmaid became one of many people from film-maker Robert O’Flaherty to poets Theodore Roethke and Richard Murphy and artist Paul Henry to have felt the pull of these wild places.

Now one of Ireland’s best-known historians, and professor of Modern Irish History at UCD, Diarmaid has specialised “on communities living on the margins and in 20th Century history”.

His books include The Transformation of Ireland 1900-2000, Occasions of Sin: Sex and Society in Modern Ireland, and Ambiguous Republic: Ireland in the 1970s.

When it comes to communities on the edge, there aren’t many more out there than Ireland’s offshore islands.

These are the subject of Diarmaid’s latest book, which will be published next week.

On the Edge: Ireland’s Off-Shore Islands: A Modern History, explores issues relating to various offshore islands including Aran and Inishbofin.

Some of the material is from recently-released State files “to which I was lucky to have access”.

Before Ireland gained independence, the offshore islands had been regarded as the repositories of language and culture, “as having an unbroken tradition of an undivided nation”, he says.

Many key figures in the nationalist movement had visited and drawn inspiration from these remote places.

“But as the new State developed, the islands were left behind”, says Diarmaid.

He argues, with good reason, that Ireland’s islands had fared better under the 1891 Congested Districts Board relief scheme set up by the British Government, than they did in the years after Irish independence.

in 1841, Ireland had 211 inhabited islands with a combined population of 38,000 while by 2011, only 64 islands were inhabited, with a total population of 8,500.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway County Council issues flood warning

Enda Cunningham

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Galway County Council is making sandbags available to people in various parts of the county due to the threat of flooding.

Already, rainfall has almost quadrupled on this time last year –with already saturated ground has led to an increased threat of flooding.

Met Éireann have reported a 180-300% increase in rainfall when compared with same period 2019.

A Council statement reads: “Soil moisture readings are indicating saturated ground conditions for much of the country.

“Met Éireann have advised that the current regime of periods of high intensity rainfall will possibly be a feature of our weather over the next 14 days.

“As the ground is already saturated, the cumulative rainfall forecasted will increase the threat of both fluvial and pluvial flooding events throughout the county.

“The OPW have indicated that the river network has responded to the recent rainfall since Storm Ciara, with 9% of all river gauges registering above median flood levels.  It is expected that all river catchments will see further rises due to the forecasted rainfall over the next 14 days, with both fluvial and pluvial events possible anywhere in the county.

“Spring tides are expected over the weekend, but no issues are expected.

“The Council is making sand bags available for collection by those whose properties are in vulnerable areas, please contact your local area office, during office hours (9am – 5pm).”

Athenry/Oranmore: 091 – 509088
Ballinasloe North & South: 091 – 509074
Conamara North (Clifden): 091 – 509095
Conamara South (An Cheathrú Rua): 091 – 509060
Loughrea: 091 – 509166
Gort: 091 – 509065
Portumna:  090 – 9741019
Tuam:  091 – 509011

The Council said the key message is for people to stay safe.

“Heavy rainfall currently being experienced is making driving conditions hazardous and drivers need to take extreme care and watch out cyclists and pedestrians and for the potential of flying debris, fallen trees and powerlines.

“Galway County Council Crisis Management Team are continuing to monitor these current weather conditions.”

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Connacht Tribune

Words in the one language can get lost in translation

Dave O'Connell

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

You’d be fairly deluded to see the upside of stormy weather – but if any joy could be drawn from the recent Storm Ciara, it was in the efforts of our English friends to pronounce it.

Even a handful of staff at the BBC – an organisation with its own Pronunciation Unit – got it hopelessly wrong as often as it got it right. So instead of Keera, it was Key-ara, just one small step from Ki-Ora as though an orange squash had engulfed the land.

You’d wonder if that was the devilment at play when the storm was originally named, following a poll hosted by Met Éireann on Twitter – coming up with something that would at least give us a laugh in the midst of a blackout?

Adding fuel to that particular fire was that the Chair of the European Storm Naming Group is none other than Evelyn Cusack, Head of Forecasting at Met Éireann and a woman blessed with a wicked sense of humour.

That’s not to say that Evelyn doesn’t take her job extremely seriously, because she does – and the colour-coded weather warnings are indicative of that.

But she also has a good sense of perspective – so ensuring there’s a strong Irish dimension to this shared naming process between ourselves, the UK and the Netherlands would be right up her street.

In fairness to any devilment in Evelyn, there’s an even greater danger with these things if you leave it to the general public – as evidenced by names suggested by the public (and rejected by the UK Met Office) including Vader, Voldemort, Baldrick and Noddy.

Indeed, according to the London Times, among the other suggestions turned down was that one of the storms could be called Inateacup.

So instead, we get to name a few, the Brits get to name and good few and the Dutch throw in their tuppence worth as well.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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Connacht Tribune

FF is stuck between a rock and a hard place

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Crunch time...FF leader Micheal Martin.

World of Politics with Harry McGee – harrymcgee@gmail.com

Anyone who has ever run a marathon knows that, somewhere around the 35km mark, you hit hell – and even when you finish it, the first reaction is ‘never again’…until a few months later they convince themselves it was not that bad, and sure, they might even go again.

And as it is with marathons in the sporting sense, so too in the political sphere – as we’re once again discovering.

Back in 2016, government formation took 70 days – and here we are with another marathon to a tortuous haul over the line.

And to be honest, we’re a long way from resolution.

Fianna Fáil says it will not go into government with Sinn Féin. Fine Gael says it will not go into government with either Sinn Féin or Fianna Fáil. Sinn Féin is exploring a government with the left but the name of the game for the party is some kind of arrangement with Fianna Fáil.

That’s not what Fianna Fáil wants. It wants a grand coalition (even though the two formerly biggest parties are considerably less grand after the election) involving Fine Gael, plus the Greens or Social Democrats or both.

Fine Gael does not want any arrangement. It wants to lead the opposition. But if every other combination bites the dirt, it might be reluctantly willing to talk to Fianna Fáil in terms of some form of coalition arrangement.

Every single suggested arrangement involves a massive fundamental shock to all the parties – but particularly to Fianna Fáil.

The party was the biggest loser in the election. It was expected to make gains, but it ended up losing seven seats, plus some of its brightest TDs, including Lisa Chambers, Fiona O’Loughlin and Declan Breathnach.

Now it faces stark choices on all fronts.

It’s been nearly a decade out of power and needs to go back in – but it has been much weakened and if it goes into government it will not go in as the dominant partner.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app

The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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