Date Published: 15-Apr-2013
By Denise McNamara
Victims of domestic violence are to find a new sanctuary on the site of a former Magdalen Laundry after an agreement was reached between the Sisters of Mercy and the housing charity Cope to gift the building on Forster Street.
Cope Galway has been operating a refuge in Woodquay since 1981 but because of increased demand for places and limited facilities on site for families, Waterside House had become unfit for purpose.
Over the last five years the charity had been actively searching for an alternative premises to accommodate women and children; earlier this year they approached the Sisters of Mercy about the site, which had closed as a Magdalen Laundry in 1984.
The Order responded by donating the property on a 99-year lease to facilitate a refuge with up to double the capacity of the current premises.
In 2012, there were 100 women and 130 children accommodated at Waterside House. The refuge had to turn away a further 214 women with 319 children who were experiencing a domestic violence emergency because no rooms were available.
The building offers ‘bedsit’ style accommodation, which forces families to live in one large room without access to basic cooking facilities during their stay.
CEO of COPE Galway, Jacquie Horan, said the current refuge offered safety and security to women and children escaping an emergency situation but the living arrangement is totally unfit for purpose.
“Families in a state of distress deserve better,” she said.
Cope approached the Order as they believed the building –- which up until last week was used as a residential convent – ticked all the boxes. Its location in the city centre, the fact that it was a gated, secure site and the potential to renovate to provide greater space for families and build a playing area for children all made it a good alternative to Waterside House.
The Rape Crisis Centre currently offer counselling services in an adjoining building on the site.
Cope are currently undertaking a technical examination of the building and are hopeful of opening the new facility by the end of the year. They have not yet decided the future of Waterside House, which they own.
The capacity of the Magdalen Laundry in Galway was approximately 110 residents and the occupancy varied from 110 in 1951, 73 in 1954 and 18 in 1984, the year it closed.
Read more in today’s Connacht Sentinel
The way we were – Protecting archives of our past
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
Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr
Date Published: 23-Jan-2013
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.