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March 18, 2010

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: {J}

Scurrilous postcards

Dear Editor,

For the past year in a district in West Galway, which I must say is inhabited by a good moral people, an abominable and vile practice has arisen of sending immoral and scurrilous postcards. Considering that such has been done by people who are supposed to know better, it makes the matter worse.

The danger of contaminating the morals of people by this practice can best be seen from the following illustration. Consider, where division of labour is used, as in post offices, the number of persons who handle and read these vile cards, the immoral impressions created, finally the country postboy, who is not trained in this immoral language, thinks them something awful.

Now postmen are human, and liable to err, and may unconsciously break faith by telling his neighbour at home, such and such got a dirty postcard today.

I think in a Catholic country like Ireland, and especially in the Holy season of Lent, people should try and practise the beautiful dictums of out sublime Catholic religion.

Further, I should say that the postal authorities should be induced to issue more stringent rules in connection with this part of the public service.

Tribune acquisition

We are pleased to be in a position to inform our numerous patrons in Tuam and N. Galway that we have just acquired the entire plant, machinery and good-will of the County Printing Works, Waterslade, Tuam, where in past years the ‘Tuam News’, then the leading Nationalist newspaper in Co. Galway was run by the late Mr. John McPhilpin.

Since Mr. McPhilpin’s lamented death, the printing works have been conducted by his nephews Messrs. Flannelly Bros., that whom there are no more deservedly popular or upright young men in North Galway.

In a short time, owing to the immense success which we have achieved in the district, we shall have established a branch office of the Tribune in Tuam, where orders may be booked and newsagents supplied.

Blackguard act

In every sense of the word was the act perpetrated on the piano in the reading room of the Tuam Temperance Society last week blackguardly. Its gravity was the more serious as it was only in the act of preparations for the St. Patrick’s Night concert that the discovery was made.

It was then found that damage of a serious nature to the hammer-heads was carried out, involving the replacement by new ones at a heavy cost.

The outrage, to properly describe it, has received the opprobrium of the townspeople, who are strong in the denunciation of the perpetrator, the punishment of whom could not be stronger than his villainy.


Train smash

The railway gates at the level crossing at Claureen, Tuam, were broken to bits on Tuesday evening when the 8.20pm train dashed through them. It is stated that the train was over twenty minutes behind time.

Damp floors

We are told that in some country schools the children’s feet are in water all day long on damp floors during the winter months and at the same time, their shivering bodies are exposed to the wintry winds through badly-fitting windows and doors. And children are expected to take an interest in the teachers’ instructions under such hardships.


There is no need to pursue the unreasonableness of expecting children to study under such conditions. There are, at least, two schools in particular in Tuam district which have come under notice recently, and it is unbelievable that such places still exist for housing school children.

Parents are everyday summoned and fined at courts for not sending their children to such schools and in this connection, it must be remembered that the duty of the State to provide proper schools is still more important since legislation was introduced making attendance at school compulsory on all children – a very necessary and useful piece of legislation. There should be no further delay in having all condemned schools demolished and replaced by properly up-to-date buildings.

Salthill development

Following a unanimous decision from the Galway Harbour Commissioners early in the day asking the Minister for Defence to send two army aeroplanes to accompany the military parade in Galway on St. Patrick’s Day, the Salthill Development Committee, at a meeting held in Eglinton Hotel, Galway last night, also passed a resolution asking the Minister in view of Galway’s anxiety to develop and airport and its unique position on the West Coast, to do his best to send army planes to follow the military procession on the national holiday. This message was conveyed by telephone by the Very Rev. P. Canon Davis, P.P., president of the association, this morning.

At the meeting, Mr. Clancy appeared on behalf of the I.T.A. and stated he had been very well received in Salthill and that plans were now complete for the special Salthill folder which will be issued this year.

It was resolved to make further efforts to see if it would be possible to have a small boat-slip erected for the coming season.

The President announced that he had an assurance from the Urban Council that a Salthill sewerage scheme would be provided for in the next financial year.

For more, read this week’s Connacht 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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Henshaw and McSharry set to field for Irish Wolfhounds in clash with England Saxons

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 24-Jan-2013

CONNACHT’S rising stars Robbie Henshaw and Dave McSharry look set to named in the starting xv for the Ireland Wolfhounds who face the England Saxons in Galway this weekend when the team is announced later today (Thursday).

Robbie Henshaw is the only out-and-out full-back that was named Tuesday in the 23-man squad that will take on the English at the Sportsground this Friday (7.45pm).

Connacht’s centre McSharry and Ulster’s Darren Cave are the only two specialist centres named in the 23 man squad, which would also suggest the two youngsters are in line for a starting place.

Former Connacht out-half, Ian Keatley, Leinster’s second out-half Ian Madigan and Ulster’s number 10 Paddy Jackson and winger Andrew Trimble, although not specialist full-backs or centres, can all slot into the 12, 13 and 15 jerseys, however you’d expect the Irish management will hand debuts to Henshaw and McSharry given that they’ll be playing on their home turf.

Aged 19, Henshaw was still playing Schools Cup rugby last season. The Athlone born Connacht Academy back burst onto the scene at the beginning of the season when he filled the number 15 position for injured captain Gavin Duffy.

The Marist College and former Ireland U19 representative was so assured under the high ball, so impressive on the counter-attack and astute with the boot, that he retained the full-back position when Duffy returned from injury.

Connacht coach Eric Elwood should be commended for giving the young Buccaneers clubman a chance to shine and Henshaw has grasped that opportunity with both hands, lighting up the RaboDirect PRO 12 and Heineken Cup campaigns for the Westerners this season.

Henshaw has played in all 19 of Connacht’s games this season and his man-of-the-match display last weekend in the Heineken Cup against Zebre caught the eye of Irish attack coach, Les Kiss.

“We’re really excited about his development. He had to step into the breach when Connacht lost Gavin Duffy, and he was playing 13 earlier in the year. When he had to put his hand up for that, he’s done an exceptional job,” Kiss said.

The 22-year-old McSharry was desperately unlucky to miss out on Declan Kidney’s Ireland squad for the autumn internationals and the Dubliner will relish the opportunity this Friday night to show-off his speed, turn of foot, deft hands and finishing prowess that has been a mark of this season, in particular, with Connacht.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Drinks battle brewing as kettle sales go off the boil

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 30-Jan-2013

You’d have thought there might have been three certainties in Irish life – death, taxes and the cup of tea – but it now seems that our post-tiger sophistication in endangering the consumption of the nation’s second favourite beverage.

Because with all of our new-fangled coffee machines, percolators, cappuccino and expresso makers, sales of the humble kettle are falling faster than our hopes of a write-off on the promissory note.

And even when we do make tea, we don’t need a tea pot – it’s all tea bags these days because nobody wants a mouthful of tea leaves, unless they’re planning to have their fortune told.

Sales of kettles are in decline as consumers opt for fancy coffee makers, hot water dispensers and other methods to make their beverages – at least that’s the case in the UK and there’s no reason to think it’s any different here.

And it’s only seems like yesterday when, if the hearth was the heart of every home, the kettle that hung over the inglenook fireplace or whistled gently on the range, was the soul.

You’d see groups gathered in bogs, footing turf and then breaking off to boil the battered old kettle for a well-earned break.

The first thing that happened when you dropped into someone’s home was the host saying: “Hold on until I stick on the kettle.”

When the prodigal son arrived home for the Christmas, first item on the agenda was a cup of tea; when bad news was delivered, the pain was eased with a cuppa; last thing at night was tea with a biscuit.

The arrival of electric kettles meant there was no longer an eternal search for matches to light the gas; we even had little electric coils that would boil water into tea in our cup if you were mean enough or unlucky enough to be making tea for one.

We went away on sun holidays, armed with an ocean of lotion and a suitcase full of Denny’s sausages and Barry’s Tea. Spanish tea just wasn’t the same and there was nothing like a nice brew to lift the sagging spirits.

We even coped with the arrival of coffee because for a long time it was just Maxwell House or Nescafe granules which might have seemed like the height of sophistication – but they still required a kettle.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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