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McDonnell ‘dynasty’ set to continue in City East Ward

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Date Published: 09-Mar-2012

 IT is an incredible achievement for a city electoral area that it can produce two Government TDs in the one election, but that is exactly what happened in the old North and East Ward in the 2011 General Election.

Both Brian Walsh (Fine Gael) and Derek Nolan (Labour) were first time candidates, although they would readily admit that they had ready-made vacancies to fill – the retirement of Padraic McCormack left a vacancy for Walsh, while the decision of Michael D Higgins provided Nolan with his opportunity of a lifetime.

Nolan hadn’t even spent two years on Galway City Council before being catapulted into Dáil Éireann although it must be remembered he was an unsuccessful candidate in the 2004 Local Elections when he was the ‘last man standing’ in the race.

Of course their elevations to Leinster House created two gaps in the Galway City East electoral area, as the ward is now known. It also means that a third of the councillors in this area have been co-opted onto Galway City Council.

There are six seats up for grabs in the 2014 Local Elections. Terry O’Flaherty and her former PD colleague Declan McDonnell both

stood as Independents in 2009, with O’Flaherty topping the poll on 1,139 votes, with McDonnell closely behind in second place on

1,094.

Michael Crowe holds the solitary Fianna Fáil seat having bucked the national trend by actually increasing his first preference vote in 2009 with 11.88% of the votes in 2009, compared to 10.5% in 2004, when he topped the poll.

In fact, Crowe was largely responsible for the party winning three seats on Galway City Council. It was a phenomenal achievement and particularly at a time when Fianna Fáil were getting a pasting in the local elections in virtually every county.

Veteran councillor Tom Costello holds one of the Labour seats, having scraped in on the last occasion with the final seat, and he is now joined in the Council chamber by Nuala Nolan who was an unsuccessful candidate in 2009 but was co-opted when Derek Nolan won his Dáil seat.

Menlo-based Frank Fahy was also co-opted onto Galway City Council when Walsh was successful in last year’s General Election,

and the indications at the moment are that all six councillors will be fighting to retain their seats in just over two years time.

With the current state of Fianna Fáil in the polls, they are likely to run two candidates at the most. There is no doubt that Crowe was

devastated over the fact that he polled just over 1,800 first preferences in last year’s General Election compared to his 2007 display when he received almost 5,000 votes.

In the aftermath of this performance, there was speculation that he might quit politics, but it is understood that he has got over that disappointment and not alone will he be standing in the 2014 Local Elections, but he has his eye on being on the party ticket for the next General Election in four years’ time.

Renmore-based Mary Leahy lost her FF seat in 2009 having been co-opted onto Galway City Council following the death of her father, the highly regarded Michael Leahy, who served three terms as Mayor of Galway City. While she disappeared into the political background following her defeat, there is speculation that she is anxious for another tilt at a Council seat.

During her time on the local authority she once proposed that a park be established for boy racers in Galway City rather than having them doing dangerous stunts on public roads. It never got off the ground.

Fine Gael are also likely to run two candidates with Fahy anxious to retain the seat he was co-opted onto, but it is unlikely another defeated candidate – pharmacist Barra Nevin – will contest as he was very annoyed over the fact that he was not co-opted in place of Walsh, having polled significantly better than his party colleague in 2009 with 7% of the first preference vote, compared to Fahy’s 4.5% share.

There has been some mention of Shane Forde from Mervue being on the FG ticket. Forde, who works in the Bon Secours Hospital in Renmore, is a staunch ally of Walsh and campaigned for him in last year’s General Election. It would also be a means of the Fine Gael TD retaining his core support in this electoral area.

Sinn Féin are likely to run Martin Concannon again, but he will have his work cut out trying to regain the seat that was previously

won by Daniel Callanan back in 2004 – despite SF being the second strongest party in the national polls at the moment.

There is talk of Mike Cubbard, who previously stood in the West Ward, changing locations to the east side of the city and would could a formidable candidate. He stood in last year’s General Election as an Independent but didn’t break the 1,000 vote threshold. He is heavily involved in underage soccer in the city and is in his late twenties.

There is also some suggestion that in the unlikely event of McDonnell retiring from politics, his daughter Marie McDonnell of Café Zealous on Irwin’s Lane would stand in his place.

Both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael will be out to make gains in this area and both parties have said that they see Labour’s Nuala Nolan’s seat as being the most vulnerable.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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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

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

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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.

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