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Motorway in doubt as consortium gets the jitters

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 06-Oct-2010

The consortium chosen to develop the proposed Gort to Tuam motorway is understood to have had second thoughts about funding the project because of Ireland’s economic downturn.

Sources suggest that the financial backers behind BAM Balfour Beatty – confirmed by the National Roads Authority last month as the preferred bidder to construct the €500m M17/M18 motorway – are getting “jittery” about investing in such a major project in a country that is plunging deeper into debt.

It is understood that the investors in the public private partnership (PPP) scheme are becoming apprehensive about investing in such a major project in this country in view of the current economic situation and the instability of the Government.

And to further compound the problem, the Connacht Tribune has learned that the NRA will not commit to funding for the project because the contractors for the project do not have their funding in place as yet.

This means that the contract documents for the 57 kilometre route will not be signed at the end of this month as was expected and there is no definite time frame for this to happen.

The €500 million project has now been thrown into uncertainty and is fully dependent on the necessary finances becoming available for the project.

The bottom line is that all of this could set the project back indefinitely – at the very least.

See full story in 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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Archive News

Cats rolling into town

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 18-Feb-2013


AFTER providing some of the most memorable sporting highlights of 2012, Leinster champions Galway and All-Ireland title holders Kilkenny will clash in the opening round of the National Hurling League at Pearse Stadium on Sunday (2pm).

If the clamour for tickets for last September’s All-Ireland finals – drawn game and replay – are anything to go by, then more than the die-hards who year in, year out dot the terraces and stands at these early season fixtures should turn up at the Salthill venue for this mouthwatering Division One clash.

Certainly, the game itself is an attractive National League opener and you can be sure that neither camp will wish to concede ground to the other this early in the year, particularly given the recent history between the sides.

For this one, two of Galway’s primary ball winners, Andy Smith (Portumna) and Cyril Donnellan (Padraig Pearses), both miss the fixture as they are serving suspensions while Craughwell’s Niall Healy, so impressive against Dublin in the Walsh Cup, is struggling to be fit with a hand injury.

That said, the Galway camp have plenty of reasons to be positive after the side – in the guise of Connacht – had a superb victory over a star-studded Leinster in their inter-provincial semi-final at O’Connor Park, Tullamore last Sunday.

To the fore in the 3-13 to 1-16 win were Sarsfields’ Joseph Cooney, who played a starring role at centre-half back, and young sharpshooters Niall Burke (Oranmore/Maree) and David Glennon (Mullagh).

Others who acquitted themselves were Paul Killeen (Tynagh/Abbey-Duniry), Brian Flaherty (Abbeyknockmoy) and Niall Donoghue (Kilbeacanty) while some of the older hands, such as Cyril Donnellan and Damien Hayes (Portumna) also impressed.

“The good thing about Sunday’s game was that a large number of the fringe guys came out and gave a very good account of themselves,” said Galway coach Tom Helebert. “That gives us great optimism in terms of the strength of the panel. It was very encouraging.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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Archive News

Former Galway star thrilled by BallinasloeÕs resurgence

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 21-Feb-2013

FOR the vast majority of Ballinasloe players, Sunday’s All-Ireland club junior final showdown with Kerry champions Kenmare Shamrocks will be their first time to grace GAA’s hallowed turf. However, for their club President, Seán Keeley, it marks a return to a happy hunting ground.


Keely, who was a pivotal member of the 1956 Galway team that won the All-Ireland title with a 2-13 to 3-7 win over Cork, has lined out at the Jones Road venue on no less than 16 occasions, along with playing at other international locations such as the Polo Grounds and Gaelic Park in New York and Wembley Stadium in London.

However, on this day, it was Ballinasloe football that consumed the passionate Keeley, whose zest for Gaelic games burns as bright today as it did all those years ago when he proudly wore the colours of his native club.

Keeley’s club career began in 1952 when he captained St. Grellan’s, Ballinasloe to the inaugural U-16 county championship – the John Hynes Cup, which was presented by Major of Boston John Hynes to Galway GAA. Indeed, this was the first ever juvenile football championship played in the county.

“I was captain of the Ballinasloe team and I was privileged to be that,” said the Derrymullen native. “It was a big occasion for Ballinasloe to beat Tuam and get to the final. In the final, we beat St. Ignatius (Galway City) in Galway. We had a great team. Nine of them are dead now by the way,” he noted, holding up a framed picture of the squad.


Two years later, Keeley led Ballinasloe to the county minor championship. Having lined out at right full-back in the first half of the decider in Caltra, he was moved into the corner forward berth in the second half and scored a vital goal to put Newbridge to the sword. “I am not boasting but, to be honest with you, I scored a great goal,” he smiled.

At senior level, his first outing with St. Grellan’s was against Mountbellew in 1953, when he featured at right half forward. His club career would, more or less, span the next two decades, during which time he – and Ballinasloe – featured in a plethora of senior semi-finals and lost three county deciders in 1955, ’56 and ’59 – all to Tuam Stars.

In 1955, he was just 19 years old and he recalled the excitement after Ballinasloe, trained by Inky Flaherty, beat Fr. Griffin’s in the penultimate stage of the championship. “In the final, we led all the way through (against Tuam). I was playing on Frank Purcell, Seán’s brother. He was corner forward and I was right full-back that day.

“Anyhow, a row started in the last few minutes of the game – the game was nearly over – and we ended up losing by a point,” remembered Keeley, indicating the fracas definitely upset his side more than Tuam.

“(Seán) Purcell then burst through and scored a goal and it was all over. I actually had two cracked ribs in that game, even though I was back in work in Dublin – I was on a course training for the Post Office – the next morning. I got them strapped up.”

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

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