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MulhollandÕs statistic slashes odds on FG getting second Galway West seat

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Date Published: {J}

Fine Gael’s John Mulholland has been a long time connected with politics in Galway, both as boy and man. A former Mayor of Galway, he lost his seat on Galway City Council at the Local Elections in June 2009, but he is still one of the ‘elder statesman’ in Fine Gael ranks in Galway West.

So, when Mulholland talks, people still tend to sit-up and listen.

As a man running a major business as a bookie (The Better Bettor), he is one accustomed to working out the odds, and shouting them. So, when he came up with a suggestion that FG might be closer than I have suggested to that second seat in Galway West that Enda Kenny is demanding, I said I had better go off and do like any good punter – check the form.

I ran into Mulholland a week ago at ‘a bit of a do’ and (surprisingly!) we got talking about politics. As a matter of fact there was a scattering from Fine Gael (TDs Padraic McCormack, Ulick Burke and Paul Connaughton, Senator Fidelma Healy-Eames), and TD Noel Grealish and Councillor Terry O’Flaherty  (Independent – former PDs). All  ended up talking politics of various  sorts.

Mulholland was the one who set a number of us thinking when he took me to task on that second FG seat issue.

All along I have been suggesting that FG have a well-nigh impossible task on their hands in trying to win a second Dáil seat in five-seater Galway West, where Fianna Fáil have two (Minister Éamon Ó Cuív and Frank Fahey), Fine Gael 1 (McCormack), Labour 1 (Michael D Higgins), and Independents 1 (Grealish).

My argument has been that with just 20% of the first preferences at the last General Election in 2007, and with such a competitive constituency – compared to some others in the west which are a straight fight between FF and FG – the Fine Gael task could prove beyond them, despite their best efforts.

Their ticket has not been worked out yet and is likely to come from McCormack, Healy-Eames, Cllr Brian Walsh, Cllr Padraig Conneely, Cllr Hildegarde Naughton, Cllr Sean Kyne, Councillor Eileen Mannion, and JJ Lee, a candidate in the 2009 Local Elections.

The basis of my argument was that Fine Gael got only 20% of the first preferences in Galway West in the 2007 General Election – a growth of just 3% from the 2002 Election. My opinion was that, with a hugely competitive constituency in which the competition involves Fianna Fáil, Labour, and a strong Independent (former PD Grealish), Fine Gael would be put to the pin of their collars to try to achieve the vote growth of close on ten per cent needed to put them in the running for a second seat.

In a five-seater, a quota comes out at just over 16%. Now, to win two seats Fine Gael might not require two full quotas, as many seats are filled without reaching the quota . . . they would, however, need a minimum figure in the high-twenties and a hell of a vote management strategy to be the hunt for a second seat.

But then along comes Mulholland at that ‘bit of a do’ and produces a challenge to my dismissal of the FG dream … he pointed out that, at the Local Elections in June 2009, Fine Gael got 27% of the first preferences in the electoral areas in the county which are part of Galway West.

Not being a man to bandy figures with a bookie, I headed off into the files to check just what the situation was, and whether FG might be more ‘in the running’ than I considered.

Not surprisingly, Mulholland turned out to be correct. I had checked first with McCormack as to whether the figures could be extracted – he confirmed that if the Local Election returns for the Galway City Wards (Electoral Areas) were extracted and put together with the returns from Connemara and Oranmore areas, then they covered the entire area of Galway West.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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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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