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Never mind the Euro – it’s time to break ties with Rome



Date Published: {J}

I know it’s only an acronym for Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain, but couldn’t they have made it SPIG, or maybe GIPS? Calling us the PIGS makes it sound as if we got into this situation because we’re greedy, dirty little animals with our noses buried firmly in the . . . oh right, I get it now.

Greece faces a choice between leaving the Euro or being put into a sort of fiscal receivership – and I wonder if it is really possible to leave. The Euro is already the de facto currency of several countries not officially in the zone. The Greek government might print the Neo-Drachma or whatever, but would anyone want to take it?

But it’s been an interesting week, even if the first half was overshadowed with yet another silly attempt by Michael O’Leary to harm Aer Lingus. I can’t understand why everyone is playing along with this. Nobody has asked the one obvious question: What airline is going to trust a company run by him to replace an engine? It’s not a matter of safety – Ryanair have a good record there – but of pricing. They’ll think they’re getting a bargain, only to find (when their plane is in bits on the hangar floor) that it didn’t include screwing the screws back in. Or the screws themselves. Or a screwdriver. Of all the things that this government deserves firing out for, a Ryanair publicity stunt doesn’t even make the top one hundred.

And among important things that happened this week, it comes nowhere near the way the Pope dealt with clerical abuse. His message to the bishops of Ireland: “You were very bad boys, don’t do it again.”

That seemed to be about it really. At no point was there any suggestion that the Vatican had anything to apologise for. Does anyone really believe that Cardinal Ratzinger, head of the Vatican department responsible for dealing with sexual abuse cases, was entirely unaware of the cover-up? That’s simply incredible. Yet the Papacy would like it to be seen as a purely Irish problem.

Worse, he chose to claim that the sexual abuse of children was due to a lack of faith. Could anything be further from the truth? It occurred precisely when faith was at its strongest in this country, when people never dared to question the actions of the clergy. This abject obedience is what the Pope wants us to return to. If he has his way, more children will suffer. But obedience is the ultimate goal of the Church, and overrides such trivial material things as the suffering of children.

The locals have to be scapegoated because the Papacy can only be responsible for the good things to do with the Catholic Church. And come to think of it, what have they done for us lately? Now that Ireland is not the handy priest-breeding factory it once was, you can’t help thinking we come about nowhere in the Vatican’s priorities.

If the best reaction they can give to the bitterest crisis in the history of Irish faith is to tick bishops off and say "Must try harder", you begin to suspect that the reason child abuse continued unchecked is not that the Vatican didn’t know, but that the Vatican didn’t care.

Don’t you think it’s high time we broke with Rome?


Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



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



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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Archive News

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.

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