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New venture has Galway buzzing with possibilities



Date Published: {J}

Beekeepers in Galway are buzzing about an exciting venture, which will see community groups throughout the county set up hives in their own areas, as part of a scheme called Educate to Pollinate.

Under the project, which started last Monday night, 20 people from 10 groups are being trained in all aspects of keeping honeybees and will be helped to set up hives locally.

Already groups in from places such as Kinvara, Gurteen, Abbey Duniry, Glenamaddy, Furbo, Inverin, Headford and Carroawbrone on the outskirts of Galway City, are involved in the course, which is being offered at a miniscule cost.

The aim is simple, says the Secretary of the Galway Beekeepers Association Michael Hughes. It’s all about educating people and increasing the number of hives in Galway.

That’s important because of the huge role honeybees play in pollinating flowers and plants while they are on the quest for food. That pollination helps ensure a supply of fruit and vegetables for us humans. Not to mention the honey they produce, which is valuable both from a taste and a medicinal point of view. Then there is beeswax, which is used to make a range of goods from candles to cosmetics.

A recent study from the Department of the Environment shows that bees are worth €85 million to the Irish economy. And that’s all very fine, but more people are needed to keep hives, says Michael.

A former rower and a board member of Irish rowing, who works with Valeo Vision Systems in Tuam, Michael only began keeping bees last Spring, when he got three hives. He has embraced his new hobby with enthusiasm and when the association was looking for a secretary, he was happy to oblige.

The Galway Beekeepers Association consisted of over 40 members last year, he says, but that has already increased thanks to the organisation’s work. He’d like to see a continuing “infusion of new blood”, which is where the Educate to Pollinate programme comes in.

Michael might be a relative novice at beekeeping, but he describes himself as a creative thinker, who wants to broaden the appeal of this ancient pastime.

“Ninety per cent of our mission is education and getting people active. To protect this species of Irish bee, we need to get people involved and good husbandry.”

Funding for the Educate to Pollinate project is being provided under the Local Agenda 21 programme. This scheme, which arose from a United Nations initiative, promotes sustainable development and biodiversity, and is run by local authorities.

Michael first heard of Agenda 21 last summer and realised it could help the Galway Beekeepers.

“If this is about biodiversity, the bee is the very future of biodiversity, in terms of helping the landscape to flourish. So we ticked all the boxes [for funding]!”

The tutor for the Educate to Pollinate course, Breandáin Ó Cochláin, is “one of the most eminent beekeepers on these islands”, says Michael.

A retired professor of Physical Chemistry at NUIG, he has served as education officer of the Irish Beekeepers Association and prepared exams for the Irish organisation that were also taken up by beekeeping groups in the UK.

The full cost of the training has been provided by Agenda 21 and the Galway Biodiversity Action Plan funding. Participants must pay €40 to cover a member’s subscription to the Galway Beekeepers Association (for insurance).

The training, which consists of two hours over six evenings, will also involve a visit to an apiary. When it’s completed, the communities involved will be assisted in setting up a local hive with expert advice and some basic equipment if that’s required.

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

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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