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‘No room at inn’ as 170 more join housing list



Date Published: 24-Dec-2009

HUNDREDS of families and individuals right across Galway City are facing a bleak Christmas and have found there was ‘no room at the inn’ in terms of City Council housing as waiting lists for social housing from the local authority have swollen to more than 2,600.

And a local housing agency has warned that the city’s housing crisis could worsen once the banks moratorium on repossessing homes ceases and repossessions soar in 12 to 18 months as families in communities all over the city, grapple with pay cuts job losses, the prospect of long-term unemployment and struggle to keep up with their mortgage repayments.

There are 2,614 families, couples and single people this Christmas on Galway City Council’s social housing waiting list and facing into the New Year with the grim prospect of not securing a home for up to seven years.

Waiting times for those on the City Council list have fallen slightly but the wait for a home on the east side of the city is now around five years and it is seven years for a home on the west side of the city.

The Council currently has a social housing stock of around 2,200, of which 85 are vacant. Ten of the empty homes are newly completed and haven’t been offered yet while the remaining 75 are in need of repair before they are offered to people on the list.

The refusal rate for social housing has dropped considerable to 36% and this is likely to fall further in 2010 as people’s expectations fall.

Director of Services for Housing at Galway City Council, Joe O’Neill, told the Galway City Tribune it is very unlikely that the Council will be able to add to that stock next year, even though it has planning permission to build 69 homes on the Ballymoneen Road.

“The Government has indicated it will not have any money for us to build new accommodation in 2010 but we will be looking at a system where we will lease some of the vacant properties that are in the city. This leasing system is being looked at by Government because of the amount of empty houses,” he said.

The city office of Threshold, a national not for profit organisation that helps solve people’s housing problems in both the private and local authority sectors, dealt with 3,631 queries this year, up 22% on 2008, and of those 1,590 are people who have ongoing problems.

Deirdre Murphy, the Galway Co-ordinator for Threshold, said people generally don’t contact the agency until they have reached ‘crisis point’. She said repossessions haven’t affected Galway this year due to the moratorium but once the banks lift the moratorium, the amount of people unable to repay their mortgages and have their homes confiscated by financial institutions will become clear.

Mr O’Neill noted that the social housing list would be far greater now if a moratorium wasn’t in place.

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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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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