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No surprise that markets are worried for Ireland

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Date Published: {J}

Let’s face it, we’re buggered aren’t we? A telling figure: Emigration has now risen to its highest in 21 years – since the 80s in other words. It’s hard to think of a more symbolic way to say that all the good done has been undone. Soon we must give up our mobile phones and return to digital watches with calculators. Prepare to watch Dallas all over again, only this time backwards. Which when I think about it will actually make more sense.

The government just raised another billion or so of petty cash to keep the country going for . . . how long? That will only last us to the end of the year. Yet they try to make it sound like a promising sign. At least people were willing to lend to us at hugely inflated rates! And even that overlooks the fact that a couple of days ago the European Central Bank had to intervene by buying up Irish debt. So basically, the markets are willing to lend us money as long as (a) we pay keep paying higher and higher interest and (b) for as long as the ECB keeps rescuing us.

We’re buggered.

Can part of this premium we’re paying be put down to the allegedly tired and emotional interview the Taoiseach allegedly gave at the Ardilaun Hotel allegedly last week? You wouldn’t want to overemphasise this; it isn’t like the markets ever had any confidence in this government anyway. After all they’re the same people who took an economic bonanza and turned it into crushing debt for future generations.

I want to pause here to point out the whole ‘Celtic Tiger’ (there’s a phrase I swore I’d never use) was not wholly an illusion. We did at one point have a genuine high-growth economy. We were attracting good investment. There were hit Irish shows, movies and music, almost an embarrassment – or in the case of Riverdance, literally an embarrassment – of riches. In the 90s the country was making and doing successful things. But when the whole world hit recession in about 2000 we seemed to hardly feel a bump. That should have been a warning sign. The economy was already beginning to float on an air cushion. This of course was the massive, parasitic inflation of the property market.

So the main reason foreign investors are wary of Ireland is obvious: The people who should have taken firm action on the economy ten years ago are – somehow, incredibly – still in power now and, by pretending that clearly insolvent banks will one day magically heal, still avoiding necessary action.

Of course it doesn’t help to also have a leader who looks like he might be caving under pressure. You and I know he isn’t of course. Brian Cowen is in no way an alcoholic, not at least by our standards. To us, staying up all night drinking and singing is a perfectly natural way to deal with the imminent insolvency and economic collapse of your country. But it is hard to blame the markets for being worried that he might take to drink, when they’ve seen what he did to the place sober.

 

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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Archive News

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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