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November 11, 1989

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 11-Nov-2009


He was satisfied that the sheep were killed by the British Government, but the British were not supposed to have been here at the time, so the sheep were not therefore officially killed by them, and their killing could not now be officially recognised. Under the Act, no person was entitled to claim for damage done by the British Government after 1922.

He was sorry, but he would have to dismiss the case, said Judge Wyse-Power at Clifden Circuit Court, dismissing a claim brought by Thomas Kane, Bunowen, for twelve sheep killed by fire from a British gunship.

Volunteer recruits

Keen interest is being shown in the Volunteer movement in the Southern Connemara areas. Up to the time of writing, a total of 74 recruits has been reached for Rosmuc, Carraroe, Letterfrack, Carna and Kilkerrin. The main difficulty in those districts seems to be that of keeping within the quota as hundreds of potential Volunteers arrive whenever it is announced that Lieutenant George Staunton, the area administrative officer for the Gaeltacht areas, and Lieut. G. Foley, the recruiting officer, are to visit.

There are no halls in these areas and the lack of them is said to be a serious drawback, but now it is rumoured on good authority that arrangements are being made to secure them without delay.

Meals refused

Loughrea Town Commissioners have refused to adopt the Provision of Meals Act for necessitous school children in Loughrea urban area.The Chairman (Mr. Cahill) said it would mean increasing the rates on the already overtaxed ratepayers.

Mr Coghlan: It would mean the striking of a special rate.Chairman: I don’t think the free meals would be accepted in Loughrea or that there is need for them.

Mr Connaire: The free milk is accepted.

Mr Coghlan: And the free meat will be accepted next month (laughter).

Wireless success

A meeting of Galway Harbour Commissioners had been told that a wireless operator had carried out tests on the wireless apparatus and found it very successful. He also carried out tests with the ‘Brittanic’ on Sunday last at a distance of 260 miles and they were also satisfactory.

The aerial, however, is rather near the funnel and to get the maximum of efficiency, it would be necessary to have a greater distance between them.

Overloaded bus

A defendant was fined 7s. 6d. at Spiddal District Court by Acting District Justice Conroy for permitting overcrowding in an I.O.C. ‘bus. Guard McGee said the ‘bus was a twenty-six-seater and there were eighteen people over the number it was supposed to carry, on the ‘bus. The defendant had previously been fined 5s.


Message in a bottle

It has been ascertained that a message found in a tin box on the shore at Slyne Head was put into the sea by twelve year-old Frank Litton, Donneybrook, from the Aran Islands on August 29 last. Four days later, Mr. M. McDonagh picked it up. The box travelled at the rate of eight miles per day.

A bottle message containing a name and address in the Netherlands and stated to have been thrown into the sea from a ship on September 3, 1959, has been found by Festus O’Neill, Ailebrack, who has written to the address given.

Fairs ban

Long threatening comes at last, may aptly be applied to the street fairs problem in Loughrea. The news that the County Engineer has furnished his report on the matter to the Co. Manager and that an order will be made under which fairs will be removed entirely from the main thoroughfare through the town, i.e., along Bride Street, Main Street, Dunkellin Street, West Bridge, Athenry Road, will get a very mixed reception in the town.

It is proposed under the order that fairs and markets in Loughrea will be restricted to parts of the town other than the above streets, as specified at a Conference in Loughrea, some months ago.

K.L.M. disaster

A visitor to Galway during the weekend was Mrs. M.Der-Kock Van Leeween, of Holland, grandmother of the infant victim of last year’s K.L.M. air disaster off the west coast.

Mrs. Van Leeween flew over from Holland to attend the annual Cemetery Sunday ceremony in Galway City. Last November, Mrs. Van Leeween came from Holland to attend the Cemetery Sunday ceremonies also, and has always expressed her gratitude for the manner in which her grand-daughter’s grave is cared for, and the sympathy of the people.

Vandalism problem

Damage to public property and the growth of vandalism was deplored at a meeting of Galway Corporation, when it was stated that the Gardaí should be asked to reintroduce street patrols at night.

It was pointed out that if the law was unable to protect the people’s property, the people would have to take the law into their own hands to defend their property.

The meeting was discussing a report from the Borough Engineer concerning damage to the new toilets at O’Brien’s Bridge, which have been tampered with twice since they were opened recently.

Health services

Galway could not be described as central for patients from Letterkenny which was almost 200 miles away, said Mr. M. Carty, T.D., at a meeting of the Western Health Institutions Board, in Merlin Park. Under discussion were the orthopaedic services of the region.

Mr Carty said a regional orthopaedic hospital should be located in either South Donegal or North Sligo. How could relatives of patients travel 200 miles to Merlin Park, he asked, and it was an accepted fact that visits from friends and relatives speeded the convalescence of patients.


‘Clogs’ found dead

A pub entertainer was found dead in his own van only hours after finishing a gig in the city. Tom ‘Clogs’ Gallagher of Ballaghaderreen, County Roscommon, was found in his Morris Minor van in a carpark off Dominick Street by pub owner John Monroe.

He was nicknamed Clogs because he danced while playing the fiddle. He travelled the countryside in his van and in his own words on the Late Late Show last September “played a town a night”.

School go-ahead

The Tirellan area of Galway City is to get its own national school, and it is hoped building will start next year. The news that the Department of Education had approved the provision of a new national school in the area came in a written Dáil reply from the Minister for Education, Gemma Hussey, following representations made by local TD, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn.

The school which will be built in the centre of the Tirellan Heights estate, will service an area which has undergone a population explosion in the past five years, since the neighbouring Castlelawn Heights was first built.

Balance of power

The race to fill the vacant position on the City’s Borough Council – left void by the death of Fintan Coogan last weekend – looks like being fought out between Fianna Fáíl’s Martin Connolly and Fine Gael’s Fintan Coogan Jnr.

And dissident Fianna Fáil councillor Henry O’Connor, who himself was co-opted onto the Borough Council after the 1979 Local Elections, will hold the balance of power.

Lawn cemeteries

The introduction in County Galway of American stlye ‘lawn cemeteries’’ with their flat memorial stones would sound the death-knell of the ancient Irish craft of the stonemason, and threaten 50 jobs in Ballinasloe town alone, it was claimed this week.

Reacting to rumours that Galway County Council were contemplating the introduction of such cemeteries in South Galway, John Cotter, of Top Quarries in Ballinasloe, said such a move just couldn’t be allowed to happen.

Farmer anger

There is intense anger among farmers throughout County Galway this week over thousands of pounds worth of sugar beet left in the fields – and cattle may now be allowed in to ‘graze’ the remaining beet in a bid to salvage something from a financial disaster caused by record yields.

The reason for the crisis is that Irish Sugar’s Plant at Tuam will only take from farmers the tonnage for which they had contacted at the beginning of the year, and farmers whose yields per acre were driven sky high by an excellent growing season and good farming methods, are left with the beet.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Judy Murphy



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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Rory takes on fresh challenge as lauded DruidMurphy returns

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 03-Apr-2013


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After twenty years Sarah lands dream role in Druid

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 04-Apr-2013

 Sarah Lynch has been living and breathing Druid Theatre since she wangled a job as a runner fresh out of college two decades ago at age 20. After holding down just about every role imaginable there – from company manager to director to stage manager – her appointment as general manager to one of the country’s most prestigious theatre companies last October seemed almost inevitable.

Because once she had tasted the fruit of Druid she was going nowhere . . . and going everywhere. Sarah’s tenure at Druid since 1998 has brought her on a journey that has reached just about every corner of the globe and almost all the islands off Ireland in between.

After graduating from Limerick with a degree in French and English Sarah spent a stint teaching in a secondary school. But it immediately became clear that wasn’t the road for her.

“One thing I was always certain of was I’d be involved in the performing arts, whether on stage or off stage or behind it. The immediate reaction of the audience is such a buzz,” she grins.

Her earliest memory was of her grandfather, Bud Clancy, on stage with his trumpet and dance band. “I must have been three or four because he died shortly after that. But it never left me. I got bitten by the bug. I started playing the trumpet. A friend of my grandfather taught me how to play and I was with the Limerick brass and reed orchestra known as the Boherbuoy Band, I was just a kid with all these adults.”

She learned to play other brass instruments such as the French horn and cornet before turning her hand to the guitar and song-writing. “I taught myself guitar. Sometime I tinker on the piano and I think that’s my next instrument. I love percussion. You can’t get me off a drum kit for love or money. Many is the night I’ve made a fool of myself on one of those,” she laughs.

In 2010, Sarah released her debut album, Letter to Friends, which was launched by playwright Enda Walsh, whose short play, Lynndie’s Gotta Gun, she had directed as part of the 2008 Galway Arts Festival.

The collection of songs was produced by Wayne Sheehy, a musician she had met when opening for Juliet Turner on Turner’s Burn the Black Suit tour.

“I could probably have done it ten years ago but for the manic schedule with Druid and touring so much,” she reflects. “I haven’t done much with it since. I used to play gigs in the Róisín Dubh. The bigger twin is theatre at the moment. The bigger twin bullies the other twin. You don’t get much time to do music.”

After fleeing the classroom, Sarah knocked on the door of a former college mate, Andrew Flynn, now with the Galway Youth Theatre, who kindly offered up his couch. He also managed to get her a job as a runner – the person who does everything from making tea to helping with props – on a Druid production of As You Like It.

“I remember working with Mark O’Halloran, I had great fun with him. There was Helen Norton, it was Maeliosa Stafford directing. He’s coming back to the Druid after ten years to star in Tom Murphy’s A Whistle in the Dark. He left me as a runner, now I’m general manager.”

Much of Sarah’s time behind the scenes at Druid has been spent on the road. In 2009 alone, Druid toured to Australia, Canada, the UK and the USA presenting 364 performances in 26 venues.

Indeed so much of life has been out spent living of a suitcase that she gave up her base in Galway to move back in with her family in Caherdavin, on the Galway side of Limerick city.

The tour of the Cripple of Inishmaan by Martin McDonagh was so long the crew were instructed to pack two suitcases, one with summer clothes, the other winter gear, as they would be spanning the seasons. Her job now entails a lot of commuting, but driving is where she gets a lot of thinking done.

Sarah’s decision to apply for the more home-based job of general manager was one she made discreetly while on the Druid Murphy tour around the US. She had to undergo her interview in between shows at the Lincoln Center in New York. It was the most nerve wrecking experience of her life, she admits.

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

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