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November 4, 2010



Date Published: {J}


Barber’s itch

At the Ballinasloe Quarter Sessions last week, an action against a barber in which much interest was taken was heard. The plaintiff was J Kelly, and the defendant P Burke, Ballinasloe.

Mr. Davidson appeared for the plaintiff; Mr. Golding for the defendant.

James Kelly, in reply to Mr. Davidson, said he lived in Poolboy and used to drive the bus for Mr. Kelly. Between the 11th and 15th, he went into Burke’s to get a shave and was shaved by Pat Burke. The next day his face began to pain him, and in three days it was swollen. After four days, he went to Dr. Rossiter.

He went to Burke’s the following day and saw Mrs Burke and had a conversation with her. Next morning, Mrs Burke went up with 12 shillings and said Mr Burke sent her up with it. On the following morning, he went to Burke and said he wanted something more, and Burke gave him 10s. He told Burke that the doctor attended him for the barber’s itch. Burke said it was too bad.

His Honor: His liability is admitted by giving this money.

Witness said he again went to Burke, but was told he would get no more money. He was able to earn about £1 a week on an average.

Dr. Rossiter stated he examined Kelly on two occasions. He was suffering from barber’s rash. Mr Kelly’s objection in preventing him from driving the bus was a good one. It was a very painful disease. It could be caused with a dirty razor.

He might get it without ever getting shaved. He could get this from going through calves.

Patrick Burke, defendant, said it was his assistance that shaved this man. He always disinfects his razors after shaving every customer, and puts the brush in boiling water.

His honour gave a decree for £5 damages.


Poverty and cruelty

Below are glimpses at the lives of three families, the conditions of whose existence came under the observation of the Galway branch of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. They illustrate conditions which many find it difficult to realise exist.

A man and his three children, aged 6, 10 and 12, lived in a shed not fit for habitation. The children were half naked, filthy, verminous, and had no shoes in the month of November. There was but one bed and that was made of boards and straw covered with a pile of rags. The children were removed. Later they were sent to schools. Father fined 1s.

A mother and two children aged 11 months and 5 years lived in a fine nine-bedroomed house. Only one room was inhabited; this was simply a pile of filth. Mother a dangerous mental case – often locked the two children in the home from early morning until late at night with nobody to look after them.

Mother slept in the only clothing she had, and two children slept in a filthy cot. Mother was sent to Ballinasloe Mental Hospital. Two children taken by aunt; father, who is living in England, contributing to their support.

A father with three grown daughters and three boys aged 10, 12 and 14 years, who had a fairly good home, was charged with ill-treating the boy of 14 years by stabbing him with a hay fork right through the leg.

On the doctor’s evidence that the man was not a fit person to have charge of children and as his wife had to leave him, and also had him charged with ill-treatment, he would ask that the children be sent to schools.

District Justice agreed, and ordered the immediate removal of the children. Sentenced father to three months’ hard labour.

For more, read this week’s Connacht 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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