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November 5, 2009

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 05-Nov-2009

On November 23, 1933, the first sod was cut on the site of Tuam Beet Factory and the anniversary of that historic occasion will be fittingly commemorated as actual manufacturing operations will commence in the factory on November 23, 1934.

There will be 600 men employed at the factory during the sugar-making season, and about 130 normally. A staff of 40 loading agents with field men will be permanently employed at the factory, and in addition, the railway company will have an increased staff to deal with the carriage of beet.

About 17,000 tons of washed beet will be worked per day. To supply this quota, 240 railway trucks of beet must reach the factory each day. The Great Southern Railways have built 800 new trucks and 50 lorries and trailers to meet the extra demand of the sugar industry.

The acreage of sugar beet for the Tuam factory is about 7,900 acres, and this will mean an estimated production of 11,000 tons of sugar. Now that the factory building is almost completed, some idea may be got by a visitor of the huge project and especially the wonderful engineering skill required in its erection.

Shops disgrace

“The big stores in Galway are open on Church holidays, and it is a disgrace to Galway. Church holidays do not get the observation they should get in this country,” said Mr. Michael Quinn at a general meeting of Galway County Council.

Mr. Quinn made the remarks following the moving of a proposition that all County Council work be suspended on Church holidays. Flood damageThe River Suck and its tributaries, which have been swollen by the heavy rains of last week, have overflown and submerged many large areas of bog and pasture between Ballinasloe and Shannonbridge. The floods have risen so high in the vicinity of the river near Ballinasloe that they almost reached the Market Square during last weekend. Large areas of flooding in many parts of the country have rendered access to stock difficult where large tracts of pastures are under water.

Land reclamation

At a cost of about £12,600, which would all be spent on local labour and material, almost forty acres of good land could be reclaimed from the sea within a stone’s throw of Clifden, Councillor Tomas O’Nee said.


Tuam pool

A letter from Galway County Council to Tuam Chamber of Commerce, pointed out that the Council would consider any suggestions concerning the development of the Palace Grounds, Tuam.

The letter, in a reference to the proposed swimming pool for Tuam, pointed out that a site for a swimming pool had already been selected tentatively on the Clare River, near the sugar factory. A site on the Palace Grounds was considered unsuitable for several reasons, one being that the temperature of the water in the Palace Grounds was too cold.

Mr. H. Quinn suggested that a portion of the Palace Grounds should be developed as a Town Park.

Drunk in charge

A man of no fixed abode was fined £2 at Mountbellew Court for being in charge of a pedal cycle, £1 for being disorderly and 10/- for failing to keep on the left hand side of the road.Guard M.E. Conway, Mountbellew, said he found the defendant pushing a bike on the wrong side of the road and he had to take the bicycle forcibly from him. He also had to get assistance to bring him to the station. Defendant told the Justice: “I had a pint or two over and above.”Justice: “How many below the line had you if you were two over it?”

Hail storm

The Aran Islands had what was described as the coldest and stormiest night for years on Monday night. The islands were lashed by torrential showers of hailstones and some roofs were damaged by gale gusts of up to 80mph. Spanish and French trawlers operating off the coast were heading for the shelter of Kilronan.

In Galway, the gale gusts caused little damage while the westerly aspect of the wind saved Salthill from the worst of the storm.

Connemara lauded

A film made in Ireland by the Bavarian Television Company in association with Gael-Linn received one of the highest ratings ever when it was transmitted from all six TV stations in West Germany last week.In a public opinion poll following the broadcast, it was favoured by 97 per cent of the viewers.The film, ‘A Boy From Connemara’, was widely compared in favourable German press reviews to ‘Man of Aran.

Eyre Square plan

The Eyre Square Association has circulated a six-point improvement plan for the Square, which envisages the retention of the railings to be painted a bright colour, trimming of trees and removal of some, occasions beds of flowers and decorative shrubbery planted on outer fringe, additional toilets at railway end, flood lights at each corner of inside of the Square, portable flower boxes for use immediately after departure of carnival until grass returns to centre green patch and the green patch to remain.


Big Bash plans

A Gala Mayoral Ball and a day-long programme of festivities will mark the end of Galway’s Quincentennial celebrations next month, it has been announced by the Corporation.

The Gala Ball, which will take place at UCG, is expected to attract up to 500 people at £20 a head. And the Corporation also plan to unveil the new Eyre Square Fountain and lay the foundation stone for the Corrib Bridge on the same day. It is also understood that Digital hope to unveil their contribution towards the city’s celebrations by opening their old folks’ park at Salthill.

Boundary changes

Major changes in public representation in County Galway, with Galway City to get new County Borough status and Galway County Council likely to get four or five extra councillors, are understood to be contained in a local government reform measure which is now being drafted in the Department of the Environment.

It is believed that the document proposes that the city change from Borough to County Borough – this would mean extra powers for the authority, an increase in the number of councillors from its present twelve, and the city first citizen changing from the title ‘Mayor’ to ‘Lord Mayor’.

Bogus collectors

Gardai have issued a warning to people to be on their guard for illegal collectors claiming to be helping the victims of the Ethiopian famine. And they have stressed that money should only be given to collectors who can show a Garda permit.

Dismissal row

A top State company boss who lost a £28,500 plus expenses per annum job last year after a bitter political wrangle is to bring an action claiming he was wrongfully dismissed.

Údarás na Gaeltachta Chief, Mr. Frank Flynn, who was fired last year because of a row with the Minister for the Gaeltacht (Paddy O’Toole), commences his action next week.

Mr Flynn is taking his action on the grounds that he was unfairly dismissed and that he didn’t receive minimum notice. The case, it it goes to hearing, is likely to bring all of the Údarás ‘dirty linen’ into the public eye again.

Railway accident

An accident at a railway crossing near Oranmore in which two people were killed is expected to renew agitation among local people who have been asking for yers that the crossing be automated. There had been two other fatal accidents at the crossing in the past seventeen years.

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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