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ÔGlass cathedralsÕ to the car not the only Celtic Tiger memorials



Date Published: {J}

I hate those awful new ‘words’ which are now being coined almost by the day, it seems. They usually start with one of the tabloids and, before long, the alleged words become part of the normal everyday language in common use.

For instance, what demented sub-editor on speed came up with the word ‘Crimbo’ for Christmas? Now I know that very often sub-editors need a shortened version of a word like Christmas so that it will fit into a newspaper heading . . . but there was a very old ‘Xmas’ in existence.

The same guys invented ‘Corrie’ for Coronation Street . . . and I know I’m not alone in these ‘pet hates’ because a long-time friend of mine in the newspaper business has always verged on violence when he encounters the word ‘Xmas’ for the first time in any given year. Consequently, I always tried to get it into my copy not later than the month of October and waited for the torrent of abuse!

Reason I begin like this on a totally unrelated topic is that I decided this year that – being patriotic – I would take my holidays at home. Thus, it appears, I became one of the ‘Staycation’ crowd who spent time around the country in relatively decent weather, as distinct from ducking under a giant umbrella to avoid slowly cooking on a beach somewhere abroad.

And, as I drove through the new tunnel under the Shannon, it occurred to me that, when many other memories of The Celtic Tiger years have died away, the so-called ‘prosperous years’ will be remembered for probably two things – banks which beggared whole generations with dicey loans to developers, and a system of roads and motorways that may yet be part of our economic salvation.

There are any number of other memorials to ‘the good years’ dotted all around the country. Many of them, however, are doleful affairs that seem like they were caught in a time warp and have stood there as a sort of mute testimony to a collective loss of commonsense fuelled by rocketing property values.

For instance, there is hardly a town worth the name that does not have what I call a ’glass and chrome cathedral’ to the automobile, built in the years when new cars sold in their tens of thousands.

These ‘cathedrals’ are now empty mementos of the days when you were no one if you didn’t have a new car . . . or better still, two of the darn things!

Other sad memorials also dot the skyline in cities and out-of-the-way distinctly rural areas which can be hundreds of metres, or indeed a few kilometres, away from the nearest town. They are the completed, or half-completed, housing estates which make up just some of the 300,000 unoccupied homes built in the boom, and now exposed to the weather.

They say that there are two things which deteriorate without human contact – people and houses! And what a sad sight these abandoned estates make . . . many of them without roads, sewerage systems, lighting, and, most importantly, without families in the houses. Maybe the sadder ones are the half-completed estates with families living in some of the houses.

For more, read this week’s Galway City 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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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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Archive News

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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