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Pedestrian Brian Lenihan takes his life in his hands



Date Published: {J}

You wonder if Brian Lenihan knew he was taking his life in his hands by joining the pedestrians in Galway on Tuesday evening of last week – the day when many took to ‘shanksmare’ for the afternoon as the closure of a few hundred yards of roadway turned Galway into a giant parking lot.

Yes, I was one of the thousands trapped in their cars in that moving traffic jam which resulted when they shut down a stretch near the Headford Road junction. And there was Finance Minister Brian Lenihan passing us by going at speed …. on foot!

The Finance Minister was half-trotting along the footpath near University College Hospital, all decked out in a blazer and light-coloured trousers as he fled down the footpath waving hellos to all and sundry as motorists gave him a nod and a wave while he passed the endless line of cars stretching back to Nile Lodge and Lower Salthill.

I thought for a moment that Mr. Lenihan – surely one of the most popular politicians in the country and a definite successor to Brian Cowen, if the Lenihan health picture was different – had added power-walking to the hill-walking in which he engaged during the summer.

But then I spotted the telltale Merc hundreds of yards back, with the driver stuck in the middle of the endless traffic jam. The minister was merely trying to make some progress in getting about.

The incident made me think that Fianna Fáil bods must be wondering if there is some sort of curse on them when it comes to Galway. I have been warned to stay away from politics in this column … but sure it’s no harm to do a piece about the hazards of being a pedestrian in Galway, and the equally hazardous business of being a Fianna Fáil politician in Galway!

Far be it from me to do any damage to the tourism business in Galway-Salthill by warning Fianna Fáil to stay away … but they must be wondering about all the dreadful publicity they got for ‘the Fianna Fáil tent’ at Galway Races, and then ‘the curse’ struck again last week when along came that business of whether Brian Cowen was a bit under the weather when he did that radio interview.

Someone pointed out that quite a few of the scribes from the papers and various other brances of the media, might have been a bit under the weather themselves on that Tuesday morning after the FF knees-up on the Monday night in the Ardilaun. In fact, I met some of them shortly after 11am on the Tuesday as they struggled into the FF ‘media centre’ in the Ardilaun to tut-tut about Brian Cowen.

Some certainly looked the worse for wear after all that Fianna Fáil entertainment. But, as one of the scribes so cogently pointed out, though still in a haze of hospitality, they were not going on the national airwaves at 9 in the morning!

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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Archive News

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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