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Poignant look at the process of ageing

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Date Published: 09-Jul-2012

I have never voted for an election candidate on the basis that I’d love him or her to show up at my funeral; I’ve never hoped I’d meet one at a Galway match and I’ve never tried to get a medical card or planning permission from one when the powers that be told me I wasn’t entitled to one.

I’ve never voted for a politician because I knew them, went to school with them, went out with their cousin or because they once bought me a pint in a pub.

To state the bleeding obvious, the only reason to vote for an election candidate is because you think they’re the best person for the job – and that job is to legislate, to look after the collective interest and to govern.

It’s not that I wouldn’t like to have a pint with one of them or that I’d end up sulking if I was sitting beside them at a match – there are many political representatives whose company I’d thoroughly enjoy.

It’s just that we have to move beyond the parish pump, backslapping, back-scratching, palm-greasing, nod-and-a-wink style of politics that has brought us to our knees.

But are the politicians to blame for this – or is it actually our own fault? Do we get the public representatives that we deserve?

Do we place more store in the TD who’s a ‘dacent oul skin’ and stood a pint for everyone when he casually dropped in to the local before the last election, who bought a ticket for the GAA monthly draw for a car, who sent a Christmas card – even if he forgot to actually put your name on it – and had the footpath fixed outside the house?

We loved the fact that Bertie Ahern could be seen out having a few pints in Fagans after a day’s work or that Brian Cowen knew the Lakes of Pontchartrain or that Charlie Haughey dropped into Páidí Ó Sé’s for a pint in Dingle on his way out by yacht to holiday on his private island.

The former Minister and Fine Gael TD for Mayo Paddy Lindsay famously told the story of the last hours of the 1954-57 Coalition, as Ministers returned to Áras an Uachtaráin to hand in their seals of office.

Lindsay, who was then Minister for the Gaeltacht, travelled in a car with the Taoiseach, John A Costello, and the Minister for Agriculture, James Dillon.

As they passed by a historic pub on the quays a discussion ensued about public houses. Dillon said that the only public house he had ever been in belonged to his mother in Ballaghaderreen.

Costello owned up to having been in a pub once, in Terenure, and somebody had tried to poison him with orange juice. Lindsay muttered under his breath "now I know why we’re travelling back to Áras an Uachtaráin."

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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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

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

images/files/images/x3_Courthouse.jpg

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Archive News

Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

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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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