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Presidential hopefuls resort to sandwich circuit to secure spot

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: {J}

It was Charles J Haughey and his old cohort PJ Mara who introduced the wider world to the chicken supper circuit back in the dark days of the Seventies – but for our Presidential hopefuls this week, substitute the chicken with Council tea and sandwiches. And perhaps the expectation of a dollop of sympathy as well for good measure.

Fittingly for an election that is turning out to have All Kinds of Everything going on, Dana was on the local authority trail to secure her place this week, as David Norris attempted to make his re-entry, leaving only marginally less debris in his wake than that satellite which came down over the Pacific.

There has been something terribly unseemly about the whole process that candidates have to abide by to get onto the ballot paper for the Áras race.

This system was originally intended as a way of stopping every one trick pony in the country joining the race and turning the whole thing into a farce – no need to worry about that now, because they’ve found another way to accomplish that.

We’ve been subjected to one hopeful after another trekking in and out of Leinster House, pleading with every uncommitted Oireachtas member to cast a nomination in their direction, before traipsing off around the country to do the same at any local authority meeting they can find.

The canvass of City and County Councils is one thing, but it’s the ‘in again, out again’ TDs and Senators who take the biscuit, flip-flopping between support, opposition and abstention as the mood takes them.

The weekend’s events sort of summed it all up; Shane Ross agreed to nominate Norris and in the same breath said he was fully behind Michael D; Mattie McGrath asked a couple of hundred of his supporters what to do before making up his mind, while down the road, Michael Lowry – fresh from his disappointment over the demise of Twomile Las Vegas – waited in the long grass to see if he was needed for national service.

By Monday, the whole thing had degenerated into a sort of political version of Challenge Anneka as Dana and David Norris headed off in pursuit of any Council that hadn’t already backed Sean Gallagher or Mary Davis.

Meanwhile, if reports are to believed, Fine Gael was wondering how far it could go with negative messaging before the electorate rumbled that this was a ‘dog in the manger’ approach to the Arás – they know they’re not going to win it but they’re dammed if they’ll let Martin McGuinness get his feet under the table.

And while they’re at it, the biggest party in the state is looking at ways to neuter Mary Davis after her strong showing in recent opinion polls by suggesting she might have been favoured by Fianna Fáil with a place on several quangos.

The targeting of Davis was interesting, given her performance in that Sunday Business Post/Red C poll which showed her on 13 per cent of first preferences – the same as Gay Mitchell – and she is emerging as the dark horse … probably as much down to the fact that she’s done nothing wrong as anything else.

Senator Norris, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to need any help from Fine Gael because he appears to have an unerring ability to shoot himself in the foot.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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Archive News

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

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



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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