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Putting Galway in the driving seat



Date Published: 26-Apr-2012

By Dermot Keys

Galway may be best known for its culture and its nightlife but a new Chauffeur School plans to make the city synonymous with executive driver training in Ireland.

MPM Associates has opened Ireland’s first and only chauffeur school in Ballybrit to respond to the increasing demand for professionally-trained drivers. The Professional Executive Driver Training Courses are run by the former Galway Mayoral Driver, Danny Maguire, along with Ronan McLoughlin and Catherine Penston of Right Track Training and Professional Bodyguards Ireland.

It is a novel idea but Danny told the Galway City Tribune that the motivation behind setting up the course was the complete lack of accredited training opportunities within Ireland.

“I always wanted to do these courses but they were never available,” he explained.

“In the industry, you can go out and get a licence and call yourself a chauffeur but you are not professionally trained. There has never been any training involved. It is like someone saying they can add up numbers and calling themselves an accountant.”

Danny has extensive experience in the industry and he has worked with the United States Secret Service and with numerous celebrities in the past as well as being the Mayoral driver in Galway. Despite his own hands-on experience, he recalls the first time that he attended a protection course.

“I went to the first protection course and it was an eye opener. It just proved that a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. You may have many years experience but, when you sit down in a classroom, you realise that there is a lot more that you never knew.”

The new training courses offer three different levels of courses – the Professional Executive Driver Training, Advanced Executive Protection Driver training, and the Specialist Executive Protection Driver – City & Guilds Close Protection Level 3.

A number of the graduates from the course have already gained employment in the London Olympics and four others have recently travelled over to London for interviews.

“We have provided a number of drivers for the Olympics. It’s great as we are training them to the Security Industry Authority UK standard, so once they are certified by the academy they can get work without a problem.”

Danny added that they are also hopeful of securing more business when the Volvo Ocean Race visits the city.

The basic course teaches people all the skills needed to be a qualified chauffeur, including driving skills, etiquette and protocol, convoy driving, vehicle maintenance, manual handling and deportment. The course also helps prospective drivers feel confident in the role.

“What we found was that the professional training was a huge benefit to the drivers and it gives them great confidence and self esteem. You have to be confident. That’s what it is all about. That is what these courses do.”

Danny added that there is a demand for trained professionals in this region.

“We get quite a few people like celebrities or foreign dignitaries who are travelling through the West of Ireland. These people come in and they require a certain standard of professional driver to work with them.

“It is about knowing how to behave around celebrities and foreign dignitaries. I have been asked by clients to provide professionally-trained drivers. I can only do so much myself so, by training other drivers, I can supply the demand for professional drivers.

“We may not know them personally so we cannot make any guarantees of future employment but we can put them all on our database.”

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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