Date Published: 31-Mar-2010
A new report this week confirms the total collapse of Galway’s building trade over the past two years.
Planning permission was granted for just 145 new dwellings in the county for the fourth quarter of 2009 compared with 486 in the same period of 2007 – an incredible 235% decrease in just two years.
CSO statistics also show that planning permission was granted for just 67 buildings other than residential in the last three months of 2009 compared with 231 such developments in the same period of 2007 – again, a drop of 141%.
The number of planning permissions granted for extensions, alterations and conversions in the county has almost halved in two years, from 204 in the last quarter of 2007 to 120 in the last quarter of 2009.
When the total number of planning applications is taken together (new construction and extensions), the full extent of the crisis is revealed – there were a total of 332 planning applications of all sorts granted in the fourth quarter of 2009 compared with 921 in the same period in 2007 (down 156%).
The figures for Galway city are separated from the county in the CSO report – they show a total of 61 planning permissions for new constructions and extensions in the city in the fourth quarter of 2009 compared with 88 in the same period of 2007, a drop of 31%.
On the face of it, Galway city has held up well but when the floor space of the developments is taken into account, it’s a different story – total floor space granted in the city in the last quarter of 2009 was 6,000 square metres compared with 40,000 square metres in the same three months in 2007.
For more new see this week’s Connacht Tribune.
The way we were – Protecting archives of our past
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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