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Retirement signals new direction for Myles

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 29-Mar-2012

It would be almost unheard of now to enter a semi-state company without a third-level qualification and work your way up the ladder, but that’s what Myles McHugh did.

Born and bred in College Road, Myles followed in his father Tom’s footsteps by joining CIÉ, where he stayed until his early retirement at the age of 56 a few weeks ago.

In fact, Myles is doing things in reverse. He went ‘back to school’ during his time with the company and is now finishing an MBA (Masters in Business Administration) in NUIG.

By the time Myles retired from Irish Rail, his job enta

iled having responsibility for the whole country’s rail network. As Service Planning Manager since 2004, Myles oversaw the development of improved rail services. The introduction of new trains is the development that gives him most pride, though he admits that one drawback is the absence of double tracks in some places, which slows up the journey.

He acknowledges that Irish Rail has some way to go yet and agrees that the opening of the new motorway between Galway and Dublin has hit its business but believes that the company must now offer enhanced services on the route in order to attract business people.

“Think of the wasted hours spent in the car when you could be working on your laptop on the train – and we are introducing WiFi, which will make this option attractive. In the medium term, real changes have to be made to reduce journey times and I am confident this will happen.

And if that competition is restored, the trains will be very busy again,” he says as if he were still working for the company.

But it’s not surprising that Myles has the company’s best interest at heart, as he started working there when he was a boy, getting a summer job just before his Leaving Cert year in 1972.

Then he got a fulltime job there after finishing his Leaving in the Bish. His first role was working on the buses (this was when both buses and trains operated under the CIÉ umbrella).

“I started counting the cash and checking ticket machines on the buses. That was back in 1973 and I didn’t leave until last month when I took early retirement.

“I honestly didn’t think last Christmas I would be retired, but the opportunity was there and I decided it was time I tried putting some of my recent education to some use.”

It’s not that Myles will be idle! He is already involved in a number of community activities. He has helped the smooth amalgamation of Éire Óg with Fr Griffin GAA Club; he used to be chairman of the Lough Atalia Residents Association, when he lived there and he is current Chairman of the Board of Management of the Bish.

He says there is a huge challenge in the city for Gaelic football in getting young people to play and equally getting adults to participate in coaching and mentoring. He got involved in Fr Griffin’s when his own son was playing with them and has continued his voluntary involvement with them.

But he has to complete his exams for the MBA first before taking a hard-earned break and then possibly venturing into some project that he is already mulling about in his head.

It will involve some kind of consultancy work, possibly with new businesses.

Myles grasped the opportunity to leave Irish Rail because the travel involved had become gruelling. “When I took up the position I was expected to attend meetings in Dublin maybe once or twice a week but that was becoming almost a daily necessity.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Judy Murphy

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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

Ruby ready to rock again and Bob is worth a big flutter in Gold Cup

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 06-Mar-2013

New edge to Galway hurling championship title pursuit

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A battle of talent and the ability to pull in public votes

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 11-Mar-2013

Here is a question. And there is no holiday or grand prize for getting the answer. But can anyone name the people who have won The Voice of Ireland and what has become of them?

Over across the water in the UK they have The X Factor and while I hate the concept of it, it has produced a few stars even though they don’t last long in the whole scheme of things.

But The Voice of Ireland seems to generate false excitement with the winner ending up become more anonymous than they already were. And it is costing families a fortune in the process.

While the programme is a ratings winner, strangely, it has resulted in those getting through to the final stages investing huge amounts of money in the hope that they will receive enough votes to get through to the next stages.

So, suddenly, it is not about the voice or the talent involved, it is all about votes and who the participants can convince to pledge their support for them. So it is obvious that talent goes out the window.

It means that someone with half a talent could realistically win the whole thing if they generated enough support behind them. From now on, the judges will be taken out of the equation and it will be left to the public to generate income for some phone operator.

Those who get through to the live performances have to engage in a massive publicity campaign in an effort to win votes which makes this whole effort a pure sham. It is no longer about their ability and just an effort to win appeal.

While the initial process does involve some vetting of the acts, now it becomes a general election type exercise in which the most popular will win the competition and the judges will have no say whatsoever.

It is a bit like the recent Eurosong in which the judging panel across the country voted for their favourite song, which incidentally was the best of a very bad lot, but then this was overturned by the public who chose a relatively crap song to represent us.

But again, this was all down to convincing the public about who to vote for rather than having any bearing on the quality on offer. There are times that genuine talent becomes overlooked because of the need to extract money from the voting public.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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