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Rural burglaries up 18% – to two a day in county



Date Published: 15-Oct-2009

Burglaries in rural areas of County Galway are on the rise – new crime figures reveal an 18% surge in the number of burglaries on homes in the first eight months of this year.

Galway Gardai have also instigated a massive crackdown on drink-driving in rural areas – the number of mandatory alcohol test checkpoints on roads throughout County Galway has risen by more than 70% in the first eight months of this year compared with the same period last year.

The latest crime figures for the rural Districts of the Galway Garda Division show that a total of 387 burglaries were recorded by rural Garda stations in the county between January and August of this year. This represents an increase of 18% and indicates that there are now, on average, nearly two houses burgled in rural areas of the county every day.

In his latest crime report to the County Galway joint policing Committee, Chief Superintendent, Donal O Cualain, noted that although burglaries are up, overall crime levels decreased in the first eight months of the year.

“The Superintendents throughout the county have put a number of operations in place to tackle the problem of burglaries,” he said.

Chief Superintendent O Cualain’s latest report shows there were a total of 8,741 crimes of all descriptions recorded between January and August, which is a drop of 8%.

In addition to…

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

AA say no evidence of any oil price-fixing in filling stations



Date Published: 25-Feb-2013

The Automobile Association has said there is no evidence whatsoever of price-fixing amongst filling stations in Galway City.


Spokesman Conor Faughnan said that while prices on forecourts “move up and down like line dancers”, there is nothing to suggest collusion amongst operators.

And he said that a price difference of up to 8c per litre between the city and county areas “should balance out over time”.

“It is something you notice, not just in Galway, but in relatively tight urban areas [similar pricing]. Is there anything sinister going on? It would be very difficult to allege that. To be realistic, there is no smoking gun.

“You will have week-to-week anomalies caused by the delivery cycle. In a country area, there might be one delivery every 10 days and you may have two a week in the city. But over a longer-term, those prices should average out though.

“Busier stations will move up and down faster, but over time, you shouldn’t see remote areas being cheaper than urban areas.

“We’re not aware of any smoking gun evidence in Galway City.

Often the explanation [in price similarities within the city, and disparity with the county] is not sinister. Local garage operators may not be free to set their prices,” said Mr Faughnan.

He said that in defense of many filling station operators, they are tied into supply contracts and generally make around 4c on a litre of fuel.

Last year, a major investigation by the Competition Authority ruled out any evidence of price fixing or cartel activity in Galway, on foot of a “huge volume” of complaints.

Their investigation looked at price surveys, interviews with filling station employees and the Authority also met with senior management of three of the main wholesale oil companies – who account for 40% of filling stations in the country.

According to the findings of the investigation: “The price surveys and follow-up discussions with complainants revealed that while prices may follow each other for a period of time, this pattern does not always continue over the longer term.

“Before opening a criminal investigation we need sufficient evidence to suspect that filling stations or other companies further down the supply chain have entered into pricing agreements or that more informal concerted practices exist.

“Most complainants state that motor fuel prices are identical in a number of locations throughout the State. Parallel pricing is not a breach of the Competition Act and it is not unique to the motor fuel market,” the investigation report reads.

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Archive News

Josef LockeÕs amazing story at the Town Hall



Date Published: 28-Feb-2013

The extraordinary life of Derry singer Josef Lock will be explored in a show at the Town Hall Theatre this Saturday, March 2.

Written by RTÉ’s former Head of Music, Cathal McCabe – also from Derry – Blaze Away features Locke’s great songs, including Hear my Song Violetta, Come Back to Sorrento, I’ll Walk Beside You, Blaze Away, The Old Bog Road and My Heart and I.

Blaze Away is based on a group of fans who are presenting a tribute to Locke, when he appears and tries to edit the content, explains Cathal, who previously wrote and directed I Hear You Calling Me: The Story of Count John McCormack. As a young man, Cathal played music for Locke during his Irish performances.

Josef Locke – born Joseph McLaughlin in 1917 – was a colourful character who had a reputation as a ladies’ man for much of his life and ran into trouble with the UK taxman in the 1950s. His popularity with women was no surprise, says Cathal, as he was over six feet tall, with a Clark Gable-style moustache and curly black hair.

The young Joseph McLaughlin began his career as a member of the Irish Guard in the British Army in 1933. He was posted to Palestine, where he took a job in the Palestine police. When he returned to the North, he became a PE instructor with the RUC. While there, the former choirboy began singing, and became known as ‘Joseph McLauglin, the singing Bobby’.

In the early 1940s, Joseph engineered a meeting in Dublin with the renowned Jimmy O’Dea, who ran pantomimes in the Gaiety Theatre. Because of World War II there was no talent coming in from England and Joseph got a job. After that he began singing with the Dublin Grand Opera Society, where he came to the attention of Ireland’s most famous tenor, John McCormack.

Joseph asked McCormack about taking singing lessons and McCormack advised against it, telling him to go to England and get an agent. Joseph did, signing up with Jack Hylton who changed his name to Josef Locke. His UK career took off, with his wages rising from £150 a week to £400 and eventually £1,200 – that was the mid 1940s.

“He was an engaging performer who could be very rude to the audience,” says Cathal. They loved it. Locke became a regular in the seaside town of Blackpool for years, and performed in no less than five Royal Variety Performances in London. In 1947 he released Hear My Song, Violetta, which became his signature tune.

“Whatever he sang was what he felt like singing and what people wanted. He had no pretensions.”

In 1958, pursued by the taxman for £27,000, Locke relocated to Ireland. After some years he settled his bill and moved freely between the countries.

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

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