by Dave O’Connell
There can have been few more incongruous sights over the weekend than that of the President of Ireland Michael D Higgins sipping afternoon tea with Daniel O’Connell himself in the shadow of Shantalla’s famous Sliding Rock.
Just what the two great orators – separated by a century and a half in reality – might have discussed is anyone’s guess, but chances are that the community spirit of Galway’s oldest housing estate might be well up the list.
They had the benefit of a marquee for their tea and cupcakes in case the weather turned inclement, but they needn’t have worried –just a few drops fell on the large crowd gathered to hear this re-enactment of the Great Liberator’s famous address from the same spot in 1843.
Back then they didn’t have the luxury of a specially erected canopy, but the atmosphere was evocative and electric as actor Séamus Ó hAodha – veteran of Ros na Rún and Rásaí na Gaillimhe – delivered the great man’s rabble-rousing words with an authority that the legendary man of Cahirciveen would have been proud of.
Without reference to as much as a single note, Séamus/Daniel stirred the masses with his demand for a Repeal of the Union and rights for women – which seemed largely to centre around their rights to smoke a pipe – as well as his war cry that Ireland belongs to the Irish.
President Higgins hung on his every word, and in case the rest of the rabble were tempted to sneak off for some of the sausages on sale on the other side of the green, there were strategically positioned supporters – in full 19th century garb – to ensure the Great Emancipator got the attention a man of his standing deserved.
The Sliding Rock oration – organised by Peter Connolly, Ann Butler and Alico O’Sullivan – was the highlight of the first weekend of Seachtain an tSeanthalamh, a seven-day celebration of the Shantalla community that has something for everyone – sports, arts, music, history, parades and a banquet.
The five-a-side soccer blitz on Saturday had its share of nostalgia as well, with for example a team of relative veterans from the defunct, but temporarily reforming, Corrib Shamrocks club – a team that grew under the guidance of Brother Justin to sweep all before them back in the 1970s – got into the spirit of things by donning long wigs in memory of an era when they all had hair.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.
Connacht Tribune tributes to loved ones
These past few months have seen so many communities left to silently mourn family members and friends, whose funerals they would have attended in such numbers, were it not for the current Covid-19 restrictions.
But those that are gone have not been, and will not be, forgotten – which is why we want to open the pages of the Connacht Tribune to you to tell their stories.
If you’ve lost a loved one, whether to Covid-19 or not, or if your community or organization or sports club is mourning the death of a valued member and friend, you can email us your tribute and we will publish it in our papers.
All you have to do it to click on the above link, and it will take you to a short set of questions which you can fill in – and then add whatever you feel tells the story of the life of your friend, family member or colleague.
You can email that with a photograph to us, to email@example.com or you can post it to ‘Obituaries’, Connacht Tribune, 21 Liosban Business Park – and please enclose a contact number in case we have any queries.
We sympathise with anyone who has lost a loved one at this awful time, particularly given that so many people were unable to mourn with them and their family in person – and we hope that this will help in some small way to show those family members that we are all united in grief, even from a distance.
This is an additional feature we are providing alongside our long-established weekly Family Notices section where loved ones are remembered immediately by Months Mind Notices and annual anniversary remembrances. You can contact our team for further details at firstname.lastname@example.org
WATCH: The Olivers to the rescue … again!
Father and son rescue team Patrick and Morgan Oliver were back in action in Salthill this morning, when they helped a swimmer who got into difficulty.
A member of the public raised the alarm at around 10.30am and the Coastguard sought the assistance of Galway Lifeboat who launched from Galway Docks.
Two members of the lifeboat shore crew made their way to the promenade to assist in the rescue.
Patrick and Morgan Oliver were fishing off Salthill at the time and spotted the man taking refuge on Palmers Rock about 200 metres from Salthill shore. They took him on board their fishing boat and brought him back to Galway Docks. Galway Lifeboat in the meantime was stood down.
The man was taken into the Lifeboat station where he received treatment for symptoms of hypothermia until an ambulance arrived.
Assurances given on progress of road, bridge and bus projects
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – It will take time and a lot of money, but the city’s network of major transport projects will proceed on schedule – that was the assurance given this week to councillors by City Council Chief Executive, Brendan McGrath.
Councillors had expressed concerns at their meeting on Monday about the slow rate of progress being made with major capital projects including two new pedestrian bridges over the River Corrib.
However, Brendan McGrath told the meeting that the timelines for the range of capital transport projects – while challenging – were reasonable, pragmatic and achievable.
“All of the projects are moving forward but we must adhere to all the procedures and the different stages that have to be complied with: we have no choice in that,” said Brendan McGrath.
Senior City Council Engineer, Uinsinn Finn, in reply to a number of queries about potential new bus routes, said that while the Council worked closely with Bus Éireann and the bus companies, the local authority didn’t decide on the routes.
Earlier in the meeting, Cllr Peter Keane (FF), asked ‘how it could take 63 months’ to deliver a pedestrian/cycle bridge over the Corrib even though the piers (old Corrib Railway Line) were already in place for the project.
“How can it take over five years to put a bridge like this over the Corrib,” he asked, after hearing that this €11 million Greenways-linked project would not be completed until 2026.
There is a snappier timescale for the Salmon Weir Pedestrian/Cycle Bridge – to be located adjacent to the existing structure on the southern side – with planning consent expected by next Summer and a completion date set for the end of 2022.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.