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Show some resolve Ð and donÕt stick to hardy annual resolutions



Date Published: {J}

Wouldn’t the world be a much duller place if any of us ever stuck to our New Year’s resolutions?

We’d all be teetotal, ultra-fit, non-swearing, non-smoking, generous, cheery individuals who would inspire others to react by punching us squarely in the face.

Every year we plan to lose weight; every December we wonder how we managed to get even heavier. We vow to spend more quality time at home and then spend more time complaining about how claustrophobic it’s become in the house.

We hit January determined to stick to a budget this year, but as successive Ministers for Finance have shown only too well, that’s never as easy as it might first appear.

Then there’s the twin pursuit of helping others and at the same time enjoying life more – how do you square that particular circle? And why is that that people choose the start of a new year to ‘learn something new’? Do they consciously wait until the old year is out before striving to fill that yawning gap in their knowledge bank?

So, instead of the old traditionals, how about a few new ideas in keeping with these straitened times? Wear a jumper to work – it allows the bosses to turn off the heating so they save money and we save the planet.

Solve your money problems – get yourself a Ministerial pension or, if you’re really ambitious, one like the deal Michael ‘Fingers’ Fingleton dreamed up for himself to mark his exit from Irish Nationwide.

Or else reduce your debts – simply ignore those brown envelopes from the bank manager. Watch less television – go to a pub that doesn’t have Sky Sports. Go back to school – this one is especially for teachers.

Don’t decide to quit drinking and spend more time with family at the same time – one resolution will undoubtedly result in you breaking the other. Reduce stress at work – take sick days even when you don’t need them. But don’t necessarily use them to spend more time with the family (see above).

Protect the English language – its not gr8 to txt msgs that r n a language most of us don’t understand. Write a book, a complete work of fiction that ably demonstrates the limitless boundaries of your vivid imagination – remember, it worked for Bertie Ahern.

Walk more – this is in keeping with the ultimate objective of the Green Party, who are working hard on taxing petrol and diesel into the spectrum of a luxury item.

Most of all, don’t implement any of your New Year Resolutions until the end of the first week in January. This will mean two things – you’re not under the same pressure as everyone else at the start of another year….and you’ll be the last one in your group still clinging to an unbroken resolution.

Lose the strain – take the train

It’s been some time since I left the car at home to take the train to Dublin, but after having my eyes opened by the positive changes, it certainly won’t be anywhere near as long before I do it again.

Like many more out there, I come from a time when travelling by train meant either Saharan heat – leading to third degree burns of the ankles if you touched the grills through which the furnace was being pumped – or frostbite that couldn’t be offset with thermal underwear.

The tannoy allowed us all the experience the trauma of what it was like to be hard of hearing as you struggled to make out a single word that was said.

Back then the only thing guaranteed was that you’d never get a seat – now it is a veritable luxury to let the train take the strain as you sit back and enjoy the ride. The carriages are warm but not stifling; the announcements are informative but not intrusive, delivered in both Irish and English with the sort of melodious voice that would be tailor-made for late night radio.

The messages may well be automated but somewhere within the bowels of Iarnróid Eireann there lies the next Terry Wogan. You can enjoy reserved seating – at least on a Sunday afternoon; I’m not sure if it works at rush-hour.

There are comfortable clean seats, and in every carriage, an information panel telling you distance to next station. We’re not train commuters by nature in the west, but colleagues of mine used the train to get to and from work during the recent flooding – and they too were hugely surprised at the changes that have made travelling by rail a whole lot more comfortable.

Once the Galway to Limerick link opens, that facility will be available to an awful lot more – and you can claim part of the fare back against your income tax.

As to value for money, it certainly is if you’re travelling alone and you book on Internet. It’s not €10 one way all the time, however, as you might think from their ads but it’s more competitive now that the Greens have got their way on a carbon tax on motor fuel.

A family rate might be a good idea even if you have to travel off peak, because it’s still cheaper for a family of four, for example, to travel to Dublin by car. But equally – and even allowing for the new motorway – it’s still fast at two hours and 40 minutes.

But best of all, there is no stress, no tolls and a chance to use the phone or drink coffee without incurring two penalty points in the process. And – all the moreso given that Swine Flu still hasn’t gone away – that’s not something to be sneezed at.

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

First local bragging rights of the new season go to Mervue Utd



Date Published: 18-Mar-2013

Mervue United 2

Salthill Devon 1

Jason Byrne at Fahy’s Field

Mervue United have earned the early bragging rights in the latest instalment of a derby clash with their old rivals Salthill Devon thanks to first half goals from Tom King and youngster Ryan Manning at Fahy’s Field on Friday night.

Old teammates were re-united on the field as the likes Jason Molloy, Tom King, Gary Curran, Paul Sinnott and new Devon signing Derek O’Brien were among the names who used to wear the maroon of dormant Galway United.

Mervue came out of the blocks strongly and Curran unleashed the first meaningful shot after six minutes which failed to trouble Ronan Forde and glanced wide.

Two minutes later, former Mervue striker Enda Curran fired Devon’s first effort from distance but steered well clear of the target.

Almost immediately at the other end, Mervue thought they had taken the lead when King was released into the box and his shot squirmed under Forde towards goal, but Devon skipper Eugene Greaney was at hand to clear off the line.

Three minutes later, an almost identical move was executed by Mervue as Brendan Lavelle played King in, who this time opted to dink over the advancing Forde for a marvellous finish to give Mervue a deserved 1-0 lead.

Mervue immediately searched for another as Manning picked out Varley, and with his cross he searched for Lavelle but William Enubele cleared just as Lavelle was about to head it.

From the resulting corner, Manning whipped it in to Varley, whose shot was well blocked by Colm Horgan.

A second goal was coming, and it arrived on 18 minutes when King played a neat exchange with Paul Sinnott and he squared for Manning, who shot first-time to bag his first League of Ireland goal.

Following this it looked as if Mervue could further stretch their lead by half-time, but Devon kept their heads up and as a result of their hard work they eventually began to find their feet.

As the interval drew closer O’Brien – who had been eventually signed by Devon just hours before the kick-off – collected a long hopeful ball from Forde and cut inside but blazed over with the goal at his mercy.

Five minutes later, Enda Curran won a loose ball and his pace proved too much for Michael McSweeney but his shot was well saved by Gleeson.

On the break Mervue pelted forward and Lavelle saw another effort blocked by the omnipresent Greaney who was a rock at the back. Lavelle collected again and squared for Manning, but this time he mishit his shot and Forde caught easily.

On the stroke of half-time the teenager had another go at bagging his second but his free-kick sailed well over into the astroturf cages at Fahy’s Field.

A crowd of almost 300 people made their way to the east side of the city to witness the encounter, and perhaps a mixture of the heavy rain in the hour before kick-off along with the racing at Cheltenham earlier in the day affected the attendance.

The second-half failed to prove as entertaining as the first as Devon kept fighting hard to claw back into the contest and prevent a third goal which would have ended their chances of getting points on the board.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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Archive News

Festival whets the appetite for new food experiences



Date Published: 21-Mar-2013

I know it’s hard to believe, but there are well-grounded, consistent reports in recent weeks that Fianna Fáil nationally has been receiving a large number of new applications for membership of the party.

When I heard it first, I thought to myself – sounds like new recruits to join the crew of the Titanic. Now, I’m beginning to wonder if they knew something that the rest of us didn’t.

For, FF showed a bounce in two recent opinion polls. And then George Lee did his walkout from Fine Gael, leaving FG and Enda Kenny to watch anxiously in the coming months as further polls come in, and the Kenny leadership comes under renewed pressure.


Fine Gael is still well ahead in the polls, but you write off FF at your peril. The old Fianna Fáil ‘faith’ still runs deep even among many of those who are now angry at the way the country was allowed to run on to the economic rocks under FF stewardship.

On the face of it, it sounds like FF shouldn’t be an even vaguely attractive prospect for new members . . . you can be damn sure that FF unpopularity was one of the main reasons that Galway West TD Noel Grealish (formerly of the PDs and now Independent) wouldn’t touch joining the FF Parliamentary Party with a barge pole and has been flexing his political muscle in recent months as an Independent.

That’s despite FF Ministers Eamon Ó Cuív and Noel Dempsey courting Grealish for months to join FF, with even speculation of a junior ministry ‘sweetener’ at some stage when Brian Cowen eventually carries out that long-threatened reshuffle.

Wonder if Grealish would reconsider now? For there’s no denying that in recent weeks in FF there has been a sneaking dawning feeling that, if they could just hold off the General Election until 2012, then maybe – just maybe! – at least their bedrock support might have come back by then and the massacre of FF TDs might not be quite as bloody as has been predicted for the past year.

Why, some FFrs believe they might even have enough TDs left to cosy-up to the Labour Party. That’s provided of course they can hold out to 2012 and their government partners, the Greens, don’t tear themselves apart in the meantime with their habit of washing dirty linen in public.

People like Grealish would have been hoping that some of the FF voters might go for the ‘first cousin’ in the shape of a former PD like himself – well weren’t the PDs just a family row in FF? The big test for angry or wavering FF supporters on election day in a place like Galway West would be just how many of them would vote Fine Gael? I have always been of the belief that ‘the hand would wither’ before they could give ‘the blueshirts’ a vote.

Meanwhile, in the past few weeks, the pressure has transferred to Fine Gael. They are the ones who now have to worry about any slippage in support, they have convince us that they could run the economy better . . . and against this shaky new background, they also have to worry about ‘upping their game’ in key areas like Galway West.

One of the most recent opinion polls showed the highest regional level of support for Fine Gael as being in Connacht-Ulster, which was traditionally the area which Fianna Fáil could count on as heartland. That has to be ‘the Enda Kenny factor’ coming through in constituencies close to his Mayo base, where FG had a huge 53% of the first preferences in 2007.

For more, read page 12 of this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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