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Snow and ice put emergency services under extra pressure

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 30-Dec-2009

The Emergency Departments of Galway’s hospitals are bracing themselves for a further upsurge in admissions for broken and fractured bones due to falls on snow and ice over the coming days, as the sub-zero cold spell looks set to continue well into the New Year.

In the past week, the Accident and Emergency Departments at UHG in the city and Portiuncula, Ballinasloe have seen a rapid surge in the numbers of people admitted with fractures and dislocations sustained in falls due to the slippery underfoot conditions.

A spokesperson for HSE West said UHG has been inundated with people who have broken ankles, hips and wrists. The Emergency Department was twice as busy as Christmas last year and dealt with more than 120 fractures – three times as many as last year – which were mostly caused due to slips and trips.

“Typically around 40 people are admitted over the Christmas period with fractures and this year it was three times that number,” the spokesperson said.

And with the freezing temperatures set to remain, hospital staff are bracing themselves for even more orthopaedic admissions in the coming days.

The cold spell will continue well into the New Year with Met Éireann forecasting temperatures of minus four degrees or below at night-time on New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day and over the weekend.

Met Éireann’s five-day forecast is predicting freezing temperatures up until the middle of next week with widespread hard frost, freezing fog and icy conditions expected with the risk of hail, sleet and snow showers throughout the West. North-easterly winds and polar airs will sweep in over the country at the weekend making it bitterly cold.

Meanwhile, there have been several reports of minor road accidents throughout Galway in the past week due to the hazardous driving conditions and Gardaí, Galway County Council, AA Roadwatch and the National Roads Authority have renewed their warning to drivers not to travel if at all possible on some of the more treacherous minor and county roads.

The authorities have also advised motorists not to make unnecessary journeys. If travel is necessary, motorists have been asked to slow down, exercise extreme caution and leave plenty of room between your car and the car in front.

The County Council has also asked householders to turn off their taps due to water shortages throughout the county this week. The Mid-Galway Regional water supply, Ballinalsoe water supply and other smaller water supplies in Connemara and Killimor experienced a large drop in water pressure while the pumps at Abbeyknockmoy water station were in danger of overheating.

The Council said there has been a rapid surge in consumption of water and this could be due to burst pipes and people leaving taps running day and night to avoid pipes freezing over – pressure cannot build in the mains as a result and many homes were left without water.

County Council workers have been on stand-by and remain on-call right through the holiday period gritting and salting the county’s main routes and some important regional routes. The crews have been using up to 200 tonnes of salt mixed with grit per night, every night on the roads since the severe freezing temperatures arrived and the gritting will continue well into next week.

Director of Services for the County Council, Frank Gilmore said cutbacks are not affecting its grit and salt regime. “We are doing the full range of gritting right across the county and we are not restricted by funding,” he said.

However, due to the severity and length of the freezing conditions, which began the weekend before Christmas, there is a shortage of salt at the City Council to salt the roads throughout the city. Its stock of salt was depleted just before Christmas although the City Council’s roads crews have been continuing to grit the main routes and in the city centre early every morning and in the evenings.

Director of Services Ciarán Hayes said the gritting would continue as long as is necessary, right up until the first week of January, including on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Another stock of salt has been ordered for the city and is expected to arrive in the coming week.

Many footpaths in the city will remain hazardous however as the Council does not have the resources to grit the hundreds of miles of footpaths in the city.

Age Action Ireland, a charity for older people, has urged the general public to check in on older relatives, friends and neighbours and has asked older people to take steps to make sure they remain warm in their homes.

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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Archive News

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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