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Solicitor çine willing people to look after their affairs

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Date Published: 25-Oct-2012

Making wills is not something Irish people are good at, which is why every year, Make a Will week is held to encourage people to get over their reservations and just do it.

Áine Feeney is one of a number of Galway solicitors involved in the initiative which invites people to come in for a consultation for just €50.

“It also encourages people to leave a charitable bequest. This is a greatly underused way of raising money, so we have a list of 50 charities as a suggestion, though people can choose their own charity.

“I see through my work though that the Donkey Charity, believe it or not, is one of the main beneficiaries as they have targeted this market over the years, but now other traditional charities are going to aim for this as well.

“It has been the custom in many offices not to charge regular clients for wills, and I am sure that through the Make a Will scheme, most solicitors will do the same or charge a nominal sum.”

She says that the Irish are so reluctant at making a will.

“They are afraid that if they do, they will die soon after. What people don’t realise is the money that could be saved by making a will.”

A native of Athlone, Áine’s mother hailed from Spiddal. Her parents separated when she was quite young and Áine chose to use her mother’s maiden name, which she continues to use despite being married to James McTigue, who runs his own business, Reality Interiors in Kilcogan.

Having graduated with a BA in Law and Soc/Pol, she immediately started working, first with Bruce St John Blake and then in Headford, until she opened her own law practice in 2006.

Two children later (Jessica, aged 6 and Harry, aged 4), Áine has built up a strong practice and says she loves working and can’t imagine being a stay-at-home mum.

A lot of her work involves family law, and though she doesn’t always share her own personal story with clients, she does empathise with clients going through a marital break-up – as an only child, she remembers all too well the heartache experienced during her parents’ separation.

“I didn’t choose to go into family law. It just happened in my first practice when Bruce took the trade union and occupational injury work, and I got the family law cases.

“It still breaks my heart witnessing family break-ups but maybe it also helps that I have empathy. I know clients always think you don’t understand. . . but in my case, I do.”

She is a feisty woman who learned her sense of justice and politics (strong Fianna Fáil) on her grandfather’s knee, and her ambition from her mother, who had a nursing background and now works for the HSE in the Midlands.

“I had an interest in local politics and had hoped to stand in the Local Elections but I was beaten by two votes for the nominations the year I went for it [2004]. John Connolly won and got elected onto the City Council. I was very involved with the party and had joined Ógra Fianna Fáil in college and later worked on Margaret Cox’s (former senator and city councillor) election campaign.

“But I feel now that I might be more useful on committees and working to make a difference in that way. At the moment those activities outside of work – with the Business and Professional Women (BPW), the National Women’s Council of Ireland and being on the Board of the City Business Association – fill my political needs and allows me to give something back, which I really enjoy. I feel I have a voice and I want to contribute to make society a better place.”

As a child, she watched political programmes like Today Tonight and was well used to adults discussing current affairs around the kitchen table.

She has just returned from Sorrento, Italy where she attended an international BPW congress (she is the incoming Galway president) which was attended by 450 women who, it appears, have the same concerns as women everywhere.

“For women, it is about the constant struggle to promote ourselves as entrepreneurs. We are jugglers who are as capable as men but we always seem to doubt ourselves. We are very poor at telling ourselves or others that we are indeed doing a good job.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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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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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

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Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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