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Sombre lesson of the Somme still lives on

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Battle of the Somme, July 1, 1916 to November 18, 1916: 141 days of the greatest slaughter that the world has ever known on the fields of Southern Belgium and Northern France.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

The older we get the more we tend to reflect back on our younger days and I remember through the 1960s many references being made at the kitchen table to elderly men still living in the area who had served in the first world war.

They were spoken of almost in hushed tones, as if they had done something wrong or as if there was some terrible blob on their character, but it’s only with the passing of time, that the realisation dawned of what those unfortunate souls went through.

History was really at its cruellest when thousands of young Irish men, many of them just boys, enrolled in the British Army, feeling that it was their patriotic duty to do so and take on a German army that had pillaged its way through Belgium and France, committing some terrible atrocities along the way.

To enlist was considered to be the loyal, manly and even the patriotic thing to do, but through the course of the Great War, the course of Irish history was to change inexorably, with the 1916 Rising and the reigniting of the Irish nationalist cause.

But for a moment, put yourself in the shoes of the young Galway soldier lucky enough to have survived battles like Gallipoli and The Somme, returning home on the run-up to Christmas 1918, shortly after the war had ended.

These soldiers had survived hell on earth and even those who had escaped life maiming injuries were still traumatised. We were told as children that these ex-soldiers were ‘shell-shocked’ and ‘were never right since’ [the war], but if that wasn’t bad enough, they came home as outcasts and as local representatives of British imperialism.

Talk about all your misfortunes landing down on top of you, but those unfortunate survivors then had to try and return to some normality as the Irish War of Independence swung into action, and the campaign began in earnest to at last break away from the clasp of Britannia.

One of those ex-soldiers in my neck of the woods at Ballyglunin, who was given the nickname of ‘Mulligan’, ended up homeless and living out the rest of this days with only the dripping stones of the ‘dry eye’ of a bridge on the River Abbert for shelter.

He had a pension from the war, and drank most of it, with the balance being spent on a few loaves of bread to give him sustenance, and my father on returning from the local on a weekend night, would relay some tale told by ‘Mulligan’ about surviving machine gun fire and exploding shells.

CITY TRIBUNE

People Before Profit Galway’s something old from someone new!

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The new Galway City East representative for People Before Profit, Denman Rooke.

Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

People Before Profit introduced its newest local representative with a press release about a familiar old theme: Galway transport and traffic.

Denman Rooke is now representing the party in Galway City East and has set his sights on winning a seat and becoming the party’s first ever PBP councillor on Galway City Council.

In his first public statement under the PBP banner, Rooke welcomed the BusConnects Galway project, which he said had the potential to encourage more public transport and cycling in the city.

“This not only helps tackle overall emissions, but our major traffic issues as well,” he said.

But who is Denman Rooke?

A 36-year-old professional artist and illustrator with strong trade union links, he’s been an art director in entertainment and games for the last 16 years.

A self-professed “eco-socialist activist”, he’s a trade union activist and committee member with Game Workers Unite Ireland which is part of Financial Services Union.

He’s also involved in the Cost of Living Coalition Galway, popular with PBP members.

Born in the USA, Denman Rooke spent a chunk of his childhood in various different countries.

“My father was a South African-born Irishman and my mother an Indian-born American. So, I have a family that is used to being spread out across the world,” he told us.

He spent most of his teens and early 20s in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 2013 he moved with his wife, Caitlyn, to work in Dublin and settled in Galway in 2013. The gamer got involved in local politics to make change.

“With such massive income inequality in our society, a housing crisis, a cost-of-living crisis, climate crisis, and so much more, I felt I had to get involved. I believe socialism, through movements organised by ordinary working people, is the change our society needs,” said Denman Rooke.

He announced his arrival on the scene attending a protest outside University Hospital Galway last Saturday week, organised by Aontú, and was also at the BusConnects Galway public consultation in Renmore Community Centre last week.

With one high-profile resignation from City East already and at least one retirement of the old guard expected, PBP will be targeting a breakthrough in the Local Election in 2024 in a wide-open six-seat ward.

(Photo: The new Galway City East representative for People Before Profit, Denman Rooke).


This is a shortened preview version of this column. For more Bradley Bytes, see the February 3 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.


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Connacht Tribune

Changes afoot when Electoral Commission begins its work

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Galway West TD Noel Grealish: an expanded Galway East constituency could take his territories in Claregalway, Carnmore or Oranmore.

World of Politics with Harry McGee

Once upon a time there was a constituency called Galway South. And until 1961 there was the constituency of Galway North. If you go back to the 19th century it was just Co Galway.

For this generation, the two constituencies that have made up this county have been Galway West and Galway East.

But with each census, and with each population increase, those old divisions have come under threat. It was complicated more during the years of austerity when the number of Teachtaí Dála were cut back to 158 for the 2016 election. That could not be sustained.

The 1937 Constitution provides that the minimum population number for each TD will be 20,000 and the maximum will be 30,000.

There was a marginal increase of TDs in the 2020 election to 160. The Constituency Commission recommended that number based on the 2016 census. However, it gave an average representation of 29,762 of population per member, which was perilously close to the upper limit.

It made for some very messy constituency changes around the country. Galway was one of the counties most impacted. The problem did not relate so much to Galway as much as the surrounding counties, Roscommon in particular.

The Commission is told to try to retain county boundaries as much as possible. As Ireland has changed that has become increasingly difficult, even with the wiggle room afforded by the wide margin allowed: between one TD per 20,000 people; and one TD per 30,000 people.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

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Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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Connacht Tribune

Joyce is right – Galway better off to target league glory than muddle on

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Galway’s Matthew Tierney on the ball against Mayo’s Conor Loftus during Saturday's National Football League tie at MacHale Park. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

YOU could sympathise with Padraic Joyce’s frustration after Saturday evening’s rip-roaring National Football League clash at MacHale Park. Better game management in the closing minutes would have seen Galway over the line and dealt an early season blow to the new Kevin McStay led Mayo management.

In shades of their league tie against Monaghan in June of 2021 when Galway ended up being relegated after holding a winning hand, they were almost home, albeit clinging to a slender one-point advantage. Mayo were pressing desperately in trying to salvage a draw, but their hopes appeared dashed when Ryan O’Donoghue’s free from the left sideline dropped short.

Referee Joe McQuillan was about to blow the final whistle as Cathal Sweeney emerged with the ball only for the Salthill/Knocknacarra man to cough up possession by attempting a risky kick pass to a teammate. The delivery was over-hit, and the lively Donoghue pounced to bravely drive over the equaliser to send the Mayo fans in the big crowd of almost 14,000 into raptures.

Mayo’s second last point was also avoidable. Again, Galway had possession with Peter Cooke, who had just landed a mighty long-range free. Instead, however, of trying to force his way up the field, the Maigh Cuilinn player turned back towards his own posts, came under pressure, and ended up giving the ball away cheaply.  Galway players should remember that when under the cosh, the sideline is your friend.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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