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Spotlight is on Galway for the Races – and it returns soon for key FF session



Date Published: {J}

Even without ‘the Fianna Fail tent,’ the political spotlight will inevitably fall on Galway next week as the photographers pick out the politicians in the enclosure – with people like Brian Cowen and Enda Kenny sure to feature as they make their annual pilgrimage to Ballybrit.

For Kenny, a regular at the Races, it will be one to remember, for this time he is back in the Fine Gael ‘winners enclosure.’ This is despite the fact that there may still be growls from what Liam Cosgrave once called the ‘mongrel foxes.’ They’re the ones who are skulking out there in what Kenny has described as the recently trimmed FG ‘long grass.’

Plainly, there are still some who will feel that Kenny can’t translate into a ‘classic winner.’ They still have their reservations as to his personal ability to connect with the electorate and maximise the election result for FG.

But no one dare challenge him now. That day has passed and he has roundly routed his enemies until at least after the next General Election. He’s one man ‘on a winner in Galway’ next week and all the FG connections better know it.

Another to watch out for in the ‘parade ring’ will be Labour Leader Eamon Gilmore. Surely he will feature in Galway – as ‘the most popular political leader in the country’ with the punters.

In his native county, Gilmore will probably take the opportunity to show off his Galway East hopeful Councillor Colm Keaveney – for if ever there was a chance of a Labour seat capture in that constituency, it is now, and Keaveney will be a key part of that team.

As for Gilmore, he seems prepared to invest the time in the constituency and I hear word that he is still considering on a list of possible contenders to run with Colm Keaveney. In the meantime, Keaveney is out working ‘on the gallops’ with house-to-house calls being made by Labour activists as they try to put FF’s hugely experienced ‘ould stayers,’ Michael Kitt and Noel Treacy, under pressure.

You can be sure also that Brian Cowen and Enda Kenny will be ‘doorstepped’ by the media ….. and there may not be as much tolerance for the usual banter about whether they had any winners, or do they have any tips. A sterner line of questioning may be possible in a city where 700 queued for jobs in Race Week which will last just one week.

Usually the politicians in Ballybrit like to keep the questions and answers on the lighter side, but there never seems an occasion now where someone is not ‘doorstepped,’ whether on holidays or not.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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Archive News

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



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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