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Stay of execution for Carna bus

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 12-Nov-2009

The Carna bus which was set to be discontinued by Bus Éireann has survived – for now at least.

The axing of the Carna bus was seen as one of the toughest decisions by Bus Éireann as no other bus service – either public or private – serves that area in west Connemara.

It is also a bus closely linked to the political history of west Galway; the late Johnny Geoghegan who was a longtime conductor on the Carna bus became a TD and Minister for State.

His rise in the political world is attributed to a significant degree to his knowledge of Connemara and its people as a result of the Carna bus. Johnny Geoghegan settled down in Carna, a destination he reached via the Carna bus.

His daughter Máire Geoghegan-Quinn succeeded him in Galway West. She is now a member of the European Court of Auditors and is tipped by some people to become Ireland’s next Commisioner in Europe.

But history was away down the list when the future of the Carna bus was assessed by Bus Éireann in the past year and it had been targeted to be taken of the road.A meeting in Galway last Monday, however, ended in a reprive of sorts for the venerable Carna Bus.

Bus Éireann has agreed to try out a new route and new departure and return times for the Carna service.

The bus company’s regional manager Brian Connolly told a deputation from the “Keep the Bus” campaign at a meeting in Galway on Monday that the company will give a three month trial to a new system.

The bus will travel on the south Connemara road during that time and it will leave Carna at 7.30am. It will leave Galway at 5.15pm on the return journey. In order to speed up the journey to and from Galway the bus will not travel west to Muighros (in the Carna area) or into Ros Muc during the trial period.

The three month trial period – which is likely to be organised in the New Year – is aimed at increasing passenger numbers and making the service financially viable. Bus Éireann regional manager Brian Connolly said that the company would want to have from 25 to 30 people per day using the service.

Mr Connolly pointed out at the meeting that the passenger numbers on the bus when it reached Maam Cross in the month of October was seven and that pass holders were included in that figure.

He said that was not sustainable.

The “Keep the Bus” campaign provided a list of names of people who were willing to use the bus regularly, or more often, if it travelled at earlier times, took the south Connemara route and got to Galway city quicker as a result.

The “Keep the Bus” deputation from the Ros Muc and Carna areas was accompanied in Galway by the Minister for Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Éamon Ó Cuív and by the chairman of the Oireachtas Transport Committee, Deputy Frank Fahey.

Councillor Seosamh Ó Cuaig, the chairman of the Connemara group of Councillors accompanied the deputation and said that it would be a terrible blow if areas in south west Connemara lost the only bus service to Galway that is available to them. He stressed that the social need for the bus was vitally important.

“We have had a Carna for the past 80 years, and it would be a sad day to see it go now,” said Councillor Ó Cuaig.

Both Minister Ó Cuív and Deputy Fahey said that the bus service from Carna should be scheduled in order to make it convenient for people working along the south Connemara road, in the Furbo area and in Galway city.

Minister Ó Cuív pointed out that there are a large number of people working in places such as Radio na Gaeltachta, Údarás na Gaeltachta, An Roinn Gnóthaí Pobail Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta, TG4 and Oifig an Choimisinéir Teanga which are all located in south Connemara.

He said a further study of where people are travelling from, and where they work in the west and south Connemara area would be useful in deciding on travel times for the bus. Deputy Frank Fahey said he is “confident” that an arrangement can be made in the city which would give “priority” to the Carna bus at some points so that travel time on the 80km route could be shortened.

“I would hope that we could have the bus coming into the UCHG grounds and up by the University”, Deputy Fahey said. Meanwhile Deputy Fahey has suggested that a public campaign should be started aimed at getting people to use the buses and that Connemara could be the focus.

“Connemara people used to travel a lot on the bus at one time, and I am suggesting that we could have a pilot scheme in Connemara to try and get people back on bus,” he said.

There are also tax benefits for people who travel to work on the buses – and Deputy Fahey said this would form part of the promotional campaign that he is suggesting.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Judy Murphy



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

Rory takes on fresh challenge as lauded DruidMurphy returns

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 03-Apr-2013


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After twenty years Sarah lands dream role in Druid

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 04-Apr-2013

 Sarah Lynch has been living and breathing Druid Theatre since she wangled a job as a runner fresh out of college two decades ago at age 20. After holding down just about every role imaginable there – from company manager to director to stage manager – her appointment as general manager to one of the country’s most prestigious theatre companies last October seemed almost inevitable.

Because once she had tasted the fruit of Druid she was going nowhere . . . and going everywhere. Sarah’s tenure at Druid since 1998 has brought her on a journey that has reached just about every corner of the globe and almost all the islands off Ireland in between.

After graduating from Limerick with a degree in French and English Sarah spent a stint teaching in a secondary school. But it immediately became clear that wasn’t the road for her.

“One thing I was always certain of was I’d be involved in the performing arts, whether on stage or off stage or behind it. The immediate reaction of the audience is such a buzz,” she grins.

Her earliest memory was of her grandfather, Bud Clancy, on stage with his trumpet and dance band. “I must have been three or four because he died shortly after that. But it never left me. I got bitten by the bug. I started playing the trumpet. A friend of my grandfather taught me how to play and I was with the Limerick brass and reed orchestra known as the Boherbuoy Band, I was just a kid with all these adults.”

She learned to play other brass instruments such as the French horn and cornet before turning her hand to the guitar and song-writing. “I taught myself guitar. Sometime I tinker on the piano and I think that’s my next instrument. I love percussion. You can’t get me off a drum kit for love or money. Many is the night I’ve made a fool of myself on one of those,” she laughs.

In 2010, Sarah released her debut album, Letter to Friends, which was launched by playwright Enda Walsh, whose short play, Lynndie’s Gotta Gun, she had directed as part of the 2008 Galway Arts Festival.

The collection of songs was produced by Wayne Sheehy, a musician she had met when opening for Juliet Turner on Turner’s Burn the Black Suit tour.

“I could probably have done it ten years ago but for the manic schedule with Druid and touring so much,” she reflects. “I haven’t done much with it since. I used to play gigs in the Róisín Dubh. The bigger twin is theatre at the moment. The bigger twin bullies the other twin. You don’t get much time to do music.”

After fleeing the classroom, Sarah knocked on the door of a former college mate, Andrew Flynn, now with the Galway Youth Theatre, who kindly offered up his couch. He also managed to get her a job as a runner – the person who does everything from making tea to helping with props – on a Druid production of As You Like It.

“I remember working with Mark O’Halloran, I had great fun with him. There was Helen Norton, it was Maeliosa Stafford directing. He’s coming back to the Druid after ten years to star in Tom Murphy’s A Whistle in the Dark. He left me as a runner, now I’m general manager.”

Much of Sarah’s time behind the scenes at Druid has been spent on the road. In 2009 alone, Druid toured to Australia, Canada, the UK and the USA presenting 364 performances in 26 venues.

Indeed so much of life has been out spent living of a suitcase that she gave up her base in Galway to move back in with her family in Caherdavin, on the Galway side of Limerick city.

The tour of the Cripple of Inishmaan by Martin McDonagh was so long the crew were instructed to pack two suitcases, one with summer clothes, the other winter gear, as they would be spanning the seasons. Her job now entails a lot of commuting, but driving is where she gets a lot of thinking done.

Sarah’s decision to apply for the more home-based job of general manager was one she made discreetly while on the Druid Murphy tour around the US. She had to undergo her interview in between shows at the Lincoln Center in New York. It was the most nerve wrecking experience of her life, she admits.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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