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Suburbs likely to be removed from Gaeltacht



Date Published: 17-Nov-2009

A 20-year blueprint for the Gaeltacht due out next month will recommend a redrawing of the boundaries, which will have major implications for the city with large suburbs contained within its realm.

Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Éamon Ó Cuív said this week that he will seek the postponement of the Údarás na Gaeltachta elections, due to be held by next October, because of the implications of the report. He will have to seek Dáil approval of the postponement by way of an amendment to legislation.

An array of grants payable for housing programmes, Irish speaking children and various social programmes and businesses have been available in Gaeltacht areas, which encompass several suburbs of the city.

Knocknacarra, Menlo and Terryland are all officially within the Gaeltacht, although for the last five years Polish has been become the second language rather than Irish with the multicultural mix that has evolved.

Under revised boundaries these are likely to be taken out of the Gaeltacht, Minister Ó Cuív said.

“This 20-year strategy will deal with the definition of the Gaeltacht, which is based on a 1956 Act – it’s very dated. It will also look at how we can develop the Irish language and how to develop it around Gaelscoileanna and where there are clusters of Gaelic speakers that are outside the Gaeltacht,” he said.

“It will have interesting implications for Galway City. It’s likely that major housing estates won’t be in the Gaeltacht, but we’re looking at an alternative status, a network Gaeltacht, that could be built around clusters of schools so that a wide variety of services could be provided so it will have a positive effect for those interested in the language in the city.”

Mr Ó Cuív said he believed the removal of the Gaeltacht grants for the suburbs would have zero effect. He said very few households got the Irish speaking incentive grant available through school and the housing grants had been suspended with the downturn.

Following the publication in May 2002 of Coimisiún na Gaeltachta’s report on the Irish language in the Gaeltacht, an advisory committee was set up to assist the Government in conducting its analysis and implementation of the recommendations contained in the report.

One of the 19 main recommendations was the commissioning of a comprehensive linguistic study of the usage of Irish in the Gaeltacht. That report, which has taken two years to compile, is expected to be published within six weeks. It will give the most comprehensive insight into the numbers of people using Irish as the main language of communication on a daily basis and their attitude regarding its future.

The study will assess the practical measures necessary to ensure more effective transmission of the Irish language from one generation to the next. It will also examine the effect of the planning policies being pursued at present by those local authorities with Gaeltacht areas within their jurisdiction in the context of their obligations under the Planning and Development Act, 2000.

More controversially, the study will review the Gaeltacht boundaries that have remained largely unchanged since 1956.

It is expected to present geographical and demographic choices that are deemed appropriate as a basis for defining the Gaeltacht boundaries, including the area electoral divisions as they are at present, in addition to parishes, townlands and school catchment areas.

Minister Ó Cuív refused to say what impact the report would have on the future of Údarás na Gaeltachta, which has been earmarked for abolition under the recommendations put forward by economist Colm McCarthy to achieve savings of €5.3bn in a year and reductions of over 17,300 public service employees.

Seosamh Ó Cuaig, Connemara County Councillor and Údaras board member, said it was clear the Minister “has it in” for the agency.

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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