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Tackling the ÔminefieldÕ thatÕs ruining stretches of our city

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Date Published: {J}

You have to wonder just what Galway City Council means by the concept of residents – or indeed passers-by – taking up the notion of ‘adopting a public park’. It seemed that part of the context was to watch out for what is commonly termed ‘anti-social behaviour’.

The suggestion came up in the context of the fact that the Children’s Millennium Park, near Galway Cathedral, was left in a dreadful state one weekend recently – with litter, bottles, cans and every other sort of rubbish dumped in the area.

Not alone was it dangerous for children, who surely could not be let play in an area with bottles and glass in all directions, but, this being one of the prime districts where tourists wander when visiting the Cathedral, it was a dreadful advertisement for what Galway has to offer.

It appears that the reason the Children’s Park was not cleaned was because cutbacks meant there was no ‘weekend cover’ for cleaning . . . but what is the average member of the public expected to do when he/she sees ‘anti-social behaviour’ in the area? Certainly not intervene – unless you want to run the risk of a bottle over the head. The best anyone could do would be to ring the Gardaí on the mobile.

One would imagine that what regularly goes on in this park was some sort of well-kept secret. You wouldn’t have to be an eagle-eyed member of the public to see the drinking parties which very often commence there just after dark. Indeed, near the adjoining area for skate boarding, the ‘bush drinking’ parties can start long before dark.

There is also the problem of young adults using the swings, the seesaws and other equipment. The equipment was never meant for such abuse and no one dare intervene when ‘playtime’ begins for fullgrown adults who use this play area.

An odd foot patrol by Gardaí in the vicinity would serve to dramatically reduce the ‘bush drinking’ and abuse . . . which is doubly wrong because it is happening in, or near, a children’s playground. On Patrick’s Day the special Garda foot patrols stopped this nonsense in its tracks in this very area; Gardaí forfeited the drink in double quick time. In other words, we need an occasional Garda presence in the form of a passing foot patrol.

Of course, this isn’t the only ‘bush drinking’ which goes on under the eyes of the authorities. There are regular cider parties on the banks of the canal off Dominick Street . . . and the Mill Street Garda Station is certainly within 50 yards of one of the cider party locations. You couldn’t miss seeing the parties if you happened to glance out some of the station windows.

Thankfully, it was great to see a group of City Council workmen in action at the Children’s Millennium Park last week with a general clean-up going on, bushes and trees being trimmed, and real attention being paid to detail in getting the playground and surrounds back into the best condition possible. A pat on the back here for the workmen and for the city councillors who had highlighted the condition of the area and the need to pay attention to it.

On a more general note, one can quite understand that services such as weekend cleaning might be curtailed at a time of cutbacks, though children’s play areas sound like they might be excluded from such cuts. However, these are not the only amenities which are showing signs of neglect – whether the lack of cleaning is part of cutbacks, or not.

For more, read this week’s Galway CIty 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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Jazz, folk and rock-inspired Syd Arthur set to hit the road

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Date Published: 30-Jan-2013

Combining jazz, folk and rock influences, Syd Arthur play Róisín Dubh on Thursday, February 14. The Canterbury-based band are Liam Magill (vocals/guitar), Raven Bush (violin), Fred Rother (drums) and Joel Magill (bass). As he prepares to hit the road with the band, Joel recalls how they met.

“Me and Liam are brothers, so obviously we’ve known each other for a while,” he laughs. “We met Fred, our drummer, at school and started jamming together. Then we met Raven a bit later on, when I was 19 or 20. It went from there, basically.”

Some parents may be wary about their children going the rock ‘n’ route, but Joel and his friends met no such obstacles.

“We were always interested in it, and encouraged at school and by family,” he says. “Later on, the discovery of the Canterbury sound had a big influence on us.”

The ‘Canterbury sound’ refers to a scene that emerged in the late Sixties and early Seventies, spearheaded by groups with a taste for avant-garde and progressive rock music.

 

“I would always think of The Soft Machine and Caravan, and Hatfield and the North,” says Joel. “They’d be the big ones for us.”

In a previous incarnation, Joel and his bandmates went under the moniker of Grumpy Jumper. Why did they change their name?

“That was a long time ago, before Raven was in the band,” Joel explains. We were just playing locally and we made a CD under that name. When Raven joined, we felt like it was a new thing, so time to move on.”

Their new name comes from Siddhartha, a Buddhism-inspired novel written by Hermann Hesse.

“We all discovered that book around the same time,” says Joel. “It went round the whole band at the time we were trying to come up with a new name. We took a little bit of a play on it, made it a bit English. We used to pronounce the name of the book ‘Syd Arthur’.”

Last year, Syd Arthur released their debut album On And On, which was recorded in their own studio in Canterbury. Having their own space allowed the quartet to become familiar with recording, producing and mixing their music.

“Three or four years ago we got access to this space from Raven’s family,” says Joel. “It was an old dilapidated building that was on their property. We were often underwhelmed by going into the studio, spending a lot of money and generally not coming out with anything as good as one would hope.”

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Archive News

Hope Springs eternal for Galway

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Date Published: 31-Jan-2013

FRANK FARRAGHER

WITH every Spring there comes a dollop of hope and when Galway footballers trot out on Sunday at Pearse Stadium (2pm) to take on Derry in the first match of the National League, there will be murmurings of better days to come for the hard core of maroon supporters.

Patience has had to be a virtue for all involved with Galway football over recent years, but Alan Mulholland and his management team have embarked on a policy of building a young team . . . a slow process and one that also requires the injection of winning key matches to build up the confidence reserves.

Championship and qualifier defeats to Sligo and Antrim last season didn’t exactly improve the mood of the county, and last Sunday week in Enniscrone, there were worrying signs when, once more, Galway perished at the sword of Kevin Walsh.

This time last year in the first match of the league, Galway travelled to Derry and came away with an unexpected victory that sowed the seeds of future hope – overall, Mulholland’s charges had a good early season campaign only being denied promotion by a late, late Kildare penalty goal in their last game at Pearse Stadium.

Over the Winter, Galway’s last playing links with the All-Ireland winning team of 2001 were severed with the retirements of Padraic Joyce and Joe Bergin, so it really is a new canvas in 2013 for the team management.

Mulholland said this week that he didn’t want to put too much pressure on his team for the Derry match, on the basis that there were 14 points to be picked up over the course of the league campaign, but he was still hoping for a strong performance in Pearse Stadium.

“Yes, we were very disappointed at our defeat to Sligo in the FBD league match in Enniscrone and especially with our second-half performance. It was an eye-opener for us but we’ve regrouped since, we’ve taken a look at where things went wrong, and hopefully we’ll get in right for Sunday.

“I suppose that if there’s one thing a young team needs, it’s confidence and that comes from winning matches. Over the last couple of months, the lads really have put in a huge effort in terms of their physical preparation, and I am hoping that this will count for something over the course of the league,” Mulholland told Tribune Sport.

He did stress however that Derry will present a very strong challenge under new manager Brian McIver (who guided Donegal to National League success) – a man who has also placed his faith in a youth policy – with the county having delivered some strong performances in the McKenna Cup.

“There’s a lot of football talent in Derry and maybe like ourselves, they might feel that they should be doing better, but they’ll come to Pearse Stadium on Sunday with no fears, and we know that it will take a huge effort to beat them,” said Mulholland.

Derry didn’t make it through to the McKenna Cup decider but they were, by all accounts, desperately unlucky to lose out to Tyrone in their first round game when they were ‘caught’ by a late sucker punch goal from Conor McAliskey.

Eoin Bradley is also back to spice up things in the Derry attack and the Northern side always carry a strong physical element to their play, so Galway will need to hold their own in the 50-50 scraps for possession.

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

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