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Technology will make fools of us all in the end

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: {J}

There was a joke doing the rounds recently that a DVD of Liverpool’s glory days was for sale – but it would cost €500. The DVD itself was in the bargain bin for a mere fifty cent…..the real cost was the Betamax player you’d need to watch it.

Of course that was before they bought two new strikers called Andy and Lou – Little Britain? – and pocketed a suitcase of Chelski’s roubles but even still it wasn’t quite as clever as the wag who, earlier in the season when the Reds were in the relegation zone, added a few words to the John Lennon statue at Liverpool Airport. The normal inscription was a line from Imagine – ‘above us only sky’ – to which our wit added: ‘below us only West Ham’.

And even if you were a diehard Pool fan, you’d have to laugh – but the only problem was the joke sort of lost its effect when you had to explain to your twelve year old what a Betamax video recorder was.


Of course in another generation you’ll have to explain what a video recorder of any sort is, because we’ll all have integrated systems that allow you to press a button and save programmes to your little heart’s content.

But for now the fact that there’s more than one generation who never heard of Betamax, and for whom vinyl records are circular things you see in old movies, is quite enough to deal with.

It’s only a matter of time before anyone without a 3D telly will be afraid to invite friends to visit them in case it will show them up as backward or poor.

We’ll all be sitting around like Roy Orbison (they won’t know who he was either, but never mind) with our big dark glasses watching Rory McIllroy cope with the undulations of the Masters greens without leaving the comfort of the couch.

Of course all of the television manufacturers are well advanced with the efforts to build 3D TV’s without the need for glasses at all which should mean two things – very few people will buy the current models because they’ll need a lot of money and a lot of glasses….and ultimately the next generation will laugh at them when the TV’s that don’t require any eyewear become de rigeur.

Anyone who was around in the early seventies will remember the evolution from black and white television to colour which for some was speeded up by a sort of giant green screen over your old telly which was supposed to colour the picture but in actual fact made it look like you were watching it through a coloured vase.

The first time we got colour television, there was horse racing on Sports Stadium on the Saturday. Normally I’m as likely to watch racing as I am to watch cookery shows, but that day I couldn’t take my eyes off the green grass – even though we had it growing up to the window sill outside.

When you tell the kids these stories, they look at you in the way we looked at our parents when they told us about a time when you washed all your clothes by hand.

They love the fact that there wasn’t a remote control and anyway you didn’t need one – there was just RTE and after that the only choice you had was to turn the telly on or off.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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

Ruby ready to rock again and Bob is worth a big flutter in Gold Cup

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 06-Mar-2013

New edge to Galway hurling championship title pursuit

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Archive News

A battle of talent and the ability to pull in public votes

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 11-Mar-2013

Here is a question. And there is no holiday or grand prize for getting the answer. But can anyone name the people who have won The Voice of Ireland and what has become of them?

Over across the water in the UK they have The X Factor and while I hate the concept of it, it has produced a few stars even though they don’t last long in the whole scheme of things.

But The Voice of Ireland seems to generate false excitement with the winner ending up become more anonymous than they already were. And it is costing families a fortune in the process.

While the programme is a ratings winner, strangely, it has resulted in those getting through to the final stages investing huge amounts of money in the hope that they will receive enough votes to get through to the next stages.

So, suddenly, it is not about the voice or the talent involved, it is all about votes and who the participants can convince to pledge their support for them. So it is obvious that talent goes out the window.

It means that someone with half a talent could realistically win the whole thing if they generated enough support behind them. From now on, the judges will be taken out of the equation and it will be left to the public to generate income for some phone operator.

Those who get through to the live performances have to engage in a massive publicity campaign in an effort to win votes which makes this whole effort a pure sham. It is no longer about their ability and just an effort to win appeal.

While the initial process does involve some vetting of the acts, now it becomes a general election type exercise in which the most popular will win the competition and the judges will have no say whatsoever.

It is a bit like the recent Eurosong in which the judging panel across the country voted for their favourite song, which incidentally was the best of a very bad lot, but then this was overturned by the public who chose a relatively crap song to represent us.

But again, this was all down to convincing the public about who to vote for rather than having any bearing on the quality on offer. There are times that genuine talent becomes overlooked because of the need to extract money from the voting public.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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