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That ringing noise is nothing to get alarmed about



Date Published: 09-May-2012

Is it a uniquely Irish thing to not alone ignore ringing alarms, but to actually get annoyed if nobody rushes to turn them off?

By their nature, an alarm should indicate an emergency and the natural response should see you scurrying for the exit, or, if you’re a good neighbour, rushing towards the source of the noise to see if there’s a break-in or a problem you can help with.

Instead, when an alarm goes off in a pub, for example, you presume it’s been triggered accidentally and if you sit tight and try and ignore the din for a few minutes, normality will be restored.

Equally, if the house alarm next door kicks off, you hope it will run out of battery before you go to bed because it’s hard enough to listen to it during the day-time but it’s next to impossible to sleep through.

You never think for one minute that the reason the alarm is sounding is because the adjoining house has been burgled and the lone resident is lying in a pool of blood on the kitchen floor – any more than you think the pub is on fire and you’d better make for the exit.

I remember a night in Manchester some years ago – in fact it coincided with a Saw Doctors’ gig in the city but they had nothing to do with the incident – when a fire alarm sounded at about four in the morning in the hotel.

Now I presumed it was some eejit who’d had too much to drink and was running around the corridors – probably without some if not all of his clothes – who was hitting the button for the craic. But when hotel staff knocked on all doors, you knew it was time to take this a little more seriously.

So I got up, got dressed, put my contact lenses in, packed my case and headed for the emergency meeting point the adjacent car park – where I was greeted by the sight of several hundred people who obviously took the word ‘emergency’ in a more literal sense and had been standing there in the cold in their pyjamas and underwear for the previous 20 minutes.

Now while I felt particularly snug and smug in my day-time dress, it was only afterwards that I realised that, if there actually was a fire, I’d have been toast before I’d have my lenses back in to be able to see the flames.

On another occasion, at a time when I was working in a different newspaper, there was a particular editor who insisted that he was not to be disturbed under any circumstances when he was thinking.

As this was not a task he appeared to bother a whole lot with in the normal course of events, these occasion bouts of thinking rarely presented a problem – but one day he was locked away in his office when a fire drill took place.

That involved all of the staff fleeing the building and, as it turned out, heading for the adjoining public house – which, if there had been a fire, would have burned every bit as quickly as the newspaper office itself.

The point was that, in the meantime, our editor concluded his bout of thinking and emerged from his office to find a newsroom which minutes earlier had housed three dozen journalists was now emptier than Bertie Ahern’s bank account.

Which only goes to prove that too much thinking can be as bad for you as not thinking at all – or that the last thing you should ever do when you hear an alarm going off in any context….is to get too alarmed about it.

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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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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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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