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The double standards we deploy on our nearest neighbours

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Date Published: {J}

It was back in 1997 that the good people of Donegal summed up Ireland’s contradictory – some might say schizophrenic – attitude to all things English.

Because it was in the General Election of that year that they voted in Harry Blaney as a TD for the constituency of Donegal North East on what might best be described as a ‘Brits Out’ ticket – while down the road in Donegal South West they voted for Tom Gildea whose wanted to legalise TV deflectors so that these solid Republicans could watch Eastenders at night.

It’s the same double standard deployed when we wear the shirts of our Liverpool or Manchester United heroes on the streets of our local towns – but when they pull on the three lions, we’ll support Azerbaijan or whoever else England happen to be playing.

Last week we saw it all over again when Wills and Kate walked down the aisle of Westminster Abbey – even the fact that we refer to the future King of England and his commoner wife by their first names shows how bizarre this interest is.

It’s not that some of our forefathers fought and died for Ireland because that sort of old nonsense just held us back in the dark ages for a few extra generations – it’s that we’d be anything other than utterly ambivalent to the goings on of any Royal family anywhere in the world.

Perhaps it’s their dysfunctional lives that endear them to us as a sort of strange curiosity; the elderly Queen and her Germanic husband whose mouth has plenty of room for both of his feet; Charles, the son who would be King if he didn’t spend so much time talking to plants and dumping one of the world’s most stylish women for, well, a more equine model – and Andrew, the man paid a lot to do nothing and still managing to leave a trail of destruction and bar bills in his wake.

And these boys didn’t marry well because Diana, to use an analogy, was one tough dog to keep on the porch, while Fergie spent like she was married to Seanie Fitzpatrick as opposed to a layabout Prince, to a point where she was offering his services to the News of the World for fifty grand, twenty fags and what appeared – on secret video at least – to be several bottles of wine.

Granted, we stopped short of street parties but the English tabloids and the glossy magazines made sure that closet Royalists were bang up to date on Kate’s wedding dress, whether she would obey or not obey William, what that scamp Harry might say in his speech and whether Camilla would eat her nosh from a dish or a trough.

There cannot be a country on earth more heavily influenced by its nearest neighbours than Ireland.

We buy their papers, speak their language, watch their TV, follow their football teams, buy their music, follow their fashion – and yet when you travel abroad and a Spaniard mistakes you for a Brit, you lose your reason.

They in turn see us as a sort of land of harmless leprechauns drowning in a sea of Guinness and Paddy whiskey, Riverdancing our way through the night. They see Terry Wogan as the quintessential Irishman while we all think he’s a West Brit.

They love the oul’ blarney almost as much as the Yanks, and we can lay it on with a trowel if that’s what it takes to get our hands on the sterling.

For more, read this week’s Connacht 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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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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Archive News

Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

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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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