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The face of Galway politics changes – as Connaughton says he’s retiring



Date Published: {J}

The face of Galway politics is changing as it hasn’t done in years – first there was the retirement of Labour’s Michael D. Higgins TD, and on Tuesday came that shock announcement that Fine Gael’s Paul Connaughton TD is calling it a day.

The retirement of Connaughton, after more than 30 years in Leinster House in the Senate and then the Dail, removes one of the best known names in Galway politics.

But the moves will now be on among the big Connaughton camp following in Galway East to get Councillor Paul Connaughton Jnr. on to the ticket and elected in a constituency where FG have consistently shared the Dail seats 2-2 in recent elections.

‘Young Paul,’ as he is known in party ranks, was elected a Councillor for the Ballinasloe area in the Local Elections of 2009, where he started by topping the poll in the district with over 2,500 first preferences. It was the way anyone would have wanted a new political career to start and the Connaughton troops will now be out in a bid to ensure that ‘the youngster’ succeeds his father in a political dynasty that has one of the most formidable political machines in the west.

But there has been one hell of a battle ongoing in FG circles for the nominations and all the Connaughton experience, influence and delegate-courting abilities will have to be used in the coming weeks to ensure that ‘Young Paul’ makes it on to the FG ticket at a time when the FG vote must be up in the constituency.

In East Galway, FG are nurturing thoughts of winning three-seats-out of four, which will mean that Paul Connaughton’s call to FG Leader Enda Kenny to tell him of his retirement, will have come as a bit of a shock to Kenny and party planners who always ‘chalked down’ Connaughton as one definite winner over the years since 1981 when he first entered the Dail after a few years in the Senate.

Paul Connaughton senior’s withdrawal means that the front runners now for FG nominations as candidates are: Ulick Burke TD, Senator Ciaran Cannon, Councillor Paul Connaughton Jnr. (Mountbellew), Councillor Tom McHugh (Tuam), Councillor Michael Mullins (Ballinasloe) and Councillor Peter Feeney (Athenry).

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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Archive News

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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