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The value for money thatÕs still to be found on our doorstep



Date Published: 21-Nov-2012

One of the great joys in life is to stroll though Galway’s market on a Saturday morning, bumping into the people we used to meet up with in pubs on Friday nights back when we were all a couple of decades younger and could stick the pace.

But apart from the chance to chat, it also allows you to stop off and buy the best of wholesome Irish food at a fraction of the supermarket costs, secure in the knowledge that if it was any fresher, it would still be in the ground or on the tree.

The fruit and veg stall that faces onto St Patrick’s National School is a hive of activity, as Ronnie and his cohorts help you stock up on enough of your five a day to safely see you through the week – and for the price of a couple of pints.

I would be the first to admit that I’ve had a tempestuous relationship with food that is good for me – perhaps it was the vats of baked beans forced on us all in boarding school – and I am to broccoli what Phil Hogan is to common sense.

But even I recognise that fruit and veg are critical to any sort of a balanced diet – and here we have a repository of it on our own doorstep. Of course there are Farmers’ Markets up and down the county, offering the same sort of sensational value.

And in fairness, the big supermarkets have got their house in order on prices as well.

The problem is, however, that – as money gets tighter – research shows that we’re inclined to allow an economic recession to lead to a nutritional one as well.

Research in the UK and published by the Guardian newspaper last week, for example found that cash-strapped families were filling up on high-fat processed foods as 900,000 fewer manage their ‘five-a-day’ fruit and vegetables in the past two years alone.

The data show consumption of high-fat and processed foods such as instant noodles, coated chicken, meat balls, tinned pies, baked beans, pizza and fried food has grown among households with an income of less than £25,000 a year as hard-pressed consumers increasingly choose products perceived to be cheaper and more ‘filling’.

And while those foods are undoubtedly cheaper – particularly on the ‘own brand’ shelves of your local supermarket – you will never beat the market stall for value or quality. So even when money is tight, there is a way.

You will find, for example, that a dinner for four of roast chicken, boiled potatoes and a couple of veg will invariably work out cheaper than a trip to the chipper.

But in fairness, the former requires preparation – and sometimes convenience wins out. That said, it is also the case that a lack of culinary skills dictates that fast food is the only option.

And, as with so many things, it is those who earn least or who live nearest the poverty line who are most affected.

The data quoted by the Guardian, which captured consumer food buying habits up to June 2012, showed that the rising price of food – up 32% over the past five years according to official UK figures – meant the least well-off consumers focused their increasingly stretched food budgets on frozen and processed products at the expense of fresh fish, meat and fruit.

Food choices of poorer households were driven primarily by price and were more likely to be influenced by two-for-one style price promotions, most commonly associated with processed food products.

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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