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Those key factors that determine your future prospects in the sport of politics



Date Published: 12-Sep-2012

Somewhere on the airwaves on Sunday night, I heard somebody saying that the atmosphere at the end of Sunday’s epic All-Ireland hurling final was anti-climactic.

That somebody, whoever they were, was as wrong as Brian Cowen was when he decided to stand down most of his Cabinet with some half-cocked notion that it might win Fianna Fáil an election.

No, it wasn’t an anti-climax – it was exhaustion. I was a mere spectator at Croke Park and I’ve never been more physically or emotionally drained by 145 or 146 minutes.

It got so bad that over the last agonising 10 minutes I couldn’t stand, I couldn’t shout, I could hardly watch as Joe Canning stood over the ball for that final fateful free. I never felt as tired in my life as I did on that Sunday evening.

In sport – and especially a whirlwind sport like hurling – all of the problems and obstacles of the wider world become concentrated into a few moments.

1. The Reality of the Situation: There was the dread feeling when you began to think, this was too good to be through, as Galway struggled to contain Kilkenny from getting the upper-hand.

2. The Hard Choices: As Henry Shefflin lined up to take the penalty, he had the choice of winning the game (or potentially losing it); or going for the percentages by nabbing an easy point, ensuring the worst Kilkenny could do was get a draw.

3. The Unknowable: The game was a great example of the impossibility of knowing everything beforehand: whether or not form or physicality or speed or game plans would pan out. All of these things could not be fully known until they were played out and even then they weren’t clear cut (Brian Hogan had a mediocre first half; a stormer of a second half). And the unknowability of who will win the replay in three weeks’ time. I have a gut feeling and an emotional attachment but do I really really know what’s going to happen? Not a chance.

And so it’s Monday afternoon and on to Westport in Mayo, Ireland’s favourite place to live and Fine Gael’s favourite place to have its annual think-in of TDs and Senators.

And as the day pans out you begin to bracket the problems in the same kind of way (though with Enda Kenny you’re never sure if he’s a Brian Cody or an Anthony Cunningham or a . . . Davy Fitzgerald!). Of course, the uncertainty is still as frustrating and infuriating but unfortunately it’s been played out at a tortuously slow pace.

The Reality of the Situation

For new governments, honeymoon periods usually last for three months, but this Coalition has emerged relatively unscathed from its first 18 months. However, with €3.5 billion in cuts to be found in December and with no easy pickings, Kenny was warning his troops yesterday that the next four months will be the most difficult in the Coalition’s five-year term of office.

Secondly, Donal Donovan, a former deputy director of the International Monetary Fund, was one of the guest speakers. According to TDs who were present, he was very pessimistic about Ireland’s prospect.

He said that without relief on bank recapitalisation, the austerity policies would not really achieve their goals and would hamper the return to growth (this is an argument that has been endlessly made, though far more robustly, by the US economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman).

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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