Classifieds Advertise Archive Subscriptions Family Announcements Photos Digital Editions/Apps
Connect with us

Archive News

Time to let technology take the load off a studentÕs back

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: {J}

The morning of the first full day of secondary school and the shoulder strap on the twelve year old’s brand new bag containing half a tonne of new books is already hanging by a thread from complete detachment.

Not surprising really, given that said bag – admittedly, at thirty quid, one of the few value purchases of this move to ‘free’ second-level education – contains around €400 worth of books, jotters, hard-back notebooks (none of your cheap flexi-covers here) and other accoutrements.

This isn’t about the bag because you get what you pay for – it’s about the cost of kitting out a child for secondary school in Ireland. And while we all know university takes this laughable notion of free education to new heights, we have a few years yet before that’s our problem.

So let’s concentrate on second-level for now.

The bag ripped last week because the school hadn’t allocated lockers on day one, which might seem strange in that putting the name of a student on a little box hardly qualifies as the cutting edge of forward planning – but then, in fairness, it can be hard to motivate yourself for a return to work after three months of a summer holiday.

And of course there’s a real danger that, if you give the locker away before you get your hands on the €15 rental charge from the parents, those dodgy freeloaders might never pay at all.

Thankfully the locker problem has now been resolved and the €15 is resting gently in the school account – but the quantity of the books to be carried on a twelve year old’s back every evening for homework remains an issue.

So here’s a solution that might actually bring us into the modern era, put chiropractors on a three day week, drive those school book companies who make a small fortune to refocus their selling technique and ultimately save all parents a few bob on books over the course of a five or six year cycle.

Why not get rid of books altogether and install all reading and work material on a laptop computer, which these days can be purchased for around €500 – or roughly the cost of one year’s school books and materials?

If the cost proves the problem, perhaps the state would underwrite this plan and parents could pay €100 a year over the course of second level education.

All material could be downloaded via Wi-Fi – installed and paid for in every school by the state – and even if families didn’t have this facility at home, any laptop allows you to work offline so that your homework is completed before returning to the classroom in the morning.

If classrooms need to be brought up to date, let the Government fund that too – some classrooms have interactive white boards which can be fully integrated with laptops, allowing students to show their work on screen in a far more efficient and beneficial way than a teacher taking home a pile of copies.

Of course it might increase the risk of copying homework – cutting and pasting is a lot easier than having to write the whole thing out – but a few well-placed questions from any teacher worth his or her salt should determine whether or not a student did the work or just did the copying.

Naturally there would be a cost involved in putting the syllabus material together somewhere down the line and perhaps parents would have to pay a small fee for that.

Or the government could reallocate responsibilities within the Civil Service so that, say, the woefully under-employed workers with typing skills in the planning office would be moved to the Department of Education to key in whatever changes are necessary to update the course reading material during any given summer.

An added bonus of all this would be the environmental impact of saving countless trees in trying to keep up with an ever-changing syllabus – which might have us all in agreement with the An Taisce groupie John Gormley for once, and that would be worth the effort all on its own. And it appears there’s already a similar pilot scheme running in Cavan.

By all accounts, we’re already been ripped off royally on the cost of school books.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Judy Murphy



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

Continue Reading

Archive News

Ruby ready to rock again and Bob is worth a big flutter in Gold Cup

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 06-Mar-2013

New edge to Galway hurling championship title pursuit

Continue Reading

Archive News

A battle of talent and the ability to pull in public votes

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 11-Mar-2013

Here is a question. And there is no holiday or grand prize for getting the answer. But can anyone name the people who have won The Voice of Ireland and what has become of them?

Over across the water in the UK they have The X Factor and while I hate the concept of it, it has produced a few stars even though they don’t last long in the whole scheme of things.

But The Voice of Ireland seems to generate false excitement with the winner ending up become more anonymous than they already were. And it is costing families a fortune in the process.

While the programme is a ratings winner, strangely, it has resulted in those getting through to the final stages investing huge amounts of money in the hope that they will receive enough votes to get through to the next stages.

So, suddenly, it is not about the voice or the talent involved, it is all about votes and who the participants can convince to pledge their support for them. So it is obvious that talent goes out the window.

It means that someone with half a talent could realistically win the whole thing if they generated enough support behind them. From now on, the judges will be taken out of the equation and it will be left to the public to generate income for some phone operator.

Those who get through to the live performances have to engage in a massive publicity campaign in an effort to win votes which makes this whole effort a pure sham. It is no longer about their ability and just an effort to win appeal.

While the initial process does involve some vetting of the acts, now it becomes a general election type exercise in which the most popular will win the competition and the judges will have no say whatsoever.

It is a bit like the recent Eurosong in which the judging panel across the country voted for their favourite song, which incidentally was the best of a very bad lot, but then this was overturned by the public who chose a relatively crap song to represent us.

But again, this was all down to convincing the public about who to vote for rather than having any bearing on the quality on offer. There are times that genuine talent becomes overlooked because of the need to extract money from the voting public.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

Continue Reading

Local Ads

Local Ads