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Top trad artists feature in new CD for special needs’ groups

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Date Published: {J}

If you haven’t got all your Christmas shopping done yet – and who does except for really formidable people? – a gorgeous new CD of trad and folk music might fill a gap very nicely.

Réiltín is a compilation album with tracks from Séamus Begley, Sharon Shannon, Don Stiffe, Liz and Yvonne Kane, Matt Keane and Orlaith Kane, Dermot Byrne (of Altan) Mirella Murray (of Cherish the Ladies), and a whole lot more.

So it’s high quality. And it’s also in a good cause.

Réiltín, the creation of musician Mary Shannon, is a fundraiser for two organisations, The Williams Syndrome Association of Ireland, which is based in Ballinasloe, and the Clare Crusaders, based in the Clare village of Barefield.

Mary is the mother of a little girl with Williams Syndrome and has availed of the services of both these organisations. She felt that a CD would help raise much-needed funds for the two groups and also raise awareness of the work they do.

Not many people are aware of the existence of Williams Syndrome, a rare genetic condition that is estimated to occur in one out of 20,000 births.

In fact according to Ballinasloe woman Ann Breen who founded William Syndrome Association of Ireland in the 1980s, it’s only since 1993 that a genetic test has been available to help diagnose it.

Williams Syndrome causes medical and developmental problems of varying degrees, explains Ann, whose daughter Karen, now 27, has the condition. Caused by the deletion of some genetic material from Chromosome Seven, it occurs across all ethnic groups and it affects males and females equally.

William Syndrome was first identified in 1961 by a New Zealand doctor – before that people who suffered from the syndrome were labelled under the catch-all description of ‘mentally handicapped’.

There is a wide range of ability among people with William Syndrome, but most are unlikely to be able to live independently and, so having a child with the condition brings specific responsibilities.

Ann’s own daughter Karen, who is highly dependent, and who went to a special needs school in Athlone, now lives at home with her mother – her father, Paschal passed away a couple of years ago. She will never be able to live independently, says her mother who has done trojan work to raise awareness of Williams Syndrome since Karen was born.

The organisation Ann established offers support and also organises an annual camp in Fermanagh for people with William Syndrome and their families. The camp is based around music, she says, because many people with the syndrome are very musical.

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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Early tries scupper Wegians in Bateman Cup

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Date Published: 24-Jan-2013

WOMAN TOLD TO LEAVE GALWAY OR FACE JAIL

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Killimor wary of favourites tag for semi-final

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Date Published: 30-Jan-2013

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