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Trades exodus means motorway may need influx of foreign workers

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Date Published: 01-Aug-2012

There is a distinct possibility that – if the Gort to Tuam motorway proceeds next year – workers may have to be sourced from Eastern Europe because of “a massive skills drain” from Galway.

The majority of those involved in the construction industry have either emigrated or have sourced alternative employment.

It would be something of an ironic situation if building workers from Galway had to emigrate to find employment and now there is the possibility that the jobs available on the M17/M18 motorway will go to foreign workers.

The Construction Industry Federation have not ruled out this possibility and say that the numbers taking training courses with FAS have reduced considerably compared to the building boom period.

It is claimed that the Gort to Tuam motorway will employ in the region of 3,000 workers when it commences in early 2013 – although this figure is disputed by a Galway West TD.

However, Tom Parlon, Director General of the Construction Industry Federation, said that the lack of building workers was a concern and didn’t rule out the possibility of people from outside the country being brought in to carry out the project.

“It is concern as the industry has suffered very badly. It obviously grew way bigger than it ought to for an economy our size but now it is shrinking at an alarming rate and we are close to one-fifth of what it was.

“I know that one of the major multi-nationals is planning a significant expansion here and will be looking for massive numbers in both the electrical and plumbing areas.

“They have emigrated all over the world and a lot of people who lost their jobs in construction have moved into other areas or have emigrated.

“But there is no doubt about it, we have a massive skills drain from the country both in terms of individual skills and in terms of the companies that have disappeared off the face of the earth.

“The numbers training with FAS have almost depleted entirely and there is a lack of interest in construction related courses,” Mr Parlon, a former PD Minister, said.

See full story in 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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Miriam taps into body’s energy field to aid healing

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Date Published: 07-Mar-2013

Bio-energy is a healing therapy that is difficult to explain to people who have never heard about it but one practising therapist and her clients can testify that it works.

Knocknacarra based Miriam Lynch says it had a huge impact on her life at a time when she needed a boost as well as a new direction in her life. As it happens the bio-energy therapy became her new life as she is now entering into her fourth year as a practitioner.

The therapy was introduced to the West of Ireland by two men who still maintain rooms in Merchants Road where Miriam helps out from time to time.

Basically, the therapy, which is based on the Chinese chi energy, works on the energies of the body. If the energy flows become stagnant, disturbed or imbalanced, this can lead to sickness, not just of the physical body but also the mental, spiritual and emotional aspects.

Recent studies show that the person’s primary responses to stimuli take place first in the energetic field, not in the sensory nerves or in the brain. These correspond with earlier findings that the body contains a complex electrical system that regulates the activity of the internal organs and is the foundation of health.

Miriam explains that she never claims to heal anyone but rather stimulate the person’s energy field by her work so that the body starts to heal itself. That’s why she tells her clients that sometimes they have to give the bio-energy a chance to work as people respond differently. Some respond immediately and feel the benefits after the first session while others take more time.

Originally from Mayo, Miriam came to Galway after spending seven years living in London, followed by a few years living in Dublin and then Shannon.

She worked in the IT business and she was made redundant twice, the last time in 2009 from Hewlett Packard where she was a project manager.

Miriam found working for a large multi-national very stressful. “I tried different therapies for my fatigue and stress and it wasn’t until I came across bio-energy here in Galway that I found a solution. That was the one that worked for me and then I wanted to find out more about it. So I did and decided to do a course on it and become a practitioner.

“After all those years doing IT, it was lovely to be doing something different and I also did a diploma in anatomy and physiology.”

She was looking for work and wondering what new direction to take with her life after redundancy when she started her course which took place one weekend a month in Dublin.

Though she knew the IT sector was under pressure, it was still a shock when she was faced with the decision to take redundancy. Around the same time, her father died. It was a time of great change for her but she acknowledges now that it was a crossroads and she has no regrets about changing direction.

During that transformation, when she spent time on the course, she met lovely people, people who were like-minded and open to new experiences, new directions. These people she met were all on their own journey, like her, so she didn’t feel as alone and in fact she ended up enjoying those first early months of uncertainty.

Family and friends were supportive, which she says helped. And yes, she did find it hard in the beginning to explain exactly what she was taking the course in.

“Up to recently, I would find it hard to explain bio-energy but it is scientifically proven that the body has energy fields and if these are balanced and free-flowing, the body will be healthier.”

She subsequently did a deeper course with one of the Bio-energy therapy founders, Tom Griffin. This was in the Hidden Mind Programme, which is specifically aimed at children with AD-HD. or who have autism or special needs.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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Sense of enjoyment may be key in St ThomasÕs title bid

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Date Published: 13-Mar-2013

There is no more exciting a week in the life of a club hurler or footballer than the build-up to a first All-Ireland senior final at Croke Park and it is great to see that the St Thomas’s panel are embracing the prospect of taking on Kilcormac-Killoughey of Offaly on Sunday with such a relish.

Some teams retreat from the limelight when faced with the biggest date in their club careers; some give sullen, short answers; but the men of Peterswell, Kilchreest, and Castledaly are making the most of what really should be the best weekend of their lives.

Team manager John Burke has managed to bring a great sense of fun and enjoyment to the club’s senior panel this year. It was remarkable how relaxed the players were when Marty Morrissey and an RTE News crew visited the Galway champions for the Six One News this week.

Instead of engaging in bland platitudes, Burke produced the kind of fighting talk which stood his team in such good stead when they faced into the All-Ireland semi-final victory over reigning champions Loughgiel Shamrocks last month. Burke is not cocky or arrogant, but he is not afraid to talk up his side’s chances either.

St Thomas’s have a right to be confident after coming through a tough Galway championship, which included ‘derby’ wins over neighbours Gort and Loughrea, but they also showed a great sense of joy when the Burke clan – John has six sons on the panel – re-enacted the closing scene from 1970s TV show The Waltons for the news show on Tuesday evening.

One by one, the lads turned off the lights in the family house for the TV cameras; while they also pucked a ball from one house to another to show how close this band of brothers are to each other, and the likes of the Murrays and Kellys just down the road.

It’s been refreshing to see a group of players face into a big final with such a great sense of humour, without neglecting to focus on the task in hand.

Given how the championship has been dominated by the likes of Portumna, Loughrea, Athenry, and Clarinbridge, it’s been a decade and a half since a club as small as St Thomas’s, who represent barely 200 houses, were top dogs in Galway hurling.

The Sarsfields team of the 1990s was hugely popular both inside and outside the county and, given how extremely youthful Burke’s side is, the potential in this team is nothing short of frightening if they can keep this group of young players together for years to come.

David Burke, Conor Cooney, and James Regan all have the vital experience of playing in front of 82,000 people in last September’s All-Ireland finals at Croke Park with the county side, but once again the club final is bringing up some wonderful stories.

Such as the prospect of seeing wing back Enda Tannian, on the verge of his 19th season with the team, finally getting to represent St Thomas’ in the country’s biggest stadium – a man who was more used to Intermediate battles, and a few pints after a game, in his early days with the club’s adult side.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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