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Galway Bay FM News Archives

Traveller documentary an antidote to sensationalism

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Date Published: 31-May-2011

As a great spokesman for his community, Francie Barrett was the perfect choice for Blood of the Travellers, a documentary in which he seeks to uncover where Travellers originated.

He teamed up with the film maker Liam McGrath who made Southpaw, the documentary on his journey to Olympic stardom in 1996 when he carried the Irish flag as a 19-years-old boxer and became the first Traveller to compete in the Olympics for Ireland.

The documentary, screened over the last two Sunday nights, is unashamedly biased towards Travellers as it captures Francie’s journey around the country gathering 40 samples from Travellers to undergo DNA testing.

This sympathetic portrait of Travellers serves as an antidote to the more sensational documentaries about Travellers, such My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, which examines practices of Travellers in the UK such as “grabbing” where young men literally grab a random female for a snog.

The film focused on some of Ireland’s best known Travellers – former Tuam mayor Tom Ward; actor Michael Collins, who played Blackie Connors in Glenroe; and of course Francie.

The scientists eventually ruled out the belief that Travellers were descended from the Romany gypsies as they carry a unique DNA signature that points to deep roots in ancient Ireland.

They also found they had not originated at the time of the Famine – they could not have set up such a different DNA to the settled Irish in just five generations – and also dispelled the notion they were evicted by Cromwell and were forced onto life on the road.

The most likely hypothesis put forward is they arrived well before the time of Cromwell. Travellers were genetically isolated from the rest of the Irish population for between 1,000 and 2,000 years according to Dr Wilson.

The reason for that diversification must be cultural, he believes.

The findings may prove valuable to the Travelling community in their quest to be recognised as a distinct cultural group and could be fuel for those opposed to the criminal trespass legislation which makes it illegal for Travellers to set up camp anywhere other than a designated halting site.

For the rest of us, the programme touched on some of the thorny issues which make relations between the settled and the Travellers difficult.

According to some of the older Travellers who featured, there was “no feuding, no fighting and no violence” between families two generations ago. Francie’s great aunt Christina McDonagh recalls that farmers had great respect for Travellers and would allow them to set up camp in their fields. In those days Travellers were needed them for seasonal work.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

Galway Bay FM News Archives

Retail industry trade body welcomes B&Q announcement

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Date Published: 07-May-2013

Retail Excellence Ireland, the country’s largest retail industry trade body, has welcomed the news that 60 jobs have been saved at the city branch of B&Q.

It’s after the home improvements store successfully exited examinership.

Under the scheme, 2.4 million euro is to be invested by parent company Kingfisher plc, and B and Q will continue to trade at eight stores

This means 640 jobs have been saved nationwide, including 60 at the outlet in Knocknacarra.

However, David Fitzsimons of Retail Excellence Ireland says landlords need to be willing to help out smaller retailers too.

 

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Galway Bay FM News Archives

Foundation reports nine Galway heart deaths each week

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Date Published: 09-May-2013

Nine people die in Galway every week from heart disease and stroke.

That’s according to the Irish Heart Foundation, which is launching its Happy Hearts Appeal today. (9/5)

An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, launched the appeal today to help raise funds for the charity, which has seen increasing demand on its patient services.

The Foundation says it needs to raise at least half a million euro to maintain existing information services.

 

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Galway Bay FM News Archives

Call to tackle delays at Oranmore rail crossing

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Date Published: 13-May-2013

Concerns have been raised over traffic delays at the railway crossing in Oranmore.

Councillor Jim Cuddy says he has received many representations from local motorists who have been experiencing extended delays.

He says the closed barrier can sometimes cause a traffic tailback as far as the roundabout near the Maldron hotel.

Cllr Cuddy has brought the matter to the attention of Iarnrod Eireann and has asked for an explanation as to why the crossing is closed for so long.

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