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Two new political offices set to raise temperature in Galway constituencies

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Date Published: {J}

There’s no election at all yet, and if Brian Cowen has his way, the voters will wait until 2012 …. but that hasn’t stopped two politicians this week announcing that they are establishing new offices in the Galway constituencies.

Fine Gael Senator Ciaran Cannon is opening offices in both Loughrea and Athenry in his bid for a Dáil seat. Meanwhile, Green Party Senator Niall O Brolchain is officially opening his constituency office in Galway West in early May.

Senator Cannon is certain to raise the temperature in Galway East Fine Gael by announcing that he is fitting out offices in Loughrea and Athenry … a move sure to cause further angst in FG, which, by my count, now has up to six indicating their interest in one of the four nominations for the election candidate ticket.

In the case of Senator Cannon, who was recruited

last year from the ranks of the dying Progressive Democrats, the new offices are a further indicator of his intent on winning a Dáil seat, but the move will cause raised eyebrows particularly amongst the ranks of the followers of sitting FG Deputy Ulick Burke.

You see, Loughrea and the southern end of the Galway East four-seater constituency, are traditionally very much the ‘stomping ground’ of TD Ulick Burke, who has been a high-profile figure in the constituency since 1981 and was first elected a Dáil Deputy for the area in 1997.

With Cannon chasing a seat in Galway East, and bringing with him into FG his own bunch of followers and election workers, the temperature was bound to rise if both himself and Ulick Burke were working in the southern reaches of the constituency.

The Ulick Burke supporters have tasted disappointment in the past when Burke lost the Dáil seat in 2002 but regained it in 2007, so both Burke and Cannon now having offices in Loughrea turns this into a real ‘battle on the main street’.

However, Cannon will also be taking the battle directly to Fianna Fáil – for, in recent times, the only full-time political office in Athenry has been that of Fianna Fáil’s Noel Treacy, so he also will face direct competition from Senator Cannon.

Said Cannon this week: “I suppose you could say I want to have a strong presence on the street in both of the towns and this is also an indication of my interest in representing the people of Galway East in the Dáil.”

He said the offices would be manned on the basis of a number of hours on weekdays, and he would be there also at given hours on Saturday. This was not a question of looking for any particular Dáil seat … he wanted to represent the people of Galway East in the Dáil and this was aimed at providing a service, but was also an expression of his intent.

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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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

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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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