Date Published: 11-May-2011
I never thought that I’d wake again to the sound outside the window of three men operating a digger before eight in the morning. But then this was Austria, a long way – geographically and economically – from Celtic Tiger Ireland.
The skyline around Vienna is dotted with giant cranes and the world of commerce is thriving in a city where the historical mark of the Hapsburgs intertwines on every corner with the wealth and well-being of this modern metropolis.
We were there last week to accept two newspaper awards – a certificate of excellence for our Galway City Tribune and a magnificent trophy for our sister paper, Gaelscéal, chosen by the panel of international judges as one of half a dozen of the best newspapers of 2011 from 27 European countries.
The European Newspaper Congress also chose to show the best of the old and new Vienna; the two-day conference of 500 journalists, editors, designers and managers was held at the city’s ultra-modern conference centre a stone’s throw from the Danube while the Winners Dinner was in the magnificent old Rathaus, the Town Hall in the heart of the old city.
The point of all this talk of Vienna was that it gave us an insight into the Ireland we had once been so proud of – and then the Austrians took it a step further.
Because while they had all the big stores – from Armani and Versace to Jack Wolfskin and Timberland – they also had the added dimension of a street culture, where restaurateurs and café owners were able to leave hundreds of tables outdoors overnight without fear of some toe-rag coming along to kick them up and down the street.
Newspapers are sold from clear plastic containers combined with a little money box where there is sufficient trust around to believe that the reader will insert the price of the paper rather than simply lift the open flap for their daily read.
Bars run tabs for customers who never fail to present themselves for the bill, irrespective of how long they have enjoyed the hospitality – although it must be said that one of the things missing from the streets was drunken idiots – and the underground requires little more than very occasional spot checks because everyone buys a ticket.
For a city with a population of 1.8 million people, Vienna is a piece of cake to get around – because the ultra-efficient underground, with just four lines and a network that a six year old child could master, takes you to wherever you need to go within six minutes of your arrival at a station.
It is also steeped in European history with the mark of the Hapsburg dynasty to be seen on every corner – and the legacy of a city that was home to Mozart, Strauss and many others is the half a dozen magnificent opera houses when any one of them would be a jewel.
The city that is also home to the Vienna Boys Choir has an exemplary approach to its music; you can pay close to €100 to enjoy the nightly opera over dinner – or you can stand at the back and enjoy the same performance for €3.50.
Each night thousands pour onto the street like the best dressed group of fans to ever leave a football match – only they’ve come from another musical extravaganza.
And for all of their commercial awareness and big label stores, the Austrians haven’t lost the run of themselves. Because the commercial heart of this old city doesn’t beat on a Sunday; apart from the souvenir shops, the rest of them are closed.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Appeal for information following Portumna crash
Date Published: 08-May-2013
Gardai are appealing for witnesses following a single vehicle crash at the Portumna bridge this morning.
The road from Nenagh to Loughrea reopened shortly after 11 this morning following the completion of a technical exam.
Four men were travelling in a van when they hit the Portumna bridge around 6:30 this morning.
Gardaí, ambulance and two units of Portumna fire services rushed to the scene, and one of the men was taken to Portiuncula hospital in Ballinasloe.
He is being treated for head injuries, which have been described by Gardaí as serious.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Portumna Garda station on 09-097-42060
President Higgins among GMIT’s first ever honorary fellowships
Date Published: 10-May-2013
GMIT is to honour seven outstanding individuals including President Michael D Higgins with Honorary Fellowships at a special ceremony later this month.
It’s the first time in the 40 year history of the Institute the Governing Body of GMIT has decided to award honorary fellowships.
The GMIT Honorary Fellowships will be conferred at the g Hotel in the city this day two weeks Friday 24 May at 2.30pm in front of 200 invited guests.
Galway commuters hold their breath as LRC intervenes in bus strike
Date Published: 13-May-2013
Galway commuters are holding their breath as there has been a potential breakthrough in the Bus Eireann dispute, as both sides have agreed to talks at the Labour Relations Commission.
The LRC intervened this afternoon, on day two of strike action that has seen 95 per cent of bus services disrupted across the country.
The LRC’s Director of Conciliation Services, Kevin Foley, says the National Bus and Rail Union and the company have agreed to meet for mediated talks at 8 this evening.