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Visitor numbers up but revenue falls 25%

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Date Published: 29-Oct-2009

Galway city has had a better tourism season than expected this year – and key hubs such as Connemara experienced strong weekend trade over the summer, according to Fáilte Ireland.

The most recent national figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) reveal a slump of nearly eleven per cent in the number of overseas visitors to the country so far this year, falling below five million for the first time since 2005.

Figures for the year to the end of August showed 4,886,900 trips to Ireland, 596,400 less (down 10.9 per cent) than the same period in 2008.

The CSO data also revealed Irish residents took 748,600 foreign trips in August 2009, down nearly 11.5 per cent on the same period last year.

The overseas travel figures show for August alone 123,200 fewer overseas visitors came to the country compared with the same month in 2008, a drop of 13 per cent.

Trips to Ireland from the country’s main visitor market, Britain, saw an especially sharp decline with a drop of 25 per cent in numbers crossing the Irish Sea – 369,700 visits compared to 488,400 in August 2008 the CSO figures revealed.

Numbers from mainland Europe fell by 2.7 per cent to 288,500.

There was some good news with the number of visits by residents of Northern America up by over seven per cent from 118,200 in August 2008 to126,600 this year. However, the total figures for the first eight months of 2009 record a 2.7 per cent decline in the actual numbers of visitors from the continent.

While there is no breakdown for regional figures, the occupancy levels for hotels and B&Bs in the city were actually up on last year, stated Eva Dearie, business development manager for Fáilte Ireland West. Key tourism hubs also bucked the national trend and performed well.

“It’s fairly positive for Galway this summer. Occupancy levels were strong in key tourism hubs and in some instances we’ve seen them outperform last year. Galway City performed better than expected with occupancy up on last year.

In Connemara there was a very good response to the commercial marketing campaign. Over the summer their weekends were very good but weekdays were difficult,” Ms Dearie said.

“The home domestic market was also very strong which helped make up the downturn from the UK. Also we believe North American business picked up in September in Galway.”

Chairman of the Galway branch of the Irish Hotels Federation Paul Gill said the average revenue in Galway hotels had plummeted by 25 per cent, with some outside of the tourist hot spots down by up to 40 per cent. While footfall was undoubtedly up and higher than anywhere else in the country, profits were being squeezed because consumers from the domestic and European markets were
holding out for good package deals.

“Everybody is feeling the pain this year, even in the likes of the Latin Quarter, which did very well this year with the festivals. A lot of hotels have quietly fallen into bank ownership and are being run by management companies. This distorts the market because they’re being run for cash flow rather than profitability,” Mr Gill said.

“These hotels are hamstrung by agreements with the revenue (commissioners), which means they have to remain open for seven to ten years or return the tax incentives.”

Continued on page 2

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

images/files/images/x3_Courthouse.jpg

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Archive News

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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