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‘We hit the campaign trail running on Saturday,’ says Labour activist



Date Published: {J}

It will be the first time in more than 40 years that Michael D Higgins’ name has has not appeared for Labour on a Galway West ballot paper. He got 1,174 first preferences and was runningmate for the late Tommie Tierney in 1969 when he ran for the first time and has run at every election since.

There probably was never a better time to try to defend the Labour seat – if the opinion polls showing a huge swing to Labour are proven to be correct and the party popularity can survive what promises to be a bruising campaign, with the ’papers already becoming more vicious about Eamon Gilmore and more searching on Labour policies.

Labour in Galway West say they will not be depending on ‘brand Labour’ to hold on to the seat which Michael D first won in 1981, but has held non-stop since 1987 …. that’s why they have slated their Selection Convention for the Menlo Park Hotel on Friday night, with former party leader Pat Rabbitte in the chair.

In other words, they want to get started early on the campaigning and getting likely candidate Councillor Derek Nolan much more widely known throughout the five-seater constituency.

Said one leading Labour activist: “We meet on Friday night in the Menlo Park to select the ticket … and on Saturday morning we will be hitting the streets running, with the campaign getting underway immediately.”

That Fine Gael private opinion poll in Galway West – insofar as you can believe any poll – showed that, if Labour had Michael D Higgins on the ballot paper, he would be heading the poll with 18 per cent of the first preferences and comfortably ahead of the Quota on the first count.

When the Labour delegates sit down on Friday night in the Menlo Park to make their selection – and the ‘racing certainty’ now seems to be city Councillor Nolan – they will know that, though Labour are high in the polls and there has ‘always’ been a Labour seat in Galway West, they dare not take any chances by being over confident. Indeed, I hear some feel there should be another candidate in the race, possibly based in Connemara.

One way or another, the ‘phoney war’ is coming to an end – for the Fine Gael Convention in Galway West is listed for November 21 and the Labour selection convention in Galway East looks likely to be on November 29. Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil is ‘keeping sthum’ and letting them get on with it … which might yet be a tactical error.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



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



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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Archive News

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



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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