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Western Rail Corridor simply isn’t coming down the tracks

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Date Published: {J}

There have been countless songs written about trains down through the years with the vast majority of them being of the country and western variety. Indeed the late Boxcar Willie made a career out of mimicking a train whistle while Johnny Cash has quite a number of train songs to his credit during his long career.

Groups campaigning for the reopening of the Western Rail Corridor are still wondering if they are ‘on song’ to have the section between Tuam and Athenry reopened or are they just ‘whistling in the wind’.

Around this time two years ago the section between Athenry and Ennis was opened to much fanfare but that excitement has been relatively short lived with a revelation that the numbers using the route between these two destinations are dire in the extreme.

Over the years it has been a campaign built on hopes, aspirations, rumours and speculation. In fact over the past couple of weeks the word went around that Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Junior Minister Michael Ring were to issue a joint statement that the Tuam to Athenry phase was going to get the green light – another wild rumour with no substance.

There will be no definitive announcement on any further development of the Western Rail Corridor and it is delusional to think that there will be. Okay, so Enda Kenny might come out and say that it is not off the agenda and that they are fully committed to providing rail services all over the shop, but he will not give a commitment to a date . . . and is unlikely to do so anytime in the near future.

This is simply to do with the fact that this current Government believe that the provision of a rail link between Tuam and Claremorris to Galway is a complete and utter waste of money. If the truth be known, the previous Government was of much the same opinion despite giving a timeframe for the overall project.

It would be a very romantic notion to have trains starting out in Tuam and running through Ballyglunin Railway Station as it would conjure up images of the Quiet Man and would probably become something of a tourist attraction – however, this would hardly justify building a new railway line between Tuam and Athenry.

During the Celtic Tiger era when there were 30,000 odd cars travelling through Claregalway and journey times between Tuam and Galway city were of the nightmare variety, the campaign for the reopening of the Western Rail Corridor appeared to be one of the ways to take cars off the road. The Government of the day were under extreme pressure to deliver.

In the current climate, there are not near as many cars passing through Claregalway and on a good morning it can take no more than 35 minutes to get from Tuam to the city. There is no way that a train service could compete with this.

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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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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