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What about advice like . . . leave the kids alone!



Date Published: {J}

I’m quite sure that the fact that parents in my day asked a great deal less about how you had ‘done’ in your exams, and certainly never asked another parent how their youngsters had fared, reflected an altogether healthier attitude to the selfsame exams.

Not for one moment would I accept that because they asked less – or not at all – about the exams, that they cared less about their kids’ prospects. They cared every bit as much, but my belief is that they had an entirely more balanced approach to life . . . and what their youngsters might do in life.

Believe it or not, it was possible then for kids to go to their local school to sit their exams, without the morning news, and bulletins all day, poring over the exam papers and experts in the media preparing them with advice for the session to follow later that day, or the day following.

The nearest thing to that sort of attention to detail of papers was when teachers might meet the examination pupils on the way to, or from, the examination hall with a bit of advice, or a quick review of the possible questions. Yes, there were ‘tips’ about what might come up . . . but the entire country wasn’t following one potential poet, such as last week’s ‘bum tip’ in relation to Eavan Boland.

It was also possible for the teenagers to collect their results late in the Summer without radio, television and newspapers queued up outside schools for photos, and without special pullout supplements on what points were needed to ‘get’ medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, brain surgery, or to study astrophysics in Trinity.

Of course, there were also many things wrong with the system then. That was a time when not everyone was expected to be a graduate of Third Level – in fact, tens of thousands of kids went out into the workplace with few years even at second level, and with no expectation in society that they would require it. Many kids never achieved their true potential.

Then, along came Donough O’Malley as Minister for Education with an imaginative plan to see that every youngster got second level education.

Indeed, there were stories at the time of how the young minister announced details of the plan before they had been fully approved by Government so anxious was he to push ahead with the proposals, and in his determination that the scheme would not be shelved.

Even with ‘free second level’ introduced, the vast majority of youngsters went out into the workplace at 17 and 18 without the benefit of Third Level.

As a consequence, whole sections of an entire generation went to places like the UK, and further afield, where they navvied for years and were probably held back by their lack of further education.

For more, read this week’s Galway City 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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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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