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What is so wrong with the sound of silence?

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Date Published: 19-Sep-2012

There was a time when, as a mark of respect to a recently deceased footballer or personality, people at matches stood in silence and remembered him or her in happier times.

But no longer – now nothing less than a ‘spontaneous’ and sustained round of applause will suffice. So when did silence become obsolete?

Everything now has to be about noise – just look at the idiotic boy racers with their souped up rust buckets that you can hear two minutes before you can see.

In our time, you’d be embarrassed to go out in the car with a broken silencer, but now they do this on purpose.

New nightclubs have to be louder than the last one to open; headphones have to wrap in all of the sound so that you can go deaf quicker and without bothering anyone else.

Even our Olympic enthusiasts seemed to take almost as much pride in the record decibel levels at Katie Taylor’s medal-winning fight as they did in the victory itself.

Never mind that – like our international soccer fans – their tune of the hour was that old traditional Irish tune ‘Olé, Olé’; because this was proof once again that the ultimate super fans are those who simply make the most noise.

That said, we might be on the precipice of a return to relative silence – thanks to our old friend, the Queen, who turned up at the recent opening of the Paralympics with a pair of red ear plugs to curtail the racket.

This wasn’t just an old lady protecting what’s left of her hearing – it was a clear statement of intent, because if she simply wanted to discreetly turn down the volume, she’d have opted for more subtle, skin-tone coloured plugs.

Instead, she stuck in bright red tubes that could be seen from Curiosity, that NASA rover that’s currently touring around Mars.

And it’s not just noise amplified by sound systems that’s at the heart of this problem – you cannot hear yourself thinking on trains, in restaurants or in pubs because of all the bloody mobile phones.

If they’re not ringing to the theme tune of the Simpsons, there’s some fool roaring down the mouthpiece to his mate as though we’re still in the ear of two old bean cans tied together with a length of twine.

You can’t even make the short 30 second journey to the third floor on a lift without piped music, in case you’d be overcome by fear of deep thoughts brought on by the silence.

If a pub doesn’t have a blaring television showing extreme showjumping, there’s a stereo beating out some band banging dustbin lids together in the hope of having a hit album.

God be with the days when you went into a pub and loudest sound you’d hear was a door opening or some old guy slurping his pint – nowadays a quiet pub is a closed one.

Even libraries – once such a bastion of silence that you’d be thrown out for treading on creaky floor board – are now veritable cornucopias of cheery chat, with storytelling and internet access for all.

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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Archive News

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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