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Who will be the leaders of influence for the future generation?



Date Published: {J}

Back in the day, three of the indisputable pillars of integrity in any local community would be the priest, the bank manager and the solicitor – people who’d done well, had a good education and were to be admired or feared…or sometimes both.

The legal profession has had its share of charlatans but as a profession its standing is still marginally higher than that of the banks or the Church. And while every parish didn’t have its own politician, few of them would be wise to proffer words of wisdom any time soon either.

It’s not to suggest that there are no priests or bankers who would be held in high moral standing any more – many, many are – but it’s just that they won’t be treated with the traditional reverence of old anymore.

So who will replace them as the people of influence, in the community and on the bigger stage? If you rely on tabloid newspapers, they’re either cheating footballers or the next winner of X-Factor.

The real danger of course is that this vacuum of influence will be filled by media – and certainly events of the last few weeks have seen an alarming number of radio and television interviews with ‘financial editors’ who seem to have forgotten the first rule of journalism was that you tell the story….you are not the story yourself.

But the only growth industry we have at the minute is financial journalism where everyone is an expert, and no two agree on the best approach. We should default, we should pay up; we should screw the bond holders, we should bow to their every demand – no wonder we’re getting deeper into the hole by the day.

The media has a social function without a doubt – but it’s to analyse and question, to chronicle and report. But it is not to pontificate or lecture…and that’s what we’re getting by the bucket-load in print and across the airwaves.

So let’s take it that the bankers aren’t the ones to preach to us because they played such a part in getting us into this mess in the first place and the same goes for any of the public representatives who had a hand on the tiller over the last 15 years.

The Catholic Church is going through a catharsis all of its own and there are enough pragmatists there to accept that it will have to get its own house in order before it resumes telling the rest of us how to run ours.

But do we now live in a world where Simon Cowell and Wayne Rooney carry more authority and influence than the old guard?

Is Cheryl Cole really a role model or are we so devoid of real leadership that a woman whose main claim to fame is sitting pretty and crying as other wannabes warble in front of her on live TV?

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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