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Whoops! Excuse me! It’s getting a little crowded among the FF camp

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Date Published: {J}

If you got the impression that things are getting a little crowded in Galway City among the Fianna Fáil pairing of Minister Eamon Ó Cuív TD and Frank Fahey TD – then you might be right. For in the past few weeks they seem to have spent some time stepping on each other’s toes.

The first one to have to say ‘excuse me’ was Fahey when he ‘jumped the gun’ on those announcements on money for schools. There were five of them in all included in the package announced by Fahey – and he had to make his excuses when it transpired that he announced on a Friday on Galway Bay fm a package that was not due for publication until the following Monday. Oops!

There is a time-honoured tradition in politics in Galway of ‘get the good news out as soon as you can, because if you don’t, then someone else will beat you to the punch’. But the word in Fianna Fáil circles is that one of the schools in particular – the proceeding to construction stage of work on Scoil Sailearna, in Indreabhan – annoyed the Ó Cuív followers especially.

That’s because they regard Inverin as very much in the Ó Cuív territory in Connemara, plus the fact that Ó Cuív had been closely involved in representations regarding Sailearna.

Though both Fahey and Ó Cuív get a sizeable vote in Galway City, up to now the unspoken understanding, at least among their respective camp followers, appears to have been that Ó Cuív is ‘King of Connemara’ and Frankeen is ‘the man’ in Galway City.

Of course, neither Ó Cuív nor Fahey would concede any such arrangement. However, if Fahey’s followers might have regarded their man as very much to ‘top man’ in the city (but don’t tell that to the many followers of city FF Councillor Michael Crowe!), then they will not have been best pleased at Ó Cuív nipping in at the weekend to make a statement on the importance of the Galway Outer Bypass, which is an issue Deputy Fahey has made ‘his own’ for some time.

Indeed, Fahey carried out an extensive opinion poll on the Bypass quite some time ago; as Chairman of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport, he has made the issue a priority; and he has repeatedly pointed out that the lack of the Galway Outer By-Pass means thousands of cars unnecessarily coming into Galway City each day, and being a major contributory cause to huge traffic jams at peak times.

As the Minister in the constituency, however, Eamon Ó Cuív gets precedence for many of the major occasions in the city . . . and such an event occurred last week when Ó Cuív was guest of honour at the Galway Chamber of Commerce Spring Reception, which is, basically, the launch of the Chamber’s new year, and is an occasion on which a figure like Ó Cuív would be expected to do an extensive review of the happenings and events to come. He did just that.

Ó Cuív has recently been very publicly associated – especially in the city – with the winning of €4 million in funding from Tourism Minister Martin Cullen TD to back up Galway’s bid to once again host the Volvo Round the World Race in 2011-2012.

A feather in his cap . . . though at that Chamber function Ó Cuív described it in a low-key way as “working with his Cabinet colleague Minister Martin Cullen and ‘Let’s Do It Global’ in arranging government support for Galway’s bid for the next Volvo Ocean Race.”

For more, read page 12 of 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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