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Why have Bank Holidays when we donÕt have functioning banks?



Date Published: 31-Oct-2012

We’ve just come through another Bank Holiday – an odd phenomenon when you think of all we’ve gone through over the past three or four years.

Perhaps a Troika holiday would be a better description, a day when we don’t have to answer to our European masters – or a bond mini-break where the Irish taxpayer doesn’t have to sell his youngest son to pay back the Germans the money he never borrowed in the first place.

The real point of all of this of course is why we have Bank Holidays in the first place; should the world stop revolving because our financial institutions take a Monday off?

After all we don’t close our shops on Sundays anymore and there cannot be a single village that observes the old custom of a half day during the week anymore.

So, while we’ve no wish to rain on anyone’s parade, isn’t it time we stopped living in the past – to a time when bank managers were people we looked up to – and copped on to ourselves.

Grand, have a national holiday every so often if you want to – although heaven knows why they cannot be bunched together and offered as another week’s holiday to be taken whenever you desire, as opposed to the enforced absence from work every so often on a Monday.

More and more workers cannot take Mondays off anyway, and even if they do, all they might have shifted off the desk on the first day of the working week just gets pushed out by 24 hours to make the rest of the week even busier.

Shouldn’t we have moved beyond the era of these days off for (almost) everyone?

Obviously the pubs would miss it because it’s the one weekend everyone can go out on a Sunday night – and many again on a Monday evening – but isn’t it ironic that we call it a Bank Holiday on the very weekend that AIB shut down 44 of its branches on a permanent basis?

Not so much a day with your bank door closed as a permanent one.

It’s like a regular reminder of the reason we’re in such dire straits – because if the banks had taken a much longer holiday in the first place, they wouldn’t have been lending to developers like they feared the cash reserves would otherwise burn a hole in the steel safe.

Ditto, mid-term breaks – whatever about students and teachers needing a few days off, where in God’s name is the justification for the Dail shutting down?

They’re only just back after the interminable summer break and they already spend just four days a week in Leinster House – considerably less if you count time actually spent attending the Dail or Seanad – so how can our state legislature afford a week off when the rest of us are bursting a gut just to keep the show on the road.

One presumes that the Cabinet is in situ – or at least Michael Noonan and Brendan Howlin, as they work on the hair shirt budget – while Time Magazine’s Man of the Year, not to mention European of the Year, Enda Kenny is either admiring his photograph or officially opening another packet of crisps in deepest Mayo.

Maybe he’s trying to work out just what makes us so special – because that’s the one thing that Europe’s most powerful leaders agree on; the problem is that we don’t yet know if this is a good or a bad thing.

But at least we know we’re a special case – and so far the definition of ‘special case’ means that the breaks which are being doled out to our penniless European neighbours are not being applied to us.

We’re to be treated in a special way which means giving all of our money to German banks and then borrowing more money from them so that we can pay them back all over again.

And in a desperate effort to meet the repayments, we will have levies on our houses, our water, our health insurance, our bins, our septic tanks and perhaps on the air that we breathe.

We’re also the best boys in the class, which is why Enda Kenny appeared on the front of Time magazine and is not the winner of the European of the Year Award from the German Magazine Publishers Association.

Presumably that’s because he’s paying back all of the money our banks borrowed from their German counterparts, saddling the rest of us with a debt that we didn’t incur but which will now force our children to move to foreign parts because there’s nothing left for them here only old copies of Time magazine blowing through the empty streets like tumbleweed.

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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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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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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