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Would you really want to own an apartment in this country?



Date Published: {J}

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought the reason us taxpayers coughed-up billions to set up the National Asset Management Agency was so that builders who could not get rid of properties, would put the property into NAMA at a reduced price.

So, it was a bit of a surprise during the week to find out that not alone do we now own the property at a knock-down price running to billions, in some cases we actually pay rather fancy salaries to the selfsame builders so that they might use their good offices and connections to help get rid of the property.

In the selfsame week, a report was published saying that we in Ireland would need to build 30,000 new homes per year because of the increasing and very young population. This is in a country where what might be termed ‘villages’ have sprung up on the outskirts of towns and nary a one is living in any of the houses and they have never been occupied.

And, to stretch your credulity further, this was also the week in which someone from NAMA said that they had 2,000 houses on their hands and 6,000 apartments. They felt there was demand for the houses, but there seemed to be no demand whatever for the apartments. They seemed surprised at this.

No one bothered to try to explain the lack of demand for the flats, but could I venture to suggest a few reasons . . . and they’re not linked to the possibility that the prices might fall even further. My theory is that many Irish people are unsuited to living in apartments and are capable of making life a living hell for those unfortunate enough to own one.

I am not going to deal in any detail with the apartment block in Dublin in which the entire roof blew away; nor am I going into detail on the row which is running in many developments over the spiralling cost of maintenance charges against which the owners, or occupiers seem to have little or no comeback as prices rocket.

How many times have I heard stories from unfortunates who invested in an apartment in this town and whose life was a misery because of late-night parties, noise, plastic bags of rubbish left on balconies … the list is endless.

I have written about this before – there is one rental complex in the city where the tenants simply throw bottles, cans, clothes and anything else that comes to hand, out the back windows and on to the well-kept lawns where, I presume, the hired-in gardeners have to do the clean-up before they mow the lawns and tend to the flower beds and shrubs.


But the most insidious problem must surely be the complete lack of care for other people’s privacy and space. Loud music blaring into the early hours of the morning is the recurring complaint . . . I know of one couple who had to move because, though they repeatedly asked to have the music turned down, not a blind bit of notice was paid to them.

Nights were a living hell. In the case of another couple, they complained repeatedly to the landlord, but in the end, he said they were troublemakers and asked them to leave. They could have fought the case, but they simply didn’t bother.

As I have written before, Galway is lucky that its ‘accommodation to let’ can count on thousands of students every year, but the students are among the worst offenders.

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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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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