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Wrapping up with the final word on Christmas presents



Date Published: 04-Jan-2012

Why don’t Christmas presents all come in square boxes as standard? I mean have you ever tried to wrap a toy car in a multi-angled box and not lost the will to live?

And anyway how would you disguise a football so that it looks like anything other than……a football?

Is there a way of hiding the fact that you’re giving someone a CD – and short of putting a book in a shoebox, it will always look like a book.

A bottle of wine would look like a bottle of wine even if you wrapped it in a blanket, despite the fact that drinks companies – and whiskey distillers in particular – are doing their best to come up with a presentation box. But now you have to wrap a cylinder, which is fine until you try to tidy up the wrapping paper at either end.

Then there’s the possibility of mistaken identity – like if you bought your loved one a very practical iPod Nano – and it’s mistaken in a rush of excitement for a little box with a much more romantic, but non-existent, ring.

At the end of the day, no matter what you do, once the presents go under the tree, little fingers begin to poke holes in the vulnerable parts of the wrapping to see if a glimpse of what lies beneath can clear up any remaining mystery as to its identity.

So quite honestly there’s little point in bothering with all that wrapping – particularly when you’re ultimately going to be left with yards of coloured paper at a time of the year when they bin is overflowing and the next collection – if you live in Galway city anyway – isn’t until the middle of January.

You can of course put your purchase into one of those present bags so that nobody has a clue what it is and you’ll also save yourself a fortune in Sellotape. But frankly if you want to give a present in a bag, you might as well just leave it in the one you bought it in.

Wrapping a square or rectangular box is child’s play; you need a scissors and some sticky tape, with a kitchen table on which to perform your task as an added bonus.

But wrapping the equivalent of an octopus would require the dexterity of an acrobat……and the patience of Mother Teresa.

Of course all of this is a precursor to the real stress – have you bought something that is remotely appropriate or appreciated or, for the ninth year in a row, have you made a complete bags of it?

And how are you supposed to react when someone thinks they’ve bought you the best present ever and it’s taking you all your time not to throw up all over it.

I’ve been given tickets for concerts by bands I wouldn’t go to see if they were playing at the end of the garden; one year I even got meat – loads of it – and on more than one occasion the present I didn’t jump with delight on opening was taken back and exchanged….but the resulting voucher or refund never made it back to me.

It’s a sort of a variation on the ‘dog isn’t just for Christmas’ line – because in my case sometimes a present is just for Christmas and it has to go back where it came from in the New Year.

The other problem with presents for kids is the small pieces that go along with the ship or the castle or the doll’s house.

Because there’s nothing quite like the imprint of a little figurine or a piece of Lego in the soul of your bare foot on a cold January morning to wake you up cursing Santa and vowing to write to him to ask him to just give vouchers to everyone next time he’s dropping in.

See full column in 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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