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Age no barrier to fun as Sonas keeps people in social loop



Date Published: 07-Mar-2013

It is well known that people are living longer, so healthy ageing is crucial if they are to enjoy a good quality of life, with social interaction and community based activities to stave off loneliness. Isolation and loneliness are not exclusive to rural areas but distances and accessibility to amenities make them a bigger problem than in urban areas.

Twenty-one years ago a few women in Moycullen came up with the idea of utilising a room in the renovated old school building to put on a cuppa for pensioners on Fridays when they came from various parts of the parish to collect their pension.

The beautiful school building, now called Áras Uilinn, just down the hill from the village had previously been threatened with demolition as a new national school had been built next door. Thankfully, a few locals, including Frank Kelly, persuaded the authorities to renovate it instead so it could be used as a community facility. The work was carried out by one of the first community development schemes in the country in 1987 and it became a focal point for the village and beyond.

It’s still the home of the local Naoínra and for Sonas of course, where on average about 25 people, mostly women congregate every Friday.

In the early days according to one of the founding members, Maureen Lydon, men and women came and enjoyed a cup of tea and a scone after they collected their pension in the village. Sometimes transport would be laid on for those living a few miles away. But gradually, the membership became predominantly female, although this is not a cause for complaint as the group enjoy their weekly get-togethers and trips immensely.

The Moycullen Sonas recently celebrated its 21st anniversary with a Mass followed by a buffet in The Forge.

The Mass was concelebrated by Fr Michael McLoughlin PP along with Canon Michael Mulkerrins, who was a curate in Moycullen during the early days of Sonas and is now PP of Renmore, and by seminarian John O’Halloran from Killanin who spends four days a week in the Moycullen parish.

About 110 people enjoyed the buffet luncheon afterwards. The group was made up of Sonas members, family members and volunteers who help week in, week out and who pull out all the stops for trips and special activities.

“Sonas has been brilliantly supported by the people of Moycullen from the start. We still have money jars left at cashiers in the local shops but although it is still supported, we notice that these donations are down because there is so much competition out there for voluntary donations,” says one committee member.

That said, there is huge goodwill for Sonas as it has always been seen as a home-grown group that provides a great service.

Over the years members have enjoyed regular talks, demonstrations, art classes, gentle yoga (still given for free by Gay Christ), day and overnight trips to destinations countrywide, Bingo, card games and recently pottery classes, given by Cormac O’Neill.

For more, read this week’ 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

Galway have lot to ponder in poor show



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013




GALWAY’S first serious examination of the 2013 season rather disturbingly ended with a rating well below the 40% pass mark at the idyllic, if rather Siberian, seaside setting of Enniscrone on Sunday last.

The defeat cost Galway a place in the FBD League Final against Leitrim and also put a fair dent on their confidence shield for the bigger tests that lie ahead in February.

There was no fluke element in this success by an understrength Sligo side and by the time Leitrim referee, Frank Flynn, sounded the final whistle, there wasn’t a perished soul in the crowd of about 500 who could question the justice of the outcome.

It is only pre-season and last Sunday’s blast of dry polar winds did remind everyone that this is far from summer football, but make no mistake about it, the match did lay down some very worrying markers for Galway following a couple of victories over below par third level college teams.

Galway did start the game quite positively, leading by four points at the end of a first quarter when they missed as much more, but when Sligo stepped up the tempo of the game in the 10 minutes before half-time, the maroon resistance crumbled with frightening rapidity.

Some of the statistics of the match make for grim perusal. Over the course of the hour, Galway only scored two points from play and they went through a 52 minute period of the match, without raising a white flag – admittedly a late rally did bring them close to a draw but that would have been very rough justice on Sligo.

Sligo were backable at 9/4 coming into this match, the odds being stretched with the ‘missing list’ on Kevin Walsh’s team sheet – Adrian Marren, Stephen Coen, Tony Taylor, Ross Donovan, David Kelly, David Maye, Johnny Davey and Eamon O’Hara, were all marked absent for a variety of reasons.

Walsh has his Sligo side well schooled in the high intensity, close quarters type of football, and the harder Galway tried to go through the short game channels, the more the home side bottled them up.

Galway badly needed to find some variety in their attacking strategy and maybe there is a lot to be said for the traditional Meath style of giving long, quick ball to a full forward line with a big target man on the edge of the square – given Paul Conroy’s prowess close to goal last season, maybe it is time to ‘settle’ on a few basics.

Defensively, Galway were reasonably solid with Gary Sice at centre back probably their best player – he was one of the few men in maroon to deliver decent long ball deep into the attacking zone – while Finian Hanley, Conor Costello and Gary O’Donnell also kept things tight.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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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