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At last Ð I can join the ranks of the 10 G begrudgers



Date Published: {J}

Phew! I’m thanking my lucky stars that 2009 has finally come to an end . . . and that’s not because of the absolutely awful Summer, the floods and frost of the past few weeks, the business of picking your way along the frozen footpaths, and now the apparent threat of the return of the floods.

No, it’s because my 09G registration is finally ‘an old car’ and, hopefully, those resentful stares will end at the traffic lights.

So, while the Summer was awful, and the Christmas period conspired to keep us indoors for fear of falling and breaking our collective backsides, I have that even more persuasive reason to be cheerful at the end of the year and the dawning of a new one.

You see, last January I had the idea of buying a car with a 09 G registration, little thinking that it would turn me into something akin to a hate figure. I found myself ‘standing out’ at junctions and if I could lip read, I have no doubt there would have been a few expletives in there in the passing conversation between drivers and passengers as they looked sideways at the 09 plate.

Honestly, in 09 I got more dirty looks at traffic lights, snarls at roundabouts, and ‘go on . . . I dare you’ stares at junctions!

There were times when I looked in my passengers’ seats to see if, by any chance, Michael Fingleton, Seanie Fitzpatrick, the former boss of FAS, or any of the directors of the Bank of Ireland or Allied Irish Banks, had slipped in beside me unbeknownst.

Honestly, I don’t have a house in Spain, I don’t disappear to Mustique on holidays . . . and no, I won’t be in the High Court trying to explain how I was once a handy blocklayer who eventually stuck AIB for a billion-plus.

No such luck. Anytime I was a few days late with paying the minimum on my credit card, I always got that snotty letter telling me how sorry they were, but my next purchase might cause embarrassment.

The 09 resentment and anger was reserved for this old codger driving a 1.4 engined car that Jeremy Clarkeson and The Stig would regarded as a bit of a joke for their speed needs, and The Stig would have been lucky to take around their track in two minutes.

However, in the angry and resentful times in which we live, anyone in the past year in any of the maybe four thousand 09 G cars which were eventually registered, was in danger of being ostracised from decent society.

By which I mean the ordinary run-of-the-mill people who simply use their cars to drive to work, or for ‘tootling about the town’, who have no need of 2-litres, who wouldn’t know a twin overhead camshaft from a Morris Minor, and whose dream would be to actually have a car paid off before it packs up!

From the stares at the lights, and the glares at the 09 plate, you would imagine mine was a Bugatti Veyron. Listen, this thing is a 1.4 Civic Hybrid. In other words, an electric motor kicks-in when you stop at lights, to make sure that it is as parsimonious with petrol as the unreformed Scrooge was with his Christmas greetings.

Thomas The Tank Engine, or a butterfly on speed, would give off more CO2 than this creature. Its carbon footprint is that of a newborn infant. It would be the kind of car John Gormley would take to bed with him instead of a security blanket.

The road tax is €104 per annum. If the Green Party had their way, we would all be driving this sort of car. From my point of view – and 90% of my driving is done in and around Galway – it is perfect. I ain’t going to be ‘crashing any lights’ with it. My joy at the lights is that the clever little thing knocks off the engine and simply runs on electric batteries for maybe the 30 seconds.

The upshot of all this is that I put petrol in it once every 15 days – about €40 worth. Given that it’s such a ‘green machine’ why all the dirty looks . . . but now I can join the rest, given that a few 10G cars have begun to put in an appearance on the roads. It was a positive joy to see the first one in recent days and realise that ‘the heat was off’ and I now had ‘an old car’.

Now, I will be able to sit in my 09 at the junction at the courthouse and glare at the 10G cars that pass. Last week it appeared that maybe three or four hundred of these machines were already on the Galway roads . . . from now on at the junction, I will be as sanctimonious as the crowd going home from the Annual Novena.

You know the crowd. They have been an hour singing hymns, craw-thumping, praying, listening to sermons on the Christian virtues – which surely must include yielding the odd time at a busy junction! – and minutes later they wouldn’t let you filter into a lane of traffic if you promised to get them a double plenary indulgence in Medugorje.

The others are the ones who are concentrating so hard on the road ahead that you know they simply don’t see you! Not half! The most delicious moments of such a confrontation is when they realise that they recognise you. Then they have the awful dilemma of still pretending not to see you . . . or else that sheepish moment when they wave you out into the traffic.

Now that 2010 has arrived, I will sit in ‘my old car,’ glare at the 10Gs and protest aloud as to where they got the money . . . it’s payback time as I join the swollen ranks of the begrudgers.

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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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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