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Banks dangle a carrot before you to make sure you stick



Date Published: {J}

It should be one of the most important decisions of your life – what bank you’re going to attach yourself to until the day you keel over or pay off your mortgage – but all too often this decision is based on whatever carrot they dangle in front of you when you’re still a mere child.

Back in the day the inducement was a tenner; then it became a record voucher, a cheap stereo, fifty quid – and now it’s a phone. So you sell your soul to the devil for the price of a cheap phone.

New mothers have opened bank accounts for the little bundles of joy on the basis of a bank voucher stuck into that free samples bag that they find at the bottom of their maternity hospital bed.

Students would willingly take out a five figure overdraft once they got a handful of drink vouchers in exchange.

It’s so easy for the lending institutions to lure new customers that it’s like taking candy from a baby – and once you’ve signed on the dotted line at the Bank of Hotel California, you can check out any time you like but you can never leave.

Back in the late seventies, I opened a deposit account with one bank in return for that aforementioned tenner.

Since then, I’ve had five mortgages, more than half a dozen car loans, more home insurance and life insurance policies than a small brokerage and now an education savings scheme – without ever looking anywhere else for a more competitive offer.

That wasn’t because I thought I was with the best bank – although that might equally have been true – but more because I was too lazy to bother looking. And like a financial version of the Scientologists, once I took that first initial step for a tenner, I could never escape from a path that took me in deeper every time.

Now history is repeating itself because our eldest had a junior savings account with this same bank – the proceeds of his Communion and Confirmation – but, on the day after he turned 14 last week, he received a letter of congratulations from said bank informing him that he was now the proud holder of a student account.

As part of this he was now entitled to an ATM card – which would be like letting an alcoholic loose in an off licence – or a debit card, which would be only marginally less combustive.

But because he’s not fully addicted to this bank yet, a rival bank offered to take his class on a ‘tour’ of their premises – albeit one that left out the only part of the bank that teenage boys wanted to see…..where they kept the money.

And a leaflet presented to him on his departure informed him that he could also get his hands on a free phone if he opened an account for a fiver with this bank. This was a no brainer and now he’s in the process of moving his assets from one state-controlled financial institution to the other – presumably never to return.

If only his own bank had offered him an iTunes voucher or a Jack & Jones discount card or taken him on a tour of the vaults to see where the Troika’s money is kept, he might have been theirs forever.

Because while it’s possible to move a few hundred quid at 14 years of age, once you have ten standing orders, a mortgage, an electricity bill, a phone bill and a car loan stacked up against you, moving to another bank would be on a par with learning to play the flute.

Indeed such was the difficulty in doing this, the Central Bank came up with legislation in 1989 to punish banks who frustrated this process. They have to produce an information pack and ‘easy to read and sign’ documents for anyone wishing to move – but really they just have to baffle you with statistics until you lose the will to live.

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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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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