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Archive News

City discovers long lost Californian cousin



Date Published: 29-Nov-2012


Moves are afoot to restore important links between a small Galway suburb and its affluent American namesake, a town in the heart of Silicon Valley and home to some of the world’s biggest rock stars.

Thanks to the efforts of one Galway native, the prospect of Menlo on the outskirts of Galway city forging links, and possibly ‘sister city’ ties, with its affluent namesake town in California, is back on the cards.

Historians, business leaders and Council officials in Menlo Park, California – named after Menlo village – are anxious to explore the possibility of establishing a friendship with Galway City, and possibly a sister city connection.

Menlo Park in California was founded in the 1800s by two men from Menlo in Galway, Dennis J Oliver and D.C. McGlynn, who emigrated to the United States during the Great Famine.

Today, it is one of the hubs for Silicon Valley’s venture capitalist companies and boasts of being the birthplace to one of the biggest internet companies ever, Google, and is the location for the headquarters of another internet giant, Facebook.

In the early 1850s the two Galway exiles purchased a large ranch or tract of land of between 800 and 1,700 acres and named it Menlo Park, after their hometown. The entrance to the ranch was, apparently, modelled on the archway entrance which was the former gatelodge at Menlo Castle. Some years later when the train system was being built in America, one of the stops on the railway was at Menlo Park and the town ‘grew up’ around the station.

At a recent meeting in Menlo Park, California members of the Menlo Park Historical Society, the Menlo Park Chamber of Commerce and the Mayor of Menlo Park, Kirsten Keith, said they were keen to explore the possibility of establishing friendship links and sister city ties between the two areas.

Castlegar native Gerry Hanley, who has a keen interest in the historical links between the two Menlos, visited California where he had lunch with the local dignitaries and was given a tour of Menlo Park, including the train station, St Patrick’s Seminary and the Civic Centre.

“They are anxious to forge some sort of link with Galway. They are keen to explore the possibility of forming sister city ties,” said Mr Hanley.

Now, Fine Gael Councillor Padraig Conneely has tabled a Notice of Motion with Galway City Council for its meeting on Monday night proposing that Galway establish a formal relationship with Menlo Park in California.

“I want this put on a formal footing,” he said this week. “After all, there are not too many places around the globe with such an established connection with Galway. This city in California would never have existed in its current guise but for the Famine forcing these two Menlo men to emigrate in the mid 19th Century.

“I believe this link should be established from an historical perspective alone, but if the two cities can be mutually beneficial to each other in the years ahead, then all the better. I sincerely hope the City Council react favourably to my proposal,” he added.

For more on this story, see the 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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