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City’s ‘thrilling ride’ delights Lonely Planet



Date Published: 22-Jan-2010

GALWAY City gets a glowing report card in the latest edition of the world’s most popular guidebook, which describes it as arty, bohemian and one non-stop party – a mix that makes for “a thrilling ride”.

The chapter on Galway in the ninth edition of the Lonely Planet opens on such a cheery note that we could almost forget our recessionary woes.

“County Galway presents a major problem: its namesake main city is such a charmer that you might not be able to tear yourself away to the countryside. Conversely (perversely?), the wild and beautiful Aran Islands and Connemara Peninsula might keep you captive such that you’ll never have time for the city. What to do? Both, of course!”

In its section dedicated to the capital of the West, the writer lauds our brightly painted pubs heaving with music and cafes which offer front row seats to observe all the street performers.

The guide points out that although steeped in history, Galway City still has a contemporary vibe, owing to its large student makeup.

“Remnants of the medieval town walls lie between shops selling Aran sweaters, handcrafted Claddagh rings, and stacks of second-hand and new books. Bridges arc over the salmon-filled River Corrib, and a long promenade leads to the seaside suburb of Salthill, on Galway Bay, the source of the area’s famous oysters,” the guide states.

Unsurprisingly, it hails the Volvo Ocean Race as the highlight of last year and described the city as a Celtic Monaco, when “enormous globe-trotting yachts and accompanying glitterati invaded the city”.

And in a thumbs up for the massive behind-the-scenes effort for all parties involved in the event’s logistics, the guide states: “Besides spending lots of cash, the visitors inspired a general clean-up around town, including the removal of some eyesore oil tanks near the gentrifying harbour.”

This newspaper even scores a mention, when former Tribune columnist Charlie Adley describes his perfect day as sitting on a rock on the beach at Salthill watching the tide turn, and watching the world go by outside Neachtain’s pub.

The only slightly sour note is sounded about our infamous climate: “Galway is a very rainy city, even by Irish standards, and water can play a major role in your visit here, whether you’re dodging it from the skies, walking along the bay shore or exploring paths along the river, creeks and canals.”

Sheridan’s pub may not be so happy either as their pub as been banished from existence and its neighbour, Bar No 8, installed in its place below the well-reviewed restaurant.

Among the new highlights of the guide’s city review is a nod to our home grown brew, which it says is a bright spark on the country’s bleak record for beers. The creation of cousins Ronan Brennan and Aidan Murphy, Hooker is described as a tasty pale ale, which will earn visiting drinkers the respect of the locals.

Outside of the city and apart from the Aran Islands, Connemara and Inishbofin, some of the highlights recommended by the guidebook include Brigit’s Garden in Roscahill, and the less touristic hotspots of Athenry, Loughrea, Ballinasloe and Portumna.

Elsewhere, the guide is not quite so enamoured by Ireland and its people, complaining that what made us a top touristic destination is all but gone. The guide says “traditional Ireland of the large family, closely linked to church and community, is quickly disappearing” and that you have to travel to islands and isolated rural communities to find an older version of society.

It calls the new Ireland “a land of motorways and multiculturalism, planned and developed in between double decaf lattes and time-out at the latest spa for a thermal mud treatment”.

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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