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Archive News

Couple’s seventy years of love and devotion



Date Published: 31-Jan-2013


Staying married for any length of time has almost become a test of endurance in some societies, but one couple in Shantalla celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary on Wednesday which may very well make them the longest-married couple in the city.

Pat and Maureen Burke of Macdara Road, who are in their early nineties, couldn’t party because Pat is currently a patient in University Hospital Galway. But on Wednesday afternoon, the Mayor of Galway, Cllr Terry O’Flaherty visited Pat in the hospital where Maureen and family members had gathered to mark the occasion.

The couple were only 22 and 23 respectively when they got married at 7am in St Patrick’s Church seventy years ago last Wednesday, followed by a modest wedding breakfast in the Burke family home in Beattystown.

There was no honeymoon in the austere times of the early 1940s and with little work in Galway emigration was the only option despite being in the middle of World War 11. That is how Maureen found herself working in an ammunitions factory in London, having for a short while worked in the woollen mills in Mill Street.

Pat was working in the Galway Foundry, where he stayed for 30 years, and once the couple had decided to get married, he bought an engagement ring in Dillions and trusted a friend to deliver it to his bride-to-be in London.

Eventually, they secured a newly-built home in Shantalla, where they would raise fourteen children. Sadly, their first born, Dominic, died shortly after birth as did another daughter, Margaret Ann, about ten years later.

All of the fourteen, save two (Paddy in Portsmouth in the UK and Josephine in Jersey) live in and around Galway and among those are a set of twins, Martin and Martina.

Pat went on to work in the textile factory in Sandy Road until he moved to St Mary’s College, where he worked as a handyman for 17.

The couple had great faith and the Rosary was a daily occurrence anytime between 6.30pm and 7pm when whoever was home would kneel down to pray together as a family.

In fact, there was a real emphasis on prayer and, in particular, in times of need such as the time their daughter Josephine was very ill in hospital. Pat prayed to the Blessed Martin and she had what the family describe as a miraculous recovery.

And that faith has been handed down to the next generation as Pat and Maureen’s son, Paddy, who is in the British Navy, believes it saved him during the Falklands War when the ship he was on was sunk.

Pat loves hurling and rugby and still has a fantastic memory of sporting events.

Before he went into hospital a few months ago, Pat used to look forward to going to Taaffes Bar in Shop Street every Saturday morning to meet old friends.

Though there were many proud moments for the couple, one of their proudest was visiting Arás an Uachtaran and seeing their son Dominic, a member of the Red Cross, getting a President’s Trophy from President Mary McAleese for First Aid.

Another huge moment for Maureen was seeing her niece, Catherine Connolly becoming Mayor of the city. Catherine was one of 14 children left orphaned when their mother, Maureen’s beloved sister, Nans, died.

The Burkes continue to be a devoted couple – Pat is 93 on Thursday – and their legacy is the rearing of 14 children, who in turn have produced 40 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.

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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