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Ex-student shines the spotlight on Galway



Date Published: 19-Apr-2012

It’s always fascinating to know what other people think about us – even if we don’t necessarily agree with these people’s opinions.

A new guide book by NUI graduate Christina McDonald, who previously worked as a journalist in Galway, gives a very good insight on how at least one American views Ireland.

Moon Living Abroad in Ireland is a comprehensive guide book geared at both tourists and people who are thinking of moving here to live. And for the most part, Christina’s thoughts on the country, especially Galway, are positive.

That’s possibly not surprising as she has many happy memories of her time here as a student – these include meeting the man who became her husband when she spotted and fancied him him at a Taekwon Do class.

These days Christina lives in London with her husband Richard and their three-year-old son. Speaking on the phone, she laughs as she recalls how she noticed Richard in class one day and manipulated the situation so she was paired up with him for manoeuvres.

“It changed the course of my life,” she says of her time in Galway. And it also proved invaluable when American publishing company Moon, which specialises in independent travel and adventure books, was looking for somebody to write a guide book on Ireland.

Seattle native Christina had sent her CV to the company about five years ago, after spotting an advertisement it had posted on the website Craigslist. Back then Moon wanted somebody to write a book on her area of America and she figured she was an ideal candidate.

They felt differently, however.

“I never heard anything back. But then, a few years later they contacted me about writing a book on Ireland.”

She sent on an outline of her ideas and they went from there.

“Moon has a fairly standard outline for all books, but there is room for a bit of personal input on each country,” says Christina. Her personal tips include fun items such as a history of the Claddagh ring and Galway hooker as well as practical tips on safety, travel, tax relief and the cost of living.

Her research relied largely on her personal experience of living here and her knowledge of both American and Irish society, which allowed her to explain differences in customs and languages between the countries.

For factual and statistical information she relied largely on websites from various Government departments as well as the Citizens Advice Board and Fáilte Ireland. She also contacted experts in various areas and made use of online expat forums used by Americans living in Ireland.

Like the Rough Guides and Lonely Planet travel books that people on this side of the world are more familiar with, the Moon Guide contains a general overview of the country being featured. There’s a history of the country – in this case Ireland – advice on planning a fact-finding trip and making the move. In that section Christina covers visas, immigration, health, employment, communications and transport.


One section of the book is entitled Prime Living Locations. There, Christina explains that for someone moving to Ireland, they have two choices about where to live; urban or rural.

She deals briefly with rural areas before selecting Dublin, Cork, Galway and Limerick, in that order, as her prime living locations.

She describes Galway as “the soul of what really sums up all that is ‘Irish’” and she accurately captures the climate of the Western seaboard.

“You may wake up to bright sunshine but by the time you get out of bed, dark angry clouds may be lashing fat drops of cold rain.”

Christina first wanted to come to Ireland as a child, when she was a saw a photo of the Dingle Peninsula and loved it. She has no close family connections with this country, but she felt drawn here.

For more, read this week’s 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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