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FF planning major Galway meeting for Martin as party begins rebuilding



Date Published: {J}

Word in Fianna Fáil circles is that we can expect to see Micheál Martin in Galway in the not too distant future. The slow and painful process is beginning at a national level of attempting to rebuild the party after the electoral massacre of just a few weeks ago.

And, for anyone in Galway Fianna Fáil looking for ammunition in the past week, well, there may be two Fine Gael and one Labour TD in Galway West – but the potential closure threat to Galway Airport is a political hot potato that reminds just how politics can change so quickly.

There is no secret to precisely what Martin will be doing as he goes around the country. He will be ‘taking a leaf out of the Enda Kenny book’, holding mass meetings of hundreds of members, where the hope will be that the enthusiasm of getting together again in big numbers, will engender some of the old confidence, swagger and self-belief.

The climb back will be from an extraordinary low point and no one in FF is assuming that the party will bounce back. It has fallen to a record low of 20 Dáil seats, there is widespread demoralisation at grassroots level and the anger is still palpable at local level in places like Galway West, where many members feel they were mere cannon fodder in recent times.

But Martin will also know that if the opinion polls don’t start to drift in FF’s favour in the coming year, he doesn’t have until the 2014 Local Elections. The knives will be out for him . . . just as they were for Kenny only a year ago!

However, I hear word on the grapevine that in some cases they are not waiting for the national effort –Martin will also be going to Galway East as part of his national tour, but there is word that the former minister and TD, Noel Treacy, has been quietly doing some work at grassroots level there already.

A huge task lies ahead of Treacy and others in places like Ballinasloe and Loughrea before the next Local Elections where the party must start by winning back Council seats, but against a very different ‘new’ FG with Junior Minister Ciaran Cannon and Deputy Paul Connaughton Jnr setting the pace.

A comeback in the Locals was the foundation of the Fine Gael revival after their 2002 General Election disaster and the 2014 Local Election date seems to be the key one now being set throughout the FF organisation.

However, FF are not the only ones, mind you, who are mindful of the need to keep on working on the grassroots. I hear that new Labour TD Colm Keaveney has not been allowing things to slip – there is talk of branch-building going on and even some high-level recruitment and Keaveney has been active in the Dáil.

After all those nights of slogging in the rain from door-to-door, Keaveney is determined to hold on to that seat, though the outburst of Tommy Broughan TD during the week, when he had harsh words to say about the Fine Gael-Labour Government, shows how the pressure will mount in time to come, especially in a huge majority and with Labour tied to unhappy choices.

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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