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Galway duo help Haiti get back on its feet



Date Published: 24-Feb-2010

Two east Galway volunteers will be among a group of some 250 Irish people heading off to earthquake ravaged Haiti at the end of April on a mission which will involve the construction of 60 new homes for the poorest of the poor.


For quality engineer Ailish O’Reilly from Woodford, it is a return journey she has yearned for since her initial unforgettable experience a short four months ago when she was among the enthusiastic group of Irish volunteers who took part in the first ever “Build it Week” organised by the Irish aid organisation Haven.


That week left such an indelible impression on Ailish that she made her mind up to return to the Caribbean island at the first available opportunity.


And this time she persuaded work colleague Tom Haynes, an electrician at the Creagh Medical plant in Ballinasloe, to join the huge effort to aid a country that is so impoverished it is rated the poorest in the western hemisphere.


Now, inspired by some wonderful local fundraising and generous donations from family and friends, the duo are off to a country decimated by the recent earthquake – but already struggling for survival before that tragic event.


On April 25, Ailish and Tom, along with 250 Irish people from all walks of life, will travel to Gonaives which is north of Port au Prince, where the target build is 60 new houses. Based on feedback from the occupants of the first housing development, the house plans have been modified, but will still retain the hurricane proof aspects of the original design.


Ailish said that after the earthquake, the generosity of people in east Galway towards the people of Haiti had “scaled new heights”.

In response to promptings from Tom Haynes, national school children from Creagh and Newtown raised almost €3,000, while parishioners in Woodford/Looscaun contributed over €4,500 to the emergency relief fund.


The fundraising also involved a triathlon organised by Run Ireland and volunteers from Creagh Youth Club and the local Community Development organisation, while volunteers raised further cash by bag-packing in O’Meara’s of Portumna, and colleagues and family rowed in with individual donations.


Ailish has stark memories of her first visit to Haiti in October 2009, recollections that are dominated by the distressing poverty in the north east border town of Quanaminthe, where people live in makeshift thatched mud huts with no running water or toilet facilities.


Haven’s first ever “Build it Week” was a spectacular success and was the subject of a moving television documentary fronted by rugby pundit George Hook.


The second “Build It Week” will be located in a small village where there is a lot of available land that could accommodate a number of future visits from the Irish bricklayers, plasterers, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, painters and general helpers who all realise that their efforts, and the generous financial support of their neighbours and friends at home, is making a real difference.


Donations can be made to Haven, the Malthouse, Grand Canal Quay, Dublin 2, and the office can be contacted on 01-4333930.

See full story inside 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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