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Itch to travel provides Paul with material for a thriller



Date Published: {J}

Paul Morrissey may have been well used to rain in his native Galway, but nothing had prepared him for the flooding in Eastern Australia earlier this year which destroyed his home.

He has been working on rebuilding his house in the Brisbane suburbs since January, and says the long plane journey home to Ireland to attend his parents golden wedding anniversary two weeks ago was the first opportunity he got to rest in a long time.

Paul’s house in Brisbane – a wooden structure, like most Australian houses – was completely destroyed by water but he is now back in it after it was raised onto a more solid block foundation which should keep it safe from any future flooding.

However, Paul, who was reared in Glenard, doesn’t want to appear as if he is moaning considering the loss of life in other parts of the world due to severe weather conditions.

It’s probably his extensive travelling – he reckons he was visited about forty countries – that has made him so aware of other cultures, ensuring that he isn’t in the least insular.

He is in his forties now and definitely settled in Brisbane but he hasn’t ruled out doing more travelling though it’s more difficult now that he has a full-time job and is a father of two children.

Paul came home two weeks ago to attend his parents’ golden wedding anniversary. Frank and Anne Morrissey used to run The Yacht bar in Eglinton Street in the early eighties and like his other siblings he earned his pocket money working there.

“My father firmly believed we all had to earn our keep. I never worked for anyone as hard as I worked for Dad but I thank him for that now because I do have a good work ethic.

“My father is a larger than life character and he has run pubs all his life starting in England, where they returned to after selling The Yacht before they moved back to Galway to retire, this time in Clybaun, Knocknacarra.

“My mother used to make bacon spare ribs and cabbage when nobody was cooking that in the bar trade and people used to come for miles to have them. She used to cook a lot of them and regular customers would make sure they were there the day they were on the menu.”

Though Paul is settled in Australia he loves meeting up with old mates when he comes home, although his visits are rare. The last time was five years before but he intends not to leave it as long the next time.

“Ideally, I would love to announce where I will be at such and such a time so old friends around the town could pop in and say hello but everyone is so busy that it’s not possible to see everyone on one visit home.”

Paul actually studied art in the RTC (now the GMIT) but never finished the course because that first summer as a student at just 19 he discovered life abroad. He got a summer job in the BMW car manufacturing plant in Munich, where 22,000 people worked between two shifts.

He got an opportunity to drive a truck for Afghans from Munich to the border of Iran and he jumped at it, despite only having a provisional licence! The way he tells it, the journey sounds like a high adventure. In fact, he doesn’t baulk at the idea of writing his memoirs and admits he has thought about it.

“I really have travelled a lot and seen a lot and I had thought about putting them on paper but then I read Shantaram (a novel set in India partly based on the novelist’s own experiences) and I was so impressed by it I even wrote to the author Gregory David Roberts and told him that he had written the book I wanted to write. I don’t know if he ever got it. I’m sure he got thousands of letters from all over the world because it was a bestseller.”

Indeed, Paul is a very good storyteller. He not only has a soft voice, which now has an Australian inflection, but he uses good imagery. You can almost picture yourself there with him.

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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