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ItÕs an ill wind Ð albeit an icy one Ð that blows nobody any good



Date Published: {J}

It’s surely only a matter of weeks now before a swarm of locusts, lice and frogs arrive off the west coast as Galway continues its merry way through the ten plagues that the Egyptians had to deal with back in the time of Moses.

We’ve had the floods and the freeze already in the last six weeks, and when you go down through some of the other plagues, you could argue that we’ve had the livestock death back in the Foot and Mouth era; darkness every year once the Galway Races are over and hail whenever there’s a Bank Holiday weekend.

Of course there’s nothing funny about having your home flooded – whether it’s rising waters wreaking havoc on your downstairs or burst pipes raining down gallons of water from your attic – and those who have suffered deserve every sympathy that comes their way.

But what about those who are positively prospering in this time of global freezing – and by the way, how did we crack this warming thing so brilliantly – and can we reverse the process just a little now?

First up are the tradesmen – the electricians, the plasterers, the builders, the plumbers – the lads who were rushed off their feet for the lifetime of the Celtic Tiger, but who had seen their industry grind to a virtual halt since.

Have you tried to get a plumber in the last week or two? They’re scarcer than sunbathers on the beach in Salthill just now – and every pipe that cracks is another job to add to the list.

Similarly, the electricians and plasterers who are brought in to do the rewiring and dry lining once the attic waterfall has been plugged.

And of course all of this is subject to the approval of the insurance assessors who are going through a boom that hasn’t slowed down since Ballinasloe experienced its first heavy rain well over a month ago.

Then there are the panel beaters and garages, all of whom have never had it so good; they are, well, snowed under with car wrecks in need of new doors, bonnets and boots. There’s the little dents and the major damage that need careful hammering and filling.

This, remember, is in an industry that couldn’t sell cars last year if they gave them away for free, but suddenly the wheel has turned and there are queues at garages once again.

Further afield, the guy who imports road grit must have thought all his Christmases had come together – at Christmas as it turned out, ironically enough – leaving him with the sort of demand that you’d expect from Eskimos for heavy coats.

The manufacturers of candles are enjoying a mini-boom as people stock up in case of power cuts; similarly coal distributors are busy, just in case the heating falls foul of the weather.

Teachers have done alright as well – an extra few days onto the end of the two-week Christmas break for many of them – although coming back to a school where the pipes have burst all over your text books might take the good out of that unexpected break.

Those who love winter sports but cannot afford to head for the ski slopes are making down with a big of snowboarding in their own back yard right now – and lazy people have the perfect excuse to never leave the roaring fire or the couch.

Even after all of that, of course, the bad still outweighs the good – and there’s nothing funny about water cascading down the interior walls of your expensive family home.

But it’s an ill wind that doesn’t blow for someone – and after the year our tradesmen and garage owners have endured….would we really begrudge it to them?

For more, read page 13 of 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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