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Not a leg to stand on when it comes to bike grant



Date Published: 04-Aug-2010

I can accept that the Green Party wasn’t thinking of victimising me personally when they came up with their financial carrot to get the country back on its bike – but that’s only of limited consolation.

The simple truth is that I cannot avail of their scheme that allows you to claim two grand back against your tax if you invest in a new bike – primarily because I’m one of the few people in Ireland who cannot cycle.

And just in case they were planning a cash incentive for those who can backstroke their way to the office next time out, I should also point out at this stage that I cannot swim either.

However all is not lost because I can walk and I can drive.

And aside from the very real danger of disappearing – either on foot or in the car – into a giant pothole because the Government won’t give the Council any more money for road repairs, my ability on shank’s mare and behind the wheel has seen me through the first 45 years so I’m reasonably confident it won’t let me down now.

I didn’t learn to cycle as a child because we didn’t have a bike – we had a tricycle but you hardly need lessons to manoeuvre one of those – and when we did get one my younger siblings learned to cycle first so I took the stance that cycling wasn’t cool and I’d be happier standing on my own two feet.

Swimming was fine up to the point where you had to let go of the bar on the side of the pool; there was a part of my brain that told me I’d float as long as I held on to something and I’d sink as soon as I’d let go.

So despite several attempts at lessons, that too proved elusive – and at this stage I’d be afraid I’d frighten children if I were to join a class. Either that or I’d displace so much water that they’d think a tsunami had just hit Leisureland.

To me cycling and swimming in Ireland have one thing in common – with either pursuit, you’re guaranteed to get wet through to the skin.

Cars have radios and CD players and it’s easier to answer the phone. You can fit the contents of a small house in the boot and you can get from one side of the country to the other in under two hours.

I can see more merits in swimming if only because I’ve looked on at the fun my kids have on holidays as they try to drown each other while I lie in the shade, perspiring like the proverbial pig on dry land.

But as a mode of transport over water, I prefer the ferry because they have beds and bars and cinemas – and you don’t have to cover yourself in goose grease to avoid hypothermia.

Maybe it’s because I don’t cycle myself that I have to admit a slight irritation at the sight of pedal-pushers dodging in and out between the cars, slapping off wing mirrors with their canvass bags, shooting on and off footpaths as though they had some special rights conferred on them to give them authority over both motorists and pedestrians at the same time.

We now have cycle lanes which mean they have a designated area on which to travel – but the same doesn’t apply to footpaths which appear to work on the basis of every man for himself.

Equally it seems that traffic lights also apply to cars only, because cyclists shoot straight through them, demanding in the process that cars screech to a shuddering stop so that they can continue on their merry way regardless.

And now on top of all that they get a grant from the Greens for a brand new bike, while those of us who drive to work are hit with a €200 levy on top of the road tax, petrol tax and vehicle registration tax we already shovel into some bottomless pit.

I could of course purchase a bike with stabilisers to avail of the grant or indeed I could have one of those tricycles that old people use sometimes, but frankly there’s only so far even I will go to get a few bob of my tax back.

Maybe they’ll give us a grant for good shoes in December’s budget because that’ll get the country back on its feet – or maybe a few bob towards those special socks you wear on aeroplanes to avoid getting deep vein thrombosis.

Because with 120,000 forced to leave the country over the next twelve months in search of work, the least the Greens could do for the next generation of emigrants is to provide them with a little bit of comfort to help them avoid a fatal stroke on those long-haul flights.

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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