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Of Charles J Haughey and his thoughts on economists



Date Published: {J}

We have to careful about who we quote in support of any argument. And I am very conscious that in proposing to quote one Charles J Haughey – and on a question of the economy – that it is tantamount to taking a few lines of scripture from the devil himself!

Haughey was, after all, the one who went on television to solemnly address the nation on the fact that we were “living way beyond our means” . . . at a time when, though we only discovered it years later, he was ‘in hock’ massively to the banks and was developing a taste for ‘touching’ people like Ben Dunne for a few bob.

Haughey also famously once stopped his chauffeur-driven car outside the AIB at BankCentre, sent for someone in management, and handed him a cheque for half of what he owed, telling the banker that he would have to settle for it!

Like a lot of others who like to quote scripture and prescribe how we might live, he had developed the happy knack of ‘do as I say . . . not as I do’. And it was only years later that we discovered the old rogue had any number of financial secrets to hide, and others we may never find out about.

That television address to the nation might have been forgotten by now if it hadn’t been for the series Reeling In The Years, where he still regularly appears from that infamous broadcast, complete with gravelly voice, a face that would be fit for a funeral, and a message of difficult times – for everyone else!

My only other impressions of him came through a very casual acquaintance. They were of a man who loved the good times. He dressed in suits that cost thousands and made of cloth that felt ‘like a million’, he wore ties and shirts that came from a specialist house (Charvet) in Paris, and liked to have a mistress about the place.

I do know that he was quite stingy with money, kept a great bundle of it in a safe in his house, and was notorious for not carrying any cash . . . so, if he ran into an incidental expense like buying a round of drinks at a function, he would approach a colleague, borrow a hunk of money, and never pay it back! In this instance, I have the names of those who were ‘stuck’.

Reason I mention Haughey at all is that he was also famously dismissive of economists. He contemptuously remarked that they might be handy to keep outside the door if you were working on a budget, in case you needed a long-tot done!

The vast majority of economists would appear to have failed us during the run-up the financial morass in which we find ourselves at the minute.

Of course there were a few voices which – famously – are now reported to have warned that we were getting into trouble, but most seemed to believe that we might gaily carry on as we were a few years ago. Well, I don’t remember too many warnings from those lines of economists who were on radio bulletins!

Economist Dr Alan Ahearne, the special adviser to Finance Minister Brian Lenihan, presents one of the more accessible messages on the disaster which befell us . . . indeed in one line last week he summed up the situation.

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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