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Galway Bay FM News Archives

Traveller documentary an antidote to sensationalism

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Date Published: 31-May-2011

As a great spokesman for his community, Francie Barrett was the perfect choice for Blood of the Travellers, a documentary in which he seeks to uncover where Travellers originated.

He teamed up with the film maker Liam McGrath who made Southpaw, the documentary on his journey to Olympic stardom in 1996 when he carried the Irish flag as a 19-years-old boxer and became the first Traveller to compete in the Olympics for Ireland.

The documentary, screened over the last two Sunday nights, is unashamedly biased towards Travellers as it captures Francie’s journey around the country gathering 40 samples from Travellers to undergo DNA testing.

This sympathetic portrait of Travellers serves as an antidote to the more sensational documentaries about Travellers, such My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, which examines practices of Travellers in the UK such as “grabbing” where young men literally grab a random female for a snog.

The film focused on some of Ireland’s best known Travellers – former Tuam mayor Tom Ward; actor Michael Collins, who played Blackie Connors in Glenroe; and of course Francie.

The scientists eventually ruled out the belief that Travellers were descended from the Romany gypsies as they carry a unique DNA signature that points to deep roots in ancient Ireland.

They also found they had not originated at the time of the Famine – they could not have set up such a different DNA to the settled Irish in just five generations – and also dispelled the notion they were evicted by Cromwell and were forced onto life on the road.

The most likely hypothesis put forward is they arrived well before the time of Cromwell. Travellers were genetically isolated from the rest of the Irish population for between 1,000 and 2,000 years according to Dr Wilson.

The reason for that diversification must be cultural, he believes.

The findings may prove valuable to the Travelling community in their quest to be recognised as a distinct cultural group and could be fuel for those opposed to the criminal trespass legislation which makes it illegal for Travellers to set up camp anywhere other than a designated halting site.

For the rest of us, the programme touched on some of the thorny issues which make relations between the settled and the Travellers difficult.

According to some of the older Travellers who featured, there was “no feuding, no fighting and no violence” between families two generations ago. Francie’s great aunt Christina McDonagh recalls that farmers had great respect for Travellers and would allow them to set up camp in their fields. In those days Travellers were needed them for seasonal work.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

Galway Bay FM News Archives

Galway has country’s largest population of young people

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Date Published: 07-May-2013

Galway has a population of young people which is more than twice the national average.

According to information gathered by the Central Statistics Office, Galway’s population of 20 to 24 year olds is more than twice the national average.

The number of 25-34 year olds in Galway is also more than the norm nationally, with the two main colleges thought to be the main reason.

However immigration in Galway is much higher than in other areas at 19.4 percent, compared to the national average of 12 percent.

 

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Galway Bay FM News Archives

Call for direct donations to city charity shops

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Date Published: 07-May-2013

A city councillor is encouraging people to donate goods directly to charity shops.

It follows allegations of thefts from clothes banks in Galway and across the country in recent months.

However, cameras are in place at some clothes banks and surveillance is carried out by local authorities.

Speaking on Galway Talks, Councillor Neil McNeilis said the problem of theft from clothes banks is widespread.

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Galway Bay FM News Archives

Galway ‘Park and Ride’ could become permanent

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Date Published: 07-May-2013

A park ‘n’ ride scheme from Carnmore into Galway city could become a permanent service if there is public demand.

That’s according to the Chief Executive of Galway Chamber of Commerce, Michael Coyle.

The pilot scheme will begin at 7.20 next Monday morning, May 13th.

Motorists will be able to park cars at the airport carpark in Carnmore and avail of a bus transfer to Forster Street in the city.

Buses will depart every 20 minutes at peak times and every 30 minutes at offpeak times throughout the day, at a cost of 2 euro per journey.

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