Hippie "Flower Power" Returns to Galway!

Launched in May 1998, the iMac heralded Steve Jobs triumphal return to Apple. The product was a spectacular success, returning the company to profit after many years of what seemed to be terminal decline. 

With its distinctive egg shape, translucent candy-colours, and all-in-one simplicity of design, the iMac became ingrained into the pop culture of the late 1990s. It was the first piece of Apple hardware to use the symbol ‘i' in its name, highlighting its function as a window into the new world of the Internet. Once again the Apple brand became cool.
After the initial Bondi Blue exterior, subsequent years saw the iMac come in a wide range of colours including the spectacular multi-coloured Flower Power model of 2001 which harked back to the hippie movement and its strong associations with San Francisco during the late 1960s.
Photograph shows Wille Shaw holding the Flower Power iMac which was donated to the museum by 'Screenway'.

The Computer and Communications Museum of Ireland, located at INSIGHT Centre at NUI Galway,  is open to the public 10am-5pm Monday to Friday during the summer months. For details of guided tours (by booking only) of this great technology facility, contact Brendan Smith at brendan.smith@insight-centre.org

The Village School - the Heartbeat of Rural Ireland

Enjoying a communal meal, GAA Community Centre, Kiltormer June 2014
Last Saturday, I attended a wonderful 50th celebration of a school in the little village of Kiltormer in east Galway. Thanks to the herculean efforts of principal Grainne Dooley, the teaching staff of Margaret, Sean and Mary and their committee, the local population united in a supreme effort to celebrate, not just the opening of the present St. Patrick's National School in 1964, but even more to celebrate the meaning of 'community'.
Traditional musicians, GAA Community Centre, Kiltormer June 2014
There was an array of exciting events to mark the occasion: a parade, a communal mass, children's outdoor fun activities, a display of vintage farm machinery, a hurling match comprising players from across the decades; young traditional Irish musicians, an in-school local history museum and an exhibition of photographs of Kiltormer in times past.
Artifacts and old photographs on display, Kiltormer school celebrations, June 2014
I played a small role in this event by helping the school host an open community night where people from all across the locality brought in old photographs reflecting life in days gone by. 
These images are still being digitised, cleaned up and posted online as part of a digital heritage archive action known as BEO (Irish for Alive) which could become the most important national heritage project since the 1937 Irish Folklore Commission. It will reinforce the connections with the Irish Diaspora.
Eyreville demesne, 1930s
Like many towns and villages across rural Ireland, Kiltormer has been devastated by a high level of emigration exacerbated about by the economic collapse in 2008 that resulted from the activities of a greedy unpatriotic troika of property speculators, bankers and politicians. But the problem goes much deeper and further back in time, to 1973 when the state joined what was then known as the European Economic Community(EEC). The key characteristic of Ireland for over 5,000 years has been agriculture. But ever since the early 1970s, there has been a huge exodus of people away from farming as the policies of successive governments favoured the big rancher, supermarkets and agri-corporations at the expense of the family farm. This is not what the population expected- we were promised a sustainable agriculture that would give a living wage to farmers and their families.
The small manufacturing industries that once dominated rural towns have all but closed down as a result of cheap imports, with their localities failing to secure replacement jobs in the new technologies sectors such as biomedical and computing. 
Kiltormer village, 1932
Ghost Villages
Ireland in the 21st century has become a land of ghost townlands and villages as young people emigrate to Australia, Canada and elsewhere  to find employment.
As we the people and our descendants are being forced to pay for the gambling debts of financial and property speculators and their cronies, austerity measures are leading to the closure  of Garda stations. post offices, pubs, marts and schools across the country. 
Kiltormer School, 1959-'60
The decline of the small rural school
Schools are the lifeblood of rural Ireland.  Without schools, communities die. More than ever before, we need to ensure that the schools stay open so that the heritage, stories and memories of a hinterland are still treasured and passed on to a new generation; and the children and their parents continue to transform the word 'community' into a living reality. 
Carrowreagh Bog
Hopefully the politicians of this land wake up soon to the destructive nature of their economic and social polices on rural Ireland. So well done to St. Patrick's National School Kiltormer for the wonderful work that they are doing to help reverse what can feel like a terminal decline. Giving people a sense of place will give them an identity,  a sense of value, of belonging and of purpose. Everyone involved is a true patriot.
Hurling match, Kiltormer Celebrations, June 2014

An Insight into an Urban Wildlife paradise.

Heritage expert Tom Cuffe will give a talk on his wildlife research findings of the Terryland Forest Park at 7.30pm on Tuesday July 1st in the Menlo Park Hotel.
All are welcome to attend.

With its diverse range of habitats including meadow, river, wetland, pasture and woodland, this unique man-made wildlife sanctuary of 180 acres boosts an impressive array of insects, birds, mammal and aquatic species that would be the envy of any urbanized environment in the world. 
In both the spring of 2013 and of 2014, Mr. Cuffe used transect surveys to scientifically estimate the density of the bird as well as the butterfly and moth populations. His research identified forty eight bird species in one defined area alone thus highlighting the importance of the park to the biodiversity and ecology of the city.
The presentation will include a wide selection of the beautiful photographs taken by Tom of the varied wildlife that live in this unique forest park created by the people of Galway in conjunction with Galway City Council.

The event hosted by the Conservation Volunteers Terryland Forest Park group will also include presentations on native wildflower maintenance by horticulturalist Padraic Kerins and proposals for a major ‘Outdoor Classroom’ in the locality by Brendan Smith.

Tony Blair - Warmonger & War Criminal.

The arrogance of Tony Blair in denying today that the 2003 US-led invasion is responsible for the Mad Max nightmare world of today's Iraq is pathetic.
No humiliation or apology for co-leading a war that has led to millions of ordinary people being killed, maimed, forced from their homes, regions and countries. His war has fragmented countries, turned neighbour against neighbour and led to a rise of an insane, anti-female, sectarian, intolerant, brutal Islamist fundamentalism that has no respect for sanctity of human life. 

Saddam was a vicious bloody tyrant. But in Iraq just before the US invasion, it is estimated that 25% of marriages were mixed, between Sunni and Shia, Kurd and Arab. People were encouraged to attend each other's places of worship. In Baghdad up until 2003, Christians, Sunnis and Shiites mixed socially. 
Now that has changed beyond recognition.The 2,000 year old Christian communities of Syria & Iraq are close to extinction due to the actions of western neo-cons, American right-wing Christians and Sunni extremists. The map of the Middle East is being redrawn in the blood of the innocents by jihadists.
Whilst the Middle East has been ignited since the Iraqi invasion, Blair of course has done well financially, making millions on the international lecture trail. But It is unacceptable and immoral that Blair acts as an international 'peace envoy' in the Middle East for the EU, the UN and others, paid of course by our taxes. Sack him from this position, let the British Labour Party disown him and put him and Bush on trial in the Hague for war crimes.

Seven Galway Castles' Heritage Bike Trail - June 22nd

Cloonacauneen Castle
Slí na gCaisleán (‘The Way of the Castles’) is a heritage cycle trail along a picturesque route of lakes, bogs, farmland, meadows, botharíns, castles and woods on the north and eastern side of Galway city and into Galway county. 
The trail is organised by Cumann na bhFear (Men's Shed) in association with Conservation Volunteers' Terryland Forest Park, Galway Bike Festival and National Bike Week.

Carrowbrowne Bog
Next guided tour: Sunday June 22nd. Starts at 9.45am from The Plots, Dyke Road, Galway city. 
For further information, contact Brendan Smith at speediecelt@gmail.com
Terryland Castle
This 'Off the Beaten'  route starts from and finishes at Terryland Castle in a circa 25  mile looped trail that includes the castles of Menlo, Castlegar, Cloonacauneen, Killeen, Ballybrit and Ballindooley. 
Approaching Cloonacauneen Castle

Killoughter, overlooking the Curraghline
Participants on this guided tours are required to bring along their own bicycle, suitable clothing and packed lunch.There will be an opportunity to have a picnic at Menlo. There will also be a stop over at Cloonacauneen Castle where participants can purchase food and beverages. Any children twelve years or under must be accompanied by an adult. 
All participants must sign a form agreeing to abide by the rules of the tour.
Click here for an online map of the route.

Note: Please note that  to get a full screen version of the map, click on the four diagonal arrow icon
on the bottom left hand corner of the screen map.

In front of the old gate entrance to the Menlo demesne

Ballindooley Lough
Killeen Castle
Botharín, Castlegar
Ballybrit Castle
St. Peter & St. Paul's Catholic Church Coolagh
Menlo Castle
IRA Monument, Castlegar
In front of Castlegar Castle and old Ball Alley

The 3 Castles Athenry & environs Heritage Cycle Trail

A delightful journey of discovery through a beautiful hidden landscape
of east Galway.
August Country Fair Day, Monivea
Tour Times/Dates: 9.45am, Sunday June 15th
9.45am. Duration: circa. 6-7hrs

Start location and route: Athenry Castle, continue onto Monivea Bog, to Monivea village, then onto Castle Ellen and finish up at Athenry Castle. 
Organiser: Cumann na bhFear (Men's Shed, Ballinfoile).
Contact: Brendan Smith, speediecelt@gmail.com 
The event is being organised in association with Galway Bike Festival and the national Bike Week.
With its largely unspoilt landscape of small farms, hedgerows, stone walls, lakes, bogs, rivers, castles, Gerogian mansions, network of botharíns and villages, east Galway is a largely unknown landscape waiting to be discovered by walkers and cyclists. 

The aim of this pioneering heritage tour Is to open up a new heritage route that will allow visitors to experience these wonderful timeless features and environment by way of a leisurely cycle through a representative section of east Galway that could  act as a catalyst in the development of  a network of Greenways.

The circa 30km looped cycle tour will start at Athenry Castle (above) and then travel on to the Monivea Road before turning right approximately a mile outside Athenry in the direction of Graigabbey
The participants will then cycle through the farmlands and bogs of Bengarra, (above) on into the village of Newcastle, along a botharín through the Monivea Bog with its fascinating flora and fauna; to the Monivea demesne with its collection of historical sites that was for centuries the home of the renowned Anglo-Norman fFrench family, one of the famous merchant tribes of Galway. 
fFrench Mausoleum
This will be followed by a stopover in the quaint plantation village of Monivea. 

From there the tour will continue onto Castle Ellen (above) for a picnic on the lawns of the famed Georgian mansion that was formerly the residency of the Anglo-Irish Lambert family. After a guided tour of the demesne by Its owner Michael Keaney, participants will cycle onto towards the town of Athenry to finish up at Athenry Castle. 
Abaondoned farm, Currantarmuid

Monivea Wood