Waterford City Archives will host a travelling exhibition entitled ‘Local Government Elections in Ireland – 1899 to Present’ in Waterford Central Library, Lady Lane, from Monday 9th February to Thursday 26th February. So reads the missive I received from our wonderfully busy City Archivist, Donal Moore, and it’s my pleasure to bring this exhibition to your attention. Why it should be of interest to many is set out below.
The exhibition was produced by the Local Authority Archivists Group and features materials from local authority collections around the country. This exhibition offers an opportunity to assess the history and impact that local elections have had in Ireland. The exhibition looks first at the great changes brought with the Local Government Act, 1898 which gave many Irish people their first opportunity to have a say in local government. On 22nd April 1899 many of the newly formed Councils met for the first time and passed resolutions calling for Home Rule and after the local elections in 1920 the new Councils resolved to declare their support for Dáil Éireann.
The exhibition focuses on how elections work and on what say people have had and how they used their vote. It highlights the elections that made a particular impact on Irish society. On launching the exhibition Mr. John Gormley, TD, Minister of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government said “I hope that, through initiatives like this exhibition, we can provide voters and communities with the opportunity to assess what benefits and changes local elections have brought to our society”.
The Local Authority Archivists’ Group is working together across local authorities to highlight the archives in local collections. This exhibition has been funded by the Local Authorities and the Heritage Council.
Setting the Summer Scene
Hopefully the exhibition will serve to whet the political appetite for the next Local Elections which will take place on June 5th next – in conjunction with the Europeans. Here’s the shape of things to come. The local elections in 2009 are already set for some changes as Waterford City Council’s three electoral are to be renamed and re-shaped as part of the Electoral Area Boundary Committee Report published last June. Under several changes recommended in the report, Waterford City Council’s Ward One will be called Waterford North, Ward Two will be Waterford East and Ward Three will be Waterford South.
However, the biggest change, however, is that the new Waterford South area will now lose one seat (from six to five) while Waterford East will gain a seat (from five to six). The reason cited by the committee for reducing the new Waterford South area’s representation (Ward Three) was the decline in the population of the area by 5.18% since 1996. Waterford East, which will now elect six members of the council in the local elections next year, which had a population increase of nearly 32% since 1996 but with certain areas on the western periphery of the constituency going to Waterford North to balance the seat changes.
Waterford North (Ward One) will remain with the same number of seats (4) but will gain the above mentioned area from Waterford West to offset its population decline of six per cent since 1996.
Stamping Ground associated memories
One abiding memory of mine goes back to the Local Elections in Cork City of June 28th, 1967. You may well ask how come I remember that date so readily. Well I have 80,000 reasons- well actually only a mere 40,000!
I was working at that time in Cork City Hall on the corporation staff there – a raw recruit at the time – when an emergency arose. With less than a month to go before the Election Day, the eagle-eyed City Manager upon examining a sample of the 80,000 polling due to be sent out to notify the electorate of the key details of the poll such as time and place spotted a glaring omission – there was no date on any card to indicate that vital information!! A reprint was quickly dismissed on the basis of cost and time. So the solution was to pick on the new boy and a another chap (Eoin), order two date stamps bearing the vital message of 28/June/1967, two ink pads and stacks and stacks and stacks of virginal polling cards -all 80,000 of them.
Then we were installed in a quiet room at the top of the building and told to get stamping! I reckon we did about 2,000 a day for a full three weeks. We made our mark alright! So you can now appreciate how that date is still emblazoned on my memory. Incidentally that was also the date that the Bee Gees played the Savoy in Cork that year- Be Jay, don’t I remember that! Maybe that story will be related as part of the Exhibition now on at the central Library. And now, as they say, here’s something totally different for you to ponder.
Golf balls and two glasses of wine
When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 glasses of wine.
A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him.
When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls.He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.
The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.
The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous “yes.”
The professor then produced two glasses of wine from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed
“Now,” said the professor, as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things; your family, your friends, your children, your health, and your favourite passions; things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.
The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, and your car. The sand is everything else; the small stuff. If you put the sand into the jar first” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls.
The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you.
Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out to dinner. Take your friends for drinks.
Play another 18 holes of golf. Call a friend for no particular reason. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first; the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”
One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the wine represented. The professor smiled.
“I’m glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of glasses of wine with a friend.” Make mine a pint!
Go Seachtain Eile, Slan