Jumping headfirst into middle age

Phew. That’s it. That’s the last issue of the first 39 years of the Galway Advertiser completed. from next week, the newspaper turns 40. Which means it will be probably have to be grumpier and slightly more balding. It will have to moan and groan even more, and have the odd midlife crisis.

Yes, next Thursday, we celebrate 40 years of the Galway Advertiser, Ireland’s longest running and most successful free newspaper and Ireland’s largest circulation regional newspaper. On April 16, 1970, the newspaper started life and nobody gave it a snowball’s chance in Hell of surviving. However, driven no doubt by the charm of Ronnie O’Gorman and the many staff members who have worked hard for the business over the intervening four decades, despite my best efforts, it reaches this latest milestone in as strong a condition as ever.

For 40 years, it has dropped silently onto doormats around the city and county; it has been passed surreptitiously from newsagent to customer with a knowing “there ya go now, say nawthing” in thousands of paper shops and it has helped thousands of businesses to get in touch directly with their customers.

The Advertiser is many different things to different people — one rural health worker uses it as an excuse to call in and see elderly people, living alone in her area. To an enclosed order of nuns, it is the voice that comes over the wall or hidden discreetly at the bottom of a box of groceries.

To the refugee, it is the first introduction to the place he now calls home; to many others, it is an accepted part of Galway life that has been there ever since Galway went from being a town to being a city.

For the last five or six weeks, the midnight oil has been well and truly burned here at the Advertiser as a handful of us have worked to put together a 72-page souvenir magazine to celebrate the Advertiser’s first 40 years. The magazine which was compiled and researched by myself and journalist Richie McCarthy and designed and laid out by production manager Patrick Breslin, chronicles the news from each year of the last forty and will also feature some of the stories and characters who brought that to you.

In addition to all of that, the Advertiser is pleased to announce that from next Thursday, the 40th birthday of the Galway Advertiser, every single page of every single copy of the newspaper dating back to 1970, will be available to view and download free of charge from our website. As you can imagine, the process of scanning more than 140,000 pages of newspapers wa anything but simple but it has been completed and the archive is searchable, so have fun.

This is the first free newspaper archive of its extent and type in Ireland.

On top of all of this, next Thursday we will be sharing this celebration with you and at our offices in Eyre Square, we will be laying on a day-long concert, with performances from the likes of Marc Roberts, Sean Keane, Annette Griffin, Emma O’Sullivan, John O’Halloran, Keith McDonald, the Hession School of Irish Stepdancing, and the Guinness Jazz Band. All of the above have offered their servics free of charge so that funds can be raised for Croi. So come along and have a cup of tea or coffee, a sticky bun or a glass of wine and enjoy the music and the craic, and if you feel like it, you can make a small donation to Croi.

Croi’s ace fundraiser Mary A Cunningham will be overseeing the performances so there’s no getting away. Also, we will be holding many competitions in the apper and online at our Facebook page, so become our friend and join the hundreds of others who are there already.

So come along and partake and if I don’t see you there, can I thank the readers, the advertisers, and all my work colleagues for playing your part in ensuring that we have reached 40. Now where are my bloody slippers. Ah, this tea is cold...

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