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Artist Pat inspired by lure of the sea

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 11-Oct-2012

If her sister hadn’t decided to study in Ireland, Detroit born Pat Byrne may well have lived a very different life – and this year’s Baboró poster would more than likely have been created by someone else.

Pat was thrilled when she was asked to paint the poster for this year’s children’s festival, which opens on Monday.

As it happens, coincidentally, an exhibition of some of Pat’s limited edition works is being held this week in the Salmon Weir Gallery as part of the Baboró festival. That gallery is located in Simon J Kelly’s offices in Waterside.

But Pat wasn’t always an artist. She started out with an interest in the sciences, particularly physics but followed her sister Maria into zoology.

The two of them were reared in the US city of Detroit – in a very industrialised part of the city, Pat says – and thought Ireland was “paradise” when they were brought here on holidays.

So Maria came to the then UCG and when it was Pat’s turn to go to college a year later, she applied for the same course, got it and has an honours degree in zoology.

“I loved college, loved my course and thought I was so lucky to be living and studying in a lovely part of the world. I started diving and that opened up a whole new world to me, which is probably why many of my paintings now are underwater scenes.”

The Baboró poster is an underwater scene and looks like something out of a Disney movie. It will be very appealing to children while parents will appreciate its artistic qualities.

It has been almost three decades since Pat was diving, during her college days but the beauty she saw in local waters is as fresh today, she says, as then and luckily enough, she can draw on those memories to create her paintings today.

She effectively goes into another world when she goes into her studio at the back of her house to sit before a canvas. She usually does a rough sketch before taking up a paint brush and often does one painting after another on the same theme until she gets it out of her system.

“I suppose I am fascinated with wildlife since I did zoology. I love birds and fish and plankton, coral, anything that is underwater.”

Her take on Galway scenes, probably because she first saw them as a teenager with fresh eyes, is romantic and quirky as can be seen in her paintings depicting the Claddagh and the Latin Quarter. These are colourful with a trace of the ‘naïve art’ style about them.

Because she works in oils, her own taste in art tends to veer towards ceramics, sculpture and any medium other than the one she uses herself.

The house is full of favourite paintings by her over the years interspersed with other artists’ work, including very impressive puppetry made by one of her daughters for her Leaving Cert.

Pat met her husband, Salthill man, Ollie Daniels when they were both in college and his work took the young family to France for a few years when the children were young. Those children, Niamh, Caoimhe and Diarmuid are aged 24, 22 and 19 now. Niamh and Caoimhe have finished college and Diarmuid has just started.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Judy Murphy

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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

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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Archive News

Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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