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Baz takes to the Arctic like Bambi took to the ice



Date Published: {J}

In the netherworld of off-peak television, there is a phenomenon called Baz, a man who will do absolutely anything to get on the box.

Baz Ashmawy first came to a degree of prominence in the appropriately titled How Low Can You Go? – a sort of travel show for mad yokes where, week in week out, our hero took the programme title literally.

Now he’s the star of Baz’s Extreme World, where this intrepid international traveller heads off on some adventure – from working as a fireman in New York to life on a fishing trawler off the Wexford coast – and has no problem making a complete eejit of himself for the camera.

Last week’s episode took our Baz into Sweden’s Arctic wastelands, 300 kilometres inside the Arctic circle.

So far so good because this really is tough terrai

n, and he is to be accompanied on his adventure by Ross Bowyer, an extreme survivalist from Guildford outside London, who trained with Ray Mears.

Baz’s problem is that he really plays it all for a laugh; in his defence he’s not afraid to send himself up but the frightened Bambi look wears a bit thin after a few minutes.

And then there are the clichés he returns to at every conceivable opportunity – this isn’t about experiencing the Arctic … it’s about testing himself against Mother Nature.

But, as he reveals, in at the deep end was his middle name – which only goes to show that his mother had a quirky sense of humour to ensure that a funny name just got even funnier.

“It’s freezing; it really is cold,” he reveals, which probably seems obvious to people because you are in the Arctic where his guide says it can hit minus 45 at times.

“It’s kinda dawned on me how tough this is going to be,” he adds, as a giant penny drops on his head from the sky.

Still, he has been kitted out with a sleeping bag, a knife, an axe and a good warm coat that’s certainly fit for purpose and he spends his last night of warmth in a sami’s lavu with an open fire in the middle and enough reindeer skins to cover a small herd.

Next days it’s off into the open frozen country and by night they dig snow graves to sleep in, lined with wood from the forest in an operation that took three hours in the dark.

Even then they weren’t finished, because Baz dramatically revealed: “Now we had to find food if we were to have any chance of survival.” And this after about eight hours out of the camp.

If only he’d asked the camera man – maybe he had a Twix or a Mars bar that could have tied them over to morning – but instead they have to try and trap fish overnight by walking across the frozen river and boring a hole in the ice.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



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



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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Archive News

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



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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