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BetaMax discovery conjures thoughts of Del Boy



Date Published: {J}

I know just where I would have to go to find the spare parts necessary for a BetaMax video recorder which turned up in our garage in the past week as we moved things about.

The answer is obvious . . . why Trotter’s Independent Traders of course, for only they have done things like stake their future on Russian recorder technology, not to mention the time they went into the business of ‘statellite’ pictures featuring the pick of risqué Scandinavian films.

The entry into the world of high-tech also had other problems for the Trotters. For instance, the cassette was easily as large as a good sized hardbound book according to the Russian format they were using.

I would say that the BetaMax machine in our garage has to weigh three stone . . . it was bought at the time when Beta was big in Galway, and the international war on popular formats of the time for viewers was reaching its peak.

I have to pause here to remind younger readers that simply may not understand what I am talking about. They come from the DVD generation and may have seen the odd video tape lying about the place . . . these tapes preceded the idea of the disc, but they were doomed probably because it was so easy for tapes to get tangled and damaged and chewed up in the machines.

The discs also had the added advantage of being light, easily stored, easily put into a case and brought about the place. The Trotters had chosen to ignore all of this . . . well, they had one definite customer in Trig who instantly bought-in.

I have a suspicion that the BetaMax format continued on in Galway for longer than in other centres because O’Connor Television on Shop Street dominated the market in sales, repairs and rentals . . . so, there was still a BetaMax demand in Galway when it had long vanished in other areas of the country and O’Connor’s continued to serve a vanishing BetaMax format demand, as VHS gained the upper hand around the world. In other words, O’Connor’s were serving their customers and continued to do so.

I have a suspicion that VHS might have been the one the Japanese and some European giants went for, but I am subject to possible correction on that.

The technology has certainly changed in the intervening years. For instance, the BetaMax recorder which was recovered from the garage must have weighed at least three stones and the body appeared to be made of metal solid enough to survive a nuclear blast, not to mention some brat interfering with the settings.

The only comparable weight I can think of was Del Boy’s decision to go into the business. It was a home industry that eventually found itself working on the outer edges of the porn business.

Not surprisingly, car dealer Boycie was at the head of this potential budding porn industry, though he seemed to spend most of his time out on the back lawn trying to get the dish to tune-in to the satellite which was putting out ‘art films’.

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

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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