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BrennanÕs ride of a lifetime



Date Published: {J}

John McIntyre

IT doesn’t carry the hype or the prizemoney of the Aintree Grand National, but for National Hunt purists the most prestigious prize in chasing is the Cheltenham Gold Cup and, last week in the Cotswolds, a 28-year-old Galway man joined an elusive band of jockeys to savour this big race triumph.

Paddy Brennan is still on cloud nine after steering Imperial Commander to a rousing victory in the annual highlight of the winter game’s greatest meeting at Cheltenham last Friday as his brave mount burst the bubble of the Paul Nicholls’ heavyweights, Kauto Star and Denman, in spectacular fashion.

The build up to the Gold Cup had been dominated by the latest mid-March clash between the reigning champion, Kauto Star, and 2008 winner, Denman, but all the post race headlines were monopolised by the well supported Imperial Commander whose previous five wins at the track stamped him as a horse which thrived on its unique undulations.

Having partnership Imperial Commander to Ryanair Chase glory at the previous Cheltenham festival and getting to within a whisker of Kauto Star in the Betfair Chase at Haydock last November, Brennan had been bullish that his mount would make the step up in grade despite being left trailing in the King George at Kempton on St. Stephen’s Day.

The 7/1 third favourite was always in a prominent position and after going second four fences from home, Imperial Commander ominously ranged up alongside Deman before seizing the initiative at the second last. Already the toiling Kauto Star had crashed out at the top of the hill.

Up front, Imperial Commander was emphatically making a mockery of any stamina doubts by powering home for a convincing seven lengths success. Brennan was ecstatic in the moments, minutes, and hours after the greatest win of his career: “It’s by far the best day of my life. I will never forget this. It was just a dream the whole way.”

His feet have barely touched the ground in the meantime, but Ardrahan’s greatest ever sporting export was still professional enough – he spent some time in the sauna after the Gold Cup to ensure he made the weight of 10st 1lbs – to steer 14/1 outsider Pigeon Island to a last gasp victory in the Grand Annual Chase less than two hours later in the festival finale. It put the seal on a dream day.

“I have never done overweight on a horse in my life and If I hadn’t gone to the sauna, I would have put up one pound extra on Pigeon Island than he was supposed to carry. It could have made all the difference in the end. They were different owners (Pigeon Island) and I owed it to them to give their horse every chance.”

For more, read this week’s Connacht 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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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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