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C’mon y’all! Do do do the Galway Shuffle!

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Date Published: 09-May-2013

 SOMETIMES you’re just not in the mood; sometimes you just don’t have the time, but it’s not up to you. If you want to walk from Spanish Parade to Cross Street on a sunny midweek afternoon, you have to do the Galway Shuffle.

Way back in 2004, this colyoom christened Galway ‘The City of 10,000 howyas’, but beyond that short sweet “howya!” there exists a higher level of Galway greeting.

Sitting outside The Quays, I spot a friend of mine walking up the street. ‘Haven’t seen her for ages.’ I think to myself. ‘Must try to catch her and have a chat.’

Fifteen minutes later the chef, artist, restaurateur, author and general Galway legend has only made it as far as Martine’s Wine Bar. Everybody wants to say hello to her, have a wee chat and a hug.

By the time I stand to greet her, she’s explaining how she’s already late for an appointment. She’d stopped to talk to people on Wolfe Tone Bridge, and with the sun shining, Quay Street was lined with folk such as myself who were delighted to see her.

If we lived in Hollywood she’d be crying “everyone wants a piece of me!” but thankfully we live on the shores of a different ocean, where we appreciate the profundity of human contact, and are willing to walk the Quay Street line, shaking hands, kissing mwaaahs and . . . oh hell, maybe we do live in Hollywood after all!

No. There’s no red carpet on Quay Street. If you’re recognised and talked to, it’s because you’ve a red carpet soul.

Do do do the Galway Shuffle!

If you’re in a hurry, dealing with howyas is a lot easier than doing the Galway Shuffle.

A couple of weeks ago, walking along Dominick Street, I met three howyas in the tiny distance between the Arts Centre and Bridge Mills. Being a bit of a recluse, I hadn’t been into town all week and it filled me with joy to feel I still belonged, since I’ve moved out of the city yet again.

The sun was shining that day too, so people’s chins were raised, their eyes looking out towards each other, rather than cowed to an Atlantic gale and lashing sideways rain. The weather definitely plays a massive part in Galway life, but no storm is stronger than bonds forged in fun.

My first smiling “howya!” that morning comes from another English lad, with whom I used to enjoy a chat and a pint, back in the days of Taylor’s Bar. As we pass in the street and exchange howyas, a smile brushes my lips as I remember the slagging he gave me across the street last year.

I’d written a colyoom about the misery I’d experienced being a fat teenager, and as I came down Henry Street, he’d called across from William Street West, his sardonic northern accent the perfect foil to his sandpaper dry wit.

“ ‘Ere, Chaaaarlie! Read that piece you wrote about you being a fat kid. Shocked me it did! Never thought in a million years you’d’ve been a fat kid. Not Charlie, not with his natural athleticism. Shocked me to the core, t’did!”

Passing Aniar, I almost knock over yer man from Galway Market. Seemingly plucked intact as an extra from godfather part II, he’s sartorially perfect and, as ever, aesthetically beautifully turned out, from flat-capped top to the tip of his arcane bike trailer.

He is an example of a perfect howya. Such is the complexity and subtlety of life in Galway City, the fact that we’ve barely ever shared a word spares us the compulsory and potentially lengthy Galway Shuffle encounter. Yet because we both have a pretty good idea of who the other is, it’d just be plain rude not to acknowledge that mutual recognition, even though we don’t actually know each other.

So another smile and a howya exchanged puts a bounce in my boots and a smile on his lips, and how bad can that be?

Crossing the road towards Arabica I spot the print shop owner. for years I’d see him in his shop, but back then, clutching a mere three sheets that needed photocopying, I was barely a blemish on his platen. Years later, with much thanks due to his wonderful staff in their main depot, his company has done all of my printing jobs, so we now know each other well enough to be genuine howyas.

“Howya!”

“Howya Charlie!”

“How’s life?”

“Good! Mighty! Yourself?”

“All good mate! See you later!”

“See you.”

How simple is that? How happy am I to be living near a city where I share three friendly smiling greetings with three human beings I only partially know, barely 50 metres out of my car?

I’m not even over the river, but as I stroll over O’Brien’s Bridge I know I’m leaving behind the world of the howya. I’m entering the dance floor that is Galway City Centre.

Do do do the Galway Shuffle!

On those days when you’re not in the mood you simply have to pretend you haven’t seen a soul you know. They’ll forgive you, because their lives are not void of interest. They aren’t exactly sitting there hoping against hope that you’ll turn up and save their day. They’d have been happy to talk, but hey, no biggie.

Ah, but when you do have time to do the Galway Shuffle, or when you’ve been so missed that you’re given no choice, it’s far from a terrible trial. Outside Fat Freddy’s, hands are outstretched towards me from arms raised to be shaken. Bottoms rise from the mock wicker chairs outside Tigh Neachtain, where smiles are shared with recollections of shameful times past; where hugs precede new mischief to come.

I’ve lived in London; Melbourne; San Francisco: some of the world’s most wonderful cities, yet there’s nothing anywhere that compares to the sense of comradeship, kinship and caring that awaits those who walk the Quay Street line.

Do do do the Galway Shuffle!

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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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

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

images/files/images/x3_Courthouse.jpg

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Archive News

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

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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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