Date Published: 26-Jul-2012
The Galway Races kick off on Monday and when the week-long festival finishes it brings to a close a steady five weeks of partying in the city.
Of course, the last day of the racing festival week doesn’t mean the end of fun in Galway, it just means the end of formal, organised fun for a few weeks until the oysters are celebrated in September.
And while everyone has their own favourite festival, Chairman of the Galway Race Committee, Tim Naughton obviously believes Race Week is the best event.
”Racing is the biggest sporting interest I have. It’s the love of my life. My three sisters and I were brought up to Ballybrit when we were children as my father was involved in the Races, so I suppose I grew up with it.”
Tim looks forward the most to the Galway Plate day though obviously as chairman of the Race Committee, he will be at the racecourse every day of the seven-day festival.
But he says he has in recent years cut down on the social side of the popular festival in order to pace himself.
“Margaret (Tim’s wife) and I get invited here, there and everywhere to dinner after the Races but we have cut down on a lot of that.”
He admits he is very proud of the improved facilities at Ballybrit and believes that Galway led the way for other racing festivals around the country.
“I believe we were one of the first racing festivals to have a Best Dressed Lady competition. Ours was started by the late Fergus Foley of The Blue Cloak and of course Anthony Ryans have built it up into the fantastic event that it is now.”
While fashion and style are not his forte he says, he appreciates how the Best Dressed event and Ladies Day opens out the festival to others and if anything the Galway Races have increasingly managed to attract racegoers across the board, young and old, to include serious punters and fun lovers.
“The committee was always led by local business people and I believe that is why the Galway Races have always been customer led. We have improved the facilities at Ballybrit over the years as a direct response to customer demand. When you run a shop you tend to be customer focused.”
He has high praise for the late Lord Killanin, who spearheaded the drive that made the Galway Races the success they are today. He says it was also a stroke of genius hiring a full-time manager/secretary at the racecourse. The first one was Captain Luke Mullins, currently it is John Maloney, whom Tim describes as a man who has transformed the festival.
“And of course, when we took on John, we got his wife Noreen as well, who is wonderful,” he recently said at the launch of this year’s programme for Galway Races.
He loves how Lord Killanin frowned upon corporate boxes and he always resisted that type of segregation. “What I love about Galway is that you don’t know who you will bump into, anyone from a Taoiseach to a celebrity from the entertainment world.”
A semi-retired businessman, Tim was a former city retailer or a shopkeeper as he says himself. He was the third generation in the Naughtons hardware and homeware business on Shop Street.
He is very proud of being a Galwayman. Both of his parents were born and reared in the city and all four grandparents came from the county. His mother, Nora’s parents, who had a shop in Eyre Square were Michael Newell and Mary Farragher, both from Annaghdown.
His father’s parents were Tim Naughton from Attymon and Margaret Keary from Woodford. Her family was involved in the Land War back in the 1880s. She was one of a large family so Tim has cousins all over the place, he says.
The only boy in the family, he knew he was always destined for the family business and was sent to do a B Comm to prepare for the future. He also took a BA in History and French.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.
The way we were – Protecting archives of our past
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
Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr
Date Published: 23-Jan-2013
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.