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“Dazzling Galway” is heaven for tourists

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Date Published: 26-Jan-2008

Galway is a tourist’s heaven, a county of spellbinding beauty with the city itself as its beating heart — that’s the glowing testimony offered by new, eighth edition of the Lonely Planet’s Guide to Ireland, which is published this month.

The Aran Islands, Inishbofin, Connemara, Roundstone and Oughterard all come in for particular praise from author Fionn Davenport.

He described the county as ‘western Ireland’s heartland’ but first focuses in on the city itself. “Lined by colourful narrow shop fronts and pubs, this vibrant tangle of cobbled lanes has an intimate, village-like atmosphere and an absolutely phenomenal live-music scene that attracts traditional and contemporary musicians — along with artists,writers, poets and assorted wayfarers — from all over the country and beyond.

“Radiating from Galway city are the main arterial links to some of Ireland’s most heartstopping scenery. “Northwest of Galway city, the fabled Connemara region harbours one of the country’s largest and most important Gaeltacht areas.

“Woven with hiking and biking trails, the region’s weathered mountains, sheep-grazing pastures, bogs, and remote villages are raggedly stitched together by stone walls, while along Connemara’s coastline white-sand beaches offer invigorating swimming in summer and windswept walks in winter.

“South of Galway city there are medieval churches and castles, Norman towers and oyster beds in abundance, and eastwards of the city farming fields roll seamlessly to the country’s bucolic midlands,“ he writes.

The guide paints an image of ……….

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

Galway colleges crash out of Fitzgibbon Cup after losing vital ties

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Date Published: 13-Feb-2013

Mary Immaculate 2-14

GMIT 1-8

Fitzgibbon Cup hosts GMIT have crashed out of the competition after receiving a lesson of sorts from teaching college, Mary Immaculate of Limerick. in their final group game in a wet Carnmore on Tuesday.

The loss itself will no doubt bite hard with GMIT – had they won, they would have qualified for the quarter-finals – but the manner of their exit will be even more upsetting, given this performance fell someway short of the high levels of intensity they had brought to their opening two fixtures against UCC and NUIG.

In any event, once GMIT went behind to the Fitzgibbon debutantes in the second quarter, the Galway based college never really looked like getting anything from this contest. Yes, a flicker of hope was always there – they managed to reduce the arrears to three points in the final quarter – but, even then, they needed a broad stroke of luck if they were to secure a result.

It didn’t help that their top scorer – and, possibly, only real threat up front – Liam Mellows and Galway’s Tadgh Haran was forced to retire from the action with an ankle injury on 36 minutes, by which time Mary Immaculate held a 1-8 to 1-3 lead.

It was a credit to GMIT then that they managed to outscore the visitors five points to three over the next 20 minutes or so, as Ballinderreen’s Kevin Lane, Kilnadeema/Leitrim’s Shane Lawless, Killimordaly’s Darragh Cooney, Loughrea’s Paul Hoban (free) and Crusheen’s Conor O’Donnell all found the target.

Despite that spirited rally, which left GMIT trailing by 1-11 to 1-8, it was always going to take something special from the home side to preserve their Fitzgibbon Cup aspirations and against a slick Mary Immaculate outfit – and in the incessant rain – this never looked likely.

In truth, there could be no argument with the result. Although Clare’s Aidan Lynch netted a super goal – following good work from Kenny Feeney and Lawless – on 10 minutes to put GMIT 1-1 to 0-2 ahead, the major was against the run of play.

As if to substantiate this point, Mary Immaculate immediately shifted up through the gears and in the second quarter outscored GMIT by 1-5 to a point, with that GMIT score coming from a Haran free three minutes into injury time.

In contrast, Mary Immaculate were buzzing. Cork’s Luke O’Farrell seized upon a William Hickey delivery and rattled one off beyond Portumna keeper Joe Keane for his side’s opening goal on 17 minutes before adding a point moments later.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Archive News

Galway girls make a splash on Irish U-15 water polo side

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Date Published: 18-Feb-2013

The Irish U-15 girls’ water polo team, which was backboned by eight Galway players, made history in Birmingham made history last weekend when they reached the final of the British Regional Water Polo Championships.

All the girls are members of Galway’s Tribes Water Polo Club, formed only two years ago by Deborah Heery and Amanda Mooney. To get eight members from one club onto a National squad of 13 was an achievement in itself for this new club, but to be part of an Irish team – which was captained by Galway’s Róisín Cunningham, Smyth – to reach a final at such a high International level exceeded all expectations.

Competing against Scotland and Wales, Ireland made it out of their group to a semi-final place against the much fancied North West A England team. The semi-final proved to be the game of the tournament with nothing to separate the teams.

After goals from Carmel Heery, Aisling Dempsey, Eleanor O’Byrne, Roisin Cunningham Smyth and a dramatic penalty save by goalie Ailbhe Colleran, the Irish girls ran out 7-6 winners to become the first Irish side to make a final.

In the final on Sunday afternoon, they met tournament favourites, London, who they had previously beaten in the Group stages. With excellent performances from Eva Dill, Ailbhe Keady and Laoise Smyth, Ireland held the experienced English team to a 4-4 scoreline at half-time, but the English team, with their stronger and more experienced panel pulled away to win the tournament in the second half.

The success of the Irish team in reaching their first ever British Regional Finals was enhanced even further when Tribes member, Carmel Heery, was nominated Most Valuable Player of the Irish Team

In addition to their recent International success these girls were also members of the Tribes Water Polo team that won the U-14 & U-16 National Water Polo Cups this year and the Grads invitational U-15 tournament.

The success of this young Galway Water Polo Club nationally and internationally is in no small way due to the exceptional ability of their talented coaches, Padraig Smyth, Amanda Mooney, Jeremy Pagden, Carol O’Neill, Roisin Sweeney, Cathal Treacy.

The Irish team was coached by Aideen Conway (IWPA) and managed by Tribes founder, Deborah Heery.

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