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December 16, 2010

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: {J}


Tribune Editorial

Weighted with issues of the very gravest import for the future happiness and prosperity of Ireland and for the emancipation of the democracy of England, the second General Election that has been forced upon us within a single year is drawing to a close. Eleven months ago, the issue so far as it concerned Ireland was clear and straight, but it was not so well defined as it has been during the present momentous struggle.

At the January election, the factionists had the transient advantage which the concealment of their nefarious designs brought them, and they had the satisfaction of obscuring in some measure the issues at stake.

In the interval, the cat has escaped out of the factionist bag: it has been made manifest which side disruptionists are on. To-day there is no doubt about the purpose and object of the struggle. The two plain questions which the electors have been given to solve are: For or against the House of Lords? For or against Home Rule for Ireland? We have no doubt as to the ultimate solution that will be arrived at.

The democracy of England has put up a solid and united fight against the usurping autocrats; the Nationalists have completely routed the traitorous factionists. The magnificent rally of the Irish people under the banner of National unity has exceeded the anticipations of the most sanguine Nationalists.

Want of fuel

The need for fuel amongst the poor is really a great want just now, turf being almost impossible to buy. Worse still, it is that those who do not really want it badly are the very people to pay the highest price, or who could buy coal instead. Should the agent for the landlord consent to take the need of fuel into consideration, I trust he does so only in the interests of the poor.


Spill the whiskey

Mrs Delia Browne, publican, Bishop-street, Tuam, was prosecuted by Guard McGinn, food and drugs inspector, for refusing to sell him a quantity of whiskey out of a bottle she had displayed in the shop. Mr. F. Meagher, solr., appeared for defendant.

Guard McGinn said he went to defendant’s shop and asked for a half pint of whiskey out of a bottle bearing a label marked J.J. and S. and having a tap affixed to it. Mrs. Browne said: “For God’s sake, Guard, take it from another bottle. We got this whiskey in jars and it was muddy.”

Witness again asked her for a half pint of the whiskey in that particular bottle and Mrs. Brown said there was not a half a pint of whiskey in it. Mrs. Browne then took down the bottle and spilled the contents on the floor.

She said to witness: “You are the father of a family and don’t do anything to injure me. Take the whiskey from another bottle,” which she took off the shelf, but witness said he would not.

That evening, Mrs. Browne sent for him and apologised for what she had done and said it was Cassidy’s whiskey that was in the bottle which she spilled.

Mr. Meagher, solr., said the defendant had no experience of business before she married and took over the management of this business. The whiskey that was in the bottle the guard asked for was muddy and not on sale.

Mrs. Browne said she had the whiskey in the bottle to drain as it was muddy. None of that whiskey had been sold by her. Replying to Guard McGinn, she said there was a tap on the bottle. It was the even before the Tuam great October fairs, but if farmers called in for a drink of whiskey, she would not have supplied them out of that bottle because it was too muddy. Asked by the justice why she did not supply the guard out of the bottle he asked for, witness said that she was not selling that whiskey and spilled in the excitement.

Justice: Why didn’t you spill it before the guard came in? Witness: I had not much experience and never saw the whiskey muddy like this before. Defendant was fined 40s and ordered to pay 4s expenses.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Judy Murphy



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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Rory takes on fresh challenge as lauded DruidMurphy returns

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 03-Apr-2013


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After twenty years Sarah lands dream role in Druid

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 04-Apr-2013

 Sarah Lynch has been living and breathing Druid Theatre since she wangled a job as a runner fresh out of college two decades ago at age 20. After holding down just about every role imaginable there – from company manager to director to stage manager – her appointment as general manager to one of the country’s most prestigious theatre companies last October seemed almost inevitable.

Because once she had tasted the fruit of Druid she was going nowhere . . . and going everywhere. Sarah’s tenure at Druid since 1998 has brought her on a journey that has reached just about every corner of the globe and almost all the islands off Ireland in between.

After graduating from Limerick with a degree in French and English Sarah spent a stint teaching in a secondary school. But it immediately became clear that wasn’t the road for her.

“One thing I was always certain of was I’d be involved in the performing arts, whether on stage or off stage or behind it. The immediate reaction of the audience is such a buzz,” she grins.

Her earliest memory was of her grandfather, Bud Clancy, on stage with his trumpet and dance band. “I must have been three or four because he died shortly after that. But it never left me. I got bitten by the bug. I started playing the trumpet. A friend of my grandfather taught me how to play and I was with the Limerick brass and reed orchestra known as the Boherbuoy Band, I was just a kid with all these adults.”

She learned to play other brass instruments such as the French horn and cornet before turning her hand to the guitar and song-writing. “I taught myself guitar. Sometime I tinker on the piano and I think that’s my next instrument. I love percussion. You can’t get me off a drum kit for love or money. Many is the night I’ve made a fool of myself on one of those,” she laughs.

In 2010, Sarah released her debut album, Letter to Friends, which was launched by playwright Enda Walsh, whose short play, Lynndie’s Gotta Gun, she had directed as part of the 2008 Galway Arts Festival.

The collection of songs was produced by Wayne Sheehy, a musician she had met when opening for Juliet Turner on Turner’s Burn the Black Suit tour.

“I could probably have done it ten years ago but for the manic schedule with Druid and touring so much,” she reflects. “I haven’t done much with it since. I used to play gigs in the Róisín Dubh. The bigger twin is theatre at the moment. The bigger twin bullies the other twin. You don’t get much time to do music.”

After fleeing the classroom, Sarah knocked on the door of a former college mate, Andrew Flynn, now with the Galway Youth Theatre, who kindly offered up his couch. He also managed to get her a job as a runner – the person who does everything from making tea to helping with props – on a Druid production of As You Like It.

“I remember working with Mark O’Halloran, I had great fun with him. There was Helen Norton, it was Maeliosa Stafford directing. He’s coming back to the Druid after ten years to star in Tom Murphy’s A Whistle in the Dark. He left me as a runner, now I’m general manager.”

Much of Sarah’s time behind the scenes at Druid has been spent on the road. In 2009 alone, Druid toured to Australia, Canada, the UK and the USA presenting 364 performances in 26 venues.

Indeed so much of life has been out spent living of a suitcase that she gave up her base in Galway to move back in with her family in Caherdavin, on the Galway side of Limerick city.

The tour of the Cripple of Inishmaan by Martin McDonagh was so long the crew were instructed to pack two suitcases, one with summer clothes, the other winter gear, as they would be spanning the seasons. Her job now entails a lot of commuting, but driving is where she gets a lot of thinking done.

Sarah’s decision to apply for the more home-based job of general manager was one she made discreetly while on the Druid Murphy tour around the US. She had to undergo her interview in between shows at the Lincoln Center in New York. It was the most nerve wrecking experience of her life, she admits.

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

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