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Derby win all the sweeter for familyÕs involvement

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Date Published: {J}

Greyhound owner and breeder PJ Fahy has every reason to be cheerful after the Glenamaddy man, along with his son and trainer Conor, landed the Irish Greyhound Derby title with outsider Tyrur McGuigan at Shelbourne Park on Saturday night.

Two days later and the Fahy homestead was a ‘refugee camp’ – the myriad of revellers and party-goers remnants of the weekend’s celebrations. Of course, this was not the first time the Fahy family and the parish have had cause to rejoice. PJ Fahy has produced a long line of winners over the last decade or so, including the 2007 Irish Derby winner in Tyrur Rhino and the Scottish Derby victor in Tyrur Kieran the following year.

Yet, this was different. Others had contributed to those wins – for which Fahy greatly appreciates – but this latest derby success was all about the family. He owned and bred McGuigan while his 22-years-old son Conor – who only received his trainer’s licence five months ago – trained Ireland’s newest champion at the family’s homestead in Knockmaskehill.

No wonder then that it was a truly memorable night for the Fahy family, who watched in delight as Tyrur McGuigan pipped another of their dogs, overwhelming favourite Tyrur Big Mike, to take the €120,000 top prize at Shelbourne Park.

“I am not joking you, Saturday was the best day of my life,” says PJ. “I was delighted (with the win), especially for Conor, as it is his first year as a trainer. It is brilliant.”

In many respects, you would have to truly admire the faith PJ placed in his son. Over the last number of years, Fahy has availed of the services of some of the world’s top trainers, from Gort’s Noel Mullins to Kilkenny’s Paul Hennessy to England’s Charlie Lister. To hand over the duty, and his top dogs, to a novice underlined the confidence he placed in Conor’s ability.

“The big challenge for us was to have a bit of confidence to train dogs, because we did ask ourselves ‘would we be able to do it?’ We knew we had the quality of dogs and it would have been a shame, given the dogs we have, if we made a bags of it, for want of a better word. That was a big challenge for us.

“But I was very confident. We have a very good young lad in Conor, who has been around dogs since he was eight years of age. So, he has grown up with all our dogs, where Daryl (his eldest) was five or six years older – he was 13 or 14 – when we got our first dog in 1996.”

That first dog was Soviet Steel, which was trained by Mullins to win the Corrib Orange Open 550 at Galway in ‘98. “I suppose, 11 years ago we bought Pinhead. The first couple of years, we were just breeding a litter a year. It was only when we started breeding her daughters, around 2004 and 2005, that we really started to step things up.”

It was a decision that paid rich dividends as Pinhead produced some of the country’s top brood bitches, many of which, in turn, gave birth to numerous champions, including Tyrur Rhino (Tyrur Ted/Tyrur Marita) and Tyrur Kieran (Honcho Classic/Tyrur Dee), along with 2007 Cox Cup winner Tyrur Lee (Brett Lee/Tyrur Dee) and 2008 Easter Cup and Tote Gold Cup victor Tyrur Kenny (Top Honcho/Tyrur Pearl).

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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

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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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