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Fast and furious: tailor-made trips that take you to the edge



Date Published: {J}

In times of recession most of us err on the side of caution – all the available research shows that when there’s precious little security around, security is what we most crave. But for those hardy souls who aren’t going to be bowed down by a little financial turmoil and who want to live on the edge there’s Xtreme Spirits, a Galway based company which offers clients “exclusive, unique and personal tailor-made experiences” when it comes to going on holiday.

From flying a fighter jet in Russia to a polar bear experience in the Arctic to driving across glaciers, Aoife McCartan and Adelheid Walsh of Xtreme Spirits promise that they can make it happen.

And the two self-confessed adventurers and professional photographers also document the holiday so that when you come home, you’ll have the best possible record of your high-octane holiday Norway-born Adelheid Walsh met Aoife, who is from Carnmore, when both were employed by a city-based photographer. They decided to join forces in business which would allow them to combine their passion for photography with their love of travel and extreme adventures.

By then, Adelheid had spent two years travelling most parts of the world and Aoife, too, was an avid traveller with a love of adventure sport.When it came to setting up Xtreme Spirits, Adelheid’s background as an entrepreneur was a help.

She had previously established Vogue Events to focus on event design and decoration when she saw a gap in the market for such a service while working as a wedding photographer. But she eventually sold that company to return to photography.

“I’ve always had a camera and a passion for photography. My father was a decent photographer and I started making a go of it 10 years ago,” she explains.

Adelheid can also thank her father and her Norwegian background for her love of outdoor adventure – she has been skiing, abseiling and rock climbing for as long as she can remember.

Aoife and Adelheid recently returned from Iceland where they were employed by a Norwegian lifestyle magazine to take photos for a spread which featured renowned Norwegian explorer Inge Solheim.

And they have been commissioned to photograph the clothing catalogue for Missing Link, an extreme clothing company.Meanwhile, they will travel to America in February to provide their photography services for another area of life that excites their passion – tattoos.

They were recently contracted to set up a photography studio at the Dublin tattoo convention, where they met a guy from reality TV show LA Ink who asked them to come and do a shoot in his studio in America in FebruaryThen they go to Frankfurt for Europe’s largest tattoo convention and hopefully, after that, it’ll be Las Vegas next year, for the world’s largest such event.

“It’s a business that’s recession proof,” says Adelheid.

That is a positive for the duo. Since Xtreme Spirits is in its early days, photography is their main earner at the moment. “A lot of people hire us because they know we will go that bit extra. If they want us to lean out of a helicopter, we will,” says Aoife.

But when they aren’t leaning out of a helicopter, they have teamed up with Adelheid’s contacts in Norway to create a network to offer extreme experiences in Europe and America.

“We are very lucky because we have a global network of people to rely on,” says Adelheid.So, if you want to hang out with polar bears, they’ll arrange for you to do it on Spitsbergen Island off the coast of Norway. The only thing a client has to do is get to Norway. There they will be collected and brought to Spitsbergen, where they can travel by snowmobile or dog-pulled sled to reach the polar bears. If they want, they can also indulge in a little cross-country skiing or sledding.

Accommodation is in a frozen ship, which has five-star facilities inside. For the fighter jet experience, the customer has to arrange their own flight to Moscow, where they will again be collected.

The two women have a supplier there who owns a couple of jets. The clients will be given sufficient training to allow them to enjoy the experience – a possible Christmas present for the (wealthy) man in your life!

See page 27 of this week’s Galway City Tribune for full article.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



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



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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Archive News

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.

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