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Fatigued Ireland unfairly put at the mercy of All Blacks

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: {J}

THE Irish summer rugby tour was asking for trouble after a long and arduous season . . . and they got in spades at the Yarrow Stadium in New Plymouth last Saturday. Ireland may have suffered heavier defeats at the hands of New Zealand down through the decades, but they had never conceded 66 points in a test match before.

Declan Kidney was already short a number of his front-liners before embarking on the tour to New Zealand and Australia and with many of the squad feeling the effects of a bruising season, the omens were ominous for the men in green. And the All Blacks were in no mood for dispensing any charity against their weakened and battle weary opponents.

The rugby season seems to be never ending these days. The vast majority of these Irish players have been going at it hammer and tongs for the best part of nine months – and some of them are clearly out on their feet. The demanding schedule is placing an unfair burden on Ronan O’Gara and company, especially as rugby has now become a game of almost frightening physical intensity.

Some of the hits players have to endure in the modern era are border-line assaults. Men with unnaturally bulked up bodies are tearing into tackles with reckless abandon and it is surely only a question of time before there is a fatality arising out of these no-holds barred collisions on the rugby field. Already, you’d fear that many players will have broken up bodies by the time they retire.

Saturday’s annihilation begs the question why the IRFU sanctioned the tour in the first place. Of course, it’s largely about boosting the Union’s financial coffers, but Ireland are not alone as England, Scotland, Wales and France are also on their travels at present. Sadly, those in officialdom are showing scant regard for their players who must be ‘aching’ for a break from professional rugby.

This is the best team Ireland have ever produced and they provided the nation with many unforgettable days, but the squad is in marked decline and we didn’t need Saturday’s rout by the All Blacks to confirm that. Without Paul O’Connell, Jerry Flannery and Stephen Ferris in their pack, the Irish never stood a chance of recording their first ever win over New Zealand, but we didn’t expect that the match would be so hopelessly one-sided.

Of course, Ireland committed rugby’s version of hari kari by having only 13 players on the field for a period of the opening-half. Jamie Heaslip’s unpardonable indiscipline and the sin-binning of O’Gara left them at the mercy of their rampaging foes and there is no better team than the All Blacks to exploit the opposition’s numerical disadvantage as they established a 38-nil lead approaching the break. Frankly, it was embarrassing to watch.

The match ought to have been an occasion to savour for the two Connacht men in the Irish team, but sadly John Muldoon, who was certainly not intimidated by his fearsome adversaries, suffered a serious arm injury which forced his departure and a premature ending to his tour, and Sean Cronin, whose knock on led indirectly to the concession of the All Blacks’ opening try, will probably prefer to forget a disastrous day for Irish rugby. Still, it reflected well on Muldoon and Cronin’s performances this season that they were in New Zealand in the first place and the experience is bound to stand to them.

Though the All Blacks dropped their intensity levels on the resumption and gave a run out to many of their reserves, Ireland must be giving credit for not raising the white flag. Their dressing room at half-time must have been a terrible place to be in as they were in real danger of suffering a catastrophic defeat altogether, but they battled grimly in limiting the damage – that is if you consider losing by 38 points some form of consolation to cling to.

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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Archive News

Rory takes on fresh challenge as lauded DruidMurphy returns

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 03-Apr-2013


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Archive News

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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