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Feeling queasy about this trade in the clothes of the stars



Date Published: {J}

I regularly hear Gay Byrne in advertisements extolling the exhibits at a museum for the ‘icons of fashion’ – clothes which were worn by Audrey Hepburn and references to the clothes of Michael Jackson.


It makes me wonder when I hear the adverts whether I am the only one who gets a slightly queasy feeling about where museum exhibits end and exploitation begins.

Certainly, it is something which has come to the fore in recent weeks where sales of such items seem to have found a lively market. From one news item which I saw, it would appear that former film star Debbie Reynolds has cornered a whole section of this growing trade because, years ago, she figured that these items might appreciate in value.

Unless I am mistaken, the market years ago began with the sale of items related to Judy Garland and her playing of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. I distinctly remember those signature red shoes that walked down The Yellow Brick Road all those years ago.

I have to tread a little warily here for I am someone who has traipsed, like millions of others, through places like Madame Tussauds, the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace and all the other museums where the circumstances and the daily lives of the great are recalled and an integral part of the displays is the splendid clothing worn by kings, queens and film stars.

I have spent hours queueing at the Tower of London to see the extraordinary apartments, the suits of armour, the jewellery, and portraits. Indeed, I once went down the Thames by boat on the journey to see the magnificent Hampton Court Palace . . . I travelled that way on the Thames, seeing modern landmarks like the Battersea Power Station, because I wished to bring back memories of seeing the traffic on The Thames as shown in A Man For All Seasons.

I have to say that, though in the case of Madame Tussauds the likenesses are remarkable, I found that in many instances there was ‘something missing’. Of course, the figures, the faces, the clothes and all of the finery were exactly right . . . but the faces just seemed to lack that indefinable quality.

One would imagine, for instance, that in the case of someone like Tony Blair the waxwork image would be relatively easy to do . . . but, then if occurred to me, what the figures lack is the animation in the eyes. Truly, the eyes are the windows to the soul. And, in the case of Tony Blair, there was that one eye which seemed, betimes, to take on a life of its own!

My hesitation about the thriving business of selling off the clothes of the great who are no longer with us, comes from an inability to dismiss the thoroughly miserable lives which were led by the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Judy Garland, the latter dead at 47 and umpteen times married.

Here, I am dating myself . . . but people of a more modern era might look at the sale of that Michael Jackson jacket in the past few weeks for close on two million dollars.

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

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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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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