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From competitive tiredness to Millennium Madness

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 06-Jan-2011

I bumped into an old friend over the Christmas who was filled with equal measures of unbridled joy and sleep deprivation because his wife had given birth to their first baby four months earlier.

The joy was natural and understandable because your first born completely changes your world. And apart from the fact that you really do believe no one ever had a child before you, those parents of a slightly older vintage will allow the newcomers their first flush of fatherhood.

The sleep deprivation, however, is the one thing that those more experienced parents most certainly do not miss; the 4am feeds, the teething, the colic, the chest infections – although obviously not all at the one time – combine to bring a reality check to this new life.

In our house we used to call it competitive tiredness, because whatever few minutes of sleep one of us had snatched the previous night, the other could half that and then some.

So it was with my friend with the new arrival now, because he was bang in the throes of this phase when he seemed to think that his wife abandoned all mothering duties the minute he arrived home from work.

“She’d have me bathe the baby and eat my dinner at the same time if she could; in actual fact, I think she cannot see any reason why I don’t eat my dinner on the bike as I’m cycling home so that I have nothing other than minding the baby to do when I arrive home,” he told me.

And I smiled knowingly and remembered how it once was – and how it had all changed.

Last week, after the final day of school before the Christmas break, that same first born – now almost a teenager – was attending his second disco in Leisureland as I waited in the sub-zero temperatures looking out on Galway Bay.

For some reason that’s lost on me, they called these gatherings Millennium Madness. Maybe they began in 1999⁄2000 which might explain the millennium part. And ten minutes spent watching the teenage girls making their way in or out would explain the madness.

Togged out like they were heading for a beach party – and on the basis that they were at least eight years older – they wouldn’t be any less suitably attired for the winter weather if they were buck naked and wearing flip-flops.

The boys, about three years behind them on the developmental front, are casually dressed in jeans and tee-shirts – for them too coats are for wimps – but the girls are kitted out like something you’d meet on a street corner in Amsterdam. I’ve never been to Amsterdam.

Hot pants, tops that are barely there and more make-up than a Clarins plant, they look like they’ve come from one of those Miss Teen America contests and forgotten to bring a coat with them on their way.

In fairness, the organisers of these events leave nothing to chance and the level of supervision should set every parent’s mind at ease; until the event is over at midnight, your child is in their care – and then they burst out onto the prom like some horror movie version of Glee.

As I sat there waiting for the doors to open and the next generation of Ireland’s leaders to come bolting onto the streets, I thought of the sleepless nights of 1998 when the cause of my insomnia was lying and crying in a cot at the foot of the bed – and I knew now that my sleepless nights for the next ten years would be caused by something very different and entirely out of my control.

We have a second fella coming through the ranks who never got a fraction of the attention his brother received as a baby – and who will no doubt thrive in the Millennium Madness pit when his turn comes in two years time.

I know of parents who smile as knowingly at the disco experience as I do at the tales of new-born highs and lows – and they spend their weekends waiting for the inevitable call at three in the morning for a lift home in the free family taxi.

But it only seems like yesterday that Salthill’s disco scene was mine – Twiggs, Whispers, the Holiday, the Oasis – and now I’m waiting in the car, having passed on the baton.

So sleep deprivation comes in many guises it seems – it begins at childbirth and with a bit of luck ends the day you stand, eyes glistening, and applaud them down the aisle.

See also Amazon’s plan to end bad presents on page 13 of this week’s Tribunes.


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

BallinasloeÕs young squad aiming to floor Armagh junior champs

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 24-Jan-2013

A new chapter in the history of Ballinasloe football will be written at Breffni Park, Cavan, on Sunday when Sean Riddell’s young side take on Ulster champions An Port Mor of Armagh in the All-Ireland Junior semi-final (2pm).

It’s the first competitive game outside the province of Connacht in 33 years for Galway football’s ‘sleeping giant’ with the enticing prospect of an appearance at Croke Park on February 9 on offer for the winners of what should be a competitive tie.

Ballinasloe have romped through Connacht since overcoming a couple of tricky hurdles on their way to collecting the Galway junior title, which was their target for the campaign this time last year.

With a return to Intermediate football secured, Riddell’s youngsters really have nothing to lose – while their triumphant march to county and provincial titles has revived memories of the club’s glory days when they contested three Galway senior finals in a row between 1979 and ’81.

Intriguingly, the seniors of St Grellan’s never got to play in Croke Park when they reached the All-Ireland final back in 1980 – they lost by 3-9 to 0-8 to St Finbarr’s of Cork in Tipperary Town.

This team’s progression has provided rich rewards for an abundance of hard work at underage levels in the past ten to 15 years and the current side’s ‘do or die’ attitude was very much in evidence in the cliffhanger wins over Tuam and Clifden in the domestic championship.


They are a well-balanced side who really never know when they are beaten and have an inspirational leader in county panelist Keith Kelly, whose exploits at centre back have been among the key components in their dramatic run to reach the All-Ireland series.

Riddell, who recalls playing senior football with the club during their heyday, is determined to get Ballinasloe back among the county’s leading clubs but, for the moment, he is delighted just to have a shot at getting to Croke Park in a bid to emulate Clonbur’s achievement in winning the title outright last year.

Riddell went to Newry on a ‘spying mission’ to see the Armagh champions overcome Brackaville of Tyrone by 2-9 to 0-11 in November – and was impressed by the quality of the football produced by An Port Mor in the Ulster final.

“They are a nicely balanced side who play good football,” he said. “There was a bit of the physical stuff you’d expect from two Ulster side, but I was impressed by their performance.”

An Port Mor became the first Armagh side to win the provincial junior decider. First half goals from Shane Nugent and Christopher Lennon sent them on the road to victory, before a red card for Brackaville captain Cahir McGuinness eased their progress to the All-Ireland series.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Archive News

Coalition promised an ocean of reform Ð but the wind has gone out of its sails

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 30-Jan-2013


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