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Galway hockey star achieves international glory

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 17-Aug-2012

 GALWAY City native Brenda Flannery is floating on air right now. Having just captained the Ireland U-21 hockey team to a European Championship title, Flannery’s reward has been a deserved call-up to the national senior squad.

This all comes on the back of a very successful year, during which the 21-year-old – a daughter of John and Dorinda Flannery, Salthill – was to the fore in helping UCD secure no less than five out of the six competition titles on offer.

These included the Irish Senior Cup and as a result of that success, Flannery, who graduates from vice captain to captain for the forthcoming season, will now lead her team-mates into the European Club Championships in May 2013.

In many respects, you would wonder where Flannery finds time to do it all, given the commitment and dedication that is required to play hockey at the highest level with club and country. In addition, she must also meet the demands of her third-year physiotherapy studies for the coming academic year, incorporating a challenging placement to the Mater Hospital.

A humble Flannery, however, remains unfazed. “I am on the UCD elite athlete academy, on a scholarship,” explains the Galway girl. “There are seven hockey players on it now from around Ireland and it is kind of a programme designed to help balance academic and sporting life, so you can pursue both.

“They (UCD) have been fantastic. They have brought athletes in from all over Ireland – in many different disciplines – and we had two [from UCD] in the Olympics, Annalise Murphy (Laser Redial) and Arthur Lanigan-O’Keeffe (Modern Pentathlon), and there are many more to come through, definitely, in the next couple of years.”

Certainly, UCD’s scholarship programme has benefitted Flannery and the hockey team. In addition to the Irish Senior Cup, the Dublin College won the Leinster League, Leinster Jacqui Potter Cup, the Inter-varsities and annual Colours fixture, in which UCD and Trinity meet every year.

Another Galway girl in that UCD hockey team is Dora Gorman, a talented dual player on a soccer scholarship at the university. “Dora is like a super woman, she really is,” says Brenda. “She is absolutely fantastic.”

Indeed, both girls burgeoning sports careers, in some ways, have run parallel, with each enjoying success with Greenfields in hockey and Salthill Devon in soccer, winning U-16 and U-18 All-Irelands in the latter in their teenage years.

For her part, Flannery has also represented Ireland in soccer, lining out for the national U-17 team, but in the end she chose hockey as her No. 1 sport while Gorman went with the bigger ball.

“It was hard to choose between the soccer and the hockey. I suppose, I really had a passion for hockey and I just found that hockey was where I could really shine. It was hard to pick. I love both but at the end of the day hockey was where I really wanted to be.”

No doubt, she must really have felt that decision paid off when she was handed the captaincy of the Ireland U-21 hockey team, which was reinstated to the international circuit after a hiatus of a number of years.

For more of this interview with Brenda Flannery see this week’s 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

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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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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