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Galway mourns passing of county’s first Olympian at age of 90



Date Published: 20-Feb-2013

Galway’s first Olympian, Oughterard native Cummin Clancy has sadly passed away at his home in Garden City, New York at the age of 90.

A former national discus champion and record holder, Cummin represented Ireland at the Olympic Games in London in 1948, having qualified after winning the British AAA Championship less than a month earlier. In doing so, he became the first Galway athlete to represent his county at the Olympic Games.

Born on November 9, 1922, Cummin, who returned regularly to his native Glann in Oughterard, was a man of humble beginnings but he went on to become a central figure in Irish athletics and later in New York’s business community.

One of five children – two brothers and two sisters – his childhood years were tinged with sadness, as his father died when he was four years of age while his mother sadly passed away when he was ten.

Relatives and the community rallied around the family, however, and in his teenage years one of the fundamental events of his life took place. Through one of his brothers, a District Leader in the Local Defence Force (LDF), Cummin met Ned Tobin, a local based Garda from Tipperary who was the national champion at the discus and he introduced him to the sport.

So impressed was Tobin with the 17-year-old that he took Cummin under his wing and in the ensuing years, the Munster mentor encouraged his charge to take the Civil Service exam, which he did through Irish, and he later was one of 80 candidates selected to join An Garda Síochána.

In Dublin, Clancy teamed up with Tom Maguire, a coach at Trinity College, and Chapelizod athletic club Donore Harriers to perfect his game, while he also joined St. Mary’s RFC upon the encouragement of a young Ulick O’Connor, who would later become the great Irish writer. As Clancy was to find out, discus throwing and rugby proved to be two sports that were to complement one another.

Inspired by Tobin’s achievements, Cummin began to blaze his own trail and became the Irish champion, registering a new PB and breaking the Irish record, in 1948. His throw was to stand for 19 years. He subsequently took part in the British Championships (AAA) and also claimed the title at that meet.

That took place two weeks before the 1948 Olympic Games and the victory was hugely important in cementing his place at the XIV Olympiad.

Speaking to the Connacht Tribune on a visit back to Oughterard in the Summer of 2009, Cummin reflected on that exciting time of his life. “The Olympic Games was the biggest event in the world and it was also a great experience in my life to be in Wembley.

“A few of the family travelled over for it. I suppose, at that time, I was the best around the British Isles, winning contests in Ireland, England, Wales and the Highland Games in Scotland.”

Read his full obituary in this week’s Connacht 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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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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