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Galway players at the heart of exiles’ bid to floor Kerry champions



Date Published: 13-Dec-2012

Keith Kelly

When the county’s club football champions, Salthill/Knocknacarra, were sent crashing out of this year’s Connacht championship at the semi-final stage by St Brigid’s of Roscommon, that looked like the curtain coming down on Galway involvement in this year’s race for the All-Ireland Club football title.

That’s not the case, however, as a group of Galway players living in London are just two games away from an appearance in the blue riband of club football, the All-Ireland final in Croke Park on St Patrick’s Day.

Tir Chonaill Gaels, which is based in Greenford in the north-west of London, will host Kerry and Munster champions Dr Crokes of Killarney in Ruislip on Sunday in the All-Ireland Club quarter-final, and leading the charge are two men from Maree, and one each from Oranmore, Renvyle and Salthill/Knocknacarra.

The captain of the London side is Mark Gottsche from Oranmore, and he is joined on the panel by John McGrath and Coleman Hands from Maree, Eoin O’Neill from Renvyle and Austin Concannon from Salthill/Knocknacarra.

Mark, who works as the Games and Logistics Manager with the London County Board, admits that the odds are stacked against the Exiles,but says his side have put in the hard work ahead of the game, and says that anything can happen on the day.

“I played with London against Mayo in the Connacht championship last year [2011] and we gave them an almighty fright, they only beat us after extra time. They scored two late points to draw the game, and then beat us by three points in the end, but I doubt many people thought we would get close to them, never mind coming so close to beating them.

“Maybe in the past, teams might have come over to London and looked at it as a weekend away, but not any more, not after that game. Dr Crokes certainly won’t come over expecting anything easy, as two of their lads played here last year before returning home to Killarney, so they’ll have the rest of the side well warned for the game,” Mark said.

Given the name of the club, it is no surprise to learn that it has its roots in the north-west of Ireland – it was initially established as a club for Donegal emigrants, and the panel today is still heavily reliant on Ulster players.

In the team that started their last game, Mark says eight were from Ulster counties – Donegal (3), Down (2), Armagh (1), Derry (1) and Fermanagh (1), but there is a fair smattering of other counties represented in the side as well, with players from Galway, Sligo, Mayo, Laois, Meath and Cork all featuring on the panel.

“It was initially a Donegal club when it was set up 50 years ago, but it has opened up in recent years and now serves the both-west of London, and we get great support.

“We are hopefully looking at a crowd of about 1,500 for Sunday’s game – the London game against Mayo in Ruislip attracted a crowd of 4,500, and the fact you have the likes of Colm Cooper coming over this weekend will help attract a crowd,” Mark says.

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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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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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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