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Galway Race Committee honoured for its contribution to horse racing

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: {J}

STEPHEN GLENNON

Galway Race Committee has been honoured for its contribution to horse-racing by the Irish Turf Club, receiving a prestigious award in recognition of a contribution to the sport that dates back almost 150 years.

The award was accepted by Chairman of Galway Race Committee, Tim Naughton at the Moyglare Stud dinner at the K Club on Saturday night, with Mr Naughton highlighting that the Committee had no idea the Galway Races was to be honoured.

“We were not expecting it,” said Mr Naughton, who was part of a small Galway contingent – that also included Racecourse Manager John Moloney – to attend the glitzy event.

“The award was for Contribution to Horse-Racing and Breeding. A racecourse had never won this award before; it was always presented to a top breeder or trainer. So, it is a prestigious award.”

The presentation was made by the former Turf Club Senior Steward, John McStay, along with Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney, who was the guest of honour at the Moyglare Dinner.

In making the presentation, Mr McStay said that Galway held a very special place in the heart and minds of all those interested in racing. He particularly noted the Festival meeting at the end of July which “year in, year out attracts record crowds to Ballybrit”.

Indeed, Mr Naughton believed this was the secret of Galway’s success. “I think the strength of the racecourse has been its loyal customers,” he says. “We have great customers and as long as they are happy leaving the racecourse, then they will keep coming back again.”

While the history of the Galway Races dates back to August 1869, Mr Naughton said Lord Killanin’s appointment as Chairman of the Race Committee in the early 1970s was instrumental in setting in motion a train of development that has resulted in the venue not only becoming a top horse-racing destination but also an attractive tourist destination.

Mr Naughton said that many who attend the Summer meeting of the Galway Races might “never have been near a racecourse before” but says that if this event can convert a small percentage into “occasional race-goers”, then that, in turn, would have a positive impact on the sport.

Mr Naughton – who recognised the work of past committees – also praised the contribution of the staff of Galway Racecourse. He noted that in the last four decades, Galway has had just two full-time secretaries, namely Luke Mullins and John Moloney.

While he noted Mr Mullins’ tenure focused primarily on developing the track, Mr Naughton said Mr Moloney had been to the fore in developing all elements of the track.

“John has all the gifts,” he praised.

He said Galway Racecourse was also very lucky to have people of the calibre of Tom and Gerry Broderick working at the course, while the office staff, he maintained, was second to none.

 

“Of course, we are also very lucky to have very good horses, trainers and breeders visit the track over the years,” said a delighted Mr Naughton.

No doubt, Galway Racecourse – which has a staggering 44,000 plus followers on Facebook – has been to the forefront of Irish racing, winning The Powers Gold Label/Irish Independent Racecourse of the Year for 2005 and opening the impressive €22 million Killanin Stand in 2007.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Judy Murphy

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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

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

images/files/images/x3_Courthouse.jpg

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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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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