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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

Galway girls make a splash on Irish U-15 water polo side

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 18-Feb-2013

The Irish U-15 girls’ water polo team, which was backboned by eight Galway players, made history in Birmingham made history last weekend when they reached the final of the British Regional Water Polo Championships.

All the girls are members of Galway’s Tribes Water Polo Club, formed only two years ago by Deborah Heery and Amanda Mooney. To get eight members from one club onto a National squad of 13 was an achievement in itself for this new club, but to be part of an Irish team – which was captained by Galway’s Róisín Cunningham, Smyth – to reach a final at such a high International level exceeded all expectations.

Competing against Scotland and Wales, Ireland made it out of their group to a semi-final place against the much fancied North West A England team. The semi-final proved to be the game of the tournament with nothing to separate the teams.

After goals from Carmel Heery, Aisling Dempsey, Eleanor O’Byrne, Roisin Cunningham Smyth and a dramatic penalty save by goalie Ailbhe Colleran, the Irish girls ran out 7-6 winners to become the first Irish side to make a final.

In the final on Sunday afternoon, they met tournament favourites, London, who they had previously beaten in the Group stages. With excellent performances from Eva Dill, Ailbhe Keady and Laoise Smyth, Ireland held the experienced English team to a 4-4 scoreline at half-time, but the English team, with their stronger and more experienced panel pulled away to win the tournament in the second half.

The success of the Irish team in reaching their first ever British Regional Finals was enhanced even further when Tribes member, Carmel Heery, was nominated Most Valuable Player of the Irish Team

In addition to their recent International success these girls were also members of the Tribes Water Polo team that won the U-14 & U-16 National Water Polo Cups this year and the Grads invitational U-15 tournament.

The success of this young Galway Water Polo Club nationally and internationally is in no small way due to the exceptional ability of their talented coaches, Padraig Smyth, Amanda Mooney, Jeremy Pagden, Carol O’Neill, Roisin Sweeney, Cathal Treacy.

The Irish team was coached by Aideen Conway (IWPA) and managed by Tribes founder, Deborah Heery.

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Archive News

Feast of folk at An Taibhdhearc

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 21-Feb-2013

Galway group We Banjo 3, comprising Enda and Fergal Scahill with Martin and David Howley, will team up with Dublin band I Draw Slow for a unique concert at An Taibhdhearc, on Thursday next, February 28, 8pm.

Featuring banjos, fiddle, mandolins, guitars, banjolin and vocals We Banjo 3 combine Irish music with old-time American, ragtime and bluegrass influences, revealing the banjo’s rich legacy from its roots in African and minstrel music through to the Irish traditional sound pioneered by Barney McKenna.

Their début album, Roots of the Banjo Tree, was voted best trad album in The Irish Times in December 2012.

The roots band I Draw Slow perform a blend of old time Appalachian and Irish traditional material that has been described as a fully natural evolution of American and Irish traditional styles.

Their top 10-selling second album, Redhills was named RTÉ’s album of the week in 2011 and it frequently features on playlists of stations in Ireland, the UK and the US.

Next Thursday’s concert in An Taibhdhearc is presented by Music Network and An Taibhdhearc and starts at 8pm. Tickets are €15. Booking at 091-562024.

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