Classifieds Advertise Archive Subscriptions Family Announcements Photos Digital Editions/Apps
Connect with us

Archive News

Galway’s major player in North American GAA affairs



Date Published: {J}

SAN Francisco may be a long way from the green sod of home, but it can still boast of a dedicated and passionate GAA community to rival any in Ireland. One of the father figures of the Association in North America is Kilconieron native, Pat Uniacke, who earlier this year was honoured by the GAA in recognition of the Trojan work he does in the United States.

It’s Monday evening, and ‘the local’, Fiddler’s Green in Millbrae, is alive with the sound of an eclectic mix of Irish, American and other accents. Pat Uniacke’s voice is among them, as he chats with friends and fellow Irish emigrants about the issues of the day, and, of course, their one great love, the GAA.

While much of the discourse surrounds the impending visit of the Kildare footballers and their manager Kieran McGeeney later in the evening, for now Uniacke is quite happy to talk about the healthy state of the Association in his adopted home.

One of the recent initiatives that has taken up much of Uniacke’s time has been the acquisition of 13 acres of land in nearby Treasure Island, a man-made island created in the mid 1930s which, in its time, has served as a naval base, a museum and office complex. Uniacke says to finally have a permanent home for the Association in the region is massive. “It is huge,” beams Uniacke, who is Chairman of the Board of Directors which was charged initially with securing the land and which now runs the facility.

“It is a launching pad for the survival of the games here. Before that, we really were wandering aimlessly. We were playing on sub-standard pitches – sub standard in size and sub standard in quality, causing injuries to kids and adults alike. Now that we have our own field, we can keep it in pristine condition. There are no holes or divots, so the risk of injury is way down. It somewhat guarantees our future survival.”

In many respects, if the Association is to flourish State-side, Uniacke – who is also Chairman of Éire Óg, a club he helped found just south of San Francisco – believes developing home grown talent is the direction they must take. Already their youth policy has paid dividends with a San Francisco U-14 representation winning their division at Féile three years ago. “So, the groundwork is being done and has been done for the last 15 years with that youth programme. There are some great people involved in it.”

Of course, one of those is Uniacke, who, himself, has a long association with GAA in the Bay area. Although he had spent some time in San Francisco as far back as 1973, Uniacke made the permanent move to the Californian City in 1984, having worked the previous two years in Palestine, where he was involved in the construction of a Cultural Centre in the Gaza Strip.

Although he originally only intended his stay to be a holiday, Uniacke – who had previously hurled with his native Kilconieron and later Commercials in Dublin – decided to turn down an opportunity to return to the Gaza Strip for the chance to live and work in the Golden State. San Francisco was soon to become a home away from home.

“I had stopped hurling during my few years in the Gaza Strip, but I had also received an eye injury years earlier and had really finished up hurling. I came here, though, and my brother, on the second or third Sunday, said ‘there is a game out in the hurling field, will you come out?’ I said ‘right’. Out I went for a look and I was persuaded to tog out. I ended up hurling again for a good few years after that.”

Indeed, Uniacke says he will never forget that first year playing with San Francisco Gaels, particularly when he, along with a skeleton crew, travelled to the North American Championships and “were beaten out the gate by a Cork hurling team from Boston”.

For more of Stephen Glennon column read page 51 of 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

Continue Reading

Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

Local Ads

Local Ads