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Galway’s youngest writers bring life to new tales



Date Published: 09-Jun-2010

By Antoinette Giblin

From granny’s dancing shoes to dwarfs in battle and escapades in spooky houses with magic doors, Galway’s most creative young imaginations were brought to life in the Write A Book – Scríobh Leabhar competition, in which nearly 5,000 of the county’s primary school children were given an opportunity to express themselves on paper.

“My book is called ‘Wonderland’. It’s a world full of sweets. There are clouds made out of marshmallows and all the buildings are made out of chocolate. The rainbows are sweets too,” explained 11 year old Madeleine Quinn, from Ballinderreen National School.“I want to be a writer when I grow up, maybe like Michael Morpurgo. It lets me express myself. I love ‘Alone on a wide wide sea’.

”As first-time authors, children from junior infants right up to sixth class wrote, illustrated and bound their books which were then swopped with other schools and assessed by the adjudicating teacher with the help of the class.

“The teachers are mentors, editors, guides and general guardians of the project. Having completed books in their own schools, they then have to adjudicate on books from other schools. The kids help them. They can be quite critical. After writing their own books, they certainly know what to look out for,” commented Mary Smith, Project Co-Ordinator and recently retired Principal of Scoil Chaitríona in Renmore.

Now in its ninth year, the competition which aims to improve literacy in primary schools by encouraging reading and writing, also forms a very practical part of the creative writing module.

At a packed-out awards ceremony, which was held in The Radisson Hotel, over 220 budding English authors were awarded prizes for their work and a further 220 prizes were handed out to the all-Irish authors who narrated their stories using their native tongue.

“Sometimes it reminds me of a graduation. It’s a family event as well. In primary school, if English and literature are promoted well enough, it tends to stick with them. That’s why this works well for the teachers as well as the kids. They learn and have a huge sense of achievement. The sheer number of entries this year was astonishing. There is so much talent out there in our schools,” said Bernard Kirk, Director of Department of Education-funded Galway Education Centre, the organisers of the event.

And, as the proud book writers descended from the stage in awe of their shining new medals, one-by-one they scanned the contents of their goody bags to ensure that they did not contain brussels sprouts – the joke tip-off from the energetic master of ceremonies, Paul Sleem.

Read more 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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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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