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Galway Speeders giving children sporting opportunities



Date Published: 06-Dec-2012

A year on after their official launch, Galway Speeders – a club dedicated to promoting sport for young people with a physical disability – are certainly making a massive impact on the local sporting landscape. Indeed, this contribution was recognised earlier this week when the Speeders received a significant Sports Capital Grant allocation of €19,000 from the Government.

Some may argue that this allocation is only a drop in the ocean – particularly given Galway Speeders are providing much needed services that the Government themselves should be running – but, in any event, Speeders Chairperson Liz Gantly and Secretary Delia Boyce are grateful for the grant aid as it will allow the club to purchase essential equipment.

In many respects, Galway Speeders has come about from humble beginnings. The seeds of the club were sown among a group of parents who used to meet through Enable Ireland, which was providing therapy services for their children. “They had a basketball group going on a Saturday and there were other games that the physio ran,” says Chairperson Gantly.

“The problem with that, though, was that the physio was being taken away from frontline services. So, when that fell by the wayside, Titans, then, were starting up an adult basketball team and they approached us and asked if we were interested in a children’s one. We were and that proved to be very successful.”

However, time moved on and the needs of the children with physical disabilities could not be fulfilled by basketball alone. It wasn’t for everyone. “Around the same time, the IWA Sport appointed a regional sports development officer in Rena McCarron-Rooney,” continues Gantly, “and after meeting her we set up the Speeders. It was originally set up as a multi-sport group but it actually was not that successful.”

Although the younger children enjoyed the days, the older children became bored by what was on offer. “So, we had another rethink,” says Gantly. “Rena and her husband Ronan were setting up an adult table tennis group and, because Rena was involved with us, they invited a couple of the older kids along. Then the younger kids asked why can’t we come? So, it kind of progressed then into a table tennis group and it all evolved from that really.”

Over the last year, Galway Speeders have introduced the children to a myriad of sport, with a parent taking charge of each discipline. They are Marion Curran (athletics), Loic Bocquet (basketball), Ger Colbert (swimming), Gerry McLoughlin (karate), Liz Gantley (table tennis), Margaret Keane (sailing) and Aisling Halliday (kayaking).

The structure of the club, which caters for children from five years of age up to young adult, has certainly paid dividend. In April, Jack Colbert was crowned the national table tennis junior boys wheelchair champion – he would also win the Ulster Open later in the year – while Jessica Burke reached the girls national final.

A month later, the multi-talented Shane Curran was a silver medallist at the Irish Open Shotokan (karate) championships in Cork while Dylan McLoughlin picked up a bronze.

In August, Mark Henderson – the Chairperson’s 14-year-old son – won the Star Sailor Trophy Award at the Lough Derg regatta and he would receive the Galway Bay Sailing Club annual award later in the year in recognition of the progress he has made this year.

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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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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