Date Published: 21-Oct-2009
From its origins at the time of Cú Chulainn to the national championships that are held for it each year, the Poc Fada has evolved to something far more than a game between friends. Throughout this time it has maintained a strong Irish tradition and has given many hurling heroes the chance for solo glory, with Galway’s own Michael Shaughnessy ruling the national competition from 1994 to 1996.
The game has continued its popularity into the 21st century, and this November sees the long puck reach new heights. Next month Galway hurler David Collins hopes to trek the Himalayas with four hurling friends. With them on the trek will be sliotars and hurleys, as the lads hope to hit a few poc fadas on their way up and at the top of their climb.
“This I guarantee has never been done before so it should be good fun,” says David when referring to his plans while on the mountain. However, the reason David decided to take part in the trek is a far more serious one relating to his charity efforts.
The former Galway captain hopes to raise between €3,000 and €4,000 for charities in Nepal as a result of his planned climb. He is being supported by the organisation Nepal Trust, which he found out about through a friend who had been to the country on several occasions to help in the education and drug rehabilitation services there. David now hopes to do the same through his fundraising efforts.
“Seeing his pictures and hearing his stories from the areas worst affected has made me want to do my best for them and give someone a better chance in life,” he says.
The hurling star hopes that the money he raises will go a long way towards the completion of a new school in the Chitwan district in Nepal, and if there is any money left over it will be given to drug rehabilitation programs in Pokera and Kathmandu.
On November 21, David and his friends, including fellow Galway hurler Damien Joyce, will arrive at Kathmandu, where they will stay for a couple of days before beginning their trek. Before this, however, the hurlers plan to raise as much funds as possible, starting off with a fancy dress party on Hallowe’en night in Galway. David promises an entertaining night, with the Western Bar on Prospect Hill being transformed into an unforgettable Hallowe’en party, with a
local DJ and prizes on the night.
Tickets for the event are priced at €15, with all proceeds going to the Nepal fund. However, if members of the public are unable to attend the event, they are welcome to donate the price of a ticket, or whatever they can afford, to the charity.
The focus of the Nepal Trust’s work is in the northwest of the country, known as Humla or ‘the Hidden Himalayas’, which has a population of just over 40,000. Arguably one of the most impoverished of the country’s districts, its harsh, mountainous land makes farming an almost impossible struggle, with just 2% of the land used for cultivation. As well as
this, the local weather brings risks of heavy snowfalls in Winter and monsoons in Summer.
Due to its inaccessibility, the Trust operates a number of essential services. The organisation strives on providing aid to the community that will have a long-term benefit for their standard of living. Their policies in providing primary healthcare have led to the setting up of five permanent clinics as well as the training of local healthcare workers.
In terms of encouraging sustainable living, the Trust has supplied many areas of the region with electricity through solar and hydro-electric power, while the tourism industry of the whole country has benefitted by the Nepal Trust’s promotion of treks, which in turn has seen the beginning of many small businesses.
The organisation’s education and literacy programme provides Humla children with basic training in hygiene and first aid and gives the opportunity to many Nepalese women to learn to read and write, while also striving to protect the ancient Buddhist heritage and culture of the region.
David hopes to give further help to this impoverished nation, and so asks Galway people to give generously to his cause. Anyone who wishes to make a donation to the Nepal Trust can do so through www.nepaltrust.org
The way we were – Protecting archives of our past
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
Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr
Date Published: 23-Jan-2013
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.