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Galway TV star is all revved up



Date Published: 05-Apr-2012

Karen Feeney made a name for herself in the testosterone-charged world of motorsport but the stunning blonde has recently been making an impact in front of the cameras as the presenter of RPM Superbike on UTV.

The 26-year-old from Tirellan Heights on the Headford Road is a rally driver and a driving instructor at the Mondello Park Racing School, who will return to our TV screens when she presents the upcoming series of RPM Superbike. Karen got her break on RPM in unexpected circumstances, after she won the Mondello Park Grid Girl Search in 2010.

“It was never meant to be a prize before it, but they turned around to me afterwards and asked me if I would like to present the programme,” Karen told the Galway City Tribune.

“I thought someone was pulling my leg! But I said yeah anyway. It was a great opportunity. Mondello have given me great opportunities in the past two years so I really appreciated it.

“I couldn’t believe that they even considered me for it. They put me in contact with RPM and we took it from there.”

She presented RPM Superbike last year although initially it was a big transition going from driving to presenting a television show.

“I can tell you that being in front of the camera is much more stressful, especially when you get people crowding around, watching and wondering ‘What’s she doing over there?’” You start getting really nervous! As the year went on, I got much more confident so I’m really looking forward to this year.”

RPM was a favourite in the Feeney household and it was a thrill for Karen to present the motorsport institution.

“I’ve watched RPM all my life. With the rally, we would always stay up late to watch it. It was always a thrill when we were kids to watch the rallies. It’s great to finally be on the other side of the camera and presenting it.”

The world of motorsport may be dominated by men, but Karen’s family background sparked her interest at an early age.

“My family was always big into motorsport. My Dad and my uncles started to rally years ago. We were all kind of into it.”

“I started when I was 17. I borrowed my brother’s car as he had already been racing. So, I started with the circuit down in Tynagh, the go-karting track. They have sprints there. Then I did the Hill Climb Championship in 2010.”

Karen subsequently taught rally driving at the Silverstone Rally School before becoming a part-time instructor at the Mondello Park Racing School when the distance to Silverstone proved problematic.


“I started teaching in Silverstone in their rally school. I just found that the commute was too much so I got a job in Mondello. It’s great. I really enjoy working there.”

It was also at Mondello Park that she developed her love for bikes.

“My uncles had bikes so I was always around them as a kid but I was always kind of wary of them. I got to really love them up in Mondello. Now I’m fascinated with them.

“Obviously RPM and I got together last year and we recorded the programme together. This year we’re hoping to get even bigger and better.”

She is still actively involved in rallying although she admits that she would love to participate on a more regular basis.

“I’m still involved in the rallying. I don’t get involved in as many as I’d like but I’m hoping to maybe get back doing the rally around September, around the end of the season.”

Rallying may be a passion for Karen but she admits that it is an expensive one.

“That’s for sure. I kind of wish Dad had taken up knitting or something!”

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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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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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.

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