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GalwayÕs sporting heroes whip aspiring jockeys into shape



Date Published: 15-Oct-2012

We’ve had reality shows for singers coming out our ears; reality shows for acrobats, would-be hurlers and footballers, ice skaters, dancers and even – in Big Brother – a reality show for people who are nothing at all.

And now TG4 has come up with one for jockeys – a reality show with whips, as they’ve described it, although that might really be more Big Brother’s playground.

The difference between most of this genre and Jockey Eile is simple – this one, like so much of TG4’s output, is superbly made. And it’s also a bit of craic.

What else could it be, of course, given that the Louis Walsh and Simon Cowell of this equine version are none other than Galway hurling legend Joe Connolly and the irrepressible Sean Bán Breathnach?

Two men with a sense of humour so that the rest of us can enjoy the craic; and a sense of perspective so that they don’t get too full of their own importance.

The concept is straightforward enough – JC and SBB take 20 young men and women who dream of becoming jockeys, mentor them through an intensive three-month training process, have them licensed by the Turf Club, and have them compete against each other in a race at Naas to see who wins Jockey Eile.

And our two intrepid Galwegians aren’t just left to their own devices to help these raw recruits become the new Lester Piggott – they can call on top jockeys Kevin Manning and Davy Russell, as well as Suzanne Macken (ex-wife of Eddie) and the wonderfully-named trainer Tucker Geraghty as mentors.

They also have Barry Geraghty’s wife, Paula, to advise them on diet – which for a jockey is presumably 10 ways to serve up a tasty lettuce.

Like all reality shows, the first step was to whittle down the field (excuse the pun) to just 20; some of whom have experience in the saddle, and some who look like they’d fall off a rocking horse.

And even those who made the cut still aren’t safe because there’s a further weeding out before it really gets serious, with the early morning riding out, the diet and the lifestyle all taking their toll.

You no more have to be interested in horse racing to watch this than you’d have to love singing to watch the X-Factor – it’s about people of different temperaments and abilities pushing themselves beyond their limits, cajoled and guided by two men who are passionate about their sport and who are made for television.

Jockey Eile goes out on TG4 on Sunday nights at 8.15pm and is repeated on Fridays.

And Friday is the night as well for a sporting reality series of a different sort – even if it’s more of a six-part horror show than a comedy as it turns out.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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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