Date Published: 03-May-2011
AFTER a few close attempts in recent years, the Galwegians U-17s finally claimed the title of All-Ireland champions with a comprehensive and thoroughly deserved win over Leinster standard bearers Gorey in Naas on Sunday.
Playing into the teeth of a strong first-half breeze, Wegians showed some signs of early nerves but eventually settled into their pattern of play.
They were making light work of facing the elements with another powerful display from their pack paving the way.
The back-row were beginning to get on top with captain and Irish international Sean O’Brien leading by example, aided and abetted by his flankers Ross Kerrigan and John Martin and an impressive front five unit in front of them.
The Blues had the first chance to take the lead but the stiffening breeze denied outhalf Ciaran Gaffney with an early penalty opportunity.
However they made the vital breakthrough on 20 minutes when some excellent driving play from the forwards gave scrum-half Paul Power the chance to dive over for a well deserved opening try. Gaffney landed the conversion to put the Blues 7-0 to the good.
However, the Wexford men were undaunted and they threatened at times to take advantage of the elements in their favour, only to meet a stern defensive wall of resistance.
And Galwegians struck a killer blow right on half-time when Gaffney struck an outrageous penalty from the 10 metre line against the breeze to give the city boys a vital 10-0 half-time cushion.
Gorey came out all guns blazing in the second half and their pressure was forcing a succession of penalties, which eventually led to the sin-binning of Wegians winger Niall Kane for a deliberate knock-on.
However the Blues showed their worth with a remarkable ten minutes of play with a man down, during which they scored ten unanswered points. Gaffney added a second penalty shortly after the binning when Galwegians turned defence into attack, and the killer blow came when skipper O’Brien intercepted a pass and dashed home unopposed to touch down under the posts for a second try.
Gaffney’s conversion made it 20-0, and with the out-half and his half-back colleague Power now in control of the game, the title was all but secured.
Gorey did manage a consolation score on the hour mark with a converted try from Eddie Earl, but it was too little too late as they had no answer to a superbly organised Wegians side who were determined not to let silverware slip from their grasp.
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
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Date Published: 24-Jan-2013
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