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Getting all revved up for Galway International Rally



Date Published: {J}

IT’S that time of the year again when the sound of the engine fills the early spring air and motor sport enthusiasts arrive in their tens of thousands for the annual Galway International Rally. Two young men who will be hoping to make their mark at this year’s prestigious event, which takes place around the county between February 5th and 6th, are local drivers, Ross Forde and Jonathan Folan.

Gathered for a press day at Pallas Karting track in Tynagh last week, both Forde and Folan were in high spirits. Back in the driving seat after the festive break, their handling of their respective rally cars around the testing track demonstrated they had lost none of their skills in the winter hibernation.

Indeed, both men couldn’t be more at ease behind the wheel, with Forde hailing from a family seeped in success, while Folan’s father, John, has been rallying for 30 years. For both men, it was almost inevitable that they would pursue such a sporting endeavour.

“With me anyway, it is a family affair,” said Forde. “I have been going to rallies since I remember, and I have been driving since I was 16 or 17. So, I have been doing it for a while. All my uncles do it, Ray Cunningham, Frank Cunningham. So, it was fate really that I was going to have a go at it.”

Indeed, Forde’s uncle Frank won the USA rally championship on numerous occasions, both as a driver and co-driver, while his other uncle Ray has won the famous Killarney Rally stages. In fact, it was with Frank that Forde began his career, competing – and winning his class – in an Autocross event at the age of 16.

Since then, Forde – Galway Motor Club’s 2010 Rally Driver of the Year – has graced the podium at a variety of events in Ireland, winning international rallies both north and south of the border, and in Great Britain. His finest year to date though was undoubtedly 2008 when the Carnmore driver won one of the most prestigious prizes in motorsport – the Billy Coleman award.

Forde beat off stiff competition to take the Young Rally Driver of the Year accolade at the Dunlop Champions of Irish Motorsports Awards. On his way to the title, Forde won the Suzuki section of the Ulster International Rally in Belfast, while he also won his class in the National Junior Rally Championship.

Those successes secured Forde a fully funded drive, worth over €50,000, with the Ford World Rally team the following year, and, throughout 2009, he competed in a Fiesta in the British Championships. “That [deal] ended last year. We had a good few podiums – we had a great year – but it was more of a learning curve than anything else,” said the 27-year-old.

In recent times, though, Forde, like most involved in the sport, has had to deal with serious funding issues. “Money is hard to get,” continued Forde, who drives a Mitsubishi Evo9. “Sponsors have been good, but we are constantly looking for them.

“Instead of buying a car, we are hiring out for each event this year,” he explained.”It works out a little bit better. James Foley (Foley Rally Sport, Meath) looks after the car and he does a super job. He always turns out a good car. He turned out the car for us at Galway Summer at the end of last year and we managed 11th overall, first time ever in a four-wheel drive. We were over the moon.”

For more, read this week’s Connacht 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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