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Gleeson moves from General to Commander



Date Published: 10-Nov-2009

HE’D already proven his ability to play the General – so becoming Winston Churchill was probably an obvious career path for Brendan Gleeson.

But there were times when the Dubliner’s performance as Britain’s leader during World War II was so convincing, you would never think this was the man who played Martin Cahill or the gormless contract killer Ken in In Bruges.

The Irish connection with this BBC2 drama, Into The Storm, didn’t end there because it was directed by Thaddeus O’Sullivan. But it was Gleeson who dominated this 90 minute production from first to final frame.

Of course he was helped in that by a make-up department that worked overtime, but it was the voice and the mannerisms that showed just what a national treasure Gleeson undoubtedly is.

The drama begins with Churchill on holiday in France as he awaits the result of the post-war election caused by Clement Atlee’s withdrawal from the wartime national Government.

It was an election that Churchill was to lose, a result he couldn’t quite fathom as he believed he had saved Britain because of his leadership through the war years.

That was apparent from the flashbacks to key moments in Downing Street – Dunkirk, Pearl Harbour – and what emerged was a rounded picture of the man, warts and all.

The interaction with Roosevelt was fascinating; the American President in his wheelchair, his British counterpart in the bath before he emerges in all of his glory only to drop his towel – and then respond with the immortal line: “As you can see Mr President I have nothing to conceal from you”.

Winnie came across as a sort of balding Boris Johnson, blundering his way through the job and somehow emerging victorious on the other side.

And aside from all of the famous lines – “We shall fight them on the beaches” and “Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few” – this was also an insight into the mind of the man himself.

The part played by his wife Clemmie (wonderfully portrayed in this by Janet McTeer) was equally revealing – even if his pig ignorance sometimes took her somewhere beyond breaking point.

And as with life for so many, his eventual ignominious election defeat came so quickly after his finest hour, as he joined the King to wave from the balcony at Buckingham Palace and accept the cheers of the grateful crowds at the end of the war in 1945.

The dynamic with Joe Stalin was a fascinating aside as was the internal pressures of a cross-party war cabinet. But this was memorable more than anything for the performance of Brendan Gleeson – the first Dubliner to emerge from Downing Street with real credit since Arthur Griffith signed the Treaty in 1921.

For more reviews see page 18 of this week’s 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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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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