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Going the full distance in unique Ironman event



Date Published: {J}

IN September, one of the biggest global brands in sport – Ironman – will come to Galway, and indeed Ireland, for the first time ever. As the leading triathlon coach in this country, German native Peter Kern outlines that tri-athletes’ preparations for Ironman 70.3 Ireland are well underway.


Although there are numerous sprint, Olympic and half ‘ironman’ triathlons in Ireland, many of which are of a pretty high standard, these sporting events are run by individual clubs around the country and they do not carry the global brand of Ironman, which, Kern notes, is regarded as the “Mecca” of triathlon racing.

“Ironman is basically another level,” states Kern, in his best German lilt. “Whatever they do is extremely well-organised; they manage quite well to combine the sport and the show into one great spectacle. And people love it.”

Galway’s selection for the first corporate Ironman event in Ireland is something of a coup, but Kern, whose company PB3 Coaching has been designated the official training partner to the event, says the West of Ireland capital was an obvious choice.

“Galway has the structures to deal with lots of people. There are enough hotels, the landscape is quite famous and Dublin Airport is not too far away. It was almost the natural selection for an Ironman race,” continues the 36-year-old coach. “You could also have gone to Athlone or Killarney, but they, along with Galway, are maybe the only three locations which would be quite suitable for a race of this calibre.


“Galway, though, has always punched above its weight when attracting a high level of sports competitions, so there is obviously an expertise – how to do big races – there in Galway. Once you have success, then, you always get more success. That is what seems to have happened in Galway.”

Indeed, events such as the Galway Races and, indeed, the Volvo Ocean Race in June 2009 have served the West well and with over 2,000 participants expected to descend on the city – the race begins in Salthill and heads out towards Connemara and back again – it should bring with it a carnival atmosphere.

“If I remember correctly, there are 300 people coming from the UK, about 200 people from the United States, and 40 people from Germany. They have people from Switzerland and Austria; there are people from every continent who will be racing in Galway.”

Of course, there will also be a massive Irish entry in the gruelling event, which demands of the competitors to swim 1.9km, ride 90km on a bike and run for 22km, the latter of which equates to a half marathon. In preparation, Kern and PB Coaching are running a number of weekend training camps – beginning this weekend – in Galway and Dublin, along with numerous one-day orientation sessions to familiarise participants with the course.

“Basically, the plan is to run a camp in Galway every four weeks,” details Kern. “The camps are normally two days and apart from going through the course, we also try to educate people on running technique, cycling technique and swimming technique.

“So, for people who want to have the full package, they come to a two-day camp and for people who are more concerned about the course – how the course actually lines out – they will go more for the one-day camps. We would think there would be at least four one-day camps in Galway and I would really hope that we would have another three full weekend camps in Galway.

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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