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Group of artists breathe new life into Cregg Castle

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Date Published: 16-Aug-2012

 AGROUP of artists who have taken up residency in Corrandulla’s Cregg Castle, where they are developing an interactive work space, gallery and garden, will hold a group show in the Town Hall Theatre from August 17 to September 5.

This innovative Cregg Castle project is the work of Salthill born artist Alan Murray, who has a family link with the castle, which was built in 1648 by the Kirwan family, one of the Tribes of Galway.

Alan’s grandparents Martin and Margaret Murray bought the castle in 1972, growing vegetables in the walled garden and rearing beef cattle in the adjoining land to supply their well-known hotel in Salthill.

Later, Alan’s aunt and uncle, Ann Marie and Patrick ran a highly regarded B & B in Cregg Castle until the historic building was sold in 2005.

The new owners applied to develop the castle and its grounds into hotel and golf course, but the recession put paid to those plans and it was closed up.

When he became aware of this, Alan approached the owners with a business plan which would involve artists’ residencies, exhibitions and events to keep Cregg Castle alive.

“Because of the family connection, they realised I had a genuine interest in it,” he explains of the owners’ reaction.

As a result of a two-year agreement which he signed with them five artists moved into the building in May, following a selection process which saw Alan put a call-out in local papers and on the internet.

There are two Cork artists and one from Monaghan, as well as Alan and another Galwegian, Martina Finn from Loughrea.

“The arrangement is that we keep the castle maintained while we are here and other than that, it’s what we choose to do ourselves,” he says.

Each artist pays a nominal rent of between €100 and €120 and also does general maintenance work as part of the residency agreement. This includes working in the vegetable garden and cutting firewood to keep the castle heated in winter.

For that, they get to live in a castle, with the use of their own studio space and shared gallery space, as well as a communal kitchen and relaxation area.

The period of residency for each artist may last for the full two years or may end sooner, depending on each person’s situation.

There are another four spaces to fill in the residency project and Alan is working on that at present, so there will be a total of nine artists living in Cregg Castle when the scheme is fully up and running.

This is the first group exhibition from the five who are looking forward to a wonderful and inspiring future in their ambitious venture at Cregg Castle.

They have extended an open invite to the public to the exhibition opening at Galway’s Town Hall Theatre on Friday next, August 17 at 6pm.

Meanwhile, the castle is open to the public from Thursday to Sunday each week.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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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

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

images/files/images/x3_Courthouse.jpg

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

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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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