Date Published: 18-Apr-2012
AT about 8pm on Friday last, on the eve of the Aintree Grand National, the six members of the Dunmore syndicate that owns Seabass, were having a pint in a Liverpool pub chatting about their gelding’s chances in the World’s most famous National Hunt race the following day.
One of the group slipped into the bookies’ office next door, William Hill, just to check the odds on the Ted Walsh trained nine-year-old in the most lucrative jump contest in Britain. Amazingly, he was 22/1.
Even though the ‘Gunners Syndicate’ had backed Seabass at odds ranging from 20/1 to 14/1 back in Ireland before they left, they couldn’t resist those attractive 22/1 odds and they lumped on the ‘dough’ each-way again.
Less than 24 hours later, just minutes before the off, thousands of punters at the famous racecourse waged a massive gamble on Seabass, with leading Irish amateur jockey Katie Walsh on board, so much so that the bookies slashed the odds down to 8/1 joint favourite.
The confidence of the Gunners Syndicate – made up of Pat Glynn, a farmer and builder; Pat Gleeson of Weirs Waste; local publican Robbie Byrne; brothers Donal and Niall Collins (both employees of McHale Farm Equipment, Kilmaine); and Castlerea butcher, John Harte – was rewarded when their pride and joy finished third, just five lengths behind Neptune Colonges, who rallied to just pip Sunnyhillboy on the line in a thrilling photo finish.
Aside from the return on money wagered, the heroics of Seabass in the toughest steeplechase in the World earned the syndicate a cool £102,000, which is around €125,000.
There are just three National Hunt Races in Ireland where the winner would receive more than Seabass earned for his third place finish and it was by far Seabass’s biggest payout in his career to date – the next best was around €60,000 for romping home first in the Leopardstown Handicap Chase in January.
But for a moment in this gruelling marathon – as Seabass was jumping the second last of the 40 fences – it looked for all the World that Katie Walsh was to make history by becoming the first woman jockey to win the historic race, and that he would earn the half a million sterling in prizemoney for the winner.
The Gunners Syndicate had dared to dream. “When he jumped the second last I said: ‘this fella is going to win – he’ll win it’. He usually has a kick and finishes strongly and even going round the elbow after the last, I felt he still had a chance but it wasn’t to be. Only 15 of the 40 horses finished, which is an achievement, so we’re thrilled with third,” said Pat Glynn, of the Gunners Syndicate.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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
Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr
Date Published: 23-Jan-2013
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.