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Gymnastic club grows by leaps and bounds

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Lifestyle –  Judy Murphy meets the people behind an ambitious club that has set its sights on new highs

New Yorker Sam Mariano is explaining her reasons for settling in Galway – but it’s proving almost impossible to concentrate on her. Sam’s story is a good one, but just a few feet behind her head, bodies are whizzing and catapulting through the air, defying every law of gravity.

These flying people are the senior members of Renmore Gymnastics club which began as a small venture some 10 years ago and now has a membership of almost 800 people from toddlers up to adults, who come from all parts of the city and county; the oldest member is in his 60s. 

This club is the reason why Sam, who first came to Galway five years ago, is still here, and it’s easy see why.

For the 35 or so young people at the specially fitted out 8,000 sq foot warehouse in Parkmore on a rainy Saturday morning, the emphasis is on fun, games and, for a minority, competitions. The youngsters are tumbling, rolling, doing headstands, climbing up ropes and performing extraordinarily difficult manoeuvres, which help them develop core strength.

The flags on a wall behind them represent the various countries that their 18 coaches hail from, and it’s like a mini United Nations, with people from such diverse places as the USA, Germany Latvia and the UK.

Senior Coach and driving force behind Renmore Gymnastics Club, Englishwoman Sally Batley got involved 10 years ago, having initially come to Galway for a weekend. Back then, she had a friend who was working with a small gymnastic club in Renmore Hall and Sally visited to help her. Her friend announced that she was leaving Galway to study in Dublin and suggested that Sally, a gymnast and graduate in new media studies, take on coaching the children for a while.

Sally did and was impressed by the talent and commitment of the 50 young members. But she felt it was a shame they didn’t have better facilities. In fact, at that time, the club was in danger of ceasing completely because of problems in finding volunteers to help run it.

“I made the fatal mistake of saying ‘I’ll stay and help for a little while, but I need to change a few things’,” says Sally with a laugh.

Ten years later the club has moved to a much bigger premises and Sally is still here, helping the club go from strength to strength as members take part in national and increasingly international competitions.

Those performing at competitive level make up a minority of members, especially those at the most elite level.

“To compete, you need two attributes,” says Sally. “You need a natural aptitude and also need to be mentally strong and brave because the sport is very hard.”

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

 

Galway in Days Gone By

Galway In Days Gone By

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Taking part in the West of Ireland Bridge Congress at UCG in April 1983 were Phil Carey, Newcastle, Eileen Murphy, Taylor's Hill, Carmel Howard, Cross Street and Claire Burke, Salthill. This year’s Bridge Congress is taking place next week at the Ardilaun Hotel from February 3 to February 5.

1923

Islanders’ distress

A correspondent sends authentic particulars of distress prevailing in the Islands of Aran. There is extreme poverty in Inishmore, especially in Killeany; large numbers in the village are on the verge of starvation, kept alive by the charity of neighbours, with scarcely a healthy child amongst them.

The people own no land, notwithstanding that the Congested Districts Board has a large tract; they fish and labour when the former is profitable or practicable and when the work can be found. To-day they are without either.

Similar stories come from other island villages. Yet last October Mr. Blythe stated in the Dáil that £1,000 had been granted for the relief of distress on the islands. The money was placed at the disposal of the Galway Rural District Council, which refused to have anything to do with the scheme.

Accordingly, the grant was never made. It is alleged that the inhabitants of Inishmore have refused to pay rates, but islanders state in reply that rates were not collected for some two years, nor were demand notes issued. The whole position is so grave that it should be looked into without further delay, and we understand that all the circumstances have been referred to Deputy O’Connell for this purpose.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Long-gone island life captured forever

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Galway County Council Archivist Patria McWalter, (right) and Bernie Kelly, Acting Galway City and County Librarian with photo albums from the George Chambers Collection and the special publication that sheds light on his work on the islands he visited. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy

A unique collection of photos and writings that capture life on Aran and Ireland’s other offshore islands during the early years of the 20th Century and which was gifted to Galway is now available to the public. County Council archivist Patria McWalter was responsible for researching and cataloguing the work of Englishman George Chambers who visited these shores regularly from 1929-1938. The project involved working with colleagues in other counties, especially Kerry, and forging links with archivists in England to learn more about this mysterious man. She tells JUDY MURPHY about a special journey into the past.

“A parcel came in the post one day and a colleague dropped it down to my desk saying, ‘this is for you, it’s old stuff’,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter with a laugh.

That’s how Patria became acquainted with the photographs and writings of Englishman George Chambers, which offer a unique record of life on Ireland’s offshore islands in the early years of the 1900s.

Patria doesn’t know why the archive’s owner, Desmond Anthony Power, a Canadian resident with Irish roots, decided to gift the Chambers Collection to Galway, because while it features the Aran Islands, islands from other counties feature more prominently.

“Kerry might have been a more obvious choice”, she notes. Still, as someone who delights in uncovering Ireland’s hidden past, Patria was happy.

Now the archive is available online, accessible to all, accompanied by an illustrated publication, Island Images from the Chambers Archive, 1929-38. A limited number of hard copies have been printed in Irish and English and it’s available to download as a PDF.

Desmond Powers’ initial donation to Galway consisted of five photo albums, which included pictures of George Chambers and his family on holidays in Ireland, as well as images of island life up to 1938. Donkeys feature alongside people in many of the photos.

“He seems to have been very fond of donkeys,” explains Patria with a chuckle.

A series of files subsequently arrived at the library, including letters, diaries and the eulogy that George Chambers’ son Ivan delivered at his father’s funeral in 1960, which shed some light on Chambers and his travels.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Country Living

Tricks, trials and traps of nurturing our memories

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Country Living with Francis Farragher

Memory is a strange old business and sometimes quite an uncomfortable investigative process with the passing of years. We all tend to get a bit worried when a name of someone reasonably familiar to us, just simply won’t come into our heads.

One of the little consolations I nurture, more in hope than in empirical logic, is that even when I was a ‘garsún’ attending national school, I had the habit of leaving things behind me for no good reason.

Even a decade or so after that, forgetting to get the Sweet Afton cigarettes for my mother after a few pints in the local – which in those days doubled up as a grocery outlet and public house – drew a fair measure of maternal wrath upon my young shoulders.

Then there’s the recurring daily problem of trying to figure out what some of the least used keys are for, on a ridiculously overcrowded keyring, while all the time vowing to eliminate at least 25% of the out-of-date ‘door openers’ from the collection.

A few years back, I remember some guy on the radio who knew about all things related to memory and good mental agility, saying that there wasn’t really a serious problem in trying to regularly sort out key IDs. However, he did point out – rather chillingly – that if you looked at your bunch of keys and wondered what they were for, then you were in trouble.

As we get older and want to forget issues about our own finitude (a fancy word for ‘the end’) the annoying search for mobile phones, car keys, wallets, glasses, scarves, caps and even jackets sends little worries through our dwindling brain reserves that things aren’t really getting any better.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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