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Hallelujah Chorus

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Date Published: 20-Nov-2009

A BOSTON Scientific worker is on a one-woman mission to get Galway clapping and singing Allelulia to the energetic strains of gospel music.

And to kick-start this conversion, Keara Sheeran is holding four concerts in aid of local charities Christmas week, with no fewer than 130 singers in this specially convened community gospel choir.

"The Gift" is the name of the concert, which is an hour-long gospel interpretation of the nativity written by Graham Kendrick, which was last performed in the city 21 years ago. Keara’s father, Peter Sheeran, was the male adult soloist and Keara, at just eight years old, was the child soloist.

“I’ve never got over it. The experience enriched our relationship and gave us something special. Ever since, when I come to that final note in the concert, it always makes me cry,” Keara enthuses.

Peter Sheeran directed the folk mass at 5.30pm on Sundays in the Jesuit Church on Sea Road for 20 years until 1998. When Keara moved back to Galway, she returned to what she calls her spiritual home in the Jes Church but found it an empty quiet place, with not a folk singer in sight. She started the Jes Gospel Choir a year ago and also a children’s choir in St Joseph’s Church on Presentation Road, which was named the Kings Kids Gospel Choir.

To perform The Gift, more singers were needed. So she spread the word through church newsletters, local notes in the Galway City Tribune, newspaper classifieds and via Facebook and online notice boards.

Answering the call were mums and daughters, fathers and sons, indeed whole families; there were newly married couples, school children and city people from all walks of life. Ranging in ages from six to nearly 80, those who turned up for the first rehearsal on

October 18 were not even subjected to an audition.

“A note in your head is what I asked for – that’s how I pitched it. Ok, if you’re tone deaf I’ll pull you aside and ask you to do a reading, but everyone can get involved. It’s a community choir,” she said.

“The response has been phenomenal. I think with the recession, people were looking to get involved in something that gives a proper meaning to Christmas. It gives people the concept of what their faith was born of.”

Five years ago when the concert was performed in Tuam, where she also set up a youth gospel choir, the reaction was overwhelming.

“The priest got up after the concert, he wasn’t quite sure what it was I was doing but he trusted my unbridled enthusiasm, and he was pleasantly surprised by it. I had lit the church up with candles and disco lights, well more like coloured box lights – the church is dark except for this – and it created such a Christmassy atmosphere and an expectation of the visitation of Santa.”

Keara, who has worked on a production line in Boston Scientific for over four years, has nominated Abalta as one her charities, which is also one of charities the company has earmarked for its annual fundraising campaign. Abalta is involved in educating children with autism, a charity close to her heart, as is the Galway Hospice, where her grandfather was cared for until his death. The third charity is Slí Eile, an Irish Jesuit Outreach organisation involving faith and justice activities for 18-35 year olds.

The latter appeals to her own strong sense of religion. “I love spirituality, if I can bring any joy into spirituality and into people’s relationships with God and the Church, I love doing it. Music brings a whole other dimension into Mass,” she reflects.

If the concerts sell out, up to €20,000 could be raised. Any free time Keara has is also taken up by this passion for music. She plays keyboards and guitar in Renmore Church, sings for weddings and is also part of a five-piece jazz band called Soul Monkeys.

“It’s a lifestyle more than a passion. I wouldn’t be who I am unless I could express myself like this. I’d explode otherwise,” she says.

The concerts take place on December 18 at St Joseph’s Church, Presentation Road; December 20 and 21 at the Jes Church on Sea Road and a gala concert in the Salthill Hotell on December 22, which includes a mulled wine reception and special guest gospel

choirs. Tickets cost €10. Contact Keara on 087 900 7003 or email on sheerank@bsci.com

 

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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The tough Galway hurler who stood up to Christy Ring

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Date Published: 24-Jan-2013

FORMER Galway hurler Ned Quinn may be due to celebrate his 90th birthday in May, but his humour and mind is as sharp as ever. Yes, the good days bleed into the bad – and vice versa – but the essence of the Ardrahan man burns brighter than ever.

In the foyer of Kilcolgan Nursing Home, Ned, accompanied by his daughter Irene, sits patiently waiting. He says he is only 5ft10” but he has the aura of man of far greater stature. He later explains that he did a bit of boxing in his youth and, looking at him, it does answer a few questions.

On this day, Ned’s health is betwixt and between but, even so, his humour is truly captivating and, before the interview concludes, he chuckles: “What kind of a cash prize did they give you to talk to me? Ah, I am only joking.”

The answer furnished was quite simple, if not a little on the manipulative side. “They told me you would tell me the truth about Christy Ring?” Ned relaxes with a wry smile.

Do you remember it Ned? “I think I do.”

 

Where you involved? “Maybe a little.” He pauses. “We won’t go back on it.”

Folklore has it that, after Galway’s defeat to Cork in the 1953 All-Ireland final, there was a couple of dust-ups between the respective players back at the Gresham Hotel. The first happened in the aftermath of the game that evening before Ring was left on the seat of his pants in another ‘frank’ exchange the following morning. That was the point Ned was understood to have entered the ‘debate’.

In many respects, it all stemmed from Galway’s disappointment and frustration. Earlier in the day, they were defeated 3-3 to 0-8 by the Leesiders and it still irks the former half-back that they put more scores on the board but lost the game.

“We had no luck on the day,” says the 89-year-old, who alludes to a high profile incident in which Galway defender and captain Mickey Burke was taken out of the game . . . allegedly, by Ring. “He (Ring) got away with murder on the field,” says Ned. “I mean, sure he could knock down anyone he wanted and get away with it.”

Ned believes that, because Ring was such a legend, he was given more leeway by referees and officials. “He was a crowd favourite . . . even with the great Tipp team that time, he could do what he liked with them. And he did do what he liked with them. He would give you a sup of the hurl any way he could – just as he was passing you out. Ah, he could handle himself.”

You get a sense that Ned has come to appreciate that and when it later comes to citing his greatest hurlers of all time, Ring tops the list. No wonder then the Galway game-plan going into that All-Ireland in ’53 was to keep the ball away from him but that was easier said than done.

At any rate, Ned says Galway’s luck was just not in that afternoon. “Every team needs a bit of luck on the day. The first goal was a kind of mystery goal. It went out beside his (goalkeeper Sean Duggan’s) ear and straight into the goal. Then the other two should have been cleared in time.

“I was playing in the half-back line when Burke was knocked down. Ring laid him out. Burke had to go off, he was badly hurt. Teeth or stitches. I was sent out on Ring then and I wasn’t going to stand for the same treatment, no, no. I was ready for him. Of course, we had a few words.”

Ned, who was on the Galway minor squad of 1941 but did not make his senior debut for Galway against Laois until 1949, played against Cork just once after that and he says it was “a cynical game”. He notes, though, that the 1953 final was certainly a missed opportunity to take the Liam McCarthy Cup back West.

That said, the father-of-two – Ena is his other daughter – did enjoy his days in the maroon and white, just as he did in the colours of his native Ardrahan, with whom he appeared in three county finals, winning just the one against favourites Loughrea in 1949.

That 1-9 to 2-2 county final win, played in front of a record hurling final crowd, was Ardrahan’s first senior championship victory in over 40 years and it was built on a rock-solid defence, marshalled by centre-half back Ned. Other prominent figures were Miko McInerney, Colm Corless, Paddy Hoarty, Simon Moylan, Bill Joe Coen, Sean Bermingham and Lowry Murray.

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

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Killimordaly sunk in a mudbath as Gabriels advance

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Date Published: 30-Jan-2013

St Gabriel’s (London) 2-12

Killimordaly 2-11

(After Extra-Time)

STEPHEN GLENNON AT ST BRENDAN’S PARK, BIRR

London champions St Gabriel’s – backboned by nine former Galway club players – recorded yet another famous win over Galway opposition when defeating Killimordaly in an exciting All-Ireland intermediate club semi-final played in biblical conditions at St Brendan’s Park in Birr on Sunday.

Having overturned Galway teams like Ardrahan and Kiltormer in previous All-Ireland campaigns in past decades, the London champions once again rolled back the years with a performance of true grit and courage to account for a Killimordaly side who will feel unlucky to have exited the competition in such a manner.

Quite simply, the conditions on the day were so atrocious, this contest became somewhat of a lottery. Two torrential downpours before the game were punctuated theatrically by a period of thunder and lightning and, as a result, it was not long before the luscious green sward in Birr was turned into a murky mud bath. Indeed, the scenes in extra-time were something akin to an old World War II movie.

In any event, it was St Gabriel’s who eventually emerged victorious from the trenches, with their heroics in almost sub-zero temperatures in extra-time finally breaking the shackles of a gutsy Killimordaly, who, reduced to 14 men at the beginning of the second half, did well to force extra-time.

It had looked as if two wonder points from Birr native Neil Rogers – free and play – along with an outstanding effort from Kevin Walsh in the first period of extra-time was going to be enough for the Exiles as they took a commanding three-point lead, 1-12 to 2-7, but then Tom Monaghan’s men –as they did on numerous occasions – came roaring back into the tie with four superb points of their own.

Indeed, the first from substitute and captain Iomar Creaven – returning from injury – could have found the net but his effort flew high above Aidan Ryan’s crossbar. Still, the score lifted Killimordaly and further points from the lively Eanna Ryan – play and free – and Andrew Daly nudged the Galway men into a 2-10 to 1-12 lead with the remaining 10 minutes of extra-time to play.

However, fortune favours the brave and when Gabriel’s Walsh was taken down 25 metres from goal, full-forward and freetaker Martin Finn called upon the wet conditions to be his ally and he smashed home a low effort to snatch the lead for the Londoners on 72 minutes.

 

With another downpour having just added to the chaos – and underfoot conditions worse than a pig sty – the closing eight minutes or so just became a war of attrition. So much so, the players spent more time rooting for the ball in the mud than executing the skills of the game and it was not a surprise that there would be only one more score.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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