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Harking back to the camogie glory days of 1996

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Date Published: {J}

SOME will remember the former All-Ireland senior camogie sharpshooter as Martina Harkin. Others will identify her by her married name of Martina Carr. To the rest of us, though, she is simply known as ‘Harkie’.

It is hard to believe, given the abundance of talent in the county, that it is 14 years since ‘Harkie’ and the Galway senior camogie team claimed their one and only O’Duffy Cup. Since then, there have been a number of false dawns, while the years, at least at senior level, have become punctuated by heartache and disappointment. On Sunday, the class of 2010 has the unenviable task of bucking that trend.

To some degree, Galway camogie has lived off the heroics of ’96. And why not? Having trailed Cork 1-9 to 1-6 at half-time of the decider, the Tribeswomen produced a second half of guile and purpose to run out deserving winners on a scoreline of 4-8 to 1-15, with Craughwell’s Denise Gilligan bagging two goals and Harkin and Dympna Maher netting Galway’s third and fourth. It was the county’s finest hour.

“When I think about it,” begins Harkin, “the first person I met when the whistle was blown was Ronnie (Veronica) Curtin, and we rolled, and we rolled, and we rolled on the ground of Croke Park. We didn’t know what was happening.

 

 “Okay, we knew we had won, we knew we had won an All-Ireland medal, but it was just one of those indescribable feelings that I hope these girls get to have a taste of on Sunday. The gap needs to be bridged and we need to get over this dream of ’96. Make it a reality now for 2010. Galway’s time has come. I definitely think so.”

When it comes to camogie, there are few more passionate about the game than ‘Harkie’. At 35 years of age, she continues to ply her trade with her club, Pearses – with which she has won eight county and five All-Ireland club titles – and, indeed, in 2009, she returned to the inter-county senior set-up on the back of her outstanding displays with the Galway intermediate team the previous year. What do they say about class being permanent?

In any event, Talking Sport is in the home of the Carr family – Martina is married to Ballinderreen hurler and strength and conditioning coach, Keith Carr – on this Tuesday afternoon. Her four-year-old son Adam, who is to begin his schooling the following day, is outside at play with his next-door neighbours and cousins.

As always, ‘Harkie’ has a beaming smile and a hearty welcome. One thing you need to know about the former camogie star, she has a wicked sense of humour. Indeed, when asked what have been the main changes she has seen over the years as a player, she laughs: “In ’96, we thought the core was the centre of the earth! Not something that you have to work on for your strength and conditioning!”

Mention of ’96, though, brings the memories flooding back. Some, like the victory celebration with Curtin – who continues to line out for the county seniors and will lead the attack on Sunday – remain vivid; others have become a blur.

However, another of her abiding memories was the doing the warm-up drills with Galway coach Tony Ward before the final and just how difficult it was to acclimatise herself to the event and its surroundings. “I remember thinking ‘my God, this is tough’.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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

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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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