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Heather proves to be just a nettle in disguise

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Date Published: {J}

She called herself the most vilified woman that’s ever, ever been, which is untrue on two fronts – she isn’t and nobody ever said she was – but Heather Mills is certainly a lady who inspires more hate than love.

Of course that’s very one dimensional and what comedienne turned pop-therapist Pamela Connolly wanted to do on Channel 4’s Shrink Rap last week was show us the real Heather, warts and all – and boy are there some warts.

This was car crash television, which I accept is an unfortunate phrase to use in relation to a woman who lost a leg in an accident – but she truly is some piece of work.

Aided and abetted by Pamela – once the blond babe on Not the Nine O’Clock News before she became all serious – Heather spoke of the childhood from hell, the clinginess and desire to please which took her from one traumatic relationship to another.

That desire to please took her into modelling and even a sex guide video which she claimed as wrongly painted as soft porn; in fairness, most of the people who watched it probably made the same mistake. In almost any other case, you’d be feeling a new swell of sympathy for a woman who has been through so much and come out the other end – but not Heather.

It’s not just because she broke the golden rule – she dumped all over a Beatle, a living legend, the nicest man on earth – it’s that smug, superior expression that she has fixed to her face, so that even if she’s talking about her father walloping her mother with a chair, she seems like she’s talking about the plot of a bad movie, rather than her childhood.

And yet you have to have some admiration for a woman who has come through the loss of a leg, a very public marriage break-up and a vilification that would suggest she killed someone as opposed to split up from them.

She admits to Billy Connolly’s missus that she’s supremely confidence but that was rather like announcing that night will follow day – it was written all over her face.

She talked of a chaotic childhood after her mother left when she was nine, abandoning her and her siblings to an unpredictable and obsessive father who she clearly loathed.

The closest she gets to tears is when she describes her mother’s death at the age of only 47, after they were briefly reunited.

Exploring how this childhood has influenced Heather’s subsequent life, she talks about her sexuality and the power it has given her over men, her career as a glamour model and her ill-fated marriage to Macca.

“As much as those who didn’t know us want to dismiss it, those who were really around us know we were very, very in love. I was pursued for quite a few months. It was very flattering. How could you say no?” she asks.

She could of course have said no to some of the money which she insisted on as part of her highly public settlement – not least because she insisted she placed no value on the folding stuff in the first place.

She’s put it all into charitable trusts or bought property for her daughter. But mainly she’s just given it all away because she gets more joy from giving than receiving.

Tell that to Macca, mate.

This was sycophantic television at its best, but then again that’s probably what you get when you go to a shrink – someone who makes you feel good about yourself and who justifies your weaknesses as strengths in disguise.

This was mutual love between two women whose main claim to fame is that one was, and one still is, married to a famous man.

It would have been much better craic if they had Billy Connolly interviewing Paul McCartney.

For more, read page 18 of this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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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