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Heather proves to be just a nettle in disguise

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



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

Judy Murphy



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

Ruby ready to rock again and Bob is worth a big flutter in Gold Cup

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 06-Mar-2013

New edge to Galway hurling championship title pursuit

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Archive News

A battle of talent and the ability to pull in public votes

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 11-Mar-2013

Here is a question. And there is no holiday or grand prize for getting the answer. But can anyone name the people who have won The Voice of Ireland and what has become of them?

Over across the water in the UK they have The X Factor and while I hate the concept of it, it has produced a few stars even though they don’t last long in the whole scheme of things.

But The Voice of Ireland seems to generate false excitement with the winner ending up become more anonymous than they already were. And it is costing families a fortune in the process.

While the programme is a ratings winner, strangely, it has resulted in those getting through to the final stages investing huge amounts of money in the hope that they will receive enough votes to get through to the next stages.

So, suddenly, it is not about the voice or the talent involved, it is all about votes and who the participants can convince to pledge their support for them. So it is obvious that talent goes out the window.

It means that someone with half a talent could realistically win the whole thing if they generated enough support behind them. From now on, the judges will be taken out of the equation and it will be left to the public to generate income for some phone operator.

Those who get through to the live performances have to engage in a massive publicity campaign in an effort to win votes which makes this whole effort a pure sham. It is no longer about their ability and just an effort to win appeal.

While the initial process does involve some vetting of the acts, now it becomes a general election type exercise in which the most popular will win the competition and the judges will have no say whatsoever.

It is a bit like the recent Eurosong in which the judging panel across the country voted for their favourite song, which incidentally was the best of a very bad lot, but then this was overturned by the public who chose a relatively crap song to represent us.

But again, this was all down to convincing the public about who to vote for rather than having any bearing on the quality on offer. There are times that genuine talent becomes overlooked because of the need to extract money from the voting public.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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