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How did my belly burn the baked beans?



Date Published: 20-Sep-2012

The Snapper and I had not been away for two and a half years, during which time we’d lived through many stressful life events. We really needed a break, so I ignored the fact that we couldn’t afford it, surfed d’internet and booked us a lovely little self-catering housheen called ‘O Serro’, a mile up a hillside outside the Portuguese village of Santo Estevao.

At this point I need to point out that I find little so irritating as scribblers waxing lyrical about their time away in hot climes, while you’re sitting at your kitchen table in the West of Ireland, sheltering from the wind and rain, sipping your tea as you try to figure out how to pay the leccy bill. The only reason I feel free to write about my rare holidays is that I am never one of those columnists who goes ‘away’.

You know the type – ‘So and So is away’, ‘Blah de Blah will be back next week’. They are, to my mind, a bunch of slackers. If I have a colyoom to write, I will send in copy week-in week-out, whatever terrible or wonderful events might be taking place in my life.

Despite holidays generally being considered testing for relationships, the Snapper and I enjoyed a perfectly uneventful and exceedingly relaxing time. She read a big thick book each day as I stared out into space, regarding the view of olive trees and the nature of the Universe.

Then we went out to dinner in inexpensive local restaurants, drank too much wine, and the next day did the same again. I swam in the pool at 5pm each day, by which time I had it all to myself, and a couple of times we went into the town of Tavira, the jewel of the as yet unspoilt East Algarve.

It was a fantastic holiday, yet almost completely void of scribbleworthy events. But there was that strange business with my belly and the burning of the baked beans.

In our little holiday kitchen there was a set of black hi-tec smooth glass electric hobs, with little red lights for controls, a locking device and a Masters Degree from Harvard University. It required only the slightest of fingertip touches to activate the hobs.

Being ‘orribly Ingerlish, I enjoy a fry wherever I am, so I was scrambling up the eggs on one hob, turning the rashers in the pan on the other, while the beans were just heating up slowly on the back hob – except no, they weren’t – they were bubbling away like mad bad beans intent on baking themselves into a vile glutinous goo.

Looking down at the super-sensitive control button, I saw that somehow the temperature of the back hob had gone from a lowly ‘3’ to a high ‘9’, so I quickly turned it down, only to find a few seconds later that it was somehow back up again.

Did the hob have a mind of its own?

Was it built by Germans to confound this dumb English mind?

Was it some kind of safety device that tried to stop tourists eating bad things that might kill them prematurely?

No, because if it was that, the beans would survive while the super-fatty Portuguese bacon would have been zapped to oblivion. Waving a finger an inch above the button I watched the numbers riding up from 3 to 4, 5, 6. Aha! The controls were designed so that you didn’t even have to get a mucky paw-print upon them.


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

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



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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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup



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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