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Irish version of Come Dine With Me cuts the mustard

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: {J}

The formula behind Come Dine With Me which has been a hit on Channel 4 for several years and started on TV3 last week, is simple and makes for great television.

The programme-makers select five people, generally opinionated characters, who think they are excellent amateur cooks and want to win the prize of €1000.

Each person cooks a dinner for the others over five consecutive nights. Each host is scored by the other diners on the basis of food and hospitality, with 10 being the golden number. But of course, personality has a huge part to play in it. If you don’t like someone, you might hold back on a point or two. . .

The characters on TV3 are definitely Irish, but the formula is the same, right down to narrator Dave Lamb, who drily pinpoints the foibles of each contestant and puts the boot in – in a humorous way – at every opportunity.

In last week’s episodes, set in Cork, there was plenty of conflict. The mix of Luisa Costello, Vicki Shorten, Helena Crowley-Hayes, David Roche and Jamie Knoblauch saw plenty of strong personalities, with Helena and Luisa particularly practically bristling when they were around each other.

Luisa is a vegetarian and her fellow contestants created special, meat free dishes for her when they were entertaining. She, however, did not return that compliment. No meat would enter her kitchen. Watching her prepare dinner, this vegetarian knew that her dishes were never going to wow her meat-eating guests. And they didn’t.

That’s why the programme works – this viewer might not have fared any better, but from the comfort of my couch, I knew that butternut squash risotto and ‘pretend’ Parmesan were never going to cut the mustard with carnivores, especially hunting advocate Helena. But the food is only part of it. Each contestant is filmed making their meal and speaks to the camera, explaining why they think they will win. Then the other guests are filmed giving their reactions to the food and hospitality throughout the evening. The host doesn’t know what they are saying, so hasn’t a clue how their food is going down.

The editing process focuses on participants’ eccentricities, catching them out if they appear cocky. Luisa certainly was cocky both about her food and her entertaining where she made all her guests dress in a weird variety of clothes she had in her house. She didn’t win!

Come Dine With Me is a cut above other reality shows because the contestants are voted on by their peers, and not by the viewers at home. It also allows viewers to be grateful they aren’t in the spotlight while all the time giggling at other people’s foibles. Nasty but nice. Watch out for the Galway episodes coming soon.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Judy Murphy

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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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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

images/files/images/x3_Courthouse.jpg

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

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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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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