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Just when did the fun go out of the Winter Wonderland?



Date Published: {J}

In the past week I was standing outside the primary school with any number of other grandparents. Most were cowering from the bitter temperatures, all the talk was of the weather and the frost and all were wrapped-up snugly against the cold.

Then the doors opened and the hundreds of laughing, happy youngsters began to be disgorged . . . many of them were carrying their anoraks and coats, knitted caps were being thrown to the wind, and, within seconds, they were playing in the frost and snow.

The difference compared to the frozen sentinels who had been waiting was marked indeed. The kids were shouting, screaming, a few snowballs were being made from what was left of the fall from a few nights previous, and they were happy of the shady spot in the lee of the school where the sun hadn’t thawed the ice.

It was then I began to wonder – precisely when did the joy go out of snow and ice? Did it come with the ownership of a car, was it because snow and ice are about the only things which finally put paid to golf for days on end, or was it because, as you move on, things become just that little bit brittle for landing on your bottom on a footpath?

It is no coincidence that the vast majority of reports you hear from accident and emergency of people suffering falls and having to have fractures repaired, are cases of mature or slightly older victims of the frost and snow. A kid falls and bounces back up again . . . get on a few years and land on the bony part of your bum, and you inch your way upright once more and know that the ache will be there for quite some time.

However, it was not always thus. That pathetic creature you see inching along by the walls seeking out the spots where the ice has thawed or where there seems to be some slight purchase, was once the devil-may-care expert on the homemade ‘slide’ who could hurtle down the ice with the best of them.

There was a slight incline on the road near my home and, when the evening began to draw-in and frost was expected, we brought out buckets of water and turned maybe a hundred yards of main road into a slide on which you could run a toboggan event.

Dozens of youngsters gathered and we slid for hours on that section of ice. There were all kinds of variations – you hunkered-down half way down the slide to show your expertise, or you hunkered- down and two friends grabbed you by the hands and all three slid together.

Of course there were falls and accidents. We were banned on one occasion from sliding because, in the words of my father, it was ‘ruining the soles of our shoes’, but when he went next door to visit, we joined in the fun on the slide.

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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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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Archive News

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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