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Keeping a weather eye on the growing band of met babes



Date Published: {J}

God be with the days when the weather forecast was delivered by a dull man in a well-worn suit, standing in front of a map of Ireland and armed with nothing more technical than a fistful of Velcro-backed clouds and rain to position north, south, east or west.

These days, it’s weather babes in leather trousers or cocktail dresses delivering their own version of a warm front to the nation, as they try to sugar-coat the bad news on more rain or flooding.

There was a time when Paddy McHugh, the doyen of forecasters, had nothing more than the loan of a conductor’s baton from the RTE Symphony Orchestra (true story) to point at the cardboard map of Ireland as an indication of likely hot – or more likely cold – spots, but now it’s all whistles, bells and babes.

The analysts seem to think it is all down to Jean Byrne and her penchant for leather and bondage clothing, but personally I believe it began with Gerald Fleming and his legendary wink – because that was the moment that the weather forecaster became human.

Then you had Martin King over on TV3 with birthday requests in his oul’ Dubbalin accent and his ironing board prop on which he pretended he was surfing off the coast of Sligo.

Now it’s one meteorologist after another and they all look like they just dropped in for a quick flick through the next 24 hours before heading to a drinks reception or a big ball in all of their finery.

Jean of course has her own fan club who monitor her leather attire without ever leaving their own bedroom. But she’s been reeled in by the rest of the met babes who are now frequently revealing more of themselves than they are of tomorrow’s weather.

Long gone are the Velcro clouds to be replaced by satellite images which – if you have one of those 3D HD flat screen 60 inch televisions – might well show the downpour over your own house. And that’s progress.

Last week the Met Office marked its own 75th anniversary, but the truth is that the obvious saw that one coming – and they deserve their moment in the sun, so to speak, after three-quarters of a century of delivering the weather news to the nation.

But there are two things about RTE’s weather forecast that stil get my goat – one is that the first part if the broadcast normally tells about the weather we’re having or the rain we’ve already had. It’s a bit like telling us how bad the traffic was while we were still asleep.

The other is why we now have two German forecasters who don’t so much advise that there will be rain and cold – they tell us in a way that suggests that any questioning of their statements will be met with icy stares or a period in solitary confinement.

I’ve no doubt that the pair of them are eminently qualified for their post, but – without appearing racist – English is clearly their second language. And it’s hard enough to get the news that it’s rain and wind from here to eternity without having to strain your ears to grasp it.

For more, read this week’s Connacht 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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