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Kennedy ÔputtsÕ humour into driving range business



Date Published: {J}

Loughrea defender and selector Greg Kennedy may be wholly focused on guiding the club to their second county senior hurling title in five years at Pearse Stadium this Sunday, but another of his great passions – golf – is never too far from his mind.

Over the last decade and a half, Kennedy has been very much to the forefront of Loughrea and Galway hurling. He first sprung to prominence in 1994 when captaining Galway to a 2-10 to 1-11 victory over Cork in the All-Ireland minor final at Croke Park.

Managed by Mattie Murphy, that team contained a hosts of other stars, including Tynagh/Abbey-Duniry’s Kevin Broderick, Craughwell’s Fergal Healy, Portumna’s Ollie Canning, Clarinbridge’s Alan Kerins, Beagh brothers Rory and Finbarr Gantley, and Athenry’s Eddie Brady, who scored both of Galway’s goals in the decider.

For most of those players, including Kennedy, it launched their hurling careers, with the Loughrea man joining the Galway senior panel a year later. For the next seven years, he remained part of the senior set-up before he was forced to withdraw with a long-term injury in 2003.

However, following Loughrea’s victory over Portumna in the 2006 county final, their subsequent 2-16 to 2-3 victory over Athleague in the Connacht final, and a solid showing in the All-Ireland club series, where they were defeated in the decider by kingpins Ballyhale Shamrocks, Kennedy was recalled to the Galway squad by manager Ger Loughnane and he spent another year and a half in the maroon and white.

Yet, as much as hurling has been a constant in his life in this time, so has golf . . . so much so that three years ago, the astute businessman bought Loughrea Driving Range at Masonbrook, which he now runs alongside PGA professional Raymond Ryan.

“I bought it and re-opened it nearly three years ago,” says the affable Kennedy, “and Raymie came in then about a year ago, teaching and running the golf shop. He is a PGA professional, so he gives lessons and does club fittings. It has been going very well. Along with all the adults, there are also a lot of kids using it as well. People come from all over the county.”

No doubt, since taking over the facility, Kennedy – who also owns Supermacs franchise outlets in Athlone and Moate – has put his indelible mark on the driving range. Around the 100 marker, there is a fine picture of Jedward to aim at while, in the middle of the course, his father’s old Mitsubishi Pajero looks a little worse for wear.

In many respects, the fun approach Kennedy has brought to golf sums up the Loughrea man to a tee – if you pardon the pun! He has a wicked sense of humour.

“I got the auld lad’s Pajero at home in the yard, threw it out there and it (‘Hit the Banger’ competition) has been very successful,” says the 34-year-old. “More than 2,000 people have hit it so far since the competition started this time last year.

“The competition is up and running again now until Christmas and I am hoping to have another 2,000 to 3,000 out in the competition before then. We are doing hampers for the winners at Christmas and come the Summer, we will do a set of golf clubs for the winner there, custom fit by Raymie.”

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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