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London Olympics is the target of top Galway boxer

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: {J}

GALWAY Boxing Club’s Patrick Corcoran may be collecting his third County Galway Sports Stars Award at the black-tie event this Saturday night, but the talented 20-year-old insists he has still to realise his full potential in his chosen sport.

That is good news for local boxing enthusiasts and a frightening thought for his competitors … for Corcoran is a powerful exponent with very real ambitions of becoming an Olympic boxer. If Corcoran, who also received Sports Stars awards in 2006 and 2008, gets to bear the shamrock at London 2012, he is determined to make his mark.

“I think 2012 is the best route for me,” says the Headford Road native. “In 2012, I will be 22, and that is when you are in your prime. So, I think 2012 is the best way to go. Winning the seniors is the stepping stone to do that, so that is the first obstacle for me. The Olympics would be my dream, though, to be honest.”

Indeed, first things first. If Corcoran is to realise the dream, he must claim an Irish senior crown to put himself in contention for a coveted place on the Olympic ticket. Easier said than done but, then again, you underestimate the ability of Corcoran at your peril.

At the age of 16, he secured his first Irish youth title, before months later – just as he had turned 17 – he went and claimed the 2006 Irish intermediate title when he knocked out Phelim Halligan of Mayo in the decider. The previous night, the Castlegar fighter had accounted for 33-year-old former Irish senior international Tom Murray in the semi-final.

Indeed, it proved a great night for Galway Boxing Club, as cousins Patrick and Michael Ward also captured Irish titles on the same night. For Corcoran, though, it rounded off a hugely successful year, in which he also won a gold medal at the Four Nations youth tournament involving England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland that Spring.

In the ensuing years, Corcoran claimed All-Ireland U-21 titles in 2007, 2008 and, more recently, in 2009 – a feat never achieved by any Galway boxer before. Last December’s 7-2 victory over Kiril Afanasev of Smithfield BC, completing the hat-trick of titles, was even more impressive given Corcoran had been sidelined for most of the year with a serious hand injury that he had picked up in his 2008 U-21 final victory over Martin Stokes of Letterkenny.

“Yeah, I was out for seven or eight months,” reflects Corcoran. “Every time I fought after I first hurt it, I was going back to square one. So, I gave it seven or eight months of rest. Unfortunately, the injury couldn’t be picked up in an x-ray, but the physiotherapist told me that it was fractured.

“So, I gave it time off. I could do some running, but the slightest thing would aggravate it. Even using weights, it would aggravate it and it wouldn’t heal. Eventually, I started training two months before those U-21s and the hand was grand. It was back to normal.”

Still, Corcoran finds it hard to put into words the level of frustration he felt during the lengthy lay-off. “When I fought in the seniors (last February), I fought the current intermediate champion, Pat Coyle, and I stopped him in the first round with a body shot. But when I hit him the body shot, I hurt my hand again, so I had to pull out of the seniors.

“That was a year down the drain, and that was really annoying. That was the first round of the seniors and it had been a good start for me. But I had to pull out. I wouldn’t even attempt to fight on because the seniors are top-notch. Going in with a bad hand wouldn’t be very smart really.”

What added to the disappointment was that Corcoran had high hopes for those senior championships early in 2009. The previous year, he had reached the semi-finals, only to be beaten by Tommy Sheehan of St. Michael’s. The Athy fighter was subsequently defeated by Con Sheehan of Clonmel in the final.

“Connie has won the last two titles,” outlines Corcoran. “When he won the first year, I got to the semi-final. I got beaten by the guy he beat in the final. If I had won, it would have been two 18 year olds in the final, which I don’t think ever happened before. It would have been good.

“ I had fought, myself, three of those days in a row. I was wrecked and even though I was beaten, fair and square, it was really good experience. It was the year of the Olympics, so I think they were preparing fighters for that by having them fight (one bout after the other).

For more, read page 50 of this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Judy Murphy



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

Rory takes on fresh challenge as lauded DruidMurphy returns

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 03-Apr-2013


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After twenty years Sarah lands dream role in Druid

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 04-Apr-2013

 Sarah Lynch has been living and breathing Druid Theatre since she wangled a job as a runner fresh out of college two decades ago at age 20. After holding down just about every role imaginable there – from company manager to director to stage manager – her appointment as general manager to one of the country’s most prestigious theatre companies last October seemed almost inevitable.

Because once she had tasted the fruit of Druid she was going nowhere . . . and going everywhere. Sarah’s tenure at Druid since 1998 has brought her on a journey that has reached just about every corner of the globe and almost all the islands off Ireland in between.

After graduating from Limerick with a degree in French and English Sarah spent a stint teaching in a secondary school. But it immediately became clear that wasn’t the road for her.

“One thing I was always certain of was I’d be involved in the performing arts, whether on stage or off stage or behind it. The immediate reaction of the audience is such a buzz,” she grins.

Her earliest memory was of her grandfather, Bud Clancy, on stage with his trumpet and dance band. “I must have been three or four because he died shortly after that. But it never left me. I got bitten by the bug. I started playing the trumpet. A friend of my grandfather taught me how to play and I was with the Limerick brass and reed orchestra known as the Boherbuoy Band, I was just a kid with all these adults.”

She learned to play other brass instruments such as the French horn and cornet before turning her hand to the guitar and song-writing. “I taught myself guitar. Sometime I tinker on the piano and I think that’s my next instrument. I love percussion. You can’t get me off a drum kit for love or money. Many is the night I’ve made a fool of myself on one of those,” she laughs.

In 2010, Sarah released her debut album, Letter to Friends, which was launched by playwright Enda Walsh, whose short play, Lynndie’s Gotta Gun, she had directed as part of the 2008 Galway Arts Festival.

The collection of songs was produced by Wayne Sheehy, a musician she had met when opening for Juliet Turner on Turner’s Burn the Black Suit tour.

“I could probably have done it ten years ago but for the manic schedule with Druid and touring so much,” she reflects. “I haven’t done much with it since. I used to play gigs in the Róisín Dubh. The bigger twin is theatre at the moment. The bigger twin bullies the other twin. You don’t get much time to do music.”

After fleeing the classroom, Sarah knocked on the door of a former college mate, Andrew Flynn, now with the Galway Youth Theatre, who kindly offered up his couch. He also managed to get her a job as a runner – the person who does everything from making tea to helping with props – on a Druid production of As You Like It.

“I remember working with Mark O’Halloran, I had great fun with him. There was Helen Norton, it was Maeliosa Stafford directing. He’s coming back to the Druid after ten years to star in Tom Murphy’s A Whistle in the Dark. He left me as a runner, now I’m general manager.”

Much of Sarah’s time behind the scenes at Druid has been spent on the road. In 2009 alone, Druid toured to Australia, Canada, the UK and the USA presenting 364 performances in 26 venues.

Indeed so much of life has been out spent living of a suitcase that she gave up her base in Galway to move back in with her family in Caherdavin, on the Galway side of Limerick city.

The tour of the Cripple of Inishmaan by Martin McDonagh was so long the crew were instructed to pack two suitcases, one with summer clothes, the other winter gear, as they would be spanning the seasons. Her job now entails a lot of commuting, but driving is where she gets a lot of thinking done.

Sarah’s decision to apply for the more home-based job of general manager was one she made discreetly while on the Druid Murphy tour around the US. She had to undergo her interview in between shows at the Lincoln Center in New York. It was the most nerve wrecking experience of her life, she admits.

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

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