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Marathon man Jarlath completes his century of runs



Date Published: {J}

THE year 2009 may be now consigned to the annals of the past but for marathon specialist Jarlath Fitzgerald it will be a year that will live long in the memory.

For in 2009, Fitzgerald – a nephew of former Ireland captain and coach Ciaran Fitzgerald – completed a major personal milestone when running his 100th marathon – a feat which he had been working towards for well over a decade.

A native of Loughrea, Fitzgerald started running in the late 80s; it was after he had watched the Dublin City Marathon on television. “So, that was when it started,” says the 43-year-old. “I then did my first one in 1990 and that was it. I ran it in 3 hours and 27 minutes that day and I think that was why I liked it – because I had done so well. If that had gone badly, I may not have stayed with it.”

In the run-up to that event, Fitzgerald had been doing approximately 50 miles a week for a month or so beforehand, which, to many other athletes, would be insufficient road-time for such a demanding ordeal. He insists, though: “I felt strong going into it.

“I suppose, I had done a small bit of running at school, running the 100 metres, or what have you, but that was it. Other than that, I actually never played that much sport. I played a bit of rugby, but I was never any good at it, and I tried a bit of the boxing and I was no good at that either.

“So, I started running. When you are training, you want to have something to aim for and that is when I thought of the marathon. That was when it all started. The way I look at it, most people try different sports before they actually find the one they like, and it was the same for me. I will have got 20 years out of the sport in 2010.”

Following his first marathon in 1990, Fitzgerald took a break of a year, before taking on the London event in the spring of ‘92. “I didn’t want to do my first two so close together,” he explains. “I didn’t want to jump straight back into it. It was the same in ‘94 and ‘95; I did two half marathons. So, if I did a spring marathon I wouldn’t do an autumn marathon in the early years. They were too close together and the body needed time to recover afterwards.”

However, a decade later, Fitzgerald had run 50 marathons. These included the Dublin City Marathon on four occasions – he has run one more since then – and similar distances in England, Scotland, Wales, Germany, Holland, Czech Republic, France, Spain, Denmark, Portugal, Iceland, New Zealand and China … the list is endless.

“At the time, I just looked at year to year. I never thought about hitting a target,” explains the experienced marathon runner. “Also, at the time, it was a way to see different countries. I started travelling with a guy called Martin Joyce, in Sports Tourism Ireland, and he had so many different tours. When I started doing them with him, it was about where he offered the tour. These were to places like Beijing (China), which was the first big overseas marathon I went to in 2001.

For more, read page 46 of 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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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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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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