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Mary’s cringe factor compelling viewing



Date Published: 15-Dec-2009

IT must have been a television commissioner’s dream to hear Victoria Mary Clarke, journalist and partner of Shane McGowan, wanted to be filmed growing her own vegetables but it was really pure voyeurism, sad as it was.

The allotment plot was a hook to the one hour programme called Shane and Victoria Grow their Own on RTE 1 on Tuesday which was more of an insight into this couple’s life than anything horticultural.

Victoria apparently thought the programme could have been a series along the line of The River Cottage but this was delusion on her part because this is no green fingered girl!

But what the girl lacks in the gardening skills she makes up for having rich friends like Marina Guinness, who owns a castle on an estate, and so this is where our Vicky went to grow her spuds, right next to an allotment being tendered by Oscar winner, Glenn Hansard, who wrote Once.

And of course when Victoria neglected her patch because she had to live her rock star lifestyle (accompanying Shane to Denmark on tour for instance), Marina had naturally ensured that she had put ashes around the patch to keep the snails away.

And suddenly we saw all sorts of vegetables growing on the patch of land, but we saw very little wellie action on screen, apart from a few shots of Victoria in her glad rags (sequins and the like) mucking about briefly . . . oh and laughing a lot, like a hyena actually.

But as for poor Shane, all we saw was him eating a few spuds and greens at his kitchen table but there were no subtitles so I couldn’t honestly make out what he said. And when he laughs, it sounds like a hiss because he has no teeth which makes him look way older than he is, though admittedly the rotten teeth weren’t a good look.

And then there was the climax of the programme – the harvest party, only Victoria had only harvested about 50 spuds and little else but hey, with friends like Marina and her wealthy neighbours, everyone brought a basket of veg that were cooked and served with a pig on a spit.

All this, by the way, on the Guinness grounds, not in Victoria and Shane’s semi-detached somewhere in Dublin, where to be fair to her she did grow tomatoes in a plastic glasshouse that she put together herself. No, Shane isn’t a DIY man either.

I suppose I watched gobsmacked and cringed quite a bit but yes, it was compulsive viewing, though I doubt if I would tune in to a series.

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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