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Memories of my own Stand By Me Day in a country graveyard



Date Published: {J}

I would dearly like to know who coined this expression about pneumonia being the old man’s friend. I suffered a bout recently and let me tell you there is no such thing as some sort of intervention which makes it all so much easier.

I must assume that the piece of advice was coined by some old retainer who was watching a potentate gradually sinking in the bed and thought what a blessing it might be that things might not be too prolonged. Believe me, you don’t want to go, no matter what condition is allegedly making the departure easier.

However, enough about that – can I say that I used the occasion of the illness to catch up on the mysteries of the iPod generation when a few of the family thought it might be a good idea to put some of my favourite music on to the system . . . having first explained to me the sheer power of the tiny machine which was made available by the billionaire who found out just a few weeks ago that you can’t buy an hour at the end of it all!

Amidst hours of music downloaded, one of my helpers had driven one of my favourite Stephen King novels on to the system – Salem’s Lot, the story of a tiny town invaded by vampires and the return of a writer to face the terrors of the town where children were dying of pernicious anemia, where the adults were being found dead out under the morning light, and where two strange partners had taken over the local antiques store.

This dramatisation by the BBC, which could not compare with a version made some years ago which starred David Soul, took me straight back to the fact of the extraordinary childhood which Stephen King must have had . . . for much of the fabulous storytelling has to have come from those childhood dreams, except that his came in night terrors and stories that would want to make you wish for simpler things.

Partly because I was tired, and partly because I was slightly scared by the story, I fell asleep, only to wake up maybe an hour later and become aware of voices in the room. The iPod was still running and I put the earphone in place only to hear the vampire threatening one of the children . . . ‘you are a brave boy . . . but you shall cry’.

I hurriedly turned it off, but could not resist recalling the day when a bunch of us went on our very own Stand-By-Me style adventure to a tiny, near-abandoned graveyard called Creevaghbawn, a few miles from Tuam, where we had heard that the tombs were falling-in and you could see the bones and coffins.

Sounds a gory business now, but we were led by a fearless youngster called Paul who simply feared nothing . . . and we did not know that, in some way, we might be reflecting the style of adventure described by Stephen King in the short story which starred people like River Phoenix and Kiefer Sutherland and which was directed by Rob Reiner.

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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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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