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More than just a shop



Date Published: 01-Apr-2011

SOME years ago, to mark the centenary of Galway Golf Club, it was decided to publish a special history of the club and the stories of some of the more remarkable people who played a part in that history. A very fine hardbound book was produced.

Not surprisingly, it was decided that a chapter would be devoted to the extraordinary links between the Wallace family and the Galway Golf Club – links which have been unbroken since 1946 and have seen the Wallace name become synonymous with the club.

I was honoured to write that chapter . . . largely devoted to the wit, the wisdom and the huge golfing knowledge of Bob Wallace, the man who can be said to have ‘discovered’ both Christy O’Connor Snr and Christy Jnr, and a man whose teaching abilities were known to even Gary Player. A little more on this history chapter later!

Those remarkable links with the Wallace family began in 1946 when the late Bob Wallace became the professional there. He continued in that role – officially – until 1973, but like many a remarkable man, the reports of his retirement were greatly exaggerated.

Bob was still a familiar figure around the Galway Golf Club until 1984, a short time before he died aged 77. He kept that wit and knowledge right to the end and my memory of visiting him in hospital on one occasion is of that giant still chortling to himself and full of curiosity about life and people.

The Wallace link was unbroken, however, as his nephew Don Wallace took over as the professional in 1973 – a position from which he retired at the weekend, with special celebrations at the clubhouse as the members gathered to say thank you to the Wallace family for links stretching back unbroken for 65 years.

Of course Christy Jnr was there as were hundreds of others – all gathered to say thank you to Don and his son Adrian, but, above all to honour a family name which will forever be an indelible part of the history of Galway Golf Club.

Which brings me to one of the better stories about Bob Wallace’s wit. I had included it in the draft chapter on Bob Wallace which I submitted to the history editor, the late Micheal MacSweeney, but maybe he considered it a little too risqué. I thought it was so typical of the repartee and rapier intellectual speed of the man, that I decided to tell it here.

Bob was famous for his ‘one liner’ replies which engendered huge enjoyment for both himself and the interlocutor. By way of explanation can I say that at the time there was a slang expression indicating that one was having some success in one’s love life. The expression was ‘getting a slice’. In golf, a slice is a high weak shot to the right.

On one occasion a plainly distressed and dishevelled golfer came into the shop after a game and exclaimed “Bob! Bob! I’m getting a slice, what should I do?” To which came the instantly memorable reply ….. “If I wuz you boy, I’d take it!”

For more see page 17 of this week’s City 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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