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New book recalls Galway’s role in first All-Ireland hurling championship



UCD academic and former Offaly football manager Paul Rouse, who has just released a new book on the first All-Ireland championship and the making of modern hurling, entitled 'The Hurlers'. Photo: El Keegan.

Talking Sport with Stephen Glennon

Galway’s role in the first ever All-Ireland hurling championship and, indeed, the founding of the modern game is one of the central themes running through a superb new book penned by UCD historian and former Offaly football manager Paul Rouse.

A cracking read, his book – The Hurlers: The First All-Ireland Championship and the Making of Modern Hurling’ – transports its readers back to the landscape of the 1880s when the game of hurling was fighting to survive in a country torn by political strife, colonialism and the land struggle.

At this time, hurling was played with no fixed set of rules in only a few isolated pockets, among which was South and East Galway. Consequently, Rouse’s narrative guides him across the Shannon and into the hurling heartlands of Meelick, Eyrecourt, Killimor, Mullagh, Kilbeacanty and Ardrahan.

Rouse’s prologue certainly sets the scene and draws in its readers. It is the day of the first ever All-Ireland decider on Easter Sunday, April 1, 1888 and “forty-two men stand in military formation on the roadway outside William Cunningham’s hotel in the middle of Birr”.

Within moments, the pre-match parade to the big game will begin, with 42 men – 21 from Meelick and 21 from Thurles – strutting their way down the streets of the Offaly town ahead of what would become a momentous day in the history of the GAA.

By 3pm, 3,000 supporters have gathered to bear witness and the referee calls in the two teams. “They lower the blades of their hurleys to the ground and set themselves to play. White (referee) takes the red leather ball into his hand and throws it in between the hurlers. Amid the jostling shoulders and swinging timber, the first All-Ireland hurling final is underway.”

From the parade down to the colour of the sliotar, Rouse captures the atmosphere. “If you look at it, the parade down the town is now the parade around the pitch,” outlines Rouse, as he takes time out of his lectures to chat to Talking Sport.

“Its origins come from people togging out in the back of pubs and hotels and marching through the towns – or marching from train stations – like a kind of pipe piper with banners and bands and hurleys across the shoulder, marching as if they are military off to war.

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



Six Shinners to contest Galway City local elections in 2024



Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

Sinn Féin is planning to run two candidates in each city electoral ward in the next Local Elections in 2024.

Party number-crunchers nationally want to flood local election tickets with candidates to pick up extra seats and capitalise on anti-Government sentiment that is circulating among a cohort of voters.

The Shinners ran too few candidates in the last General Election. It meant they could not capitalise fully from a swing to the party during that campaign. They left seats behind them.

Now they’re planning to run a record number of candidates. In Galway, that would mean two candidates in each of the three areas, City West, City Central and City East.

The thinking is that they need to pick up additional seats in local authority elections, so that they have sufficient councillors to vote for Sinn Féin candidates in Seanad elections. More councillors equals more senators.

Sinn Féin is very much preparing for Government; and while the polls suggest it’s the most popular party (at 34% according to the latest in the Sunday Times last weekend) and would likely win most Dáil seats if an election was held tomorrow, it would still need numbers in the Seanad to pass legislation.

One problem faced by Sinn Féin is the party might find it difficult to source six credible candidates to contest local elections in Galway.

Another problem with running two, rather than one, in each ward in Galway City is that SF could split the vote and end up not winning any seats at all.

In 2019, Councillors Mairéad Farrell, Mark Lohan and Cathal Ó Conchúir all lost their seats after dismal local elections. Farrell was since elected to the Dáil following her Lazarus comeback but the organisation locally is still wary of a fickle Galway electorate.

If Sinn Féin doesn’t win back those three seats lost in 2019, then the next locals would be deemed a massive failure.

Winning more than three seats on Galway City Council would be a success but are the Shinners willing to risk running two candidates in each ward, splitting the vote and ending up with egg on their faces?

Photo: Mairéad Farrell with fellow Sinn Féin members Mark Lohan and Cathal Ó Conchúir (back left) after she was elected to the Dáil in 2020. All lost had their seats in Galway City Council in 2019 after dismal local elections.

This is a shortened preview version of this column. For more Bradley Bytes, see the January 27 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Galway is seventh-worst city in Europe for car traffic congestion



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Car traffic congestion in Galway is quickly rebounding to pre-pandemic levels, with commuters spending up to 94 hours caught on the city’s gridlocked arteries last year.

According to data compiled by INRIX, a world-leader in mobility data, Galway is the seventh-worst city in Europe for congestion, an 84% increase on its position in 2021.

The data shows that Galway places in the worst 50 cities in the world for congestion – taking 39th place, with Dublin the only other Irish city placing higher at Number 12.

While the figures show that car traffic has not fully returned to pre-Covid levels, the 2022 figures came within 13% of 2019 congestion rates.

This was despite vast numbers continuing to work from home last year, a worrying trend according to the local People Before Profit representative Adrian Curran.

In Cork, Limerick and Dublin, there had been a more lasting effect, showing decreases of 20%, 26% and 29% respectively, he said.

This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see the January 27 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism by buying a digital edition HERE.

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Galway 2020 paid €110,000 for PR while cutting spends on arts events



From this week’s City Tribune – Galway 2020’s bank account statements for five months of 2020 reveal thousands of euro were spent on public relations firms and media advertising when its cultural programme was being cut and ‘revised’ during the upheaval at the onset of Covid-19.

The AIB statements date from April to September of 2020, when Covid-19 had seriously curtailed cultural activities of Galway 2020, the company behind the city and county’s European Capital of Culture. They show more than €110,000 was paid to Dublin-based public relations firm Q4 PR, in three separate payments in April, May and June of 2020.

Thousands more were paid to other public relations firms, radio stations and, to a lesser extent, newspapers.

In March of that year, Galway 2020 announced it was reviewing its programme of events due to Covid-19 restrictions imposed by Government after a global pandemic was declared, curtailing all events.

On April 7, it confirmed it was laying off staff and had ended its agreement with Helen Marriage and Artichoke which was providing creative direction.

Later that month, it issued statements to say it was exploring a ‘re-imagined’ programme of events to take place at the end of 2020 and 2021.

Although the amounts paid to media and PR companies other than Q4 PR are relatively small, compared with expenditure on other headings, the payments suggest the importance Galway 2020 placed on image and public perception around that time.

The bank statements were released to the Galway City Tribune following a protracted Freedom of Information request and after an appeal to the Office of Information Commissioner.

Many of the payees in the bank statements were redacted but the names of several PR and media organisations are listed as having been paid by Galway 2020.

This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article with details of the spending, see the January 27 edition of the Galway City Tribune. There is also coverage of this week’s rebranding and new vision of Galway 2020. You can support our journalism by buying a digital edition HERE.

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