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New dawn for United but ex-fans must return

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Date Published: {J}

I lost count in the past few weeks of the number of people who came up to me and asked “are they mad?” and “what’s the point?” in relation to the group of devoted Galway United souls who have banded together to take over the day-to-day running of the club.

Every season seems to be a battle against relegation, the faces on the pitch differ from year to year and as the club’s debt has grown, attendance figures have dropped. What’s the point indeed.

The pattern to a Sunday when I was a youngster was always the same. Breakfast would be a couple of slices of Nana Kelly’s homemade brown bread, which had been collected from her the day before from the house overlooking the Prom in Salthill.

The ‘Sunday best’ had been laid out the night before, straight after the weekly bath, and the ‘good’ shoes were checked for scuffs and polished to mirror-quality. We all piled into the beige Ford Escort and headed off from Newcastle for 11am Mass in St Patrick’s Church on Forster Street in the city centre, after which we made the short trip to Hidden Valley in Woodquay to Pa and Nana Parslow’s house.

 

The first stop was the sink for a glass of water – we were told you had to drink water to wash down Holy Communion before you could have anything else – and a slice of Pa’s porter cake was snaffled before I’d searched out Uncle Dave, who was just nine years my senior, for a game of Subbuteo.

I think I used to get on his nerves to be honest, especially when a clumsily-placed knee would end the playing career of one of his players, but differences were put to side every second Sunday as four of us – my grandfather, father, Uncle Dave and myself – would head up the Dyke Road to watch the likes of ‘Chick’, ‘Ginger’, ‘Fido’, ‘Lal’, ‘Kempes’ and the late, great Miko Nolan do battle for Galway Rovers. I was hooked from the start, and have been ever since.

Fast forward to today – stepping into the bedroom of my two daughters is like stepping into another dimension. Hairclips are scattered around the place like confetti, there is a doll buggy in one corner and an overflowing box of ‘dressing up clothes’ in another, with silver tiaras and a rainbow of princess dresses spilling out over the sides.

In the midst of this princess paradise is a Galway United scarf and flag, and while they look out of place, there is no way our eldest child, Eabha (5) would have them anywhere but within easy reach in her room.

Curious as to why Daddy had to leave just after dinner every Friday night to go to work, she asked a number of times to be brought to a Galway United match, and having gone once, she is now hooked herself.

Just as I travelled to Terryland Park with my grandfather 30 years ago, Eabha accompanied me and Granddad Christy to a couple of games last season, making her the fourth generation in the family to support United. It is ‘our’ thing now, a little time between father and daughter, sharing an experience, forging a bond that will never be forgotten.

That is the reason more than 100 United fans turned up to a public meeting in Terryland Park last Thursday night to plot the rescue and recovery of a club they hold dear to their heart – the passing down of a legacy.

It has been a tumultuous few weeks for the club, but the hard work is only starting now. The Galway United Supporters’ Trust has finally been handed the day-to-day running of the club, and faces a mighty battle to try and win back the hearts and minds of the countless number of people who have fallen out of love with the club for one reason or another.

It was not so long ago when the attendance at Terryland Park was in the thousands. Last season it was regularly in the hundreds. The arguments made by non-attendees are numerous – it’s cold up there, the standard is not great, they don’t win anything, there are not enough ‘locals’ in the squad.

Galway United is referred to ‘they’ by the people who say ‘we’ when talking about Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea. It is amazing that the lack of Galway players in any of these squads has escaped their collective attention; Galway United’s honours list from the last 25 years is exactly the same as that of Spurs, one main domestic cup and two League Cups; footage from the first Manchester derby of the season is being used as a cure for insomnia; and as for being cold, put on an extra layer of clothes!

 

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

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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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

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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Archive News

Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

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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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