Date Published: 05-Jan-2010
OKAY, so you finally get your own chat show with your pick of guests – albeit within an RTÉ budget of €4.50 – but the drawback is that you also have rampant egos . . . to the point where, if egotism was an Olympic sport, you’d be a dead cert for a gold medal.
So, presented with both a carte blanche and a dilemma, who do you pick, for this, your debut on the couch? Would you go for sporting heroes, stars of stage and screen (in this case, and with budgetary constraints, that would be members of Fair City’s cast) or something completely radical?
How about guests that would probably cost around the price of a few free pints; how about three lads you went to school with who can talk with some authority about your favourite subject – yourself?
Because that’s what Tommy and Hector decided would be the best way to entertain the masses with their car crash of a chat show, shot at the Radisson in Galway before a less than enthusiastic audience.
Three fellas from school who would tell the nation that Tommy and Hector were always this funny, but also intelligent pupils who might well have been brain surgeons or nuclear scientists if comedy hadn’t been their first calling.
Hector has mastered the interviewing style of an RUC constable, just shouting at guests in some sort of exaggerated Naaaavan accent – but then again here’s a man who could happily spend the night interviewing himself.
First guest was ‘controversial’ Kerry footballer Paul Galvin, dressed like some sort of mad man from a John B Keane drama – check shirt buttoned to the neck and skin tight jeans that Russell Brand would baulk at.
The only minutely interesting aspects of a terribly stilted few minutes of chat was that Galvin is in fact an Irish teacher and he has a substantial number of religious tattoos.
It didn’t get any more interesting with Maria Doyle Kennedy and a hugely uncomfortable few minutes with Kevin Myers was only saved by Tommy Tiernan’s observations on eight years of life on the dole in Galway, spent training a cat to play snap and claiming disability for that same moggie named Sean – the eight of the best years of his life.
Tiernan was certainly more up to the task than Hector, but Ryan Tubridy can rest easy on his laurels for the foreseeable future.
We’re like Judge and Mr Crow, exclaimed Tommy; the over 40s Jedward says Hector – and that’s about the most revealing insight he offered all night.
“If I could be catapulted back to any time . . .” says a wistful Hector at one stage, and suddenly we’ve woken up with the shared hope that he’s departing this era – but it’s only to suggest that he’d like to have lived in the time of Henry the Eighth – he’s not alone in wishing for that.
This was below standard chat, split with a sort of cross-eyed Alias Smith and Jones where the two lads gave their views on the world. They even had a bizarre competition called the Accent Wheel of Fortune, where contestants were required to offer a sentence or two in the accent of the county or country on which they landed.
Naturally that wasn’t funny enough on its own, so our intrepid hosts had to put someone else on top of the contestant as though this was Rag Week and hilarious all at once.
Tommy and Hector’s Craic House needed a lot more crack than this – possibly crack cocaine for the audience and electric shock treatment for the viewers to keep them awake to the bitter end.
The way we were – Protecting archives of our past
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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