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No more close shaves for Irish fans still bristling with anger

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Date Published: {J}

YOU know that the world has gone completely barking mad when grown men threaten to stop shaving by way of protest, so that the cheating footballer who endorses that product might lose out on his £5 million a year fee.

If only this had happened earlier in the month they could have tied it in with the Movember fundraiser for prostate cancer awareness, which is the only excuse for some of the thoroughly woeful whiskers sported by so many over the last few weeks.

It’s equally bizarre when the Taoiseach – a man who encountered a few off the ball tackles on and off the field of play and who really should be up to his armpits in flood water this week – raises the possibility of a replay with France’s Little General when they’re supposed to be picking the new head of the European Commission.

Or indeed when the Tánaiste Mary Coughlan can afford time out from trying to stem the flow of jobs out of Ireland to join with Fine Gael’s Alan Shatter – neither previously outed as card-carrying members of the Green Army – to call on FIFA to ‘vigorously pursue the use of video referees’, but all of this is what happens when the fighting Oirish are robbed of a place in South Africa by Handball Henry who couldn’t have been more obvious if he’d picked up the bloody thing and fisted it into the net.

The collective sense of national outrage hasn’t been articulated as loudly since Michael Collins came back from Downing Street without six of our 32 counties – and by the sounds of it, this injustice could still be bothering us in a century’s time as well.

God help the poor French ex-pats who have made their homes among us because they are now experiencing the sort of vitriol we saved in the past for the English soccer team – and they never handled the ball against us at all.

Justice Minister Dermot Ahern led the cries for a replay, saying that FIFA should be called to account in the interests of fair play.

“They probably won’t grant it as we are minnows in world football but let’s put them on the spot,” the minister said. “It’s the least we owe the thousands of devastated young fans around the country.”

Now if that isn’t playing to the gallery, nothing is – particularly when you know there’s as much chance of a replay as there is of a heatwave for Christmas.

All of this glosses over the fact that we should have been three goals up by the stage that Handball Henry belatedly sprung to life – and that’s not to make little of what was without doubt the most spirited and uplifting Irish performance in years.

The only consolation is that we now have a new chip (should that be frite?) on our shoulder because the big boys kept the little lads out of Africa and the French are our new bogeymen.

The downside is that it can take several years to work this sense of injustice through the system; but sometimes when the catharsis happens, it’s like a tsunami as Norwegian commentator Bjørge Lillelien – Scandinavia’s Micheal Ó Muircheartaigh up to his death in 1987 – proved on a famous night in 1981.

He was wrapping up his commentary on Norway’s 2-1 victory against England in a World Cup qualifier in Oslo – and to mark one of his country’s greatest ever triumphs, alternating between English and Norwegian, he proclaimed: "We are the best in the world! We are the best in the world! We have beaten England 2-1 in football!! It is completely unbelievable! We have beaten England! “Not that he was finished then – not by a longshot – because there were centuries of pain to get off his chest on this night of nights:

“England, birthplace of giants; Lord Nelson, Lord Beaverbrook, Sir Winston Churchill, Sir Anthony Eden, Clement Attlee, Henry Cooper, Lady Diana–we have beaten them all. We have beaten them all. Maggie Thatcher can you hear me?"

Maggie Thatcher, I have a message for you in the middle of the election campaign. I have a message for you: We have knocked England out of the football World Cup. Maggie Thatcher, as they say in your language in the boxing bars around Madison Square Garden in New York: Your boys took a hell of a beating! Your boys took a hell of a beating!"

Now we shouldn’t lose our sense of perspective on all this either, because we cannot forget that it was the French who took in our Wild Geese when they had nowhere else to flee to, and Galway is twinned with the Breton city of Lorient for a start. So if we must keep this up, let’s be more specific in our targets, and perhaps in hindsight the razor boycott isn’t the worst idea after all.

After all we went out, but it was a close shave – and that should be the last close shave we experience for quite some time to come.

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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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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