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Pirate Queen Gr‡inne the focus of new drama from AL‰ theatre



Date Published: 15-Nov-2012

Gráinne Mhaol and the Pages of History a new production by ALâ Community Theatre Company will be staged in the Collegiate Church of St Nicholas, Galway City, on Wednesday, November 28 at 8pm.

The epic tale of Grace O’Malley, better known as Gráinne Mhaol, continues to inspire awe, despite the passing of five centuries.

For this show, the audience is invited to step back to the 16th century, when Queen Elizabeth I put her extraordinary handprint on history. A resurgent England, infused with vigour, humanism and national pride began its progress towards global domination.

Gráinne and Elizabeth were close in age; Gráinne was a little older. They were both born to high rank within their respective countries. Both achieved extraordinary power through their industry and intelligence. They both understood the importance of sea power. They both realised a new world was evolving. They both understood that their actions and strength would determine the world to come.


From the 1560s onwards, the great Spanish empire was determined to destroy English power to dominate the western ocean. To this end, Philip II of Spain built a great troop-carrying fleet known as the Armada.

Anticipating a Spanish invasion Elizabeth focused on Ireland, seeking to consolidate her power here and prevent a Spanish take-over. It was at this point she came into contact with Gráinne Mhaol.

Grace O’Malley, with her husband Hugh de Lacy effectively ruled West Connacht at this time and, for 30 years, was involved in foiling attempt to impose English autonomy west of the Shannon. Gráinne Mhaol fought four separate wars in the years preceding the Armada, keeping the English and particularly Elizabeth’s governor General Bingham, at bay.

The eventual failure of the Armada in 1588 seemed to reduce the Irish threat. The English administration took revenge on agents considered to be disloyal. Gráinne’s fleet was burned and Tiboid, her son was taken hostage. Hugh O’Neill and his confederate Hugh O’Donnell were incarcerated in Dublin Castle. It seemed the Irish resistance was at an end.

Grace O’Malley sailed to Greenwich to meet Elizabeth, in order to release her son and have her property rights guaranteed. The visit was a success. Shortly afterwards O’Neill and O’Donnell escaped from Dublin Castle and began the Nine Years’ War. Grace supported this attempt to rid the country of English power. The war finished in 1601 at Kinsale with an English victory. Elizabeth died the following year, her conquest of Ireland complete. Grace O’Malley died in 1603 as the Treaty of Mellifont was signed. She died as the Gaelic Ireland, which she had come to represent, was being consigned to history.

But she has remained a powerful figure in the Irish imagination and is a fitting topic for ALâ theatre group’s latest production.

ALâ, which was founded in 2004 is an inclusive personal social and community development organisation, catering for adults of all abilities, nationalities and ethnic groups. It mainly uses techniques developed by Theatre of the Oppressed. It is a not-for-profit organisation with charitable status.

Tickets, €10, available at Holland’s Newsagents, Williamsgate St.


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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