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Portumna man starring for Bermuda national rugby team

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Date Published: {J}

THERE are not too many places in the world that can brag of two rugby internationals playing for two different countries, but the townsland of Gortanumera, just three kilometres outside Portumna, can certainly lay claim to such a boast.

Every rugby enthusiast is aware of the pedigree of Connacht captain John Muldoon – who secured his first international cap against Canada in May, 2009 – but what some may not be aware of is that one of his former team-mates at Portumna, David Rourke, is currently a member of the Bermuda national rugby team.

Indeed, Rourke, who has lived on the Caribbean island for the past four years, won his third international cap for Bermuda in a test game against the Cayman Islands just a fortnight ago. Having trailed their hosts 15-7 at half-time, Bermuda scored 19 unanswered points in the second period to claim a great victory.

No doubt, it is unusual that two friends would end up playing for two different countries thousands of miles away, but such has been the journey both men have taken. “Yeah, John is one of my best buddies from home,” begins Rourke, as his voice travels down the delayed line. “I grew up with him, and I played underage with him. In fact, we played with Nenagh U-20s for a year. All those boys used to play for Nenagh and they dragged me along.

“Originally, I just started playing rugby in secondary school (Portumna Community School). Unfortunately, my hurling skills weren’t up to scratch most of the time; rugby suited my style more appropriately. I played in college, for a couple of years in GMIT. We won the All-Ireland Division 2 title twice. I can’t remember the years, but I think it was 2000 and 2002.”

However, when Portumna Rugby Club reformed in 2002, after a gap of 40 years, Rourke and company returned to their native habitat. “It was a brand new club, we were all in the same boat, and we really hadn’t a clue what we were doing,” laughs Rourke. “But it was good fun anyway. The club has come on a long way since, but it was all a learning experience for everybody back then.”

In any event, it wasn’t rugby that took the second row forward to Bermuda. Having graduated from GMIT with a Bachelor of Business Studies degree in the summer of 2002, he worked as a trainee accountant with a Galway City-based firm before qualifying in June 2006.

“Once I qualified, the next step was to go to Dublin,” continues the 29-year-old, “but I did not want to do that. So, I applied for jobs all over the Caribbean. The first one I got was in Bermuda, and I took it. Originally, it was just for one year, but the lifestyle was too nice. I had to stay for a few more.”

Through work, he began to take an interest in the local rugby scene and, in particular, Mariners Rugby Club, which is just one of four on the small Caribbean island. Rourke is one of two Irish men at the club; the other being Meath native Gary Brady.

For more, read this week’s Connacht 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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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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