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Raftery in the driving seat for prestigious motoring award



Date Published: 08-Nov-2012

Craughwell rally driver Dean Raftery may be just 21-years-of-age, but he is certainly a young man on top of his game at the moment – as underlined by his nomination for the prestigious Billy Coleman Young Rally Driver of the Year award recently.

It’s no surprise then that Raftery is in great form and looking forward to the interview process for the award next week.

“It is my first year nominated while some of the other drivers have been nominated two or three times before. You have to be 26 at the start of the year to be still a junior,” explains the 21-year-old. “Sure, we will go up and do our best.”

Certainly, Raftery’s best has earned him plenty of accolades and plaudits throughout the year, winning both the 2012 Valvoline Irish Junior Forestry Rally Championship and the 2012 South East States Rally Junior Championship.

Those victories have secured him a wildcard nomination for the award – he is one of seven drivers nominated – with the winner receiving the very lucrative prize of €50,000 worth of support to compete in stage rallies nationally and internationally in 2013. Two runners-up will receive free entry into a number of events while the top three drivers will all be awarded coordinator support.

“Next year, I would be hoping to compete in the British Rally, either the Championship or Challenge. It depends on this award,” says the NUI Galway final year Economics student. “The Challenge is more cost efficient, although it is the same rallies as the British Championship. I suppose the Challenge is the next step down from it and it is a stepping stone up to the BRC. There are seven events and they are based between Wales, Scotland and England.

“There is also one in Northern Ireland, the Ulster Rally. I suppose, we would be going over the Tuesday or Wednesday before the rally on the Saturday. It is a big commitment, a lot of time off work or college, and there is a lot of organisation for it.”

In any event, should Raftery win the award or not, he is determined to build on the success of this year. The season began brightly for the Craughwell driver back in January when he finished third in the opening round of the Forestry Rally Championship in Donegal.

“We were leading it, but we had to stop to fix a puncture and that set us back,” he outlines. “In the next round, down in Carrick-on-Suir, we finished second in that. The third one is called the Moonraker Rally, based in Lismore, and we won the Junior [event] in that one. “

Significantly, he contested that event with his new navigator, 19-year-old Aileen Kelly. According to Raftery, Kelly would be one of only a few women navigating in Ireland while she is also very young in comparison to other navigators, who tend to be somewhat older.

“Aileen is from Rosscarbery down in Cork. I gave her a call [early in the year] and she is with me since. She came on board at the start of the third round.”

Meeting with instant glory with that first victory of the season in the Moonraker Rally – a win that placed Raftery at the top of the junior championship leader board – the partnership continued their winning ways with victories at the Jim Walsh (Mallow) and Sean Conlon (Mitchelstown) Rallies.

“The last one we did was the Bushwhacker Rally up in Omagh, which was the penultimate round, and we won the championship there. It meant we didn’t have to compete in the last round. I was delighted to win it, especially at my first attempt,” says the talented driver.

In addition, Raftery also clinched the South East Stages Rally Junior Championship, which was another notable feather in his cap.

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

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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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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