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Record-breaker Galwayman conquers the Atlantic



Date Published: 05-Aug-2010

by Dearbhla Geraghty

From the lows of falling overboard in the mid-Atlantic to the highs of finally seeing land after nearly 44 days at sea, Galway’s own world record breaker is already looking ahead to his next challenge.

On Saturday, Ray Carroll (33) from Renmore and the three other crew members on board the 23’ Artemis Investments smashed the North Atlantic rowing record set more than 100 years ago by two Norwegian emigrants.

In June 1896 George Harbo and Gabriel Samuelson set off from Battery Park, New York, in an open 18’ skiff, and it took them 55 days and seven hours to row unaided to the Scilly Isles on the most south eastern point of England – over 3,000 miles away.

More than 60 attempts to break that record followed, but it was not until 114 years later that the aim was finally realised – with 11 days to spare.

While most of us would baulk at the thought of it, the Irish Ferries ship manager is no stranger to this type of challenge.

Two years ago he was looking for some way to raise money for Aware (the charity that supports those with depression) and to mark the memory of his brother, Aidan, who died in 1997, when he heard a radio interview with one of his future crew mates. The search was on for people to join a rowing team of 12 that would attempt a world record trip across the mid-Atlantic from the Canary Islands to Barbados.

After this successful venture – which realised €90,000 in funding – he turned his attention to Jigsaw, the support service for young people on Mary Street, and with it one of the greatest challenges available. “The biggest prize in rowing is the North Atlantic, from New York to Britain,” Ray told the Galway City Tribune yesterday.

By attempting this challenge, the crew had to break the record completely unsupported. This meant that from cast off they could receive no help from any other vessel or person whatsoever until they reached land.

 They rowed nonstop in pairs on two hour shifts, taking cat naps and eating in between. Everything had to be carried on their boat which had very confined sleeping and storage facilities.

“The cabin was the size of the back of a car, with two living there at the same time, and it being full with gear and food, you were really on top of each other – it can take 30 minutes to change your socks – it was very uncomfortable and disorientating,” Ray says.

The lowest point for the Galway man came a month into the challenge when, during a very bad storm, he was washed overboard – the boat also capsized twice along the way.

Fortunately he was tied on to the boat, and eventually the other crew managed to pull him on board, but he was left shaken by the experience.

“I was very disorientated and swallowed a lot of water, but instinct takes over and you’re in survival mode,” he recalled.

For the full story, see the 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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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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