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Remembering the heyday of Ôthe comicsÕ Ð episode two

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Date Published: {J}

From the reactions of one or two who hailed me in the streets following the recent column on the reproduction of old issues of The Beano by the Irish Independent, it would appear that there are more ‘old codgers’ than myself who remember the heyday of the comics.

Those were the days when The Beano, Dandy and Hotspur for boys, or Bunty and Girls’ Crystal for the girls, were the weekly Thursday purchases in many households which could afford such luxuries.

In our house, we depended on the street corner market in ‘swops’ . . . the market would be established by the Friday, while there was also the possibility of cadging ‘a read’ of a comic a few days later.

Everything was recycled in those days. You might ‘inherit’ your brother’s clothes as ‘hand me downs’ going back to school. I remember my father bought a daily paper, but he very often got ‘a read’ of both The Evening Press and Evening Herald from a neighbour on the following day.

He always claimed he was among the best informed people in the town . . . but a day late with the news; while backing horses might be a bit of a difficulty, given that he was often reading yesterday’s cards for the various meetings.

Fact was that, back then, new

spapers were main source of information for the lives of the vast majority of people. I remember the results of the early races from England on Tuesdays appearing in the Connacht Sentinel. It was printed at about five in the afternoon and was on the streets at six, with people picking up the early results from it.

Meanwhile, bookies’ shops very often put up the late results from the Evening Press and Evening Herald – which carried two columns on page one which were printed in Galway in the Corrib Printers and in Porters. These special columns carried all the latest racing results, as well as a number of paragraphs of local news from Galway.

However, back to the comics. I have one other memory of the era and the comics and wonder how many more enjoyed this aspect of the publications – that was the page, or half page, of advertisements for all sorts of toys, games, tricks, magic decks of cards, and what have you. They could be bought by mail order.

The page was an Aladdin’s Cave that promised an amazing range of toys and goodies, endless hours of fun with magic and tricks, and all you had to do was fill up the coupon at the bottom of the page and mail it to have your dreams come true.

I don’t know how many times I duly filled-up the coupon . . . but it couldn’t be mailed, because I didn’t have the price of the postal order which was the admission charge to this distant Aladdin’s Cave.

However, like countless thousands of others, I was one of those who spent endless hours happily reading, and re-reading, the advertisements – in full colour – and could see myself as the proud owner of so many of the special attractions like ‘black face soap’ and ‘itching powder’.

Our homemade version of ‘itching powder’ was made up of ‘itchybacks’ – the centre of a rose hip extracted and broken up and dropped down inside the collar of someone’s shirt. They scratched alright . . . but I’m not so sure it was itchy they were. In retrospect, it was much more likely that they had a skin irritation caused by the rosehip mush.

For more, read this week’s Galway City 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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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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Archive News

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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