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Revamped FCA gets physical



Young men and women thinking of joining the Reserve Defence Force – now known as ‘Cúltaca’ – might do well to take it easy on the food and beverages during the festive season.

“Cúltaca”, which used to be known over the decades as the FCA (Fórsa Cosanta Áitiúil) is now recruiting again but there is a line in the sand at the first hurdle; applicants will not be accepted if they have too much body fat on board.

But that’s not all.  Even if the body is lean and mean the applicant will then have to undergo a fitness test; it’s not in the French Foreign Legion category but it’s a reasonable examination of physical abilities.

The fitness test consists of twenty press-ups and twenty sit-ups in double quick time and a one and a half mile run inside eleven minutes.

It’s all a big step from the FCA as it used to be before it was morphed into the new body called Cúltaca which translates to “back-up” or “support”.

And the part time soldiers of the future will have to train regularly or they will be demobbed from the Reserve Defence Forces.

The first physical tests of the new Cúltaca regime in Galway have been held this year; over 160 applicants for membership went through their paces at the Army Barracks in Renmore last week.

While there is no precise figure on the physical failure rate this time, an Army spokesman said it is usually about 20%.

If an applicant fails the “physicals” he/she is given a further chance and it is understood that those who did not make the grade in Renmore last week will have another date with the examiners in January – if they want to continue their quest to get into the Army Reserve.

Sources in the Army who specialise in physical fitness say that measuring body mass (B.M.I.) may be problematic, at times.  There are standardised figures given for body mass based on a formula using height and body build; the top figure before going into the overweight category is BMI 24.

However, if that were strictly adhered to the bulk of the Irish rugby team would be termed overweight or obese.

Army fitness experts say that they sometime use calipers to measure body fat if a person has a very strong build; measurements are taken in the upper arms; the back and the midriff.  The weight may be solid body mass.

However, the fitness test is straight forward: twenty press-ups, twenty sit-ups and a mile and a half run inside eleven minutes.

The press-ups cannot be any particular version; they have to be done as required by the Army fitness team – no half measures.  The fitness test for both men and women is the same but that there is a modified press up for women.

It’s all far removed from the FCA of other generations when volunteers joined up at the local training centre – usually the local hall – and were measured for their uniform and the size of their boots.

In a less security orientated time, they were also given their guns to take with them; indeed some were known to have fired shots in between training sessions.

One particularly humorous account of life in the FCA is given in Tom Gilmore’s book about the singer, the late Larry Cunningham.

Before he became a celebrity on the stages of Ireland, Larry was in the FCA and he recounts the times he spent in uniform with his colleagues at that time.

That was when the FCA was colloquially baptized the “Free Clothes Association”; the pants, the boots and great coat were often seen on duty well away from Army venues on winter nights!

While there may have been lax times it should also be said that there were some excellent reserve soldiers and officers in the FCA.  But any lax times have vanished in the newly minted Cúltaca.

Applicants will now have to apply for membership online.  They will have to go through the fitness and body build tests – the same as the regular Army.  Those who get through the initial stages will then be interviewed and will undergo a medical test.

If accepted they will sign a three year service contract and will have to train fortnightly.

They will have some weekend training in Renmore – for Galway groups – and a week of full time intensive training once a year.  That week of intensive training is the only time they will be paid for.

That is the new FCA, which is now Cúltaca…and it’s no holiday.


GAA club’s tournament honours stalwart who died at just 28



Pictured at the launch of the Darragh Frain Memorial Tournament which takes place in Mervue this Saturday. Back: Kevin Curran, Kevin Barrett, Robert Fitzgerald, Aidan Brady, Alan O'Donnell, Donal Murphy, Eanna O'Connell, Eoghan Frain, David Henry. Front: Aodhain Ó Conghaile, Liam O'Donnell, Rory Murphy, Fionn Fitzgerald and Michael Barrett.

The untimely passing of a city GAA stalwart six years ago is still deeply felt by the club he represented but he remains an inspiration to young up-and-coming footballers who will be displaying their skills this weekend.

The Darragh Frain Memorial Tournament for under-age teams will take place in St James’ GAA grounds at Mervue tomorrow, Saturday, when many memories of a great young clubman will be exchanged.

Darragh, from Lurgan Park in Renmore, was just 28 years of age when he lost his battle with cancer in 2016. Since then his beloved club has been organising a tournament for young footballers that’s proving immensely popular.

For tomorrow’s event, the St James club will entertain local teams including St Michael’s, Salthill-Knocknacarra, Killanin and an Cheathrú Rua, as well as Kiltane (Bangor Erris) and Elphin-Ballinameen from North Roscommon.

It is a nine-a-side tournament, which takes place from 11am to 5pm, and will involve Under-11 teams who will compete against each other during the day.

The fact that Darragh’s late father, Tom Frain Senior, hailed from Roscommon means that GAA support for the event is coming from both counties – this makes it extra special, as well as adding to the profile of the tournament.

Best friend and one of the event’s main organisers, another St James stalwart David Henry explained that this was the sixth year of the tournament and that Darragh would be very pleased that his name was being associated with the development of under-age football.

Get the full story in this week’s Galway City Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from You can also download our Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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‘Too many cafés’ as city retail continues to decline



Barber Tom Nally outside his premises.

The changing face of Galway city centre is a source of concern to those who say it reflects a decline for people in terms of retail choices.

Those who regret the loss of several long-standing family-run operations in the city in recent years don’t believe that what has replaced them has enhanced the appearance of Shop Street, in particular.

“We are looking at a proliferation of coffee shops, bookies and mobile phone outlets in their place,” observed long-standing city centre businessman Tom Nally.

Cllr Niall McNelis agreed there were far too many coffee shops in the city centre and believed that anything that has been zoned retail by the Council should remain retail.

The Labour Councillor said a proper retail strategy needed to be adopted and some of the ‘big-name brands’ needed to be encouraged into the centre of Galway to lure shoppers into town.

Meanwhile, popular barber Tom Nally regretted the number of family operations that have ceased trading in the recent past.

“It is sad to see the long-established family businesses in the city centre going and it would be great to say that what is replacing them will enhance our streets . . . but unfortunately this is not the case,” he added.

Mr Nally who has been operating out of his High Street premises for almost 50 years, said the number of unoccupied premises in an around the city centre was a new phenomenon.

Get the full story in this week’s Galway City Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from You can also download our Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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State cracks down on quick-buck landlords



New measures to clamp down on illegal short-term lets in the city will kick in next month, in an attempt to tackle mounting pressure on the rental market.

From September 1, sites such as Airbnb and will no longer be allowed to advertise short-term rentals if the correct planning permission is not in place.

The measure seeks to strengthen laws introduced in 2019 which state that the use of a property for short-term letting for longer than 90 days in a rent-pressure zone requires permission from the local authority.

City Councillor Niall Murphy (Green) said the move follows on from an objection he lodged with the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI).

“The ASAI said it couldn’t be expected to police these ads so the websites like Airbnb were off the hook. But after September, they will have to ensure that those advertising on their sites have planning permission,” he said.

The proliferation of short-term lets in the city has been a contentious issue for a number of years, with scores of holiday leases available at the same time as city residents are battling it out for an extremely limited number of rental properties.

This week, almost 400 short-term lets were available on the leading website, Airbnb, while just 19 homes were up for rent on

Get the full story in this week’s Galway City Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from You can also download our Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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