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Rowing coach who continues to break the mould

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: {J}

FOR almost three decades, Ballinrobe native Tom Tuohy has been to the fore of Galway and Irish rowing, coaching numerous NUI Galway (formerly UCG) crews to national and international success.

Tuohy’s résumé is an impressive read. Since 1986, he has been coaching men’s teams to national titles, and for the past two years running, 2009 and 2010, he has guided both the NUIG men’s senior coxless fours and eights to the Championships of Ireland accolades.

Under Tuohy’s stewardship, NUIG also won the Wylie Cup (university championships) on 10 occasions in an 11-year spell between 1987 and 2007, with Irish rowers such as Alan Martin and Cormac Folan becoming household names throughout this time. No doubt, another measure of Tuohy’s impact on the sport, both locally and nationally.

The roll of honour on the international scene is just as remarkable. In 1987, he inspired the College to the Thames Cup (men’s eights) at the Henley Royal Regatta, before he coached NUIG’s men’s coxless fours to victory in the Visitors Challenge Cup at the same venue in 2003 and 2005.

He also tutored an NUIG crew to a bronze medal, behind Germany and Romania, at the 2003 U-23 World Championships in Belgrade, which Tuohy describes as one of the most memorable moments of his sporting career. “I suppose, it wasn’t really a highlight, it was more the enjoyment factor of it. That was a fabulous trip. We won a bronze medal, with was a great achievement, but the trip itself was an enjoyable trip.”

Not to be outdone, an all NUIG crew claimed the silver medal in the heavyweight coxless fours at the World Student Games in Brive, France the following year. Tuohy says they were all highlights.

“Winning last year’s championships (men’s senior coxless fours and eights Champions of Ireland) was also a highlight, winning back-to-back. And we will try to win another one. We don’t talk about two-in-a-rows or three-in-a-rows, but we will be seriously trying to win another championship,” he continues.

“I suppose, the first win in Henley (1987 Thames Cup) was fabulous. Every win in Henley is great, because you are beating crews that people read about and talk about. I mean, in 2003, when we won the Visitors Challenge Cup for the first time, we beat Oxford, Cambridge and the Dutch U-23 national squad on the way to the final. As I say, you beat crews that people read about. So, if you win in Henley, it is fabulous.

“The whole Henley thing, though, is unique. It is a social occasion as well as a rowing event. The clubs gather there, and they enjoy their picnics. It is the Ascot of rowing. So, to win there, and to be presented with medals from somebody from royalty! I know, it might sound pompous, but at the same time you enjoy it. Actually, one year, [President] Mary McAleese presented us with medals over there. That was another great trip.”

Although Tuohy has been to the forefront of Galway rowing over the last three decades, his love for the sport extends back way further. He, himself, started rowing in ’73 in the then UCG, with which his brother Jim also competed. “In 1975, we won our first championship; it was what is now the intermediate eights, but back then it was called junior ‘A’. It was the first time the College had won anything for years. I finished rowing in 1977, when I finished college.”

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

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Judy Murphy



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

BallinasloeÕs young squad aiming to floor Armagh junior champs

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 24-Jan-2013

A new chapter in the history of Ballinasloe football will be written at Breffni Park, Cavan, on Sunday when Sean Riddell’s young side take on Ulster champions An Port Mor of Armagh in the All-Ireland Junior semi-final (2pm).

It’s the first competitive game outside the province of Connacht in 33 years for Galway football’s ‘sleeping giant’ with the enticing prospect of an appearance at Croke Park on February 9 on offer for the winners of what should be a competitive tie.

Ballinasloe have romped through Connacht since overcoming a couple of tricky hurdles on their way to collecting the Galway junior title, which was their target for the campaign this time last year.

With a return to Intermediate football secured, Riddell’s youngsters really have nothing to lose – while their triumphant march to county and provincial titles has revived memories of the club’s glory days when they contested three Galway senior finals in a row between 1979 and ’81.

Intriguingly, the seniors of St Grellan’s never got to play in Croke Park when they reached the All-Ireland final back in 1980 – they lost by 3-9 to 0-8 to St Finbarr’s of Cork in Tipperary Town.

This team’s progression has provided rich rewards for an abundance of hard work at underage levels in the past ten to 15 years and the current side’s ‘do or die’ attitude was very much in evidence in the cliffhanger wins over Tuam and Clifden in the domestic championship.


They are a well-balanced side who really never know when they are beaten and have an inspirational leader in county panelist Keith Kelly, whose exploits at centre back have been among the key components in their dramatic run to reach the All-Ireland series.

Riddell, who recalls playing senior football with the club during their heyday, is determined to get Ballinasloe back among the county’s leading clubs but, for the moment, he is delighted just to have a shot at getting to Croke Park in a bid to emulate Clonbur’s achievement in winning the title outright last year.

Riddell went to Newry on a ‘spying mission’ to see the Armagh champions overcome Brackaville of Tyrone by 2-9 to 0-11 in November – and was impressed by the quality of the football produced by An Port Mor in the Ulster final.

“They are a nicely balanced side who play good football,” he said. “There was a bit of the physical stuff you’d expect from two Ulster side, but I was impressed by their performance.”

An Port Mor became the first Armagh side to win the provincial junior decider. First half goals from Shane Nugent and Christopher Lennon sent them on the road to victory, before a red card for Brackaville captain Cahir McGuinness eased their progress to the All-Ireland series.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Archive News

Coalition promised an ocean of reform Ð but the wind has gone out of its sails

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 30-Jan-2013


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