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Rowing coach who continues to break the mould



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



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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