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Rural life to be preserved in a’moment of time’ film

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Date Published: {J}

OVER the Summer months, a new GAA pilot initiative has been running locally, aimed at raising the profile of Gaelic games – and participation levels – in Galway City.

As part of its National Strategic and Vision Plan, the GAA made an investment of €200,000 in its National Urban Programme in an effort to promote Gaelic games in 11 urban centres around the country, including Galway, Dublin, Sligo, Belfast, Derry and Cork.

Charged with spearheading the venture in Galway City has been Michael ‘Bosco’ Gallagher, who has been busy spreading the GAA gospel to those who, previously, may only have had a cursory interest in Gaelic games.

“Basically, we are covering three target areas, which would be the children aged eight to 12; the teenagers, 13 to 15; and the adults, through the recreational games, namely Camán Abú (hurling) and Peil Abú (football),” outlines the Ballinderreen native.

“The programme is aimed at children and adults, who might never have played the game before. So, I picked out areas like Renmore, which would be a stronghold for St. James’, Castlegar and Liam Mellows. Initially, the numbers, as regards children, were between 15 and 20 and a lot of these kids never had played the game before.”

Another area he has targeted is Doughiska. “The DRA (Doughiska Residents Association) held a camp and there were over 96 kids involved in it. A lot of the children were non nationals. It went on for a week and I had my football and hurling up there, alongside soccer and rugby. So, it was like an introduction for these children to the various sports.

“We also ran the Camán Abú and Peil Abú up there and we had people from the likes of Poland, who had never played the game, coming out. Although I had problems thinking of and pronouncing their names – I also don’t think they understood the non contact element of it, but that could have been down to my English – it was good fun.”

In many respects, the initiative is about making the GAA even more relevant and accessible in a modern, ever changing Ireland. It is no secret that, for some time, the GAA has been concerned with the fall-off in participation levels, due to other attractions and less active lifestyles, in the large urban areas.

Consequently, the aim of this initiative is two-fold. One, it is to provide games for those children who may have no ties with the local GAA club in their area, and, secondly, to entice more adults, particularly parents, in the broader community to take an interest in Gaelic games.

To achieve the latter, the GAA devised the two new recreational games, Camán Abú and Peil Abú, which they launched at GAA Congress earlier this year. Gallagher says the response to these games in the City has been very positive.

“We targeted two areas in the city,” he continues. “We introduced Peil Abú into the Doughiska area while Renmore hosted the Camán Abú. That has been going very well. In the adult recreational games, we had 35 to 40 people playing and many of them had never played before.

“In fact, a good few from the tag rugby joined us for the Peil Abú after those competitions finished . . . and they enjoyed it. The Camán Abú, though, was slow enough to take off, but the numbers are picking up now. We did it last night in the Prairie and we had 18 adults playing it.

 

“I think, though, these games can be big. Coming from a hurling background myself, the Peil Abú is great fun. I would never have played tag rugby either, but listening to the tag rugby people, they have been saying the Peil Abú is better because, once you get tagged, you hand over the ball straight away and the game continues on.

“So, it is more of a free-flowing game. They seem to enjoy it and, I mean, again, a lot of them would never have played Gaelic or, indeed, come from a Gaelic games background. So, it is good that way,” states the City Games Development Officer, who also notes these games could also be used to attract more volunteers into the clubs.

The highlight for many was playing in Croke Park on the day of the Kilkenny v Waterford All-Ireland senior hurling semi-final. “We had two Galway teams up that day,” says Gallagher. “Portumna were on one side of the field and we had a team up from Renmore, which would have been made up of people from Liam Mellows, Salthill and Knocknacarra. It was nine-a-side and they loved it.”

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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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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