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Salthill Devon set to join the Big Time

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 13-Nov-2009

GALWAY looks set to host three League of Ireland clubs in the 2010 season – giving it the same level of representation as the province of Munster – after Salthill Devon this week accepted an invitation from the FAI to apply for a licence to play in the First Division next season.

The invitation was sent after Devon were deemed to have won promotion from the Newstalk A Championship when Kildare County was unable to play in a two-leg promotion/ relegation play-off with the Galway club this week.

The FAI issued a short statement on the matter on Monday night which stated that “Kildare County FC today informed the Football Association of Ireland that the club is not in a position to fulfil the relegation/promotion play-off matches, originally scheduled for Tuesday and Friday of this week.

“As a result of today’s decision, Salthill Devon will have been deemed to have won promotion from the Newstalk A Championship into the League of Ireland First Division, pending the licensing process,” the statement read.

That opens the way for Devon to join Galway United (Premier Division) and Mervue United (First Division) in the League of Ireland next season, and yesterday club chairman Tony Johnstone confirmed to City Sport that the club had entered into the licensing process.

“We would be in that process anyway because, as a minimum, we would be applying for membership of the A championship again next season. The licence for the First Division is a bigger process, but we have started down that path.

“We are taking things step-by-step, and reviewing every stage of the process to evaluate what would be required and what would the benefits be, and at the end of the whole process we’ll sit down, take a look at things and make a decision.

“We want to play at the highest level possible, and it would be great to have that as something for all the younger members of the club to aspire to, but we are taking it very slowly, we’re not going to rush anything, and want to establish everything as a fact before we make a decision,” he said.

The players and management of the club’s A Championship squad are to meet tonight to discuss Devon’s potential membership of the League and discuss what level of commitment would be required, and what they would be able to provide.

Johnston says he does not envisage any difficulty from the playing point of view, but says it is just one aspect of the licensing process that the club needs to meet. Another is the infrastructure required.

“Our desire would be to play games at our own ground, and this season we hosted the A Championship final and the FAI Cup clash with UCD, and they were both successful from an organisational point of view.

“We are a private ground with one main access point so I don’t see a difficulty there, but there could be other matters which we are not aware of until a delegation from the Licensing Department of the FAI comes down, examines the ground, and advises us on what is required,” he said.

He said no approach has of yet being made to the Galway & District league, which owns Terryland Park, with a view to renting the ground for games next season, as both Galway United and Mervue United do, but a spokesperson for the FAI yesterday hinted that it would be difficult from its point of view in accommodating three League of Ireland teams playing in the one ground.

When asked if it would be possible to manipulate the fixtures list to ensure there was at least one of the three Galway clubs away from home every week, the spokesperson said that “it would probably be difficult to arrange that from a fixtures point of view”.

The spokesperson added that no ground issue “has been flagged” to the FAI, but stressed that the licensing process was a lengthy and detailed one, and said more would be known when the Licensing delegation visited Salthill Devon’s grounds in Drom.

The Galway & District League, which owns Terryland Park, is in talks with Galway United regarding the use of the ground next season, and is also due to sit down with officials from Mervue United to discuss their rental of the ground in 2010 as well.

Tony Samuels, the Chairman of the G&DL, said Galway United’s use of the ground is agreed upon on a year-on-year basis, and he has already held talks with CEO of the Premier Division club, Nick Leeson. He expects to enter into talks with officials from Mervue United in the coming days, but says there has, as of yet, been no contact from Salthill Devon.

Terryland Park has already hosted 88 games this year, including 23 games involving Galway United and 17 Mervue United games. The ground also hosted the FAI Schools Senior Cup final between St Joseph’s College (the Bish) and CBS Sexton Street Limerick in May, and the FAI Umbro Women’s U-14 Cup Final between Colga FC and Longford Town in August, as well as a range of games under the auspices of the G&DL.

There have been persistent rumours circulating for a number of weeks that Mervue United would not be applying to play in the League of Ireland again next season, but the club’s Facilities Manager and Club Licensing Officer, Declan McDonnell, firmly quashed such suggestions yesterday.

“The board of Mervue United voted to apply for a licence to play in the First Division next season, as did all 19 members of the club’s Football Committee, and our licence application has been completed and was lodged with the FAI at the end of October.

“It was a successful season for is in so far as we survived, our aspiration is to give young lads in the area the chance to play at the highest level so we have applied to play in the league in 2010. We will be restructuring our budget, and work on that is underway, but we have applied for a licence and are aiming to play in the First Division again next season,” he said.

The fact the club lost money on its debut season in the League of Ireland is no surprise, despite the fact the club operates on an amateur basis, as costs such as transport, catering, costs associated with match nights (including the rental of Terryland Park), as well as the membership fee of the League itself – believed to be around €7,000 – all add up as a drain on finances.

McDonnell also confirmed that permission would once again be sought from the G&DL for the use of Terryland Park next season as its own ground of Fahy’s Field does not meet the FAI’s licensing requirements.

A planning application to erect a fence around the pitch in Mervue has been lodged with Galway City Council, as well as the construction of a covered stand, and the granting of planning permission for both would suffice to meet that aspect of licensing requirements.

The FAI is currently undertaking a review of the entire League of Ireland structure, which is expected to be completed at the end of the 2010 season, and it is believed Mervue United will delay any work on erecting a surrounding fence or a stand at Fahy’s Field pending the outcome of that review.

It is thought that one avenue the FAI is considering is the expansion of the Premier Division to a 16-team league and the scrapping of the First Division, to be replaced by regional development leagues from which there will be promotion to, and relegation from, the Premier Division.

It is believed Mervue United will see little point in proceeding with such development work at Fahy’s Field if it is not involved in the Premier Division and if membership of the regional league does not require such facilities to be in place.

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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Rory takes on fresh challenge as lauded DruidMurphy returns

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 03-Apr-2013


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After twenty years Sarah lands dream role in Druid

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 04-Apr-2013

 Sarah Lynch has been living and breathing Druid Theatre since she wangled a job as a runner fresh out of college two decades ago at age 20. After holding down just about every role imaginable there – from company manager to director to stage manager – her appointment as general manager to one of the country’s most prestigious theatre companies last October seemed almost inevitable.

Because once she had tasted the fruit of Druid she was going nowhere . . . and going everywhere. Sarah’s tenure at Druid since 1998 has brought her on a journey that has reached just about every corner of the globe and almost all the islands off Ireland in between.

After graduating from Limerick with a degree in French and English Sarah spent a stint teaching in a secondary school. But it immediately became clear that wasn’t the road for her.

“One thing I was always certain of was I’d be involved in the performing arts, whether on stage or off stage or behind it. The immediate reaction of the audience is such a buzz,” she grins.

Her earliest memory was of her grandfather, Bud Clancy, on stage with his trumpet and dance band. “I must have been three or four because he died shortly after that. But it never left me. I got bitten by the bug. I started playing the trumpet. A friend of my grandfather taught me how to play and I was with the Limerick brass and reed orchestra known as the Boherbuoy Band, I was just a kid with all these adults.”

She learned to play other brass instruments such as the French horn and cornet before turning her hand to the guitar and song-writing. “I taught myself guitar. Sometime I tinker on the piano and I think that’s my next instrument. I love percussion. You can’t get me off a drum kit for love or money. Many is the night I’ve made a fool of myself on one of those,” she laughs.

In 2010, Sarah released her debut album, Letter to Friends, which was launched by playwright Enda Walsh, whose short play, Lynndie’s Gotta Gun, she had directed as part of the 2008 Galway Arts Festival.

The collection of songs was produced by Wayne Sheehy, a musician she had met when opening for Juliet Turner on Turner’s Burn the Black Suit tour.

“I could probably have done it ten years ago but for the manic schedule with Druid and touring so much,” she reflects. “I haven’t done much with it since. I used to play gigs in the Róisín Dubh. The bigger twin is theatre at the moment. The bigger twin bullies the other twin. You don’t get much time to do music.”

After fleeing the classroom, Sarah knocked on the door of a former college mate, Andrew Flynn, now with the Galway Youth Theatre, who kindly offered up his couch. He also managed to get her a job as a runner – the person who does everything from making tea to helping with props – on a Druid production of As You Like It.

“I remember working with Mark O’Halloran, I had great fun with him. There was Helen Norton, it was Maeliosa Stafford directing. He’s coming back to the Druid after ten years to star in Tom Murphy’s A Whistle in the Dark. He left me as a runner, now I’m general manager.”

Much of Sarah’s time behind the scenes at Druid has been spent on the road. In 2009 alone, Druid toured to Australia, Canada, the UK and the USA presenting 364 performances in 26 venues.

Indeed so much of life has been out spent living of a suitcase that she gave up her base in Galway to move back in with her family in Caherdavin, on the Galway side of Limerick city.

The tour of the Cripple of Inishmaan by Martin McDonagh was so long the crew were instructed to pack two suitcases, one with summer clothes, the other winter gear, as they would be spanning the seasons. Her job now entails a lot of commuting, but driving is where she gets a lot of thinking done.

Sarah’s decision to apply for the more home-based job of general manager was one she made discreetly while on the Druid Murphy tour around the US. She had to undergo her interview in between shows at the Lincoln Center in New York. It was the most nerve wrecking experience of her life, she admits.

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

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