Date Published: 16-Aug-2012
He wasn’t down to participate in any sport, but Seán Bán Breathnach turned out to be one of the unexpected Irish heroes of the London Olympics after his tearful and emotional eulogy to Katie Taylor as she secured our only gold.
And yet, for anyone who knows him or who listens to him on RnaG, this sort of passion is nothing new from a man who loves sport from deep inside his heart.
To illustrate the point, there was an occasion in London back in the Eighties when another Connemara legend, Seán Mannion, was boxing a British fighter called Herol Graham on top of the bill at the Alexander Palace.
I was lucky enough to be there and SBB was doing live commentary on RnaG with his sidekick, MeaitÍ Joe Shéamais as his producer. The problem was that someone somewhere thought this justified at least three hours’ airtime and there was but one Irish speaking boxer in the venue with other things on his mind.
So MeaitÍ scanned the hall and found every ex-pat with a cúpla focal, and all of them were duly interviewed ringside by SBB on topics that all had one thing in common – they had little or nothing to do with boxing.
When they ran out of gaeilgeoirÍ before the big fight, SBB doorstepped the bikini-clad girl carrying the sign that told the hall what round was coming up.
Turned out she was a Starbird with her portfolio of pictures close at hand and – in the manner of Dinjo bringing dancing to RTÉ radio during the 1960s for his céilí programme Take to the Floor – SBB could only describe what he could see.
All the while the BBC technician grew more and more amazed at what was unfolding, gazing slackjawed at this force of nature talking in foreign tongues.
“Oi,” he said to me. “Is he a friend of yours?”
“He is,” I replied.
“Well I ain’t got a clue what he’s saying but I’ll tell ya one thing – he don’t half effin’ go.”
And thanks be to God, he hasn’t stopped since.
The way we were – Protecting archives of our past
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
ItÕs time for my Organic Galway Ramble #4,365!
Date Published: 24-Jan-2013
As regular colyoomistas will know, I’m a strangely conflicted type of bloke. The lucky owner of a full range of social skills hewn, sanded-down and polished-up during years spent hitch-hiking around the planet, I can talk to and get on with anybody from any country, social stratum and culture.
Thing is, I don’t really like to. Essentially, I’m a reformed loner. Living on my own in west Connemara and north Mayo for several years, I settled into a silent life of walking, work and talking to animals. If it wasn’t for my need to watch Chelsea games, I’d never have left the house.
Thankfully I was blessed in both houses with good friends to visit nearby, God love ‘em, preservers of my sanity, but inasmuch as I loved that life, I knew that it wasn’t good for me.
Whether you call it OCD or control freakery or just another scribbler going stir crazy, I started to behave obsessively.
My knife and fork.
This goes there and nowhere else.
Not healthy at all, but thankfully from the inside I was able to recognise that it was a bit of a dark one-way street, so I returned to the city and engaged the human race once more.
Now I have the best of both worlds, with rural solitude during my working walking day and the Snapper for company in the evening. Her presence encourages me to behave as an almost fully-formed human, but truth be told, I get away with murder. Maybe it’s one of the benefits of married life: as mutual comfort levels increase and personal standards plunge into decline, I regress into slobdom.
Social skills are like all others; they require practice. So in an effort to polish-up my personality, I head into town for one of my Organic Galway Rambles.
Unlike sane and sensible people, the two ingredients required for my ideal night-out are a lack of people around town and, as a self-appointed honorary Galwegian, an absolute absence of firm arrangements.
Heading across Wolfe Tone Bridge, chin down into the freezing north-easterly wind, I head up onto Quay Street. The blackened glistening cobbles echo the utter emptiness of Galway’s social heart. The early night air is sodden with sideways rain, while the wind is whipping around my gonads like spaghetti around a spoon.
Lovely! Perfect! A freezing cold lashing-down Tuesday evening in January. It has been too long. Welcome home, Charlie Adley!
My anti-social ingredients increase the likelihood that there will be barstools available everywhere. Nothing worse than having to sit at a table on your own. Let me stare at the optics and space out.
But first, as ever, a feast of fish and peas in McDonagh’s. Nothing else better sets me on my way mentally, physically, spiritually prepared for anything.
Belly warm and lined, I slip onto a barstool in the front bar of the Quays, where three others are sat, having a chat. A basket of hot sausages and goujons appears. The craic is quiet and mighty all at once. A late Christmas whiskey arrives in front of me, which tastes all the sweeter, because somehow the barman knew my name.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.
Ballinasloe dig deep to book date in Croker
Date Published: 30-Jan-2013
An Port Mor (Armagh) 0-10
CIARAN TIERNEY AT KINGSPAN BREFFNI PARK
The men of Ballinasloe are on their way to Croke Park after overcoming a spirited second half fight-back from 14-man An Port Mor of Armagh in a keenly contested All-Ireland Junior Football semi-final at Breffni Park, Cavan, on Sunday.
Seven points up against a team who had corner forward Christopher Lennon sent off late in the first half, Ballinasloe looked to be cruising to victory at the break – but ultimately they had to dig deep to see off a defiant late challenge from the Ulster champions.
Ultimately, the damage was done in the first half. St Grellan’s produced some fine football in that opening period, two goals from central attackers Padraic Cunningham and Michael Colohan giving them the seven point cushion which made all the difference in the end.
Ballinasloe will have to analyse why they lost their way somewhat in the second period but, led by Man of the Match Darragh McCormack, Paul Whelehan, Liam Lynch, Gary Canavan, and Keith Kelly, they produced some delightful football to cause all sorts of bother in the An Port Mor defence throughout the opening period.
Backed by a huge travelling support from the East Galway town, Sean Riddell’s side enjoyed a dream start as rampant corner forwards McCormack and Whelehan combined to win a free which was comfortably slotted over the bar by Kelly after two minutes.
Even better was to come three minutes later when McCormack brilliantly rounded his man before providing a perfect pass for Whelehan, who was hauled down in the penalty area. Centre forward Padraic Cunningham calmly slotted the spot kick to the bottom left hand corner and they were 1-1 to no score up with five minutes gone.
McCormack and Whelehan combined well again before Canavan set up a good score for midfielder Lynch, but An Port Mor looked to be right back in the game when corner forward Shane Nugent was fouled in the Ballinasloe penalty area with 11 minutes on the clock.
Centre forward David Curran blasted the penalty over the crossbar, however, to the relief of the large Ballinasloe following. Curran provided the next score from a short-range free, following another foul on Nugent, but the Armagh men had to wait until the 30th minute before registering their first point from open play.
Ballinasloe enjoyed a purple patch at this stage, hitting 1-3 without reply, including a brace of points from Whelehan and a well-taken score on the run from Lynch, who dominated the midfield sector.
The Connacht champions produced some sublime moves in the third quarter and could have added a second goal when the superb McCormack had a shot blocked down, after his initial effort was deflected back into his path, following good work by Lynch.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.