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Sun shines through economic clouds at Clarenbridge



Date Published: 17-Sep-2009

Rarely over its 55 year history has the Clarenbridge Oyster Festival enjoyed such unseasonal September sunshine – and the crowds who thronged to the village at the weekend were clearly determined to make the most of it.
The sunshine brought an unexpected bonus for the committee in that balmy evening sunshine allowed dining in the open air on the riverside lawn. It meant that, even though booking had closed for the Gala Celebration on Saturday at 900, those on standby benefitted from the committee’s decision on Friday to provide up to 200 additional tickets – and the al fresco dining arrangements led to chance meetings of people from around the country and abroad.
Peggy and Dominick Gibino, a nurse and aero-nautical engineer for Virginia, USA, enjoyed the company of sister and brother, Ms. Laura McKenna and Séamus Cooley from Menlo, grandchildren of Patrick O’Donoghue, who was for 37 years a lino-type operator at ‘The Connacht Tribune’.
Three months ago, Dominick had found information on the internet about the festival and had rung up the festival booking office to book the tickets.
Séamus Cooley left it much later to secure tickets – last week.
Majella Carr of Paddy Burke’s was delighted that guests were enjoying themselves so well.
“It is great that the committee achieved what they set out to do”, she said. “They were blessed in the weather”.
The unseasonal summer rains have had a good effect on the growth and quality of Clarenbridge oysters. Standing beside the river in torrent, Michael Kelly of Kelly Shellfish, put it succinctly: “The oysters are plump and tasty because of the amount of fresh water coming onto the oyster beds. Just as many oysters are being consumed at this year’s festival as in other years”.
Behind the festival marquee in the oyster opening and preparation rooms, almost like in the dressing rooms at Croke Park, preliminary work was done by hurlers Michael Kilkelly, Brian Burke and Diarmuid Kelly; camogie players Carol and Sinéad Kelly, and special assistant Lisa Kilkelly, daughter of the late County Treasurer, Paddy Kelly.
The gates leading to the Gala Celebration were thrown open to receive the colourful group from the Cannonball Run, the 130 cavalcade touring the country in aid of Barrettstown House.
Festival chairperson Anne Forde made a donation to the Barrettstown House fund on behalf of the people of Clarenbridge. Damon Clark and Martin McGiff are two young men from Bellshill, Glasgow, whose memorable swagger in kilts tied for the award for the best dressed man.
On Sunday afternoon, having dined for the first time on a bacon-and-cabbage meal in Clarenbridge, they joined in the festival inter-townland tug-o-war.
The biggest crowd ever for the Sunday events, mainly with the tug-o-war in mind, reflected Clarenbridge community involvement in the festival, which this year had 75% local supporters.
The winning team Sherry’s Beer Bellies, comprised Martin McInerney, Martin Kennedy, Paul Kennedy, Brian Rabbitte, Bosco Forde, Tommy Feeney and Ray Geraghty (coach).
The beaten finalists were Killeeneen lightweights, comprising John Hynes, Ray Mullins, Mark Mullins, Shane Martyn, Kevin Martyn, Paul Collins and Mike Bindon (coach).
Rebekah Bartolozzi, Clarenbridge, won the Best Dressed Lady Competition and the runners-up were Niamh O’Connor, Marie Moran, Dervla Silke and Mary Dobbyn, Avril Donnellan, Dunmore, won the award for the best head piece.

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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