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The days when Glenamaddy were queens of Galway camogie

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Date Published: 28-Feb-2013

IF the story of St. Mary’s of Glenamaddy/Kilkerrin camogie club was a Hollywood movie, it would be up there to rival any of the silver screen’s greatest offerings – Raging Bull, Hoosiers, Field of Dreams, Miracle, Remember the Titans, We are Marshall or Coach Carter.

Quite simply, buried in the heartland of Galway football – with no hurling played at all in the locality – St. Mary’s defied all the odds to become one of the great Galway camogie teams, winning county senior titles in 1983, ‘84, ‘87 and ‘88. It was truly a remarkable achievement but, then again, this was a truly remarkable squad of individuals tutored by a truly remarkable group of mentors.

Camogie was first introduced into Glenamaddy by teacher Sr. Fatima (Sr. Angela Hoare) through Coláiste Seosaimh in 1966 in an effort to encourage girls to participate in sport. In 1970, a new curate, Fr. Sean Higgins, was appointed to Glenamaddy and later that year he and others – such as Sr. Fatima, Peadar O’Dowd of St. Benin’s VS, Mary Monaghan and Anne Quinn – established the local club.

They entered the junior championship the following year and, out of nothing, began to build momentum to reach the knockout stages. One of the key players of the time was Patricia Keady (nee Halloran) and she fondly remembers being flown home from England for the semi-final, its replay and the county final victory over Gurteen. They subsequently went on to win the 1971 Connacht championship.

"I was over in college in England but Fr. Higgins had the foresight to bring me home," recalls former midfielder Keady, as she proudly sifts through the old scrapbooks in her home in Glenamaddy.

"Somebody once asked would I have been the first ever (camogie player) flown home from abroad for a match? I don’t know but what I am trying to say is Fr. Higgins had that way about him. Nothing was impossible with him. Those times, in the 1970s and ’80s, to fly somebody home three times was remarkable. It just tells you a bit about him."

Indeed, chatting to Glenamaddy players from the ’70s and ’80s, Fr. Higgins influence becomes clear. "Not alone in the camogie side of it, but from the side of dealing with a group of girls. In those times, you wouldn’t be going too many places. He brought camaraderie to it and he taught us certain values that have stood to us and helped us in later life.”

Keady believes Higgins’ influence is the underlining reason why many of the girls are as close today as they were back then. "Camogie meant so much to us. As a group of girls, we are still all very friendly. I suppose, we were all young girls at the time but the values we carried from him – from sportsmanship to loyalty to looking after one another – has stayed with us. As I say, we still meet up after all those years, which is something."

After the ’71 victory, the titles started to flow. County League silverware was subsequently claimed in ’75 and ’76 before, having been re-graded back to junior, they claimed their second county and provincial championship crowns at this grade in ’76.

Their return to senior, once again, resulted in some severe defeats – mainly at the hands of Athenry – in the late ’70s but the winds of change began to blow as Coláiste Seosamh won its first Connacht Senior ‘A’ schools title in 1981 before the club’s minor side secured the league title that same year.

Interestingly, that school’s team was captained by Rita Divilly – Galway hurler Johnny Coen’s mother – while Coen’s father Tommy would later coach the senior club side in the late 80s as they made their bid for All-Ireland glory.

In any event, the big breakthrough came in 1983 when they defeated defending champions Athenry on a scoreline of 2-5 to 1-3 in the final, with forward Keady – now teaching at Coláiste Seosamh herself – scoring the vital second goal and Kitty Hoey (Tierney) and Ann Gallagher (Freaney) tallying two late points.

They subsequently defeated Knockcroghery of Roscommon in the Connacht decider before springing a surprise over Munster champions Croagh-Kilfinny of Limerick in the All-Ireland semi-final to set up a meeting with Buffers Alley of Wexford in the club showpiece.

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

Galway have lot to ponder in poor show

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

SLIGO 0-9

GALWAY 1-4

FRANK FARRAGHER IN ENNISCRONE

GALWAY’S first serious examination of the 2013 season rather disturbingly ended with a rating well below the 40% pass mark at the idyllic, if rather Siberian, seaside setting of Enniscrone on Sunday last.

The defeat cost Galway a place in the FBD League Final against Leitrim and also put a fair dent on their confidence shield for the bigger tests that lie ahead in February.

There was no fluke element in this success by an understrength Sligo side and by the time Leitrim referee, Frank Flynn, sounded the final whistle, there wasn’t a perished soul in the crowd of about 500 who could question the justice of the outcome.

It is only pre-season and last Sunday’s blast of dry polar winds did remind everyone that this is far from summer football, but make no mistake about it, the match did lay down some very worrying markers for Galway following a couple of victories over below par third level college teams.

Galway did start the game quite positively, leading by four points at the end of a first quarter when they missed as much more, but when Sligo stepped up the tempo of the game in the 10 minutes before half-time, the maroon resistance crumbled with frightening rapidity.

Some of the statistics of the match make for grim perusal. Over the course of the hour, Galway only scored two points from play and they went through a 52 minute period of the match, without raising a white flag – admittedly a late rally did bring them close to a draw but that would have been very rough justice on Sligo.

Sligo were backable at 9/4 coming into this match, the odds being stretched with the ‘missing list’ on Kevin Walsh’s team sheet – Adrian Marren, Stephen Coen, Tony Taylor, Ross Donovan, David Kelly, David Maye, Johnny Davey and Eamon O’Hara, were all marked absent for a variety of reasons.

Walsh has his Sligo side well schooled in the high intensity, close quarters type of football, and the harder Galway tried to go through the short game channels, the more the home side bottled them up.

Galway badly needed to find some variety in their attacking strategy and maybe there is a lot to be said for the traditional Meath style of giving long, quick ball to a full forward line with a big target man on the edge of the square – given Paul Conroy’s prowess close to goal last season, maybe it is time to ‘settle’ on a few basics.

Defensively, Galway were reasonably solid with Gary Sice at centre back probably their best player – he was one of the few men in maroon to deliver decent long ball deep into the attacking zone – while Finian Hanley, Conor Costello and Gary O’Donnell also kept things tight.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Archive News

Mervue United advance to the quarter-finals of U-17 FAI Cup

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Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

On a weekend when the vast majority of the action fell by the wayside due to the inclement weather, Mervue United U-17 struck late to snatch a winner in Donegal as they qualified for the last eight of the FAI U-17 Cup following a success over Swilly Rovers.

Local League action saw just three games survive as OLBC notched a second half winner to defeat Hibernians to move into third position in the Premier League.

In the lower Divisions, table toppers Mervue United B and Moyne Villa continued on their merry ways with away wins over Bohemians and Naomh Briocain.

Swilly Rovers 0

Mervue United 1

In a game that was switched to a playable pitch in Fanad, Mervue United took a long time to assert their authority before striking late to give the home side no chance to respond.

The 89th minute winner was created by an Andrew Connolly flick on following a Ryan Manning thrown in and Schoolboy International Conor Melody made space for himself in the box before firing past Caolan Bolton.

It was no less than the visitors deserved against a young home side, but they had to work extremely hard for their victory.

While Anthoine O’Laoi missed a good first half opportunity, just a long range Manning free kick tested Bolton otherwise. Substitute John Migel Soler almost made an instant impact on the resumption, but was denied by a smart save.

Connolly, O’Laoi and Paul Healy all threatened a break though for the visitors, before a fine-tuned Melody eventually saved the day and secured the Mervue passage.

Mervue United: P Healy, Barry, Bailey, P Healy, Carroll, Melody, Assagbo, Manning, Cunningham (Soler), Connolly, O’Laoi.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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