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Thoughts of exam results far away as John returns to Druid

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Date Published: {J}

John Gaughan is expecting the results of his Junior Cert in mid September, but as of Tuesday, the student of Gort Community School wasn’t worrying about exam results, because he had an opening night looming.

John, from Clarinbridge, is a member of the 19-strong cast of Druid’s production of Sean O’Casey’s The Silver Tassie which had a technical rehearsal on Monday, the day before he talked to The Connacht Tribune. Monday was actually due to be the first preview night, but the technical demands of this play are so great that extra time was needed.

“The dress rehearsal went really well,” he says. “There were a couple of people in the theatre and it’s good to have people there. This is a huge production, the biggest since DruidSynge.”

John knows just how big DruidSynge was, because he and his brother Joe both appeared in that production when Druid staged all of Synge’s plays together. The Gaughan boys shared roles in Riders to the Sea, The Tinker’s Wedding and Deirdre of the Sorrows. It was a project that saw them play Galway, Dublin, Edinburgh and Inis Meáin in 2005 and travel to America, to New York in Minneapolis in 2006.

“I knew it was big,” he says that mammoth endeavour. “But I didn’t appreciate how big it was.”

Now he’s older and “I appreciate more what I’m doing because I see the size of the whole production”.

John is one of five young people who have joined the company for this production of O’Casey’s expressionistic tragicomedy about World War I, which centres on footballing hero Harry Heegan whose life is changed inexorably by his experience of war.

John and his four young fellow actors are stretcher bearers in the play which takes its audience from the tenements of Dublin to the battlefields of France and back to Dublin where Harry witnesses how life will never be the same again.

“We come on, sing a song and carry dead bodies on stage,” is John’s succinct explanation of his work on stage. It’s an extremely powerful scene, he adds. The young cast members also appear in crowd scenes where they play extras.

The teenager doesn’t care about the size of the role he plays.

“To be used in any way I’m happy, as long as it’s something to do with Druid, who are top of the list.”

He’d never seen an O’Casey play before The Silver Tasssie and is impressed. “It’s a really good play, the whole aspect of what’s going on, and what happens to Harry is really sad.”

As a young man in today’s Ireland, John can’t imagine what it was like. “Back then they’d have been sent out and expected to fight for their country and do it, having the knowledge that they were going to die. It’s hard to imagine it now, because our lives are so easy. It makes you appreciate what you’ve got.”

He is really enjoying the rehearsal process.

“Sometimes they are so intense you have to concentrate really hard and then everyone lets themselves go afterwards.”

Initially John had a light rehearsal schedule but as the show has drawn closer “we are needed more and more. If we are not needed we go out to the stalls and watch what is going on”.

It is fantastic training for the young man who is also an accomplished singer and who is having his voice professionally trained.

For more, read this week’s Connacht 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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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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