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Tiger out of birdies as Mickelson shows real class



Date Published: {J}

It hasn’t been a great year for Tigers – of the Woods or Celtic variety – but while our economic version is most definitely under par, it’s the exact opposite for the man with the addiction to birdies.

He came back for a few days to bid for the Masters as though this was some kind of walk in the park for which he only had to turn up to win – but the man who couldn’t keep his trousers up doesn’t have a new green jacket either.

Instead Phil Mickelson, a man who has spent the past year side by side with his sick wife Amy as she battles breast cancer, showed that the nice guys can finish on top.

As if he wasn’t burdened enough, Mickelson’s eldest daughter, Amanda, broke her wrist while rollerskating on Saturday night. Mickelson took her to hospital for x-rays at 10pm, and reported that he got to sleep at 1am. Tiger used to be up at one in the morning as well, but then the cocktail waitresses don’t get off until late.

Mickelson did not know for sure Amy would make it to the course. She and their three children had arrived last Tuesday but for most of the week she was too weak from her medication to leave their rented house.

That’s why her presence on the eighteenth green was such a lift and that’s why he shed a genuine tear – because as well as Amy, Mickelson’s mother, Mary, was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly after his wife, and he had not had his family travel with him to a tournament in eleven months.

That might seem like the perfect result for the Tiger, who found comfort from wherever it came on the road – but Mickelson is made of sterner stuff.

And while Woods crawls back under whatever tree he recently emerged from, he might look to his old foe for a few hints on how to win friends and tournaments by behaving himself on and off the perfectly manicured greens of Augusta.

Not that it will make or break my day if Tiger re-emerges as the best thing since sliced bread (or sliced tee-shots for that matter) because frankly golf is up there with curling as sports I’d run to avoid; and if you’d seen me running you’d know how big a judgement call that is on them.

I tried playing it a long time ago and once my shoulders eventually returned to their sockets from all the shuddering misses, I accepted that the quickest way for me to get around the course in the least number of shots was to kick the ball in front of me.

In my defence I did once win a prize for having the longest drive, which was a matter of pride and surprise in equal measure; surprise because all of my work was done at the nineteenth hole … pride that my drive from Cork to Galway was recognised by my peers in such a meaningful way.

Watching golf on telly has always mystified me as well because you’ve no idea how undulating the greens are and it just looks like a putt has taken on a life of its own as it veers off at a right angle halfway towards the hole.

But any sport that sees the good guys come out on top has to be viewed in a new light and – in victory or defeat – Mickelson is everything that Woods is not; a family man, loyal, modest, charming … a man with a sense of perspective on life that doesn’t revolve around his own massive ego.

He knows that a real battle is for your life, not without another man in outrageous clothes beating a small ball into a hole before a crowd of thousands.

He’ll celebrate his wife’s victory more than he ever would his own – and that’s why his Masters win was about an awful lot more than golf.


For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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

The true story of the saint that the church wanted to airbrush



Date Published: 30-Jan-2013

Italian saint, Francis of Assisi will get a new lease of life in Francis, the Holy Jester, a free one-man show being performed at Muscailt Arts Festival on February 5.

The play about the renowned saint, who died in 1226 was written by Italian Nobel prize-winner Dario Fo, and this performance is by Mario Pirovano, a long-time collaborator with Fo, who translated the piece into English.

It embraces papal history, biblical stories, and controversial Italian politics while exploring the life of one of the Catholic Church’s most famous saints. It also shows how the medieval Church was so afraid of Francis and his relationship with ordinary people that it set about sanitising his legacy and elevating him above the reach of his followers.

Mario, who lives near to St Francis’s home of Assisi, speaks eloquently and passionately about the saint and the way that Dario Fo has brought the Francis’s message to modern audiences in a timeless, dramatic way, while casting new light on the famous Italian Franciscan monk.

But first, he explains why this was necessary.

Francis was born at the end of the 12th century and died at the age of 46. By then, he had created great embarrassment for the Church, simply because of the way he lived his life, explains Mario. He treated people in a genuinely Christian way and wanted to tell the Gospels in people’s own language rather than in Latin.

The Church hierarchy – what an awful word, he says – decided to rewrite the story of his life and, 50 years after his death, only one official account of his life was permitted by the authorities. That was written by a fellow Franciscan, St Bonaventure, who had been ordered to destroy many of Francis’s papers and write a sanitised biography. All other books on him were deemed heretical.

The Church was afraid of him, stresses Mario, and so decided to distance him from the ordinary people, by canonising him shortly after he died. Francis was the fastest saint ever produced in the history of the Church, being canonised within three years of passing on, says Mario. That took him away from ordinary people, as they felt they couldn’t aspire to such greatness.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Archive News

Moycullen come up short against favourites in U-18 Boys National Cup Final



Date Published: 31-Jan-2013

Belfast Star 68

Moycullen 57

Moycullen came up short in the club’s first ever appearance in the U-18 National Cup Final, losing to a classy Belfast Star team that completed a club double, having won the U-19 title earlier in the day.


Moycullen entered the game as slight underdogs, and Belfast lived up to their status as favourites early on as they raced into an early 8-0 lead as Conor Quinn had the hot hand, connecting on two 3-point shots to start the game.

As the quarter wore on Moycullen began to settle into the game as Paddy Lyons and Stephen O’Brien in particular found their scoring touch as they combined for 13 points in the first quarter which Moycullen trailed 23-19.

The second quarter was another close affair as both teams really stepped up their defensive intensity with Sean Candon and Stephen O’Brien doing an excellent job defending Belfast two 6-8 inside players, while Darragh Mulkerrins, Mark Rohan and Paddy Lyons shared the responsibility of guarding Belfast’s Aidan and Conor Quinn.

Belfast held the slight lead at the end of the first half 35-32 with Conor Quinn leading the way for Belfast with a total of 17 first half points while Stephen O’Brien continued where he left off in the first quarter by scoring 16 first half points for the Galway team.

Belfast went on a scoring run in the third quarter, giving themselves a 10-point lead midway through the period. Belfast were doing an excellent job switching their defences as Moycullen’s usually free flowing offence really struggled to gain any sort of momentum in the 3rd period.

The introduction of Joseph Tummon off the bench seemed to settle Moycullen back into the game as he scored six straight points towards the end of the third period.


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

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