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Time for Galway Utd fans to show true colours

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 05-Nov-2009

THE end game is close at hand for Galway United this season and if the club fails to attract a bumper crowd for Friday night’s critical Premier Division clash against Cork City at Terryland Park, you’d have to seriously question whether there is the necessary desire or passion for top flight League of Ireland football in the city any more.

Average home crowds of scarcely 1,000 will simply not financially sustain a club in the Premier Division these days. Manager Ian Foster, who has done a good job in difficult circumstances, is already operating on a shoestring budget but despite numerous pleas to fans to come through the Terryland turnstiles, local sporting aficiandos remain largely apathetic to the club’s cause.

Of course, the recession has impacted on the leisure spending power of families and individuals but outside of a hardcore group of fans, United are probably one of the poorest supported teams in the Premier Division. Given the excellent facilities at Terryland and the quality of the playing surface, locals certainly can’t blame a rundown ground for their reluctance to travel to the Dyke Road.

It’s a sad state of affairs when a big Premiership game seems to exercise more local debate than the ups and downs of Galway United. How often, for instance, do you hear an individual talking about ‘we’ when discussing the fortunes of Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea or Arsenal, etc . . . and many of those same fans view the English national team as public enemy number one. The hypocrisy of it all.

This time 12 months ago, Galway United were involved in another survival battle to stay in the top flight. If anything, their position was even more precarious as they headed to Belfield for their final game of the season despite having lost just one of their previous eight matches following a disastrous start to the season. They had to win to stay up and thanks to John Fitzgerald’s first-half goal, they managed to avoid the drop to the First Division. It was the great escape and reflected well on the spirit of the squad.

Their manager at the time, Jeff Kenna, undoubtedly played a pivotal role in the club’s reversal of fortunes and during the closed season, there was no real indication that the former Republic of Ireland defender wouldn’t be signing up for another campaign in the Terryland dug out. Kenna had already given a verbal commitment to United only to jump ship at the eleventh hour in controversially detouring to St. Patrick’s Athletic – an alliance that ended up on the rocks in September.

His assistant, Ian Foster, took over United in a less than ideal environment, but the team made a positive start to the season despite the management upheavel. And while their form has been woefully inconsistent over the past few months as well as losing their best player, Jay O’Shea, during the summer, the Tribesmen are actually lying sixth in the league table though, extraordinarily, could still be caught up in the relegation play-offs as both Sligo Rovers and St. Pat’s are lurking dangerously behind them.

If United defeat Cork, they are safe; if they draw and one of the others lose, their status is also secured; the problem is because Galway have an inferior goal difference to Sligo and St. Pat’s, they remain under pressure and need a big performance on Friday night. Aaron Greene’s excellent second-half strike earned them an invaluable point against Shamrock Rovers last weekend and they will be primed to deliver against Cork.

It would represent a big lift to everybody associated with the club, if the fans turned out in force at Terryland on Friday night. It’s likely to be United’s final competitive game until next March and presents an ideal opportunity for the stay-at-home fans to get off their armchairs and give the team the support they need for such an important fixture. Given what’s at stake, it will be hugely disappointing if the stands are half-empty again.


CONSIDERING that he was recently conferred with an honorary degree at NUIG, it was fitting that Eamon ‘Chick’ Deacy was featured in the Sunday Times ‘Backplay’ column at the weekend.

A member of the Aston Villa squad which won the First Division title in 1981, the Galway city native remains as modest as ever despite being one of the few West of Ireland men to represent his country at the highest level of football.

Deacy was on Villa’s books for over five seasons and gave sterling service to the Midlands club as a resolute full back. The year Villa won the First Division title, they were involved in a titanic battle with Ipswich and though losing their final game of the season to Arsenal, they had done enough to claim the silverware under Ron Saunders. Incredibly, Villa only used 14 players during that victorious campaign.

One of Galway’s greatest ever sportsmen, Deacy played for Villa at a time when they had some exceptional players. John Burridge, Denis Mortimer, Brian Little, Gary Shaw, Des Brenner and Gordon Cowans immediately spring to mind.

I used to follow the club back in the late seventies and early eighties – still have some affection for the claret and blue – and remember regularly tuning into their matches on BBC Radio.

The Sunday Times feature supplied some interesting snippets of information on Deacy. The best player he ever encountered was Zico – might have something to do with Ireland’s 7-0 thumping by Brazil in an 1982 friendly; while the worst ground he played in was Vicarage Road, the home of Watford.

Deacy says he generally didn’t do well there and was also sent off at the venue in 1984. And where would you find Eamon now? Working (and happy out) in the family’s fish shop (Ernie’s Fruit & Veg) on Sea Road.


IT looks bad; it is bad. Heading into the first weekend of November and no date has yet been fixed for the re-arranged Galway hurling final – traditionally, the biggest crowd puller on the annual local sporting calendar. Finalists Loughrea and Portumna are both in limbo, so are their supporters and, ironically, so are the county’s GAA authorities.

At the time of writing it was still uncertain whether Mullagh will be taking their appeal to the DRA after the club’s appearance before the Galway Appeals Hearing Committee on Tuesday night in trying to have the suspensions of their players reduced. Those bans were the result of the disgraceful post match semi-final scenes when Mullagh saw red over Christy Helebert’s controversial decision to award Loughrea what proved the matchwinning free.

The image of Galway hurling has taken a battering in more ways than one in 2009 and this latest episode is just adding to the overall gloom. It’s past time for clubs to stand up and be counted.


CONNACHT needed to stop the rot in the Magners League soon and they did just that with a thoroughly deserved home win over the Scarlets last Friday night.

The Welsh men may have been without their six international players, but that is not Connacht’s problem and they took full advantage thanks to a Mike McComish try and some accurate goal-kicking from Ian Keatley. They now have a three-week break due to the Autumn Internationals but, at least, morale in the camp has received a shot in the arm.

Team captain John Muldoon and Johnny O’Connor were at their defiant best in a solid team performance. Connacht may still be at the wrong end of the Magners League table and their away form remains shocking but, on their day, the men in green are capable of rattling the best – at the Sportsground.


IT HAD to come sometime and Ipswich finally won their first league game of the season, at the 15th attempt, when edging out Derby County at Portman Road on Saturday.

Mind you, they are still propping up the Coca-Cola Championship but, at least, manager Roy Keane has given himself some breathing space. Though this column will never forgive the Cobh native over his conduct in Saipan, we have no desire to see Keane flop at management.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Judy Murphy



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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Rory takes on fresh challenge as lauded DruidMurphy returns

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 03-Apr-2013


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After twenty years Sarah lands dream role in Druid

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 04-Apr-2013

 Sarah Lynch has been living and breathing Druid Theatre since she wangled a job as a runner fresh out of college two decades ago at age 20. After holding down just about every role imaginable there – from company manager to director to stage manager – her appointment as general manager to one of the country’s most prestigious theatre companies last October seemed almost inevitable.

Because once she had tasted the fruit of Druid she was going nowhere . . . and going everywhere. Sarah’s tenure at Druid since 1998 has brought her on a journey that has reached just about every corner of the globe and almost all the islands off Ireland in between.

After graduating from Limerick with a degree in French and English Sarah spent a stint teaching in a secondary school. But it immediately became clear that wasn’t the road for her.

“One thing I was always certain of was I’d be involved in the performing arts, whether on stage or off stage or behind it. The immediate reaction of the audience is such a buzz,” she grins.

Her earliest memory was of her grandfather, Bud Clancy, on stage with his trumpet and dance band. “I must have been three or four because he died shortly after that. But it never left me. I got bitten by the bug. I started playing the trumpet. A friend of my grandfather taught me how to play and I was with the Limerick brass and reed orchestra known as the Boherbuoy Band, I was just a kid with all these adults.”

She learned to play other brass instruments such as the French horn and cornet before turning her hand to the guitar and song-writing. “I taught myself guitar. Sometime I tinker on the piano and I think that’s my next instrument. I love percussion. You can’t get me off a drum kit for love or money. Many is the night I’ve made a fool of myself on one of those,” she laughs.

In 2010, Sarah released her debut album, Letter to Friends, which was launched by playwright Enda Walsh, whose short play, Lynndie’s Gotta Gun, she had directed as part of the 2008 Galway Arts Festival.

The collection of songs was produced by Wayne Sheehy, a musician she had met when opening for Juliet Turner on Turner’s Burn the Black Suit tour.

“I could probably have done it ten years ago but for the manic schedule with Druid and touring so much,” she reflects. “I haven’t done much with it since. I used to play gigs in the Róisín Dubh. The bigger twin is theatre at the moment. The bigger twin bullies the other twin. You don’t get much time to do music.”

After fleeing the classroom, Sarah knocked on the door of a former college mate, Andrew Flynn, now with the Galway Youth Theatre, who kindly offered up his couch. He also managed to get her a job as a runner – the person who does everything from making tea to helping with props – on a Druid production of As You Like It.

“I remember working with Mark O’Halloran, I had great fun with him. There was Helen Norton, it was Maeliosa Stafford directing. He’s coming back to the Druid after ten years to star in Tom Murphy’s A Whistle in the Dark. He left me as a runner, now I’m general manager.”

Much of Sarah’s time behind the scenes at Druid has been spent on the road. In 2009 alone, Druid toured to Australia, Canada, the UK and the USA presenting 364 performances in 26 venues.

Indeed so much of life has been out spent living of a suitcase that she gave up her base in Galway to move back in with her family in Caherdavin, on the Galway side of Limerick city.

The tour of the Cripple of Inishmaan by Martin McDonagh was so long the crew were instructed to pack two suitcases, one with summer clothes, the other winter gear, as they would be spanning the seasons. Her job now entails a lot of commuting, but driving is where she gets a lot of thinking done.

Sarah’s decision to apply for the more home-based job of general manager was one she made discreetly while on the Druid Murphy tour around the US. She had to undergo her interview in between shows at the Lincoln Center in New York. It was the most nerve wrecking experience of her life, she admits.

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

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