Date Published: 06-Jan-2012
THESE days Tommy Tiernan is one of the country’s most successful stand-up comedians, with a busy touring schedule.
But when Kings Head owner Paul Grealish asked him if he was up for a revival of Religious Knowledge, Tommy said yes.
“I just wanted to take another look at it for nostalgia and also out of curiosity to see if it is still funny for us and the audience. And to see if we can do it!”
Nostalgia certainly is a factor for the Navan born comedian. “Religious Knowledge and all the Flying Pig stuff and Punchbag Theatre (now gone), marked a very definite period in Galway – coming out of the recession of the ’80s and before the boom.”
Tommy, who was on the dole in Galway from the late 1980s to the mid 1990s, recalls there was “a huge community of people living on very little and money was never the motivating factor”.
“For me Religious Knowledge would be very emblematic of that period where you had a vast amount of people living on the same amount, a vibrant community who were interested in doing something with their time and inclination”.
Tommy started ‘signing on’ in 1988, when “the dole was 32 quid a week, I think”, and his memories of that time, when he had no responsibility, are vivid.
“You could get four pints for a fiver in the Crane. I was living in New Road for a good while and we used to live on potatoes and cheap vegetables.”
They didn’t have a television and they spent their evenings playing cards and “trying to rob coal down at the Docks!”
Life these days is vastly different for Tommy, but there was never a grand plan.
“I didn’t go into comedy for money. I could do it and I really enjoyed doing it and I still have the same attitude to money as I had then. It’s not important and if I have it, I’m nearly relieved when I spend it.”
He recalls that he’d get his dole on a Wednesday and “the week was a victory if I had enough for a coffee and cream in the GBC on Sunday”.
When he was performing in Religious Knowledge, the cast would get “10 or 15 quid each on a good day and then you’d have the dole and you’d hope none of the ladies from the dole office came to the show!”
See also ‘ Funny Kind of Revenge’ in this week’s Tribunes
The way we were – Protecting archives of our past
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
Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr
Date Published: 23-Jan-2013
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.