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UK election is turning out to be a mighty lot of fun

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Date Published: {J}

FRIDAY night in the Sportsground. It is cold and wet, but we’re thankful to be out of the house after the cold spell put a temporary halt to any kind of socialising. The driving mist whips in over the stand, coming full circle to rest on your brow, but the 2,000 hardy souls don’t care – it’s great to have a game to go to.

Montpellier are in town for the Amlin Challenge Cup, and avoiding defeat is a must for Connacht in their bid to ensure qualification for the quarter-finals of the competition.

The visitors have left their French internationals Francois Trinh-Duc and Fulgence Ouedraogo at home, but a win will see them leapfrog Connacht to take top spot, and there is a sense of nervousness in the air.

The mini rugby stars of the future who will entertain us at half-time trot down the dog track. The Gaeltacht Rugby contingent in the group, aged between seven and ten, stop and turn to face the stand and treat the crowd to a Carraroe version of the Haka.

A huge cheer goes up, which increases in volume when John Muldoon leads the men in green onto the pitch. Connacht win the toss and opt to play into the conditions in the first-half, and Montpellier park the bus in the Connacht half for the opening 40 minutes.

The visitors ruck and maul, push and probe, but all they have to show for their efforts is three measly points as Connacht’s defence is the only thing that refuses to buckle with the weather. It was not pretty, but anyone looking for a beauty contest was in the wrong place to start with.

Having weathered the storm, in every way, in the first half, Connacht come out with teeth bared for the second period. It is their turn to dominate territory, but unlike their opponents, they make it count.

The life of a back, and particularly a winger, can be a lonely one in conditions like Friday night, but Liam Bibo and Fionn Carr stay switched on mentally and are rewarded with a try apiece as Connacht crush the hopes of the French to seal top spot in the group and progress to the quarter finals.

There was a decent crowd on Friday night, but you won’t be able to swing a tackle bag for fear of knocking a ground plan out of the hands of day-trippers when one of Europe’s big guns rolls into town in April. European aristocrats Leicester, the Exiles of London Irish or Jonny Wilkinson and his Toulon team are all potential opponents in the knockout stages. The guys and gals of Gaeltacht Rugby will be busy honing their routine for the big day.

For a full report on the match see page 31 of this week’s Sentinel

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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