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Underground film sector in Galway comes into firm focus

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: {J}

In Tuam, a young man wakes up with an awful hangover. As he begins to piece together some of the events from the night before, he realises that he now owes a lot of money to the town’s most notorious criminal and he has 48 hours to pay. His beautiful girlfriend is pregnant. He feels cornered.

Down in Limerick, an unemployed father of ten surveys his beloved housing estate as it’s about to be knocked to the ground. He sees Government attempts to regenerate the area as a threat to his freedom, a treasured way of life in which he roams the estate on a pieballed horse. There are no jobs in Moyhill, but humour gets people through the day.

Up in North Mayo, a small rural community feels under attack. A giant multinational and the Irish State are threatening the peace and tranquillity people have taken for granted for generations, as opposition to a gas pipeline tears the community apart. People have gone to jail, they feel they have been betrayed by their own Government.

Three stories, two of them fictional and one very real. The first two relate to short dramas which are currently taking the country by storm thanks to RTE’s StoryLand competition, while the third is the subject of a feature length documentary which has won over audiences and critics as far away as Boston and Berlin.

And the common thread between gritty drama Lucky Run, mockumentary The Outlaw Concy Ryan, and Irish Film and Television Award winner The Pipe is that all three were filmed by small, independent companies which have sprung up in Galway in the past couple of years.

The country might be in the grips of an economic crisis, but right now there is a thriving underground film industry in Galway. The county boasts anything up to 30 independent production companies, a host of freelance technicians, actors, and producers, its very own soap opera in Ros na Rún, and an innovative broadcaster in TG4.

A ‘cottage’ industry is thriving here, boosted by the presence of the Huston School of Film and Digital Media, commissioning editors at TG4, the Irish Film Board (IFB) and the Galway Film Resource Centre. Without funding from TG4 and the IFB, for example, The Pipe might never have seen the light of day.

Film-maker Richie Ó Domhnaill was living with his uncle on Broadhaven Bay when he began to take an interest in all the trouble surrounding the Corrib Gas pipeline nearby. He filmed the controversy as a cameraman for TG4 news but, convinced that the true story was not being told, he set up his own company in order to film The Pipe. After four years of filming, the result is a gripping documentary which has won over audiences on both sides of the Atlantic.

“I made the film because I felt that it was a very difficult story for the media to portray and that the full story was not appearing in the national media. The most important elements of it seemed to be way off the radar. As an independent film-maker, though, the financial side of things is tough,” admits Ó Domhnaill, whose company lost €110,000 last year.

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

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Judy Murphy

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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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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

images/files/images/x3_Courthouse.jpg

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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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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