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Watching television is no longer black and white



Date Published: 16-Jan-2013

A radio presenter recently made some comment in passing about colour television – and anyone under 40 years of age probably wondered if there was any other kind. Because the notion of having to describe television as available in colour is about as bizarre these days as describing a car coming with wheels.

But for those of an older vintage, the advent of colour television was as exciting as rural electrification to a slightly older generation – you’d be happy to sit there watching the test card (another thing that now requires explanation) just because it was no longer in black and white.


We were reared on black and white television and didn’t feel any poorer for it – although the arrival of colour quickly showed us what we were missing.

There were neighbours of ours who were ahead of the posse and in the run-up to this era of televisual technicolour, they found a device that sort of bridged the gap between our old world and this bright new dawn.

It would be best described as a transparent sheet which covered the entire screen and gave off a sort of green hue to transform the black and white picture into a sort of slightly blurred version of a Martian landscape.

In hindsight it just looked like the tube was broken, but because it broadcast programmes in something other than black and white – in this case, lime green – we were mesmerised by this technological breakthrough right before our very eyes.

And when we first caught sight of actual colour television for real and in all its glory – needless to say, not at home for a number of years yet – it was a moment in time you were destined to simply never forget.

If my own memory doesn’t fail me, the first face I saw was Brendan ‘Legs’ O’Reilly’s, the former international high-jumper turned sportscaster, sitting in the Sports Stadium studio and going back and over to the racing from some outpost or other.

Now I’ve little more than a passing interest in galloping horses, but I was glued to this cacophony of colour as these brown animals raced across the green grass. Vincent O’Brien himself wouldn’t have been more captivated by the spectacle.

And as time went by and the onward march of colour television continued, you realised Ireland didn’t play rugby in grey jerseys, and snooker suddenly made sense.

It was Ted Lowe, the late lamented voice of the sport, who once informed viewers ‘for those of you who are watching in black and white, the pink is next to the green’ – but you kind of knew where Whispering Ted was coming from.

I’ve been asked more recently by the younger members of our household how we managed in a time before TV was governed by the remote control.

I’ve explained that, for a long time, there was no need for a remote control because there was only one channel – and then when we doubled our television choice to two, the youngest member of the family doubled as the remote by being shoed in the direction of the tube to switch from one RTE channel to the other.

Those were the days when we waited for television to start in the evenings and then the adults stood for the national anthem when it closed down before midnight.

When we turned on the telly, we started with a white spot that then became a full screen – and we saw it disappeared in the opposite sequence later on that night.

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

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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Archive News

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.

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