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Watching the detectives doesnÕt come down to a gender thing



Date Published: {J}

The politically correct mandarins at the BBC reckon that we have too many male detectives on the box, which is the pathetic reason they’ve dropped the stylish Italian Aurelio Zen for a variety of modern day Miss Marples.

At the same time, the head honchos at ITV finally abandoned its long relationship with Taggart – although in fairness, they gave it another 17 years after Taggart himself had shuffled off to his eternal reward.


Indeed Jim Taggart – brilliantly depicted in all of his misery by the late Mark McManus – might have still had his name over the door, but a generation only remember Mike Jardine and Jackie Reid as the main protagonists, or even more recently when the main role as handed over to DCI Mark Burke.

So killing off a programme called after a detective who has been dead since 1994 is one thing – but calling a halt to a series because we have too many male detectives on the box is a different matter entirely.

They seem to forget that women have found Rebus, Morse or the Frosts, Taggarts and Crackers of this world every bit as entertaining as the rest of us – right back to Poirot, Petrocelli, Columbo, Joe Mannix, Jim Rockford and Theo Kojak as a matter of fact – and that female crime solvers have been, well, a little less believable.

Of course there was Cagney and Lacey, and we’ve had DI Jane Tennison, Angie Dickinson in Police Woman, as well as Patricia Cornwell’s brilliant Kay Scarpetta. But against that, there was Jessica Fletcher, Nancy Drew, Hetty Wainthrop, Charlie’s Angels – not to mention the Scarecrow’s sidekick Mrs King.

Purdy was a big draw in the New Avengers, but Steed solved the crimes; and when Laura Holt set up her detective agency she knew she had to have a man’s name over the door – hence Remmington Steele. Similarly Moonlight had Bruce Willis’ David Addison as the loose cannon and Cybil Shepherd’s Maddie Hayes as the rock of sense.

Irrespective of your desire for gender balance, the reality is that male detectives have left a bigger mark on the small screen than their female counterparts who – with obvious exceptions – were either there for their looks or their entertainment value.

But regardless of the detective’s gender, there are key ingredients that remain the same when it comes to a successful series these days. Some might even call them clichés.

The first inescapable fact is that murders rarely occur in ones – and quiet areas with a high profile detective in town have a conversely frightening serious crime rate. A television series needs a crime spree or the whole thing would be hard to sustain for twelve or fourteen episodes.

But it never ceases to amaze at how quickly the most innocuous of sylvan suburban settings can suddenly turn into Los Angeles with a death rate higher than sub-Saharan Africa.

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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