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When wireless was a radio Ð not the cutting end of broadband

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Date Published: {J}

Only the foolhardy and brave of heart made their way to Pearse Stadium on Saturday afternoon to witness the petering end of the Galway footballers’ championship year – but in the midst of the steam rising from the drenched spectators huddled together in the stand came a sound I hadn’t heard at a match in years.

Because behind me there was a man with a wireless up to his ear – although clearly his hearing wasn’t all it once was, because such was the volume that the Galway Bay commentary could be heard loud and clear six rows in front of him.

But the sight of a man with a wireless – as in, radio, as opposed to wireless broadband – brought me back to a time before iphones and internet when every GAA ground would be graced with a number of hardy spectators with their radio glued to their ear.

The connoisseurs of technology had an ear phone – not headphones but just a single white earpiece with a wire attached to the radio – which meant that only they knew what they scores were from the other big matches at Breffni Park or Aughnacloy.

Sometimes they would share this information in a welter of excitement – “Cavan are gone two points up with five minutes left” or “Limerick are down to fourteen men” – but otherwise you’d have to interpret their knowing smile as an indication how the wind was blowing elsewhere.

The fellas without the earpiece had the sort of radios that a later generation would have called boogie boxes – massive things that could knock your shoulder out of its socket but without any taping facilities and with a round dial.

They should have been charged for a second seat, such was the size of these things, and God help you if you were sitting behind them – because the noise was one thing but trying to see past a radio the size of a record player carried by a man with a giant crepe paper hat left you with little option but to stand up.

Back in the day radio coverage of sport was a more basic affair entirely, consisting of one live match commentary and a couple of phoned-in contributions from elsewhere.

The lines back to studio in Donnybrook broke down more frequently in those days and it was the job of the continuity announcer to fill those gaps with some appropriate music – occasionally with mixed results.

Philip Greene was the doyen of football commentaries back then and he was in full flow before the start of another eagerly awaited League of Ireland clash from Oriel Park one Sunday – so much so that the continuity announcer of the day wasn’t listening when the great man announced that the game would be preceded by a minute’s silence for a club official who had passed away.

Given that there was no other game to go to, the prod

ucer broadcast the minute’s silence – or he would have if the dozing continuity announcer hadn’t woken up with a start to the sound of dead air on the radio.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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Archive News

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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