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Whether it’s walking, jogging or running – just do it!

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 29-Jan-2010

IF Co-ordinator of Galway City Sports Partnership, Jason Craughwell has one clear message, it is to encourage the people of Galway to get involved in sport and physical activity – no matter what their gender, age or ability may be. To get out there, breathe in the fresh West of Ireland air, and – as the Nike advert goes – ‘just do it’.

Charged with inspiring the uninspired, Craughwell and the City Sports Partnership have been promoting participation in sport and physical activity since the organisation’s inception in September, 2007 – carrying on the work of its predecessor, the Sports & Recreation Forum.

Indeed, just last year, Galway City Sports Partnership – under the chairmanship of former Galway hurler Sean Silke – rolled out a series of programmes as part of its very first strategic plan, a comprehensive document embracing such themes as ‘Awareness & Participation’, ‘Facilities & Amenities’, ‘Education & Training’, and ‘Effective Partnership’.

The plan also outlined the achievements to date of GCSP, including the Fun x Four, Eastside Strollers and Buntús programmes. “We do have a number of target groups, like women in sport, older adults, people in disadvantaged communities and people with disabilities, but our basic premise is that we are trying to promote participation and physical activity across the divide,” reiterates Craughwell, who highlights that the aforementioned programmes have proved very successful in fulfilling this objective.

“The aim of running the Fun x Four is to show them sport is fun at a young age. So, if you can show at a young age that sport is fun, they will keep going throughout their lives, no matter what it is,” he says.

Indeed, over 80 girls between the ages of eight and 14 from Ballybane, Ballinfoile, Renmore and Westside participated in the six-week venture, which was a collaborative effort with the Connacht Ladies Gaelic Football Association, Cumann Camógaíochta na Gael, the Connacht Branch of the IRFU, and the FAI. Funded through the Women in Sport Programme and supported by the HSE, for two hours each week, girls got the opportunity to experience four different sports, namely ladies football, camogie, rugby and soccer.

“We also facilitate walking programmes, such as the East Side Strollers, which will be up and running again soon,” continues Craughwell. “It is, basically, a walking group for women and it is based in Renmore. So, they walk around the Renmore area and they do anything from a kilometre to an 8km walk.”

In addition to the Fun x Four and Eastside Strollers projects, Galway City Sports Partnership also facilitates other programmes such as Buntús, the Code of Ethics & Good Practice in Children’s Sport, and the Healthy Lifestyles Programme.

Craughwell explains that a great deal of the funding they apply for comes through the Irish Sports Council, although there would also be support from the GCSP’s stakeholders, including Galway City Council, the VEC, the HSE, Galway City Partnership, Galway City Community Forum, among many others.

“We also work very well with the big organisations – the FAI, the GAA, the IRFU, the Camogie, Ladies Gaelic Football and Basketball. We run a number of programmes with them and they have proved very fruitful. They have helped to get people involved in team sports.

“However, there are a huge number of people who prefer individual sports or those that are not as competitive or as structured. The Irish Sports Monitor has shown over the last few years that the vast majority of people in those marginalised groups – or those groups who dropped out of sport – that if you get them involved in individual sports, they will tend to stay involved for longer periods of time.


“So, you are finding more people over the age of 35 are involved in the likes of running, walking, cycling, swimming and tennis, activities that tend to hold onto people well into their later lives, which, of course, promotes their physical well-being.”

Indeed, one of the problems for people involved in team sports up until they are 35 – bar the few older exceptions – is that there is no follow-on programme of events for those in their chosen sport. One example is GAA. Despite it being the largest sporting organisation in Ireland, the GAA does not provide opportunities for its older members to play its mainstream games in later life, even at a social level.

For more, read page 49 of this week’s City Tribune.


Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Judy Murphy



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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Moment of truth for Galway U21s

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 01-May-2013

 Dara Bradley

FOUR matches, four victories, one after extra-time, a Connacht title, four goals and 56 points scored, four goals and 30 points conceded, a heap of wides from their opponents, sinews strained, buckets of sweat and blood spilled.

It’s been one hell of a roller coaster campaign for the Galway U21 footballers but all that will be forgotten come 7pm on Saturday evening at the Gaelic Grounds, Limerick when they cross swords with Cork for the honour of being crowned Cadbury’s All-Ireland champions.

Six weeks ago as Galway set out on their 2013 U21 journey against Sligo in Tuam, the May Bank Holiday weekend final was always the target. They took each game as it came and now it has come down to this – 60 minutes of football to decide who the best U21 team in the land is.

And while there were times along the way when Alan Flynn’s charges looked like they’d fall off the wagon, against Mayo, against Roscommon and again against Kildare, Galway showed resilience and mental strength to time and again bounce back and defy the odds. Often down, never out. It is that perseverance that will stand to Galway in the heat of battle this weekend.

Cork has won an All-Ireland at this grade more times than any other county since the competition’s inception in the 1960s. The most recent of their 11 titles was won in 2009, and they’ve claimed a three-in-a-row of Munster titles with a defeat of Tipperary last month.

Interestingly, five players – Alan Cronin, Jamie Wall, John O’Rourke, Tom Clancy and Damien Cahalene, the son of former inter-county player Niall – that are expected to start this Saturday lined out in each of the last three Munster finals, so they have experience of playing in the pressure cauldrons.

Galway aren’t as experienced. True, a couple of players already have a All-Ireland medal from 2011 – a year Galway beat Cork in the semi-final – but there are a lot of young guns in the panel. Of the squad of 33, about 19 of them are young enough to play U21 next year as well, while eight or nine of the starting 15 will be eligible next year, although you wouldn’t think it given the levelheadedness they’ve displayed throughout the past six weeks.

Galway had plenty to spare over a hapless Sligo outfit in Tuam the first day out, winning by 16 points, which didn’t flatter them, but old rivals Mayo in the following game at the same venue was a different story. After a tense and tight hour of fare, Galway took the spoils after showing immense character to dig it out by two points in a dogfight, 0-9 to 0-7.

Fighting qualities were needed again in the Connacht final in Hyde Park against Roscommon – Galway were minutes from being knocked out of the championship when a heroic comeback, three points in as many minutes from Kilkerrin/Clonberne’s Shane Walsh, rescued extra-time, a period which Galway never looked like losing.

The Tribesmen took their chances when they presented themselves, a trait that also saw them knock-out Kieran McGeeney’s highly rated and much fancied Kildare outfit in a thriller at Tullamore a fortnight ago.

The Lilywhites were wasteful, true, but that’s their problem, and Galway just had too much natural footballing class to take their chances and emerge with a deserved five points, 2-10 to 2-5 victory, despite 19 wides from the vanquished.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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GalwayÕs U-13 and U-16 sides both through to national finals

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 14-May-2013

Mike Rafferty

It proved to be a very successful weekend for Galway Schoolboy soccer as two representative sides qualified for national finals at the end of the month.

It was drama all the way in Eamonn Deacy Park on Saturday afternoon as the U-13 side drew 1-1 with the Midlands League, but came through the dreaded penalty shootout to prevail by 5-4.


Meanwhile the U-16 side had to travel to Cork, where they emerged 2-1 winners following a very impressive performance. For the second game in succession, it was the goals of the Connolly brothers that proved crucial to both team’s success.

Andrew lines out with the U-16 side and he notched both their scores in terrific away win, while younger brother Aaron was on target for the U-13 side and also converted the winning spot kick.

Mervue United captured a third consecutive Connacht Youth Cup with an impressive 4-1 win over Castlebar Celtic in Milebush on Saturday.


Galway League 1

Midlands League 1

(AET-Galway won 5-4 on pens)

A low scoring contest might indicate few chances, but one has to credit two outstanding defences whose splendid covering and marshalling of the front men was a joy to watch.

Galway’s Oisin McDonagh and Adam Rooney never put a foot wrong in central defence, while full-backs Byron Lydon and Matthew Tierney were equally efficient in defence, and getting forward with regular forays.

Further afield, they matched the visitors in terms of intensity and creativity and in the second half in particular should have pulled away from a Midlands side that won the U-12 national title last year.

The visitors certainly offered the greater attacking threat in the opening half, but found home custodian Mark Greaney in top form. Galway’s best chance fell to Joshua Quinlivan, but he pulled an effort wide of the target.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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