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.
The way we were – Protecting archives of our past
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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