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Whole new ball game for legal eagle Billy

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 20-Sep-2012

Billy Glynn’s rugby playing career may have ended prematurely, but the newly-elected 125th President of the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) has still managed to ensure his place in the annals of Connacht rugby.

The popular Tuam native is synonymous with the game in Connacht, having steered the province through the transition to professionalism, and led the fight to prevent the team from being disbanded.

The former Revenue Sheriff and solicitor looked set to achieve international sports success in his own right before a severe neck injury ended his playing career and almost left him paralysed. The incident failed to stifle his passion for sport, a lifelong love that was nurtured in his schooldays in Ballinasloe.

“My brothers all went to St Jarlaths in Tuam, which was a Gaelic football school, but my parents decided to send me away to school and it transpired that I went to Garbally College in Ballinasloe,” Billy recalls.

“Of course, that was a rugby school so that was how I started playing rugby. It was a school that was big into athletics as well and that was big part of it, bigger than rugby in fact.

“I played rugby on the school team and the Connacht Schoolboys and I did a lot of athletics. I was Irish senior triple jump champion and I competed in the sprints and in the long jump. I was second in the long jump in the All-Ireland championships the same year I was first in the triple jump.”

He continued to pursue his passion for rugby and athletics while studying Law in UCD, and he would go on to represent UCD, Ireland U-23’s and the Irish Universities teams in rugby. His Irish Universities rugby team became the first Irish team to ever defeat a Springboks team.

He also represented UCD and the Irish Universities in athletics, and was a member of the Ireland team that travelled to the European Student Games in San Sebastian, competing in the triple jump, the long jump and the relay.

He recalls that he carried his gear bag into college every day along with his books and joined his teammates on the training ground at every opportunity.

“Sport was wonderful. That was the way you did it. You were ready at the drop of a hat.”

He continued playing rugby with Galwegians and Connacht after returning to Galway, but a promising sports career was destroyed by a spinal cord injury he sustained in a game.

“I got a very serious neck injury and I was paralysed from the neck down for 48 hours. Fortunately, I came out of it, but it brought my career to an end. I did try again later but I used to get terrible problems with my neck.”

He went into shock and barely had time to assimilate the possibility that he would never walk again, before the first signs of movement returned. Luckily, his spinal cord had only been stunned and he recovered.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Judy Murphy

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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

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

images/files/images/x3_Courthouse.jpg

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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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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