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Why canÕt football have more philanthropists than philanderers?



Date Published: {J}

Jamie Carragher is the City of Liverpool’s Philanthropist of the Year – which caught the Reds centre-half somewhat by surprise as he said he hadn’t collected stamps since he was a kid.

The Philanderer of the Year crown on the other hand rests uneasily on the head of Ryan Giggs, who was quick to expound the virtues of family, particularly of brothers and sisters – as in Big Brother contestants and sisters in law, without whom he’d still be just a dull footballer.

Wayne Rooney doesn’t want any award this year because he’s paid for a new crown for himself, transplanting the hair from his ears onto his bald spot with the double benefit of allowing him to head the ball in comfort and hear his team-mates telling him when it’s coming his direction.

The man called Shrek could still teach Giggsy a thing or two, given his own past misdemeanours with elderly grannies and young tarts – although he’s probably hoping that, by covering some of his mush with his newly transplanted bum fluff, he won’t have to pay for extra-curricular activities in future.

Carragher’s reputation remains snow-white despite the regular barbs that he wouldn’t be your first choice for a table quiz team. But at least his 23 Foundation charity is putting something back into one of the most deprived cities in the UK.

He donated his testimonial money – as did our own heroes, Niall Quinn and Gary Kelly, in the past – to charity, in this case the Foundation that bears his Liverpool number so that they could fund existing projects for deprived young people in the city.

While his fellow Scouser and team-mate, Steven Gerrard, finds it hard to shake off internet suggestions that he’s had his moments off the field of play, Carra remains inextricably a part of the fabric of his own community.

And apart from one or two dodgy incidents in his early days that could be excused on the basis of youth, he has been a shining example of what a footballer can be, epitomised by the fact that he received the freedom of his home borough of Sefton last year for his local charity work and "the exceptional example he sets to the youth of today."


The pity is that there aren’t a few more like him; Ryan Giggs seemed to be one until the tabloids got their teeth into him and he took out a superinjunction that was supposedly designed to spare him publicity, but in reality might as well have suggested he paint a big target on his back.

In fairness, if Giggsy hadn’t done anything wrong, there’d be no reason to seek a gagging order and if he hadn’t taken the notion of a close family to new heights, he’d have been in the clear after his Big Brother liaison.

He could argue that what he does off the pitch is nobody’s business except his own and his family’s, and he could have a point if he didn’t make millions off his Mr Clean reputation through endorsements and sponsorship.

They whole lot of them would have a better argument if they claimed that no self-respecting fan sees these stars as role models anyway – even the best of them is living in a world a million miles removed from reality.

They earn in a week what the rest of us make in a year; they have more cars than your average motor dealers’ forecourt and they spend their holidays on private islands where they shun the caviar for a diet of sausage and chips.

There was a story told by an employee of Bolton Wanderers – a sort of general fixer and smoother out of player problems – about one of their highly-paid foreign stars who was complaining to the club of an unexplainable damp patch on his king-sized bed.

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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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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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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