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Why dinner will never qualify for party status



Date Published: {J}

They used to define a rural Irishman as a fella who eats his dinner in the middle of the day. And I’m all for that, because if you have the dinner at that time, there’s very little chance it will turn into a party.

And I absolutely hate dinner parties, sitting around someone’s kitchen or dining room, drinking wine on hard chairs when you could have just as easily had a bite of tea and headed out for a few pints instead.

In fairness, I’m no fan of house parties of any sort and in this second half of my life I would find it hard to think of a less tantalising prospect that going to an overcrowded abode, trying to find a quiet corner and then having to sleep on an inflatable bed when I could as easily have been tucked up in my own.

Indeed it may well that parties, in all shapes and forms other than a spontaneous one in a pub, might be the problem – for this and many other reasons, those who know me have no problem suggesting that I’m odd.

It must be said that this party phobia is no small bone of contention in our house because it limits our hosting opportunities and it curtails where we can go – but such is the price to be paid for having dinner during working hours and your tea when you get home.

I also have to acknowledge that I may well be in a club of one, because – even in these recessionary times – we Irish are competing at the Dinner Party Olympics like we were to the manor born.

We seem love dinner parties, sitting around and shooting the breeze with the remnants of our repast lying like a corpse in repose in front of us. Candles lighting, music playing, conversation flowing – it’s a nightmare.

Maybe it’s the free wine that does it – bring one, get seven free – but why lengthen out a procedure that, if you were dining on an ordinary day, would take half an hour into a four hour marathon?

We’ve had one dinner party in almost 15 years of marriage and that was for a good friend’s special birthday; all of the guests were people I would happily go away on holidays with – indeed I have done that with almost all of them – and they would pass any test you could dream up to qualify as great company.

I wasn’t asked to cook or serve and I wasn’t asked to give up my usual seat; in other words, everything was done to keep any possibility of inconvenience to a minimum. And still I’d rather have gobbled down the lovely dinner and gone out for three pints.

The problem arose again more recently when we were invited to someone’s house for dinner; a lovely couple who you’d look forward to spending time with in any circumstances – but I wondered if we could just all go out instead.

It’s not even about the few pints – although they’re very welcome – and certainly it’s not about the quality of the food. Clearly it’s not about expense either, because it’s much dearer to go out. But it’s probably about something deeply engrained in my DNA.

Dinner in my young days never qualified as a party; it was a function to stave away hunger before you got on with the rest of the day.

At dinner time, you had milk; at tea time, you drank tea. And if you had dinner in the evening back in the days, people almost felt sorry for you because it was the first sign of parental neglect.

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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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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Archive News

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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