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With the start of summer, there came Ôthe call of the wildÕ



Date Published: {J}

How is it that I keep on running into people in shops who tell me there is a long-range forceast that June and July will break all records for sunshine and temperatures . . . but I can’t quite track down the origin of the reports.

While I have nothing but respect for some postman who apparently predicted those past two Winters with frost that killed hedges and trees all over the place, I tend to go with ‘science’ and the forecasts which can point to something other than the way the birds are behaving.

We had a touch of Summer at the weekend, but there was a time when the end of May and beginning of June were sure to mean that, suddenly, I felt the call of the wild . . . we might be heading into the Summer holidays, but I couldn’t wait for all that.

Maybe it’s a bit fanciful to believe that, like the dog in Jack London’s marvellous book The Call Of The Wild, I had some kind of ancient yen to be out in the countryside and it would not be denied . . . especially when it came to Summer, good weather, and endless hours of dreaming.

If there were Irish mitching championships, there is little doubt that I could have represented my country. For, when I was just 10 years old, I was the most incorrigible truant . . . and I think the only one ever to have the cops out searching for him!

I was in Fourth Class in primary school at the time. I simply hated school, I was terrified of the wallopings with the leather which were liberally dished-out, maybe I was a bit lazy, and ‘doing my own thing’ wandering abroad had become my way of life.

Endless days stretched before me of chasing that single indifferent brown trout that seemed to inhabit the river at the bottom of Tuam Racecourse. Or with a jampot, I went fishing for ‘pinkeens’ or ‘jarogs’, which I brought home in jamjars.

Then there were the endless hours sitting on the riverbank reading, or marvelling at the tracery of the sheeptracks which criss-crossed the fields.

Had I been of a poetic leaning, perhaps I might have been a bit of a Wordsworth, but, for me, the joy of the days spent wandering was the pleasure of doing just that – wandering. I kept my ear cocked for the ‘town clock’ so that I would have some idea of when to appear back at home again, but, for the rest, I was a free spirit.


Like all ‘school days’, I do not remember a single wet day! In the morning I packed my schoolbag with The Readers Digest, which was my staple diet when it arrived in the post once a month, or I nicked a copy of Great Expectations or Oliver Twist from the sittingroom ‘collection’.

I don’t remember that I particularly cared for Dickens – there were too many descriptive passages for my liking – but I read the books like adventure novels to be enjoyed, and lightly skipped over the lengthier descriptive passages to get back into the storyline once more.

For more, read this week’s Galway City 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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