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Working with children keeps Babor— boss young at heart

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: {J}

The arts keep you young. That’s what Teenagh Cunningham says and she should know as she is the General Manager of Baboró, the international Arts Festival for children.

Teenagh is older than she looks, something she takes as a compliment and puts down to working with the arts and especially with children’s shows.

She is a bubbly Dubliner who came to work for the festival six years ago via the Kilkenny Arts Festival, though she cut her teeth with the Dun Laoghaire Arts Week and working with the Lambert Theatre Company.

And, of course, she has caught the Galway bug, the one which seduces people into staying in their adopted city – and loving every minute of it.

She loves her job, too, though of course, she hastily adds there’s always some aspect of every job that you don’t like. In her case, it’s the daily grind of paperwork.

Her office in the Baboró headquarters off Merchant’s Road in St Clare’s Walk looks like any other office, but a few soft toys here and there and old framed Baboró posters and brochures indicate what business she’s in.

“And this is a business. My job is to make sure the festival runs well and our ambition is not to have any money left at the end of the year, which admittedly is an unusual ambition for a business.

“What I do love about the job is making people happy and seeing the response to shows and talking to people about what they have seen and how they enjoyed it,” says Teenagh.

Teenagh was only 18 when she went to London for the summer and stayed for seven years.

“I loved living in London. I lived right in the heart, in Leicester Square, so I had the theatres and the cinemas and art galleries right at my doorstep.

“I didn’t work in the arts then. In fact, I wasn’t hugely interested in the arts then. I was a barmaid first and continued to work in hospitality until I came home.

“Then I got a job as a PA for a man who imported clothes. It was the first company to bring in the Puffa Jacket, you know the ones that were full of down, like ski jackets, and they were all the rage in the 80s.

“But then I found myself redundant when the business went bust and got a part-time job with the Dun Laoghaire Arts Week. I loved the idea of arts in the community and I was a good organiser. It was there that I met Miriam Lambert, daughter of Eugene, who had the puppet theatre and we became friends. In fact, I worked as her assistant for a while and that’s how I fell into children’s art really.”

She is fascinated that all of the ten Lambert children went into the arts and Miriam has brought her shows to Baboró over the years, including last year.

When Teenagh talks about Miriam’s show, or indeed any of the shows in this year’s Baboró programme, she is very animated. She tries to see most shows early in case she wants to go back and see them again.

Maybe one of the reasons she looks and acts so young is because she immerses herself in literature aimed at the younger reader (she has read all the Harry Potters and adores Philip Pullman) and she is particularly excited about UK writer Melvin Burgess who wrote Junk (for young adults) coming to the festival.

She loves shows aimed at children for their colour, their storytelling and their interaction.

It is not surprising then that her ring tone is of a laughing, gurgling child. “That’s my only child,” she laughs.

She has been involved in the first international puppet show in Dublin, the first international dance festival, both held in the 90s, all experience under her belt, though at the time she was so happy to be getting paid for doing something she loved.

 

At a personal crossroads of her life, she decided to move to a small village in Kilkenny, Inis Tioge, where her parents had a fishing cottage and lo and behold, she ended up working with the Kilkenny Arts Festival.

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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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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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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