Date Published: 13-Jun-2012
Shantalla Road man Maurice Walsh had been painting since he was a child – now at the age of 52, he is having the first ever exhibition of his work.
A Million Miles Away, Maurice’s debut show is currently running in the city’s Town Hall Theatre and it’s a varied selection with influences ranging from Adele to rap music to Galway’s wildlife.
Maurice, who left school at 17, trained as a cabinet maker and French polisher and has, for many years run a successful furniture restoration business in the Rahoon area of the city.
But at the age of 45 he went to GMIT to study art and since then has amassed a body work, which is now being shown.
Maurice was born and reared in Shantalla, and had loved art at school, first at St Pat’s where he got his primary education, and later at Fr Griffin Road Tech. There, one of his teachers was a man nicknamed by the students as ‘Arty’ Mulhern, who taught him a lot about painting. When he left school at 17 Maurice didn’t pursue art, but his career did take him on a creative path.
He served his time with Noel Cloherty in that family’s Munster Avenue Joinery, where he learned how to restore antiques. He loved it and still does, having subsequently branched out on his own.
“I’ve been doing it for the last 25 years. I do major restoration and replace missing parts on antiques. It’s part of our heritage.”
Throughout, Maurice had always been painting, but he wanted to improve his drawing, a skill he describes as “the hardest of all”.
He applied to GMIT to attend its art course for mature students and had to go through two interviews, a process he recalls as “daunting”. But obviously, the lecturers recognised his talent, and he was accepted.
Maurice continued on to complete his degree, which was tough, he says, because the classes were frequently in the evening after work, when he mightn’t be in the mood for turning to art.
“But I worked hard and really enjoyed it. I did a lot of drawing there to practice and kept it up when I graduated.”
Maurice explains that he got this exhibition in the Town Hall Theatre “by chance”. He sent an email with images of his paintings to photographer Jane Talbot, who is involved with the Town Hall and she thought they merited a show.
There are 34 pieces in the exhibition, which was opened on Friday night by Galway Arts Centre Director Páraic Breathnach.
Thirty-three of them were painted by Maurice; the 34th was done by his late father, George, whose love of art hugely influenced his son.
“He painted a lot, especially when he retired. He loved wildlife,” says Maurice.
Because George – who died 12 years ago – never had the chance to exhibit his work, Maurice decided to include a piece of his in this show as a tribute.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
The way we were – Protecting archives of our past
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
Galway have lot to ponder in poor show
Date Published: 23-Jan-2013
FRANK FARRAGHER IN ENNISCRONE
GALWAY’S first serious examination of the 2013 season rather disturbingly ended with a rating well below the 40% pass mark at the idyllic, if rather Siberian, seaside setting of Enniscrone on Sunday last.
The defeat cost Galway a place in the FBD League Final against Leitrim and also put a fair dent on their confidence shield for the bigger tests that lie ahead in February.
There was no fluke element in this success by an understrength Sligo side and by the time Leitrim referee, Frank Flynn, sounded the final whistle, there wasn’t a perished soul in the crowd of about 500 who could question the justice of the outcome.
It is only pre-season and last Sunday’s blast of dry polar winds did remind everyone that this is far from summer football, but make no mistake about it, the match did lay down some very worrying markers for Galway following a couple of victories over below par third level college teams.
Galway did start the game quite positively, leading by four points at the end of a first quarter when they missed as much more, but when Sligo stepped up the tempo of the game in the 10 minutes before half-time, the maroon resistance crumbled with frightening rapidity.
Some of the statistics of the match make for grim perusal. Over the course of the hour, Galway only scored two points from play and they went through a 52 minute period of the match, without raising a white flag – admittedly a late rally did bring them close to a draw but that would have been very rough justice on Sligo.
Sligo were backable at 9/4 coming into this match, the odds being stretched with the ‘missing list’ on Kevin Walsh’s team sheet – Adrian Marren, Stephen Coen, Tony Taylor, Ross Donovan, David Kelly, David Maye, Johnny Davey and Eamon O’Hara, were all marked absent for a variety of reasons.
Walsh has his Sligo side well schooled in the high intensity, close quarters type of football, and the harder Galway tried to go through the short game channels, the more the home side bottled them up.
Galway badly needed to find some variety in their attacking strategy and maybe there is a lot to be said for the traditional Meath style of giving long, quick ball to a full forward line with a big target man on the edge of the square – given Paul Conroy’s prowess close to goal last season, maybe it is time to ‘settle’ on a few basics.
Defensively, Galway were reasonably solid with Gary Sice at centre back probably their best player – he was one of the few men in maroon to deliver decent long ball deep into the attacking zone – while Finian Hanley, Conor Costello and Gary O’Donnell also kept things tight.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr
Date Published: 23-Jan-2013