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Feast of free activities at Spiddal Crafts Centre



Date Published: 03-May-2012

The second annual Féile na Ceardlainne, a free Festival of art, craft, music and dance celebrating the very best of Irish craft and design, will take place in Spiddal this Saturday and Sunday, May 5 and 6.

The two-day festival of creativity will take place at An Ceardlann in the village, which is home to 10 unique arts and craft design studios. Its members have programmed free open day workshops for people of all ages throughout the weekend.

Events this Saturday will include weaving demonstrations for children with traditional loom weaver, Máire Ní Thaidhg; throwing pots on a wheel with Fiona and Rob from Sliding Rock Ceramics; a jewellery workshop for children with Sue Donnellan from Glass Art Design Studio; salsa dancing; pinch pots with Geraldine O’ Rourke; and basket weaving with Ciarán Hogan. Activities start at 10.30am and run until 5pm.

On Sunday there will be painting classes for children at Andrea Rossi’s art studio; a Tai Chi class; badge making with Spailpín Fánach; card making for children at ceramic café An Siopa Buí; a jewellery workshop for children with Sue Donnellan and an open-air concert of overlooking Galway Bay.

The Ceardlann’s Builín Blasta Café will be open throughout the weekend, serving homemade scones, sausage rolls, pastries, pizzas, seafood chowder, fishcakes and desserts.

Based on the Galway side of Spiddal, the Ceardlann is 28 years in business and houses some of the best craftworkers in Galway.

Geraldine O’ Rourke is a mixed media artist whose subjects range from Celtic mythology and figurative drawings to aquatic themes.

Rob D’eath of Sliding Rock Ceramics is a potter, whose showroom includes a gallery of Irish contemporary ceramic art, presenting work from other artists in Ireland in addition to his own.

Máire Ní Thaidhg weaves all her individually designed scarves, throws, wallhangings and tapestries in her shop, with yarns reflecting Connemara’s vibrant colours.

Brazilian artist Andrea Rossi works through the acrylic medium producing colourful figurative work, exploring different aspects of the rich Irish culture.

Stained glass artist, Sue Donnellan draws inspiration from the sea and landscape to create contemporary pieces of glass jewellery, lamps, glass clocks and candle holders.

Gearóid Ó Murchú of An Spailpín Fánach provides unique fashion handbags, t-shirts, casualwear, books and games. An Siopa Buí is a ceramic café where adults and children can paint their own pottery and enjoy a wide range of craft activities.

Celtic Coin Jewellery produces jewellery in silver, copper and brass using the designs of the first coins of the Irish Free State and incorporating spiral designs from Celtic heritage.

And new to An Ceardlann is Ciarán Hogan, son of renowned artist, Joe Hogan, who has opened his first basket weaving workshop.

For further programme details and for workshop bookings contact Sue Donnellan on 091 897847 or An Siopa Buí on 091 504692 or visit

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

Galway have lot to ponder in poor show



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013




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.

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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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