Date Published: 18-Apr-2012
AT about 8pm on Friday last, on the eve of the Aintree Grand National, the six members of the Dunmore syndicate that owns Seabass, were having a pint in a Liverpool pub chatting about their gelding’s chances in the World’s most famous National Hunt race the following day.
One of the group slipped into the bookies’ office next door, William Hill, just to check the odds on the Ted Walsh trained nine-year-old in the most lucrative jump contest in Britain. Amazingly, he was 22/1.
Even though the ‘Gunners Syndicate’ had backed Seabass at odds ranging from 20/1 to 14/1 back in Ireland before they left, they couldn’t resist those attractive 22/1 odds and they lumped on the ‘dough’ each-way again.
Less than 24 hours later, just minutes before the off, thousands of punters at the famous racecourse waged a massive gamble on Seabass, with leading Irish amateur jockey Katie Walsh on board, so much so that the bookies slashed the odds down to 8/1 joint favourite.
The confidence of the Gunners Syndicate – made up of Pat Glynn, a farmer and builder; Pat Gleeson of Weirs Waste; local publican Robbie Byrne; brothers Donal and Niall Collins (both employees of McHale Farm Equipment, Kilmaine); and Castlerea butcher, John Harte – was rewarded when their pride and joy finished third, just five lengths behind Neptune Colonges, who rallied to just pip Sunnyhillboy on the line in a thrilling photo finish.
Aside from the return on money wagered, the heroics of Seabass in the toughest steeplechase in the World earned the syndicate a cool £102,000, which is around €125,000.
There are just three National Hunt Races in Ireland where the winner would receive more than Seabass earned for his third place finish and it was by far Seabass’s biggest payout in his career to date – the next best was around €60,000 for romping home first in the Leopardstown Handicap Chase in January.
But for a moment in this gruelling marathon – as Seabass was jumping the second last of the 40 fences – it looked for all the World that Katie Walsh was to make history by becoming the first woman jockey to win the historic race, and that he would earn the half a million sterling in prizemoney for the winner.
The Gunners Syndicate had dared to dream. “When he jumped the second last I said: ‘this fella is going to win – he’ll win it’. He usually has a kick and finishes strongly and even going round the elbow after the last, I felt he still had a chance but it wasn’t to be. Only 15 of the 40 horses finished, which is an achievement, so we’re thrilled with third,” said Pat Glynn, of the Gunners Syndicate.
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