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How did my belly burn the baked beans?



Date Published: 20-Sep-2012

The Snapper and I had not been away for two and a half years, during which time we’d lived through many stressful life events. We really needed a break, so I ignored the fact that we couldn’t afford it, surfed d’internet and booked us a lovely little self-catering housheen called ‘O Serro’, a mile up a hillside outside the Portuguese village of Santo Estevao.

At this point I need to point out that I find little so irritating as scribblers waxing lyrical about their time away in hot climes, while you’re sitting at your kitchen table in the West of Ireland, sheltering from the wind and rain, sipping your tea as you try to figure out how to pay the leccy bill. The only reason I feel free to write about my rare holidays is that I am never one of those columnists who goes ‘away’.

You know the type – ‘So and So is away’, ‘Blah de Blah will be back next week’. They are, to my mind, a bunch of slackers. If I have a colyoom to write, I will send in copy week-in week-out, whatever terrible or wonderful events might be taking place in my life.

Despite holidays generally being considered testing for relationships, the Snapper and I enjoyed a perfectly uneventful and exceedingly relaxing time. She read a big thick book each day as I stared out into space, regarding the view of olive trees and the nature of the Universe.

Then we went out to dinner in inexpensive local restaurants, drank too much wine, and the next day did the same again. I swam in the pool at 5pm each day, by which time I had it all to myself, and a couple of times we went into the town of Tavira, the jewel of the as yet unspoilt East Algarve.

It was a fantastic holiday, yet almost completely void of scribbleworthy events. But there was that strange business with my belly and the burning of the baked beans.

In our little holiday kitchen there was a set of black hi-tec smooth glass electric hobs, with little red lights for controls, a locking device and a Masters Degree from Harvard University. It required only the slightest of fingertip touches to activate the hobs.

Being ‘orribly Ingerlish, I enjoy a fry wherever I am, so I was scrambling up the eggs on one hob, turning the rashers in the pan on the other, while the beans were just heating up slowly on the back hob – except no, they weren’t – they were bubbling away like mad bad beans intent on baking themselves into a vile glutinous goo.

Looking down at the super-sensitive control button, I saw that somehow the temperature of the back hob had gone from a lowly ‘3’ to a high ‘9’, so I quickly turned it down, only to find a few seconds later that it was somehow back up again.

Did the hob have a mind of its own?

Was it built by Germans to confound this dumb English mind?

Was it some kind of safety device that tried to stop tourists eating bad things that might kill them prematurely?

No, because if it was that, the beans would survive while the super-fatty Portuguese bacon would have been zapped to oblivion. Waving a finger an inch above the button I watched the numbers riding up from 3 to 4, 5, 6. Aha! The controls were designed so that you didn’t even have to get a mucky paw-print upon them.


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

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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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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