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Kids getting into the swing with soft foam hurley



Date Published: {J}

IF you are looking for a stocking filler of a sporting variety this Christmas, then one that should certainly appeal to the young and active in the household is the newly launched hurlóg – the soft foam hurley for children under six that recently made a prominent appearance on The Late Late Show Toy Show.

Believe it or not, the hurlóg is the brainchild of a Galway-based husband and wife duo, former Cork hurler Eoin Fitzgerald – formerly of Castlegar and now hurling with Oranmore/Maree – and Kiltartan wife Ciara (nee Moran). The couple reside in Oranmore with their two and a half year-old son, Daithí.

Indeed, it is at their beautiful, warm home in Oran Island, where they have been living for the past three years, that Talking Sport visits to discuss their new and brave business venture, which some may recognise from the AIB advert currently running on TV. As simple as the idea is, Eoin and Ciara have to be commended for having the courage of their convictions. Their story really is an inspiring one.

“The original idea came from when we had our own first child, Daithí almost three years ago. We had looked for a hurley, but there was nothing really there for a child that young,” begins Ciara, as she places the brewing pot of tea and an assortment of croissants and toast on the kitchen table.

Eoin takes up the story. “We had seen the material [in a baseball bat] in the United States when we were over there. To be honest, we had never really thought of it until we went looking for baby stuff, the push prams, the cots and all that kind of stuff ourselves.”

However, aside, perhaps, from the small, ornamental hurl produced through the Gaga website, the Fitzgeralds discovered there was no soft hurley appropriate for young toddlers. “And, anyway, how would you give a child an ash hurley?” muses Castlelyons native Eoin.


“The way I see it, though, everything has a phase or a step in its development. Like, you started off sitting up, then crawling, and then you learned to walk. It is all development and it is the same with hurling. You need to learn how to hold the hurl and swing it before you can play.

“A baseball bat for that age is very simple to make because you just stick a tube in it and you wrap foam around it. But how do you make a hurley that is thin, light, soft and yet durable? That you can swing it and belt around with it? To make it that it is something you can use rather than have it nice to look at?”

The couple set to work. A number of prototypes were made up and taken to the annual GAA coaching conference – attended by some 700 people – in Croke Park, where they got lots of feedback. “Now, we probably knew some of it already, but it was good to hear it over and over again, such as ‘make a bigger boss’, ‘make a bigger ball’, ‘make a smaller handle’. It was very simple stuff, but practical,” says Eoin.

One of the observations was the “rough” finish, with the contours of the ash-look more pronounced than they, perhaps, should have been. However, after securing an innovation voucher worth €5,000 from Enterprise Ireland, the Fitzgeralds employed the aid of Athlone IT.

In all, the process lasted almost 12 months, each step painstakingly leading towards the final design. Along with creating a product that would look great, they also needed to consider the shape – would it take the form of a Cork, Kilkenny, Tipperary, Galway or other hurl – but in the end they found a “happy medium” for the hurlóg. One that they hope ticks all the boxes.

In January of this year, the Fitzgeralds – or hurlóg Limited – finally placed an order for 2,000 to a manufacturer in China as it was not possible to get the product made here, in Ireland. “The packaging then is completely separate,” continues Ciara. “The hurls come in bags and we box them. So, the first 2,000, we boxed them. It started off here; they were done here in this room.

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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