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Making sure Feile na nGael is a resounding success



Date Published: {J}

CHAIRMAN of the 2011 Féile na nGael Committee, Stephen Cahalan sits comfortably in an anteroom off the lobby of the Lough Rea Hotel. For a man spearheading the mammoth task of hosting 240 teams – between hurling, camogie and handball – in the county over the coming weekend, he looks quite relaxed. Frighteningly so.

However, Cahalan says he can afford to be. Since taking on the unenviable role of organising one of the country’s premier juvenile events, he states he has received nothing but support from the local clubs, local businesses and organisations and, of course, his fellow committee members.

“I suppose, when I took this job, I didn’t know what I was letting myself in for,” laughs Cahalan. “It has been a paramount task but, in fairness, the committee has really embraced it and they have worked tirelessly. They are really on top of their brief.

“The logistics of this are absolutely massive. At the very outset, when we looked at it, I said if this was going to be successful, then we had to get a specific group of people behind us, and that was the clubs. Thankfully, they have really rowed in behind us. Whatever help we wanted, we got it. They have been true to their word.

“I mean, the response is unbelievable. We held a stewards meeting recently because we needed 80 people to marshal (at the parade). However, over 100 people volunteered. So, while logistically it looks a big task, given that kind of support, it has to be a success.”

With over five thousand U-14 players due to feature in 410 games throughout Féile weekend – which will be hosted right across County Galway this Friday, Saturday and Sunday – Cahalan and company also recognised that they needed the backing of more than just the clubs.

“We knew we had to meet the people of Loughrea (headquarters of the games) and we have received great co-operation from the local Gardaí, in particular Supt. Enda Walsh and Sgt. Daithí Cronin; Loughrea Hurling Club, especially Christy O’Loughlin; Loughrea Town Council; the Chamber of Commerce; and the Tidy Towns,” continues the Féile na nGael Chairman.

“They have really, really embraced it. They have really pulled out all the stops. So, having a body of people like that behind us, it really made our job much, much easier.”

Cahalan stresses, though, that pulling it all together was not solely down to him, and that the success of what has been achieved so far has been down to the entire committee. “The amount of work they have done is unreal.

“Noreen Shiel has been an excellent Secretary. The amount of work she has done in coordinating the whole thing! From the Galway Committee to the Croke Park Committee, she has been absolutely tremendous, while Bernie O’Connor, as Treasurer, has been a great fundraiser. We had targets to meet and he reached them all . . . and he maybe even surpassed some of them.

“Michael Nee is our referees’ coordinator and he has given courses to all our referees. He has about 70 referees organised and waiting for this weekend. Gordon Duane has coordinated all the fixtures from the Friday, through Saturday, to Sunday – he has done tremendous work – while Gerry Glynn has worked tirelessly to produce a beautiful programme. It is absolutely excellent.

“Niall Canavan is our PRO and he has kept us to the forefront of local news. Indeed, we are really indebted to the Connacht Tribune, which ran a page of Féile pictures every week over the last 10 weeks, and to Galway Bay FM for their coverage. Along with Niall, they have been getting our story out there.”

Other committee members to receive particular mention were Kevin Craddock and John Williams, both of whom have coordinated the handball competitions and County Camogie Chairperson Geraldine McGrath, coordinator of the visiting teams.

Gort’s Francis Connors is also lauded by the Chairman for his work, in particular for spearheading the recent promotion of Féile in the local national schools, some of which were even visited by GAA President Christy Cooney throughout the course of the week. “That was a total success,” beams Cahalan.

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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