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New Galway festival aims to ride wave of success



Date Published: 14-Feb-2013

It’s an amazingly rich resource, sitting on our doorstep. But until recently, Galway tended to underestimate the value of the Atlantic Ocean to the city and county.

That’s changing and this year sees the inaugural Galway Sea Festival, which is being held in the city on the June Bank Holiday weekend.

“It’s a community based and city-wide Festival, incorporating many different elements,” says Declan Dooley, President of Galway Chamber of Commerce, which is co-ordinating the event.

The new Festival will highlight Galway’s rich maritime heritage in a way that’s designed to attract tourism, with a special emphasis on families.

One of its great strengths is that it’s not being headlined with alcohol related activities, he adds.

“It’s about families getting involved and getting active.

“We are trying to package all the disparate things that take place all the time in Galway,” explains Declan. These include kayaking, rowing, paddle sailing, surfing, and other sports that are growing in popularity.

“It’s about pulling all these together and getting momentum going,” he says, adding that “it’s going to require a lot of input from different organisations and businesses”.

Galway Bay Sailing Club is planning to bring its annual regatta into the city on the Festival weekend, and this will provide the spectacle of 45 racing boats for locals and visitors. In addition, the cruising side of the club is hoping to have 150 boats based in the marina at the docks and sailing around the Bay.

“There is a great opportunity here to position Galway as a stopover for cruising boats – not massive liners but small boats from 34-60 feet which people sail for leisure and pleasure,” Declan says. While Ireland is a popular venue for international leisure sailors, they frequently comment about the lack of facilities in the country.

However, since hosting the Volvo Ocean Race, the berthing facilities at Galway docks have been developed and “are made for this kind of visitor”.

The Galway Harbour Company now operates a 31-berth pontoon marina in the Harbour, with an additional eight berths available along a 60-metre pontoon/walkway. Fresh water and electricity are available at the pontoons.

Last weekend, some 40 boats were tied up at the Docks, none of them commercial and that’s due to the fact that the marina has been developed, Declan observes.

“If you build it, they will come.”

In the past, we have tended to forget that that Galway is a maritime city, he feels.

But that has changed. An Ocean Sports Centre has opened in the Harbour Enterprise Park, housing a range of clubs including the Claddagh Boatmen, the Galway City Sailing Club, the Galway Kayak Club, The Galway Sub Aqua Club and the NUIG Sailing Club.

In addition, the company West Sails have offices there and offer a sail making and sail repair business, which is a new development since 2011.

That makes it easier to organise major sailing events, says Declan; until recently if you had such an event and someone damaged a sail, it couldn’t be repaired, now it can.

But Galway’s newest Festival is not just about sea-based activities.

It will also host onshore events, including walks along the city’s canals, exploring their history and highlighting the various clubs that use these resources.

Family events will include beach safaris where children will be shown how to identify different wildlife along the seashore. The Galway Atlantaquarium is working with the organisers on this and is supplying expertise and equipment.

Also for families, there will be a sandcastle world record attempt.

There will be culture too, and Salthill will host top-class music events with the group Trad on the Prom staging a special show for the Festival.

Throughout the city, there will be street entertainment, music, food trails and other activities.

“It’s about combining lots of small events into a big Festival. Galway Chamber of Commerce is steering the event, but we don’t want to own it,” Declan remarks.

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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