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Promoting sport across all sections of the community



Date Published: {J}

IT may not be Croke Park, but even among a sea of table tennis tables, former All-Ireland football referee and Co-ordinator of the County Galway Local Sports Partnership, Michael Curley cuts a striking figure.

Although the Tribune has checked in with Curley and County Galway Local Sports Partnership from time to time, it has been all of six years since this column caught up with one of the most familiar faces of Galway sport.

Since then, Curley’s life has moved on immeasurably, from retiring as a Garda Superintendent in Salthill to subsequently taking up a role that, arguably, he was born to do – co-ordinator of a sporting body. It’s a role he thoroughly enjoys.

“What the Sports Partnership does is that it promotes sports and recreation across all sectors of the community, regardless of how old or young you are,” says Curley. “It does this in a number of different ways, working with different organisations, such as the Active Retirement for the older people and clubs and organisations for the younger and, indeed, middle aged people.”

On this day, Curley stands in the magnificent Kingfisher gym in NUI Galway; the sound of table tennis balls whipping from the bats creating a symphony of sorts. “In this particular instance, we have organised with Top Spin, which is the table tennis club here in Galway, to coach the sport in five schools around the county.

“Tom Shaughnessy of Top Spin – he is also with the Irish Table Tennis Association – has been coaching the schools for the last number of weeks, and today is the culmination of that coaching,” notes Curley, as he surveys waspish competitors buzzing around the sea of tables.

Those five schools, as it happens, are all in the Connemara area, namely Cornamona, Spiddal, Oughterard – primary and secondary – and Carna. All, with the exception of the primary school, attended the second-level tournament at NUI Galway last week.

“So, we have brought four of those five schools together in a blitz. We have 60 students here from the four schools. They will take part in a blitz throughout the day and there are prizes for the winners.

“After today, we hope to set up table tennis clubs in those four areas where they can continue to play this sport afterwards. Most of those you see here today are very interested in table tennis, and that is why they are playing it. This is another sporting outlet for them. So, I will be working with the communities in the four areas concerned – and with the schools – and we hope we will be able to set up those clubs.”

In truth, most people who have played the game at one stage or other will agree – be they closet fans or not – that table tennis is a thoroughly enjoyable game to play. The Glinsk native agrees, but he notes that the game also encourages a certain degree of movement and activity.

“It is a very active sport without it requiring extreme fitness or anything like that,” says the Sports Partnership co-ordinator. “Also, it is a great alternative for those who don’t play other sports (such as GAA, rugby or soccer) and that is one of the pillars of the Sports Partnership’s work. To try and promote the minority sports, as well as everything else. This is one of them.”

Surprised by the level of interest – “it was even greater than we thought” – Curley says it underlined the demand for these activities among young people. “In fairness, the likes of Gaelic games, soccer and rugby, they look after their people very well and provide plenty of opportunities for them,” continues the 57-year-old.

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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