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Talented Galway swimmer making big waves



Date Published: {J}

SWIMMING in Galway received a significant boost recently when up and coming star David O’Sullivan was selected to represent Ireland at the European Youth Olympics Festival in Trabzon, Turkey at the end of July.

In all, over 4,000 athletes from 49 European countries will compete at the games, which are viewed by many aspiring athletes as a stepping stone to greater things. Indeed, for 15-year-old O’Sullivan, who will be part of a seven member Irish swim team, his selection represents an important point in his burgeoning sporting career.

“I have been swimming since I was three,” remarks the soft-spoken Junior Cert. student. “When I was 10, I started doing lanes and going to galas and stuff like that. I specialise in the butterfly and my favourite would be the 200m butterfly which, basically, would be eight lengths.”


Victories in a variety of swim disciplines in a multitude of competitions, including the All-Irelands, the Irish Schools and the Community Games have, no doubt, established O’Sullivan as a strong competitor, but it has been his inclusion in the Irish swim team for the forthcoming games that has marked him out as a prospect for the future.

To qualify, the Galway City teenager – who is currently the Connacht senior and junior record holder, Irish age-group champion and ranked No. 5 in Ireland and Britain in the 200 butterfly – had to achieve the top 12 average standard for the past four European Youth Games, which he did in his principal event.

While the Youth Olympics will certainly be the biggest stage he has performed on so far, it will not be his first time to represent his country. “I have already represented the Irish Schools, for the past two years,” explains the Bish student.

“Two years ago, I did the U-15 100m butterfly and I came sixth and then I came third in the 200m IM (individual medley). This year, though, I came third in the U-18 (butterfly) in Dublin. The competition consisted of Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales, so it was great to finish third in that.”

Still only 15 and already placed in U-18 international events, O’Sullivan would definitely appear to have the talent to make a name for himself in the sport: “The 200m butterfly is more about endurance, though,” says the modest swimmer. “A lot of people actually struggle to finish it.”

In any event, O’Sullivan is the first from Galway Swimming Club since 2003 to qualify for the games and for full-time coach Pearse McGuigan it signifies the progress being currently made at the club. “It is good for the club and it is good for the area,” states McGuigan. “It has been eight years since we had an international swimmer from the area and considering how difficult the times and the qualification criteria are to attain, it is even more of a feat.

“We have a club that has 120 members approximately and we have a teaching programme that can facilitate up to 300 swimmers. Basically, it is a breeding ground for potential stars coming through the system. We have 10 squads working within our club programme and we have six coaches. So, it highly structured and highly organised but it has taken plenty of time to develop and progress the club the way we want it to.”

The club, itself, is based out of three facilities, namely Leisureland, Salthill Hotel (Ocean Fitness) and NUI Galway Kingfisher. “All the facilities have been exceptionally kind to us in supporting the programme over the course of the years and more so now,” adds the Tyrone native.

McGuigan believes the sport is only recovering after the controversies of yesteryear, no more so than the child abuse scandals of the ‘80s and ‘90s. “It certainly didn’t help the sport,” continues the former Ulster 100m and 200m butterfly and 200m individual medley record holder. “It has recovered, but it has taken years to get it back on track again. I suppose, they (the controversies) did not stop people from swimming, but they did affect the profile of the sport.”

As it is, swimming – like other minority sports in the country – already plays “second or third fiddle to the big three (GAA, rugby and soccer), which is disappointing”, says McGuigan, who is currently undertaking a part-time Sports Coaching Degree at University of Ulster, Jordanstown. “If you read the papers, though, swimming, when it comes to world class level, it sells out. It is sold out in the Olympics already.

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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