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Tiger out of birdies as Mickelson shows real class



Date Published: {J}

It hasn’t been a great year for Tigers – of the Woods or Celtic variety – but while our economic version is most definitely under par, it’s the exact opposite for the man with the addiction to birdies.

He came back for a few days to bid for the Masters as though this was some kind of walk in the park for which he only had to turn up to win – but the man who couldn’t keep his trousers up doesn’t have a new green jacket either.

Instead Phil Mickelson, a man who has spent the past year side by side with his sick wife Amy as she battles breast cancer, showed that the nice guys can finish on top.

As if he wasn’t burdened enough, Mickelson’s eldest daughter, Amanda, broke her wrist while rollerskating on Saturday night. Mickelson took her to hospital for x-rays at 10pm, and reported that he got to sleep at 1am. Tiger used to be up at one in the morning as well, but then the cocktail waitresses don’t get off until late.

Mickelson did not know for sure Amy would make it to the course. She and their three children had arrived last Tuesday but for most of the week she was too weak from her medication to leave their rented house.

That’s why her presence on the eighteenth green was such a lift and that’s why he shed a genuine tear – because as well as Amy, Mickelson’s mother, Mary, was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly after his wife, and he had not had his family travel with him to a tournament in eleven months.

That might seem like the perfect result for the Tiger, who found comfort from wherever it came on the road – but Mickelson is made of sterner stuff.

And while Woods crawls back under whatever tree he recently emerged from, he might look to his old foe for a few hints on how to win friends and tournaments by behaving himself on and off the perfectly manicured greens of Augusta.

Not that it will make or break my day if Tiger re-emerges as the best thing since sliced bread (or sliced tee-shots for that matter) because frankly golf is up there with curling as sports I’d run to avoid; and if you’d seen me running you’d know how big a judgement call that is on them.

I tried playing it a long time ago and once my shoulders eventually returned to their sockets from all the shuddering misses, I accepted that the quickest way for me to get around the course in the least number of shots was to kick the ball in front of me.

In my defence I did once win a prize for having the longest drive, which was a matter of pride and surprise in equal measure; surprise because all of my work was done at the nineteenth hole … pride that my drive from Cork to Galway was recognised by my peers in such a meaningful way.

Watching golf on telly has always mystified me as well because you’ve no idea how undulating the greens are and it just looks like a putt has taken on a life of its own as it veers off at a right angle halfway towards the hole.

But any sport that sees the good guys come out on top has to be viewed in a new light and – in victory or defeat – Mickelson is everything that Woods is not; a family man, loyal, modest, charming … a man with a sense of perspective on life that doesn’t revolve around his own massive ego.

He knows that a real battle is for your life, not without another man in outrageous clothes beating a small ball into a hole before a crowd of thousands.

He’ll celebrate his wife’s victory more than he ever would his own – and that’s why his Masters win was about an awful lot more than golf.


For more, read this week’s Connacht 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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