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Top Galway road runner is still pounding out the miles



Date Published: 02-May-2013

 THIS Sunday, the ‘prodigal son’ of Connacht athletics will make its return when the resurrected AAI Connacht 10km Road Race Championships takes place around Ballybrit Racecourse – service road – and the surrounding roadways.

After a lapse in excess of two decades, the Championships – spearheaded by Loughrea AC – is part of the Great Race Galway and all combined, the multi-faceted event is sure to attract athletes of all ages and abilities from clubs right across the province.

One man who would love to be running in the provincial road race is former five-time winner Gerry Ryan from Attymon but, unfortunately – or fortunately – he is putting the final touch on his preparations for the European Veterans Athletics (non-stadia) Championships which take place in Upice, Czech Republic later in the month.

Ryan, who these days runs in the Craughwell AC singlet, is no stranger to Galway, Connacht, national and international athletics, having featured prominently on all four fronts over the last three decades – between track, cross country and road race events.

Indeed, in the late 80s, he was one of the top Irish athletes and in 1988 he was duly recognised by the Galway Sports Stars for his achievements in the previous 12 months, which included road race victories in Loughgeorge, Ballinasloe and, most notably, the Moyne 10k in Thurles, where he finished ahead of a top quality field.

His successes were not only confined to the road that year as he also won the Galway cross-country title – no surprise as the year previous he had come within 13 seconds of claiming the national cross country crown. In all, Ryan has won the Galway cross country title six times, the Connacht crown seven times and he has two silver and a bronze medal in the national competition.

Then again, running is very much in his blood. His father Kevin was an All-Ireland senior cross country champion and he, along with Ryan’s mother Mary, nurtured this love in Gerry from an early age. Consequently, Ryan competed in both national and secondary school events while also honing his talents in his teens with Athenry Athletics Club.

“I won some pretty good titles at a young age and I got noticed by the BLE – now Athletics Ireland – and they asked me if I was interested in going on a scholarship to United States – to Villanova University, which was one of the top colleges in the States. I wasn’t fully 17 and I thought over it for a while but nobody really encouraged me to go, I suppose,” he says.

“To make a long story short, I decided against it. It became a serious regret, particularly when I was hitting my late 20s. I said ‘what sort of a fool was I that I didn’t actually go over’. I suppose, although I have three sisters, I am an only son at home and we have a farm and that may have had an impact on my decision. I felt obliged to stay at home.”

In any event, Ryan didn’t go and, instead, transferred to Loughrea AC which had a more “stable” senior section at the time. He immediately reaped the benefits and over the ensuing years claimed a plethora of titles between the three disciplines.

“I also got selected to run for Ireland internationally. There was a famous road race called the Quinlan Cup in Tullamore, with the cream of all the senior athletes in Ireland taking part. In fact, it was really an international race on the road and anyone who finished in the top three in that was guaranteed to race for Ireland. Most years, I finished in the top three.

“Anyway, the first international I got was in Gateshead in the North of England. I remember Steve Cram (1983 1,500m World Champion) was in that race and I finished fourth in that event. It was kind of a shock to the system though because I was moving up another class from what I did in Ireland.”

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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