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Watching the detectives doesnÕt come down to a gender thing



Date Published: {J}

The politically correct mandarins at the BBC reckon that we have too many male detectives on the box, which is the pathetic reason they’ve dropped the stylish Italian Aurelio Zen for a variety of modern day Miss Marples.

At the same time, the head honchos at ITV finally abandoned its long relationship with Taggart – although in fairness, they gave it another 17 years after Taggart himself had shuffled off to his eternal reward.


Indeed Jim Taggart – brilliantly depicted in all of his misery by the late Mark McManus – might have still had his name over the door, but a generation only remember Mike Jardine and Jackie Reid as the main protagonists, or even more recently when the main role as handed over to DCI Mark Burke.

So killing off a programme called after a detective who has been dead since 1994 is one thing – but calling a halt to a series because we have too many male detectives on the box is a different matter entirely.

They seem to forget that women have found Rebus, Morse or the Frosts, Taggarts and Crackers of this world every bit as entertaining as the rest of us – right back to Poirot, Petrocelli, Columbo, Joe Mannix, Jim Rockford and Theo Kojak as a matter of fact – and that female crime solvers have been, well, a little less believable.

Of course there was Cagney and Lacey, and we’ve had DI Jane Tennison, Angie Dickinson in Police Woman, as well as Patricia Cornwell’s brilliant Kay Scarpetta. But against that, there was Jessica Fletcher, Nancy Drew, Hetty Wainthrop, Charlie’s Angels – not to mention the Scarecrow’s sidekick Mrs King.

Purdy was a big draw in the New Avengers, but Steed solved the crimes; and when Laura Holt set up her detective agency she knew she had to have a man’s name over the door – hence Remmington Steele. Similarly Moonlight had Bruce Willis’ David Addison as the loose cannon and Cybil Shepherd’s Maddie Hayes as the rock of sense.

Irrespective of your desire for gender balance, the reality is that male detectives have left a bigger mark on the small screen than their female counterparts who – with obvious exceptions – were either there for their looks or their entertainment value.

But regardless of the detective’s gender, there are key ingredients that remain the same when it comes to a successful series these days. Some might even call them clichés.

The first inescapable fact is that murders rarely occur in ones – and quiet areas with a high profile detective in town have a conversely frightening serious crime rate. A television series needs a crime spree or the whole thing would be hard to sustain for twelve or fourteen episodes.

But it never ceases to amaze at how quickly the most innocuous of sylvan suburban settings can suddenly turn into Los Angeles with a death rate higher than sub-Saharan Africa.

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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