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Why dinner will never qualify for party status



Date Published: {J}

They used to define a rural Irishman as a fella who eats his dinner in the middle of the day. And I’m all for that, because if you have the dinner at that time, there’s very little chance it will turn into a party.

And I absolutely hate dinner parties, sitting around someone’s kitchen or dining room, drinking wine on hard chairs when you could have just as easily had a bite of tea and headed out for a few pints instead.

In fairness, I’m no fan of house parties of any sort and in this second half of my life I would find it hard to think of a less tantalising prospect that going to an overcrowded abode, trying to find a quiet corner and then having to sleep on an inflatable bed when I could as easily have been tucked up in my own.

Indeed it may well that parties, in all shapes and forms other than a spontaneous one in a pub, might be the problem – for this and many other reasons, those who know me have no problem suggesting that I’m odd.

It must be said that this party phobia is no small bone of contention in our house because it limits our hosting opportunities and it curtails where we can go – but such is the price to be paid for having dinner during working hours and your tea when you get home.

I also have to acknowledge that I may well be in a club of one, because – even in these recessionary times – we Irish are competing at the Dinner Party Olympics like we were to the manor born.

We seem love dinner parties, sitting around and shooting the breeze with the remnants of our repast lying like a corpse in repose in front of us. Candles lighting, music playing, conversation flowing – it’s a nightmare.

Maybe it’s the free wine that does it – bring one, get seven free – but why lengthen out a procedure that, if you were dining on an ordinary day, would take half an hour into a four hour marathon?

We’ve had one dinner party in almost 15 years of marriage and that was for a good friend’s special birthday; all of the guests were people I would happily go away on holidays with – indeed I have done that with almost all of them – and they would pass any test you could dream up to qualify as great company.

I wasn’t asked to cook or serve and I wasn’t asked to give up my usual seat; in other words, everything was done to keep any possibility of inconvenience to a minimum. And still I’d rather have gobbled down the lovely dinner and gone out for three pints.

The problem arose again more recently when we were invited to someone’s house for dinner; a lovely couple who you’d look forward to spending time with in any circumstances – but I wondered if we could just all go out instead.

It’s not even about the few pints – although they’re very welcome – and certainly it’s not about the quality of the food. Clearly it’s not about expense either, because it’s much dearer to go out. But it’s probably about something deeply engrained in my DNA.

Dinner in my young days never qualified as a party; it was a function to stave away hunger before you got on with the rest of the day.

At dinner time, you had milk; at tea time, you drank tea. And if you had dinner in the evening back in the days, people almost felt sorry for you because it was the first sign of parental neglect.

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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