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Honesty and passion to the fore as Jinx gets set for free Galway concert

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Date Published: {J}

Every day, people can be heard venting their discontent with the current state of Irish society. Many are disillusioned and angry with the government, and voice this on call-in radio shows. But you’d be hard pressed to find any modern Irish music that taps into these feelings.

 

That is, until you encounter Jinx Lennon. The Dundalk based punk/folk troubadour has been shining an unflattering light on Ireland since back in the boom times and will doing just that when he plays a free show in Róisín Dubh on Friday, October 1. Given his fired-up stance on things, how does Jinx feel about the Taoiseach’s now-notorious night out in Galway?

“I’ve a vision of a fella, he probably grew up with loads of people there,” says Lennon. “I’m just thinking of the mindset of Fianna Fáil people in a certain part of the country. They do what they like and they see other people doing what they like; they probably think there’s nothing wrong with that. Maybe he still thinks that way: ‘to hell with the rest of them, this is just the way I am, this is my way of doing things’.”

Jinx feels that a “moral compass has gone wrong” with our leadership but is not in the form to offer any sympathy.

“Of course it’s not good enough to have someone like that leading the country,” he says about Brian Cowen. “But the problem is, on the international scale, it’s done so much damage. People internationally see that Irish people take it, and people will not stand up for themselves.”

Jinx feels that the populace is guilty of misdirected outrage instead of actually taking a stand.

“The thing that really annoys me is what people get excited about in this country which is basically, sport,” he declares. “People will kill for sport. You get Facebook things being sent, there were 30 or 40 groups traumatised by that match where the French guy had the handball incident. People really got forceful about that and started opening up and I’m thinking ‘there something wrong with the way people think in this country’.

“The politicians in this country understand that,” he continues. “That’s why they go to all these matches and make sure they’re seen. Cos it’s like ‘we’re all one big nation together’. We can’t be one big nation when one man’s getting €300,000 and the other fella can hardly afford the ticket to go to the match.”

But Jinx Lennon’s music is not just about getting angry – it’s about getting uplifted. He comes across as a performer determined to shake us out of our malaise. This is very much the ethos behind the title of his latest album, National Cancer Strategy.

“It’s all about erosion of self-confidence in the last few years,” he says. “It’s all about the tension stirring beneath the surface; people are really, really angry. There are loads of things in this album about mindlessness and things going awry. As it progresses it’s about keeping sane and there’s uplifting songs towards the end.”

Jinx Lennon approach to songwriting is akin to that of a novelist, in that he concentrates on little kinks in personalities to create characters.

“I’m very interested in writing songs about individuals who find themselves totally alone in a situation that they’re not used to and have to get out of,” he says.

Over the course of National Cancer Strategy we encounter a woman having road rage on the dual carriageway, a couple breaking up, a man fighting diabetes and adults neglecting their aging parents. Lennon explains why he goes to the darker side of society in his songs.

“It’s almost as if people feel they’re going to live forever and nothing wrong is ever going to happen to them,” he says. “Some thing can go wrong; there are danger spots waiting for people, unknown to themselves. And the whole media thing gives people the impression that everything’s going to be grand and we’re all living in a very safe society. I like to see what happens when some switch is turned – ‘life’s not that at all. What’s going to happen to me, how am I going to cope here?’.”

While Jinx has established a loyal fan base through relentless touring, he still remains an artist with cult appeal. Building on that following is something he is always keen to do without compromising his punk-meets-preacher approach.

“My job as a songwriter is to get the stuff out there,” he says. “As long as people are talking about and giving it a bit of press, that’s great for me. My whole thing is about getting more fans on board, as much as possible.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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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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Galway have lot to ponder in poor show

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

SLIGO 0-9

GALWAY 1-4

FRANK FARRAGHER IN ENNISCRONE

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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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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