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Innovative group Triœr to showcase talent in Nuns Island concerts



Date Published: {J}

Award-winning Galway musician Úna Ní Fhlannagáin has played for heads of state and was employed as the private harpist of a Lebanese millionaire but this weekend she performs in the more modest surrounds of Nun’s Island Theatre with her newly formed trad band, Triúr.

The series of gigs back in her hometown as part of the new three-piece group excites her as much as any of the prestigious events at which she entertained socialites in as many as 17 countries during the course of her travels as a harpist and singer.

In fact, she recounts the story of how the three musicians got together with such a fond sense of fate and romanticism that their coalescence of musical minds sounds more Mills and Boon than Gilbert and Sullivan.

“Do you know the way some people get together they say that it was like their eyes met across a crowded room? Well, it was like our fingers met across a crowded room one night at a session and we really enjoyed playing together,” says Úna.

“That was just before Christmas and, after that, we kept sort of ‘accidentally’ turning up at each other’s sessions. I think we were kind of in awe of each other until eventually I built up the courage to ask them if they wanted to be in a band together.

“It turned out that they both had been thinking the same thing. It does sound a bit like some illicit teen romance and I think it was actually around Valentine’s Day that we actually got together,” she laughs. “Now we play together as much as possible and we get uncomfortable if we don’t see each other for 48 hours.”

As is the case with most fairytale romances, Triúr do – quite literally – make beautiful music together. The sum of three quite diverse musical traditions, the group is perhaps the only one in the country to feature the rare combination of a harp, pipes and an accordion.

“I think the result is a unique sound,” says Úna. “There are three of us but, because our instruments are both harmony and melody, it actually sounds like there are more of us. I don’t believe there is another single combination of our instruments in Ireland.”

Piper Brewen Favrau hails from Brittany but plays a Scottish instrument and has completely immersed himself in Irish traditional music. Accordionist Ger Chambers is from Mayo and is described by Úna as “the grooviest player” she has ever seen.

“His speciality is rhythm,” she says. “You can’t help but tap your feet to his smoking, steaming fast reels. They just make you want to dance.”

Úna herself cites her father, John Flannagan, as her biggest influence and has been instilled with the distinctive musical style of his native north Clare. She self-diagnoses a “schizophrenic musical personality” however, and says her harmonic language is often quite “poppy”, peppered with blues notes and not uncommonly jazzy.

The trio hail from quite disparate musical traditions but all have been similarly steeped in musical backgrounds from an early age. Úna’s father is not a professional singer but that, she says, is only because he doesn’t want to be and he counts among his fans Christy Moore, who once wrote about him on his website after seeing him perform. Her musical pedigree also boasts her famous cousins, Dolores and Sean Keane.

Úna’s career to date has seen her perform for dignitaries including President Mary McAleese (twice), the Prime Minister of Jamaica, a host of TDs and senators, and a gathering of some of the world’s best-known human rights advocates at a recent function at the Glenlo Abbey Hotel.

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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