Date Published: 13-Jun-2012
The Westport Festival is, without doubt, one of the most exciting music events to happen west of the Shannon in recent years.
A line-up that includes Ray Davies, The Waterboys, Seasick Steve, Imelda May and Macy Gray will play in the grounds of Westport House on Saturday, June 23 and Sunday, June 24. Also on bill is the charismatic and entertaining Jerry Fish, whose career has spanned over two decades from his days with the band an Emotional Fish and more recently, The Mudbug Club.
Jerry is looking forward to the trip to Mayo.
“My wife’s family are from Westport, so I know it well,” Jerry says. “Beautiful place. I’ll be down for the whole weekend; it’ll be great to see Imelda May, and Jools [Holland]. And I’m a massive Seasick Steve fan – you’ll see me in the audience [watching him] if you miss my gig!”
Jerry has just finished recording a new version of Celebrate, a hit he had with An Emotional Fish, in aid of Barretstown Children’s Camp. The front man played with his old band at a fundraiser for the charity in March.
“Barretstown invited An Emotional Fish to get back together for a one-off – the band won’t be reforming, “says Jerry. “But it was such a successful night and Celebrate was such a winner, we finished off the night with that song.”
The new version of Celebrate was produced by Gavin Glass, a gifted songwriter who is also a member of Lisa Hannigan’s band. Jerry enjoyed working with Gavin, and believes the 1989 hit resonates in post-boom Ireland.
“There’s no better time to say ‘celebrate, the party’s over, I’m going home!’ It still speaks,” laughs Jerry. “To repeat it is an odd thing to do, but it was a lot of fun really. And it was great for me not to be at the controls, Gavin brought a lot of his players in. The only thing I insisted on was the original bass player from An Emotional Fish, Enda Wyatt. We still write songs together – in fact, Enda’s been in every band I’ve ever been in.”
Jerry Fish has been rediscovering his rock side of late, and has been working on new songs with his friend Grum for the past nine months. The resulting album will be released in autumn, and punters at Westport can expect to hear signs of this new direction.
“It will be a rocking set,” he says. “With a brass section – I do like my brass. I think a lot of people always think brass is that big thing, but they forget about bands like Dexys Midnight Runners, it can be used in so many different ways. Rock is something I’ve been missing, I guess.”
Jerry Fish & the Mudbug Club scored big hits with Be Yourself, True Friends and the sublime Back To Before, but Jerry decided to call time on the project.
“I just think you need to change,” he says. “The Mudbug Club was originally formed as an eclectic club of musicians – that’s why it wasn’t called a band. But because True Friends was the big hit, the crooner kind of kept in. Which is great, and you shouldn’t knock a hit, but it’s not all I am. It was never going to be Daniel O’Donnell!”
From An Emotional Fish to the Mudbug Club, Jerry has had some recurring lyrical themes. The Hole in the Boat, from the second Mudbug album was written just before the economic crash it and chimes with Celebrate.
“Punk is probably my ethic,” he says. “That’s something maybe I’m proud of, that I have managed to stick to my guns. I haven’t really changed much. The Hole in the Boat is a bit like Celebrate; ‘there’s a hole in the boat but still we row’.
“But look, you know, we’re still very lucky,” he adds. “I had something to eat in Yamamori [sushi restaurant] in Dublin last night, a Bento box. We live like kings, really, when you compare us to other people in the world, what’s happening in Syria, what’s happening in Africa. For me, my life has always been, as much as I can, counting my blessings.”
Jerry has been in the music business for over two decades, though he had a hiatus when An Emotional Fish ended. Is longevity something that’s hard to achieve in that world?
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
The way we were – Protecting archives of our past
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
Galway have lot to ponder in poor show
Date Published: 23-Jan-2013
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.
Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr
Date Published: 23-Jan-2013