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Jerry Fish & The Mudbugs let the good times roll



Date Published: {J}

Jerry Fish & The Mudbug Club who play Róisín Dubh on Saturday, December 19 are a hugely popular live draw but, like everyone else, Jerry Fish admits they’re feeling the pinch this year.

“We’re all in the same boat,” he says. “Record sales are being affected; everything is. But it’s been great to get an album out, it’s always good to get it off your chest and get it out there. The shows have been really good.”

The band’s latest album The Beautiful Untrue was one of 2009’s most impressive releases and Jerry and his gang will be on top form for their Róisín Dubh show. It’s a venue Jerry enjoys performing in, particularly since its renovation over five years ago.

“As a performer, it’s definitely better,” he enthuses. “Before there was an L-shaped room so there was always a corner you couldn’t reach. Now it’s straight on, everyone can see the show. I much prefer it. Particularly with what I do, it’s important to see faces. I’ve always got off on that really.”

How did the Mudbug Club and Jerry go about making the album?

“The album was done commando style, if you will,” he says. “It was done everywhere really. I hired a basement in Temple Bar for four to six months to write the record. That’s where songs like Hole In The Boat come from. The chorus goes ‘everybody know the ship is sinking/there’s a hole in the boat/but still we row’.

“In the basement, I felt like I was in the bilge of the ship pumping out water,” he adds. “I’d come up on deck and there’d be a carnival on and nobody noticed there was a gashing big hole in the boat.”

Given such lyrical concerns, it’s no surprise that the album was praised by critics as an uplifting response to the recession – even if that’s not what Jerry intended.

“You would think it’s about the recession but really it was about before that, I thought we were all high on money. It probably will be looked at as the Irish crime of the century, the so-called ‘Celtic Tiger’.”

Yet Jerry Fish is optimistic about the future, something that is borne out in the good-time feeling of the Mudbugs’ music and live shows.

“I just think, no matter how broken things are and get, we still just carry on,” he says. “Our instinct is just to keep going. Most of us still have shoes on our feet, y’know, and food in our bellies. The world is full of inequality; once that’s there, there’ll always be sh*t. The key is just to try and get yourself happy somehow, whether that’s spiritual or whatever. I kind of do that through music and playing to audiences.”

Jerry Fish & The Mudbug club delivered one of the singles of the year with Back To Before, a melancholy but beautiful waltz that would be at home in Sinatra’s canon.

“The seed of it was a friend of mine, his wife passed away,” Jerry explains. “I think that sparked the idea of ‘losing everything to the world’. Like I said, the human being is so amazing that they can continue after the most devastating of circumstances.”

Earlier this year Jerry and the band played a concert on the DART to mark the Dublin suburban rail line’s 25th anniversary, an experience he thoroughly enjoyed.

“I loved that!” he recalls. “I thought ‘oh no, this is an all time low, I’m playing on the DART’ but it was fantastic. We did four shows of 30, 45 minutes – it was quite exhausting – to four different audiences. They had four different carriages; David Kitt was on one, The Coronas were on another and I think they had a comedian on the fourth. We went from Connolly to Howth, then Howth to Connolly, then Connolly to Bray, then Bray back to Connolly again. It was a really well put together evening.”

This month, Jerry Fish and his motley crew will also be opening for Imelda May for her triumphant, hometown show in the O2.

“Imelda May’s a very old friend,” Jerry says. “We go back to when she was a teenager. I’d seen her perform at a party years ago; I’m friends with her in-laws. The bass player in the Mudbug Club has played with Imelda as well. So we’re all old friends; Imelda was on the [new Mudbug] album just before she took off. It’s great what’s happened to Imelda, she’s such a hard worker. Herself and her husband, Darryl, are amazing.”

A veteran of the music business since his days with An Emotional Fish, Jerry knows all about the work ethic required to last in the fickle industry.

“It’s not the easiest of roads,” he admits. “The music industry has been turned on its head in the last five years. I’ve been around for the last 25, but for the last 5 it’s completely changed and it still hasn’t fully come out as what it’s going to end up as.”

Jerry Fish released The Mudbug albums on his own label and is enjoying the challenges being presented to musicians at the moment.

“The live music used to be to promote your record,” he says. “People are going to see live music more, which is great; you can make a living from that. The other thing that’s interesting, that’s come full circle, is now people are buying singles. So the album is kind of in jeopardy, everyone one is wondering will the album survive.

“But then if you look back, Elvis never made any albums. It was The Beatles and The Stones, and that era, that started the album. So we may be going back to what went on before, people are just going to put down killer tracks.”

Ultimately, the Jerry Fish & The Mudbug club experience is about letting the good times roll. When this circus comes to the Róisín Dubh, its ringmaster will be glad to be leading the charge.

“If you love doing something, you’re lucky if you can do it and make a living from it.”

Tickets for Jerry Fish & The Mudbug Club are €22.50/20. Doors 9pm.

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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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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