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Living the dream with Tradiohead at Electric Picnic



Date Published: 05-Sep-2012

This summer may well have been the wettest on record, but perhaps the season just decided to condense itself into one weekend. At the 2012 Electric Picnic it was hard to quibble with many punters’ highlight – three days of glorious sunshine.

This year I made the trip to Stradbally Estate to perform, as a member of a band called Tradiohead. This group interprets the songs of Radiohead using instruments more often associated with Irish traditional music.

The members are Philip Fogarty on bodhrán and accordion, Pat Hargan on guitar, Michael Chang on violin, viola and mandolin and myself on vocals.

The idea for Tradiohead came to me at a session in the now defunct Sheridan’s on the Docks years ago and I mentioned it to Michael, who was there too. He liked the sound of it, but as sometimes happens with plans hatched on a night out, it took a while to follow up on them. Fast forward about three years, to last October, and I met Philip Fogarty. I mentioned Tradiohead, and he jumped at the idea. I promised to call Michael and discuss it; the next day Philip texted me to make sure I had kept my word. We met up, and Michael suggested Pat Hargan as a guitarist. By the end of autumn, the members of Tradiohead were jamming.

On Friday last Tradiohead met up at Michael Chang’s house. We loaded up his car and Pat’s van and headed for County Laois.

Though we met other Picnic-ers at service stations en route, there were no major traffic delays until we got to Stradbally town. Even then, it wasn’t too long before we were in the performers’ car park. After getting our wristbands, Tradiohead were directed to the equipment lock up. The affable young woman there informed us that the container would be driven to the Body and Soul area, where we were to play two shows over the weekend. After a small bit of separation anxiety (it’s kind of like leaving your kid on their first day at school), we dropped off the instruments and began the trek to the campsite. Fifteen minutes later we were pitching our tents in the performers’ campsite. It was starting to fill up, and a troupe of fire jugglers and drummers were putting on a show. To use some festival parlance, the vibe was good.

By then it was close to 4.30 on day one of the Picnic and the first act I wanted see were due onstage. But we had more stuff back in the car park. Being the gents that they are, the other members of Tradiohead offered to bring it, leaving me free to peg it across the main arena. Thanks to Philip, Pat and especially Michael for carrying the fold-out – and heavy – aluminium bed.

Cold Specks were just about to start when I got to the Crawdaddy Tent. Led by Canadian singer Al Spx they gave a beguiling performance, and when Spx sang ‘we have caught fire’, it was hard to disagree.

I met up with the rest of the lads after that and we rambled through the Body and Soul area, locating Natasha’s Living Food Emporium, where we were due to play the next day. Michael had the idea of printing out flyers advertising our two shows at the Picnic, and soon Tradiohead were introducing themselves to the punters.

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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