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Menopause offers Flo new chance to go centre stage

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Date Published: {J}

It’s unlikely that singer, actress and mother Flo McSweeney will ever get a swelled head – at least not when her eight- year old daughter Mia is about.

“I sing in the car bringing her to school and when we get near her school Mia says ‘stop mum!’. I tell her that people used to pay to hear me sing,” laughs Flo.

People certainly did. Flo was one of the country’s best-known performers during the 1980s and early 1990s, when she sang with groups such as Les Enfants, Toys with Rhythm, and Moving Hearts and presented RTÉ’s pop programme, Megamix. More recently, she anchored the travel programme No Frontiers and still works as a voiceover artist for radio and TV ads, although it’d be fair to say her career has taken a back seat since the birth of her children Luke (13) and Mia.

However, in recent times Flo has moved centre stage again and will be appearing in Menopause The Musical at the city’s Town Hall Theatre from March 1-6, along with fellow performers Adele King (Twink), Linda Martin and the UK’s Ellen O’Grady

“I’m getting a lot of slagging from my friends,” she laughs. Last year Flo did another show, Mum’s the Word with the same production company, which was a big commercial hit, so when she was approached about taking in Menopause the Musical she was delighted.

One stipulation of being in Mum’s the Word was that you had to have children, she says, but “thankfully that’s not the case this time out”.

“I keep saying I’m not menopausal yet, but I will be by the end of the run!”

Menopause The Musical is a comedy with a whole of lot music and four defined characters, she explains. Linda Martin plays a soap opera actress, Adèle King is a housewife, Ellen O’Grady is a business woman and Flo’s character is described as ‘an earth mother’, but “she’s really more a hippy chick – a bit mad and a bit flaky”.

The script consists of parodies of songs from the 1960s and 70s and Adele in particular has several sketches that are “very rude but very funny”. Essentially, “it’s four very strong singers in a very funny show”, Flo says.

The opportunity for a bit of humour is something people are happy to avail of right now.

“Were living in such a depressed time that a show like Menopause works because it’s a feel-good night.”

The idea of four women on an Irish stage laughing at the menopause, at hot flushes and hormonal mood swings, hasn’t raised a single eyebrow of disapproval. And that’s strange because it isn’t so very long ago that sex was a taboo subject in Ireland.

Flo remembers that when she was growing up, it was forbidden to advertise sanitary towels or tampons on the TV. So, it’s massively liberating to tour a show like this.

“Sometimes you see quite elderly women [in the audience] and initially they are shocked and then you see them laughing.”

Flo is now 48 and while she has put on some weight since her rock-chick days, she’s in good shape “everything is working as it was 20 years ago”, she laughs.

Most importantly, she is happy to be back on stage, although she isn’t seeking the limelight.

“For me it’s about work and not about fame. Adele and Linda would merit most of the attention [in this show]. I just like the idea of working.”

She is not driven by a financial need, but feels “it’s good for you to be doing what you love” adding that a little bit of her did die when she stopped performing.

“Part of me feels a little bit guilty, like when my daughter was on the phone 15 minutes ago saying ‘I miss you’ – I wonder if I’m being very self indulgent. But it’s only a six-week tour and I’m home every Saturday night.”

Home is in Knocklyon in South Dublin, and Flo’s husband is the comedian Barry Murphy, who is currently hosting the comedy show That’s All We’ve Got Time For on RTÉ 1 television, and who forms one third of the hugely successful Après Match comedy group.

For more, read page 31 of this week’s Connacht 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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