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New work and familiar faces provide Arts Festival mix



Date Published: 24-May-2012

 NEWwork and familiar faces form part of the line-up for the 2012 Galway Arts Festival which will run from July 16-29, with the programme being launched this weekend.

Festival Director Paul Fahy has reiterated his commitment to producing new Irish work with a new play, The Great Goat Bubble by Julian Gough, which is a co-production between Galway Arts Festival and Dublin’s Fishamble Theatre.

This follows the success of last year’s critically acclaimed show, Misterman, a co-production between the Festival and Landmark Theatre, which has since toured to New York and London.

The Great Goat Bubble, set on the platform of Ballinasloe train station in 1986, is an acerbic take on the Irish property boom, according to Paul. Two characters are waiting for the train to Dublin where Charlie Haughey is opening the Irish Financial Services Centre.

One is an orphan, Jude, who has previously appeared in Julian Gough’s novels, Jude – Level One and Jude in London. The other is Ethiopian Dr Ibrahim Bihi, who caused a financial meltdown in his own country as he pursued the great goat dream, which saw everybody want to own their own goat – then everybody wanted a bigger and a better one. So he flooded the market with goats . . . until it collapsed. Now he is pursuing the next big thing.

Mikel Murfi, who directs comedy of economic triumph and catastrophe, was the unanimous choice of both the Arts Festival and Fishamble for this piece, according to Paul.

Julian’s script doesn’t contain a huge amount of stage directions, which gives the director a lot of scope, so both Paul and Jim felt that Mikel – formerly of mime company Barabbas – was perfect to draw the physicality of the text. The Great Goat Bubble will be at Druid Theatre from July 12-29 and will preview in advance of the Festival.

Another co-production is The Outgoing Tide, featuring Festival favourite John Mahoney. This is being staged in conjunction with Chicago’s Northlight Theatre. The cast also includes Thomas J Cox and Rondi Reed – like Mahoney,

a Tony Award winner. Reed previously visited Galway in 2010 when she appeared in Steppenwolf’s production of Sideman.

The Outgoing Tide was first staged Chicago 18 months ago and is now being remounted as a co-production, Paul explains. It’s the story of Gunner, a man at a crisis point in his life, who gathers his family at a fishing resort to tell them of his decision for the future. But his wife and son have other plans.

“It’s poignant and light-hearted and addresses serious issues that we might all have to face at some time in our lives,” says Paul. It’s at the Town Hall Theatre, from July 17-21

Druid’s production of three Tom Murphy plays on the theme of emigration – Conversations on a Homecoming, Whistle in the Dark and Famine – is a major undertaking with the Arts Festival and NUIG both being involved.

DruidMurphy previews this week at the city’s Town Hall Theatre and opens in London’s Hampstead Theatre next month as part of that city’s Cultural Olympiad. It’s playing Galway Arts Festival from July 23-28, with the full cycle of three plays at the Town Hall Theatre on July 26 and 28.

For full previews of more theatre, music, comedy visual arts and talks see this week’s 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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